The picturesque village of Tinui lies at the centre of this small farming community just 30 minutes drive east of Masterton.  Steeped in local history it offers visitors a glimpse of days gone by. The original General Store built in the 1800s has high quality locally made handicrafts for sale as well as a display of old photos and farming memorabilia in its adjoining museum.  The picnic area at the rear of the building has the old jail cells, the original police station, bygone farm machinery and the old Tinui school porch (now converted to the pubic toilets). The first Anzac memorial service in the world was held in Tinui at the Church of the Good Shepherd, situated 150 metres from the village corner.
Lots to Tell

There's lots of stories surrounding Tinui and its folk, some captured by people who lived in the area when the stories became part of our history. Have a browse of the stories below.......

Tinui General Store; circa 1868 - 1981

Turnbull Library records have the Tinui Store being built in 1868 but we have no records to confirm the exact date.  The Tinui Store was built of totara with some kauri beams - the kauri beams being floated ashore at Castlepoint and taken by bullock team to the present site.
In February, 1892, Caselberg and Co, together with Messrs. J. Nathan and Co.'s Tinui store, became merged to form the Wairarapa Farmers' Co-operative Association (WFCA), which then had branches in Greytown, Carterton, Pahiatua, Tinui, and Eketahuna, together with a butter factory at Kopuranga and a cheese factory at Greytown.
In 1894, WFCA sold the store to John and Agnes Johnston.  The district doctor slept in the best bedroom of the store upstairs facing the Post Office. He also acted as the local dentist, having a door from the store into his surgery through the store drapery area which would allow the doctor free access to and from his surgery. The doctors were usually Scottish brought out by Dr. David Johnston – Dr Charles McBeath Dawson - Gun - McCrae. The store keeper slept in the remainder of rooms upstairs and lounge and kitchen down stairs - the scullery has since been demolished, when the new store was built.
Part of the doctor's surgery was used as the Post Office while the present Post Office building was being built in 1902.
There were big shelves to display bolts of material, needles, buttons and a counter displaying boots and shoes and a case for ribbons which were separate from the food part of the store.
On the north-west side of the store was a shed used as the WFCA office and later it became the doctor’s surgery. Around 1932-33 when there were no more resident doctors, Johnston turned it into a truck shed garage. In the loft of the shed was where bags of flour were stored and beside the shed underneath a tank stand was where the dairy products were stored.
The store stables were where the present new store stands– it had 4 horse stalls and a harness room - another shed at the end of the yard housed the brake and gig and later this is where Rob Johnston kept his drums of fuel in, for delivery to farmers with the mail and stores twice weekly.
In 1959, Rob Johnston (John’s son) sold the store to Wright Stephenson & Co.
In 1972 the new store building was built by Wrightsons. The store upstairs area was condemned for residential use and once it had built the new store Wrightsons wanted to pull the old store building down, as it was only being used for extra storage for the small and very basic new store.

Tinui Memorial Hall; 1954

Situated in Tinui Village this hall was erected in 1954 by the then Castlepoint County Council. The roof was replaced in 1981 at a cost of $30,000 with money raised from trees milled on the Blairlogie Langdale Hill. Many of the trees in this block were planted by some of the Tinui School children in 1951. Money from the trees paid for most of the County Council workshop which was situated at Te Ore Ore. The Memorial stone which is in front of the hall was originally sited at the old Tinui School which was opposite the tennis courts in Annedale Road. The motif on the front of the building was designed by Esther Bellis. The archives for the area are held at the hall. Before Castlepoint County Council amalgamated with the Masterton County Council in 1958 the council meetings were held in that part now used as the library. Until 1960 the Memorial Room was to be used for public meetings only if a lady was present. In 1994 curtains were hung in the main hall to improve acoustics

