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Honorah O'Brien was born about 1854 in Ireland. The vessel on which Honorah came to New Zealand had a long and arduous voyage during which no less than 20 of the passengers died of scarlet fever. On their arrival at Wellington, they were quarantined on Somes Island, and on their release, she married fellow passenger Thomas Lloyd on the 6 April 1874.


The couple then travelled to Wanganui by the S S Stormbird. They then made their way to Hawera by coach, over rough roads and crossing rivers mostly by fords. Thomas and Honorah came to live at Robson's sawmill on the Austin Road (opposite the radio mast) where Thomas worked as a bushman and pit-sawyer in the area. In those days, Normanby was called "The Clearing" and between the settlement and the sawmill was the Maori pa of Matariki. Honorah recalled " there were thousands of Maori about, but they gave us very little trouble, until the ploughing of the settlers' land created strained feelings."


Honorah claimed to be the first person to hear gunshots in the bush which was accepted as a warning that Maori were advancing on the township. The residents from far and near hastened to the Normanby redoubt (on the present domain grounds) and remained there until the unrest ceased.


Thomas Lloyd was secretary of the Normanby Horticultural Society from 1897 until 1912. They held annual shows and Honorah exhibited flowers, fruit, vegetables, cooking and decorative work in 1884, and was still exhibiting at the 1933 show. Honorah said crowds of people visited the shows, some coming by special train from Wanganui and others from long distances. From 1897 to about 1904, the average attendance was 2000. Thomas used to carry home the gate takings in a cash box, which Honorah very carefully "planted" for safety until the bank opened the following morning.


Thomas began a business making waterproof oil-coats, but by 1893 Honorah was running this herself. In 1908, the couple became the toll-keepers at the toll house at the top of the Inaha Hill. They were there until 1925, and in that period collected nearly 26,000 from the million and half vehicles that passed through. The couple watched the growth of motor traffic from a solitary petrol driven vehicle to thousands. They had many narrow escapes from serious injury through vehicles crashing through the gate to avoid the toll, and the unpopularity of this was evident, when one night an attempt was made to chop up the gate and burn it.


Honorah Lloyd died on the 21 November 1939 at Normanby aged 85 years, the oldest woman in Normanby at that time, and is buried at the Waihi cemetery, Normanby.



Obituary "Hawera Star" 21 Nov 1939 (Honorah) "Hawera Star" 29 July 1931" (Thomas)

Interview "Hawera Star" 17 Feb 1933