Town’s suc­cesses and se­crets shared


One hun­dred and forty-one years ago the first piece of land was sold at the Otoia Opaku Block.

In the years that fol­lowed the set­tle­ment was re­named, a school opened, the South Taranaki dis­trict’s first dairy fac­tory, lo­cals sell al­co­hol il­le­gally, men went away to war and re­turned and a school closed.

To­day, the set­tle­ment is bet­ter known as Hur­leyville and Jacq Dwyer has writ­ten a book about its stand­out events and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

One char­ac­ter fea­tured in the book is Pa­trick McCarthy was one of the first set­tlers on the land in Jan­uary 1878.

‘‘He was a re­ally in­ter­est­ing fel­low, hard-work­ing,’’ Dwyer said. ’’He loved whisky.’’

Dwyer would drink whisky to ‘‘get in the zone’’ while writ­ing the Hur­leyville School & Dis­trict 125 Ju­bilee 1892-2017 book.

‘‘I had a lot of cups of tea with peo­ple, and whiskies too,’’ she said. ’’You just get im­mersed in what it was like back then, you just get car­ried away ac­tu­ally.

‘‘It was just like step­ping back into an­other world.’’

By Septem­ber 1891 the Otoia Opaku Block was re­named Hur­leyville, in­spired by the large num­ber of Hur­leys liv­ing in the area. One of which, Pa­trick Hur­ley, re­quested to open the Hur­leyville School, which sadly closed at the end of last year.

Dwyer dis­cov­ered a riproar­ing yarn about an event that hap­pened not long af­ter that; there was an il­le­gal dis­tillery

‘‘It was just like step­ping back into an­other world.’’

Jacq Dwyer

op­er­at­ing in the early 1900s.

The lo­cal store owner was caught sell­ing liquor un­der the counter, and the po­lice later raided the farm where they were mak­ing it.

Dur­ing Dwyer’s re­search she also found in­for­ma­tion and pho­to­graphs of the orig­i­nal Hur­leyville dairy fac­tor that no one knew still ex­isted.

‘‘Even though Hur­leyville was such a re­mote set­tle­ment, it had the first dairy fac­tory,’’ she said.

As for the school, which was founded in 1892, it was at its largest in 1907 with 71 pupils. How­ever that dropped in the years that fol­lowed and Dwyer said Hur­leyville was prob­a­bly a third of the pop­u­la­tion it used to be.

‘‘When the school closed last year, it had five chil­dren,’’ she said. ’’It had just run it­self down It’s the sad real­ity of life, isn’t it?’’

Books can be pur­chased through Jacq by phon­ing 027 2415595.


Jacq Dwyer has had many glasses of whisky while writ­ing this book.

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