Resurrection of the General Store; 1981

In March 1980, the Tinui Historical Steering Committee was formed and consisted of John Andrew (chairman), Myra Schofield (secretary), Janice Groves (archives), Pam Maunsell, Elaine Foreman, Nan Laing and EwenBelliss, who ran the archives records in the strong room in Tinui Hall, which later went to the Wairarapa Archives. Elaine researched the old store at the Turnbull Library and found that it was built in 1868 – she saw the potential and got the group all keen - hence the Tinui Historical Society was started in 1981 - calling themselves a branch of the N.Z. Historic Places Trust.
In 1980 the district was canvassed, lead by Jim Pottinger, to raise enough money to buy the old store and its three and a half acres from Wrightsons, the new store and a 25 year old ex Catchment Board cottage up the Blackhill Road as a residence for the storekeeper to live. $16,000 was raised by the local community and the 'TinuiCastlepoint&Uriti Community Trust' was formed. Some thought the old store should be demolished in order to give better vision around the corner up Annedale Road - a meeting with the County Foreman on site soon stopped that idea and a proposal to build a high concrete kerb and an island in middle of the road, to keep on coming traffic out, was accepted by the Council. Once the district owned the old store, under the local Trust, Elaine and Pam became more interested to restoring the store than the archives.
In 1981 a small active band of workers started cleaning and restoring the store middle room, the original kitchen - the scullery and bathroom which jutted out from kitchen were pulled down. The original door to the scullery was stripped and put back and weather boarded up outside and is still there today. The main store part was still being used as the store room for the new store. Tin loads of smelly stripper were donated in one way or another and were used to get rid of the many layers of old ivory gloss paint from all the woodwork.
The Tinui Craft Corner opened for business at end of 1982 in the middle room under very humble beginnings, with its entrance between both the two stores.
When the truck shed was pulled down in 1983, a lot of empty whisky bottles were found under the floor boards of the loft, where an ex store keeper kept his hidden secret store from his wife!
The old sitting room facing north on from the kitchen was the only sunny room once the new store was built, and sun was important in such a cold old building. Pam Maunsell then started on another room, often on her own. She painted the ceiling and again the stripper tins came out and other volunteers came to help. The wall paper and scrim were removed hessian tacked on the walls made an ideal picture gallery room, and Brian Maunsell got some helpers to help him to re-pile the sitting room which was up almost seven inches in the north east corner above where the old wooden well still is. They did the other parts of the store the best they could, as the fireplace and coal range foundation held it.

Tinui Cemetary; 1861 - 1914

BEAGRAM Samuel Sept 1910 at 82
BELLIS Clara Ellen eldest dau of Hugh & Louisa Dec 1893 at 19
BELLIS Hugh, Dec 1904 at 64
BELLIS Louisa, Oct 31 at 92
BENDALL Georgina E, Jan 1897 at 31
CRAWFORD Thomas Eric, Jan 1907 age 7 months
DICKENS James Edward, Dec 1909 at 49
DICKENS James Edward, Oct 1905 at 20
DICKENS William Henry, 1909 age 7 months
DILLON Herbert W, 1889 at 69
DUNN Jane Steel, eldest dau of Matthew & Sarah Jan 1895 at 17 years
FOREMAN Annie, wife of David, July 1894
FOREMAN Thomas Arthur, August 1902 age 7
GROVES Sarah, wife of John, Sep 1869
GROVES Harriet Sophia, wife of John, Aug 1894
GROVES Ann, 3 March 1861 at 53
GROVES Ian Harry, Apr 1919 at 3.
GROVES John, April 1892 at 84.
GROVES John William, Dec 1905 at 31
GROVES Margaret Ellen, Oct 1914 at 32
LANGDEN Robert, Aug 1886 at 75
LANGDEN Margaret, wife of Robert, May 1894 age 66
MADDEN Edward Henry, drownde Whareama River Jul 1903 age 16
NICHOLLS Ethel Maud dau of Arthur, Sep 1910 aged 1
BEAGRAM Elizabeth Feb, 11903 at 73
SCHOFIELD Joseph, husband of Laura Eliza, 1919 at 73
SCHOFIELD Own Arthur, only son of Arthur & Doris Aug 1901 aged 3 mo.
SCHOFIELD Eleanor Rae, dau of Clarence & Agnes Aug 1927
SPEEDY Jessie Emily Margaret, dau of Annie & David, Feb 1908 at 18mo
SPEEDY Maude Mary, wife of David H, Aug 1896 aged 25
SPEEDY David Graham, son of David & Annie, March 23 at 22
STILLBORN Thomas Jan 1898 at 63
STILLBORN Rachel, wife of Thomas, Aug 1909 at 71
WILLS Wilfred, son of Henry and Amelia, 1884 aged 4 months
WILLS Elizabeth Maria, daughter of Henry and Amelia, 1882 aged 2 years

