NORMANBY (kindly reproduced from POLICING IN THE MOUNTAIN SHADOW by Margaret Carr)

Once upon a time, Normanby was a long way from Hawera.

Early reports mentioned an impassable sea of mud between the two settlements in the winter. There was a police station at Normanby on and off from 1880 until its final closure 90 years later.

The first constable from the Police Force to be stationed here was Michael Redican. He arrived on February 10, 1896 and left in April 1900 on transfer to Wellington. The Normanby police district extended part way along Skeet Road across to Matapu, the Ararata Stream, south along Turuturu Road to the Hawera Borough boundary, out to the coast at Ohawe, through Okaiawa and including the Te Ngutu-o-te-manu reserve.

Constable Edwin James Whitehouse followed Redican and stayed until June 1902, to be replaced by Edwin Charles Hughes. Charley Davy arrived from Inglewood in January 1904. He left to become a gaoler in Gisborne.

George Clark Clouston, who was to serve at Opunake for a long time, arrived in February 1907 and was followed four years later by Constable George Alfred Hadler, who in turn was followed in 1917 by Patrick Duddy.

By 1927 when a site was purchased for a new police station, Frank Pidgeon had been in charge of Normanby for six years, since 1921.

The new site was opposite the Commercial Hotel, and the police station, built in 1928, was used until the closure in 1970.

Frank Pidgeon had been born in England in 1870 and was 51 when he moved to Normanby. He had previously been stationed at Hastings, Raetihi, Motueka and Mt Cook, Wellington, where one of his “extra” jobs was as Receiver of Gold Revenue. Constable Pidgeon retired to Hastings when he turned 65 in 1935. He died there in 1947.

Frank Lemm (1935) and James Adam Tocker (1935 to 1944) spent time at Normanby, and then Frederick Arthur Horace Baker arrived. He stayed until his retirement in 1949 to be followed by Constable James Skinner. He was another constable who saw a lot of New Zealand during his police career. In order since he joined the police in 1921 his postings were Auckland, Kopua, New Plymouth, Waitotara, Blenheim, Nelson, Richmond, Normanby, Taupo and Hamilton, where he retired in 1959.

By the time Chief Superintendent Burnside and Chief Inspector Ford looked at Normanby in 1969 as part of their national survey, they estimated the resident officer, Constable Dennis Duggan, was occupied by local police work about 38% of his time. He also helped out in Hawera as court orderly and whenever an extra person was needed there.

Normanby had a population of 576, and the population of the whole Normanby sub-district was estimated to be just over 2000.

As well as the three-bedroomed house with a police office at the front, the station had a combined toilet and woodshed building, a garage and the old two cell lock-up. The survey team recommended the closure of Normanby to coincide with the opening of the new police station at Hawera. The building was to be kept as a departmental house, although the cellblock was later sold for removal.

Normanby was policed from Hawera for a trial period and a public meeting was held to explain the proposed closure. About 50 people attended. Superintendent Bell, the District Commander, reported that no opposition had been expressed since the meeting and he proposed to police Normanby from Hawera starting on October 1, 1970. This trial went well, and Normanby was officially “dis-established” on December 21, 1970.

Recommended reading:

“The History Of A Small Town Police Station”, Norrie Keenan

“Policing In The Mountain Shadow”, Margaret Carr