History of the Johnston Family

The Johnston family originally came from Glasgow, Scotland.
David Johnston, a doctor, first came out to New Zealand but he then returned to Scotland and persuaded other members of the family to migrate after their father's death. This included his widowed mother, brothers John, George, James Gibb and William and a sister Maggie, in September 1887. Unfortunately William died about six months later from TB which he had suffered from when the family arrived.
David Johnston lived at 'The Lodge' Carterton, a grand house which included a ballroom in the centre of the house. About 1986 this was owned by Dr. Dalyell.
John Johnston (Rob Johnston's father) was a marine engineer and first worked for Cables in Wellington .
George Johnston became a merchant in Masterton and supplied goods to small outlying stores, like the two stores at Tinui – the other store was opposite the present hotel and was owned by two men, who bizarrely dropped dead on the same day. George Johnston oversaw selling the stock and persuaded his brother John to buy it, which he did in the late 1890s, thus owning the two stores in Tinui.
James Gibb Johnston (1878 - 1945) the surviving youngest brother also came to Carterton. It is believed he then studied at FeildingAgr before moving to the South Island working as a Stock Inspector attached to the freezing works then he worked for the Department of Agriculture in Wellington.
John Johnston married Agnes Fleming MacFarlane (died 10 May 1948 and is buried in Masterton cemetery 12 May 1948 ) and with the purchase of the Tinui Store they settled at Tinui. She had already been to USA with a brother then came to New Zealand on the same ship as he did, being a very independent girl for those days.
Their son Robert MacFarlane Johnston (known as Rob) (born 1910) first married Jane Gregory (known as Jean) Laing – Elizabeth (known as Betty) Bartholomew and Walter Laing's sister, and they had a daughter Janet Elizabeth born 1940 and twin sons John MacFarlane and Robert James (known as Bob) born 1942. Jean unfortunately died young in 21 March 1946 after a long illness with cancer. She had been in Masterton hospital for 8 months. And then a year later, Rob married Evie Agnes Chatfield (known as Eve) in 1947, a school teacher and they both worked in the Tinui Store. They had a son called Alistair born in 1948.
Rob Johnston happened to come through Tinui in 1983 as the Trust was pulling down the old truck shed. He was delighted they were repairing and painting his old home and the old store.
He explained the store layout and commented that his parents’ bedroom was downstairs which later became the office.
Before power and deep freezers, bread came out to Tinui and was delivered up each road with the twice weekly store delivery.
This office was used to put the bread into the farmers’ named flour bags.
It is now the entrance to the Tinui Historic Museum.

Bushby Family; circa 1890

image-359312-1890 photo - Tinui house.jpg?1430515676388
Mary Jane Bushby, grandmother of Bryan Corlett, in the arms of Elizabeth Bushby (from Cork, Ireland; her maiden name was Journeaux as her Father was French) with
Leonard Bushby (from Brighton, England) probably the one standing closest to
This picture was taken when they had just finished building their house in Tinui. This is probably around 1891. Leonard died within a year of this photograph, possibly due to a fall from a horse.  Note the Tinui Taipo hill in the distance; no trees and no cross make it look quite different to the view of today.  
Mary Jane married Charlie Ireland (who apparently worked at the stables in Tinui) and they opened the Carlton Boarding House on Queens Street in Masterton.  After being widowed she later married John Cecil Stevens, an Australian.  They had four children with Bryan’s mother Kathleen being the youngest.
image-359314-1890 photo - woolshed.jpg?1430516405042
The second photo is of a woolshed that Leonard built also in Tinui.  The stockman is believed to be a McGann.  
These pictures and story were provided by Bryan Corlett who now lives in Malta in the Mediterranean. 

Anzac Service 2015; the Bentley Mark VI connection

The New Zealand Rolls-Royce and Bentley Club were in the Masterton area for Anzac weekend 2015 and stopped at Tinui whilst exploring the area.  Whilst there the chairman of the Club, Rob Carthew, became aware that Pam Pearce of Kahutara had laid a wreath for her grandfather, Henry Beresford Maunsell, at the foot of the Anzac cross.  After a bit of digging, Rob found out a little more about HB Maunsell:
  • He owned the old Tinui Station in the 1940's
  • Went to WW1
  • His parents received a missing/killed in action notice from the War Office
  • He was neither; he lived until 1958.
And why was Rob so interested in HB Maunsell?  Because Rob is the proud owner of the Bentley Mark VI which HB Maunsell bought brand new in 1951.  As you can see from the picture, the car has grown old very gracefully and is in mint condition; what a wonderful coincidence that it should be in attendance at the 100 year Anzac service. 
Thanks to Rob for sharing this story.
Rob Carthew with his much loved Bentley Mark VI

Too far for comfort; a Tinui family story from Australia

 Too Far For Comfort
By Louise Hardy Parker

Planted widely in colonial gardens, despite its botanical name, Cordyline australis, the Cabbage Tree or Cabbage Palm, is not endemic to Australia but to New Zealand. It was also popular in Victorian era gardens of chilly Cornwall, grown by mariners to recall swaying palms and balmy Pacific idylls. Alongside the sheoaks, black wattles and eucalypts of my dry, rocky and windswept Tasmanian garden, my own Cabbage Tree grows strong. It thrives where virtually all exotic species curl up their toes.  No doubt for those Cornish seamen, it was prized for its evocative value as much as its ornamental, just as it is for me.

The hardy Cabbage Tree, my mother would have called it a poor man’s palm, has messy fronds and flower panicles beloved of birds. My own specimen is around 6 metres tall, after 16 years in the ground, seemingly unstoppable, but unspectacular really, just like the family it has come to represent.  As far as I can reach, around 2 metres, I rub off bud swells to maintain a straight trunk and curb its propensity for multiple branching and then it bursts forth in all directions, refusing to be contained.  Its stamina is testament to my great grandparents who migrated to New Zealand in the 1870’s, penniless, foolhardy, enterprising, brave pioneers, and especially the Cabbage Tree reminds me of my grandmother, of whom until recently, I knew nothing at all.  It is her tree.

Milly Wills was born in 1878 in the rural hamlet of Tinui in the north island of New Zealand.  Tinui, according to Wikipedia, literally means Cabbage Tree, from the Maori ti meaning cabbage tree and nui, many. The tree is its school logo. Wikipedia’s Cabbage Tree has no idiot Australian rubbing off its buds; it has stems galore!

Milly’s parents, Amalia and Heinrich, known as Amelia and Henry, were Norwegian and German immigrants. Henry was a saddler and built a shop in the heart of the budding township of Tinui, opposite  the hotel.  Long since gone, perhaps lost to the town’s frequent floodwaters, the site is now used for cricket.  There is an historic photo of a timber building in Tinui with the word “livery” painted on its wall, taken in 1890, a few short years after my family had departed.  A smart row of newly planted cordylines line the front fence, just like any garden of today, my own included, where colourful, new cultivars ride a wave of popularity.   I think it is Henry’s shop and those cordylines planted by him, proud of his new enterprise but prosperity was shortlived.  The long depression of the 1880’s struck. The population of what is now a farming community dwindled to just 25 permanent residents today.

Tinui has its own story to tell. It was here that the first ever Anzac Day commemoration was held, on 25 April, 1916, in a Church service given by the Reverend Basil Ashcroft.  Following the service, a party hiked to a site high above the village on Mount Maunsell, or Tinui Taipo as it is called, carrying with them the heavy components to erect a cross.  The Reverend dedicated the memorial to the fallen. A bugler home on leave sounded the last post. It was an apt symbol for the gutsiness and fortitude of the Anzacs, made of West Australian jarrah faced in galvanised iron. Nearly fifty years later, when the cross was beyond repair, the townsfolk repeated the operation. School children toted small bags of cement up the steep climb and on Anzac Day in 1965 in exactly the same spot, a large metal cross was assembled, its arms spread wide to embrace the Wairarapa far below.

So it was here in Tinui that Milly took her first steps, sisters and brothers were born and died, a brother went to school.  Milly was the eldest surviving daughter of nine children but only five lived to adulthood.  Little Wilfred and Elizabeth Marie are buried there, possibly victims of diphtheria which claimed other Tinui children.

Stirred by the discovery of gold in Mangonui, in the far north of the island, Henry resettled  the  family. It was a fruitless enterprise except for the birth of two children. A son named for him, died at 4 years old.  In the clutch of gold fever, despite advancing age,  Henry with Fred, his only living son, departed for the WA goldfields.   Reliant on Henry’s meagre earnings that soon failed to arrive, Amalia and her daughters struggled to survive in rented rooms in Auckland, taking in washing and pawning furniture. Without the protection of husband and father and soon at the mercy of an unscrupulous money lender, Milly found work as a shopgirl. Their desperate plight, dire even in those days, brought to light in separate newspaper reports; Amalia  described as an old woman – she was all of 46 – the victim of a cruel ‘ usurer’ and Milly’s unfair work conditions.  Fred returned home but Henry, now an old man remained, either through stubbornness or no money for the passage home. Amalia died in Auckland in 1904, Henry the following year in Meekatharra. She was 52 and he around 70.  Born in Cologne, surely the epitomy of European civilisation, Henry died alone in the desert.  He had 7 shillings to his name.

Milly  married  and had one child, my father. Her husband was a wagon driver for a mill in Ohakune, in the heart of the north island.  Like his brothers, he was an Anzac, a machine gunner and like so many who made it back, was never healed of his wounds.  Having endured the unimaginable horrors of the Western front, including the longest barrage by the New Zealand machine gunners; my grandfather committed suicide three days after the 11th Anzac Day. Milly found work in an Auckland milk bar, a dairy as it is called, then emigrated to Australia with my father.  She died in Sydney the year before I was born.

Although I never knew her at all, I have my elder sisters’ memories to draw upon. I picture her as a lonely old lady living in a dark flat crowded with a collection of objets,  relics of a different time and unsettling  to a child, with  pets for company, a cat and cockatoo. She is very thin. Perhaps she speaks with somewhat of a German accent; that would not have endeared her to her neighbours during wartime!  My sister strokes the skin between the long strands of the ligaments in her neck that feels so soft to the touch.  Her dress is long and oldfashioned, far too hot for Sydney. I retrace her steps, the long journey by public transport to our home in Carlingford from Neutral Bay. Uphill to Military  Road, then the bus to North Sydney or Wynyard.  Either way, descending the long flight of stairs to the platform with difficulty, pushed by younger and hastier fellow travellers, scanning the indicator board for the illuminated light, afraid to get on the wrong train then cautiously stepping aboard, reaching out for the pole, an uneasy step, just that little bit  too far for comfort. Perhaps the guard could see her and waited a second longer to blow his whistle. Then Milly would alight at Strathfield to change trains, up and down more long flights of stairs, and board the train to Carlingford at the end of the line. And then face the entire return journey on the red rattlers. I don’t know how many times she made that journey to visit her grandchildren.   

There is only one of Milly’s possessions left in the family, a small, unremarkable bisque statue that my niece has on her mantelpiece. It is the only tangible object left that we know for sure was hers, that she admired enough to keep. Her fingers touched where now the tiny fingers of her great grandchildren do too.  Our mother must have thought it worth keeping but there are no other mementoes to treasure, no letters, no photos, to tell us who she was. The stuffed bird that my elder sister recalled as being exotic and frightening may have been a valuable example of Victorian taxidermy that Henry had carried from Germany to New Zealand and then brought to Australia by his daughter. No doubt it would have been regarded as worthless and dirty and quickly disposed of. But possessions, even a home and garden, are transitory and insubstantial in the scheme of things.  It doesn’t matter if the statue breaks, or if my cabbage tree is cut down by future owners when I inevitably have left this house.  For all the generations that will be, Milly will be there.  Wee Tinui will have its 100th Anzac Day ceremony next year and hundreds will make that long climb to the cross. The cabbage tree of Tinui with all its wayward trunks will persist, spreading far and wide and there will always be a kiwi heartbeat within our Australian family.                      
Do You have a Story to Share?

We're always on the lookout for more historical stories about our area and the people who have lived in it.  If you have a story or photos you'd like to share please contact us by filling in the contact form on the Contacts page.  Thank you.
Photo taken 1889 -1909; Corner of Tenui Store (as then known) and view towards Castlepoint (picture by Rev. Sykes).
Photo from 1972; Just before storeroom was pulled down and new store built.
Photo from 2005; Old Tinui Store (left hand side) and new store on right.
Old jail in the picnic area of the village.