Paeroa Museum - more to see than just L&P

On my way to Tauranga recently, I passed through Paeroa and stopped in at the Paeroa Museum. This dinky little place has an eclectic collection of objects and as always happens, I get told “Oh we don't really have too much relating to medicine and health.” And quite often that’s wrong, as was the case with Paeroa.

Paeroa Museum - more to see than just L&P
Public scales from the 1920s, part of the museum's collection. Image used with permission.

The largest object relating to health and wellness is The Avery Lollipop Public Weighing Scales, used in the 1920s and donated to the museum by the local pharmacist, Mr. A. Wylie. You dropped a penny into the slot, you slid the knob, and it weighed you. It's very interesting to look at the scales and see what was considered appropriate wording around weight, and in this instance, what was considered an appropriate weight for people back in the 1920s. On these scales were two different tables: average heights and weights for women, and for men. And boy did they vary.

There were explanations on the uses of different medicines. For example, almond oil was being sold as a skin emollient and a hair dressing. For Sal Volatile, which pops up in Harding Leaf's World War II first aid kit, the label said was for nervous headaches and was a stimulant in case of collapse.
Image Description
Hikutaia School's first dental drill, part of the museum's collection. Image used with permission.

Next to the scales were display cases filled with the rest of the medical collections. Hypodermic needles, catgut sutures, a tin of Throaties. Even a mould for making your own suppositories. Or, hopefully in this instance, the local pharmacist making you your suppositories. There were air syringes, breast pumps. There was even a spoon to be used for bitter tasting medicine.

In 1980, Hikutaia School loaned Paeroa Museum their first dental drill. You can see the foot pedal, you can see the rotating mechanism, and if you're me, you can feel the phantom pains of a drill going into your teeth. I was always told that when you visited the dental nurse you didn’t want to go at the end of the day when her foot was tired from using the pedal to power the drill.

Image Description
A display about the town's historic flood. Image used with permission.

The museum is not large, but the collections are interesting. There is a display relevant to the changing climate we're facing, documenting the historic flood the community experienced, as well as a height chart showing you how high the flood water reached.

In the Waikino Tavern, the flood water reached 2.5 metres up a wall. There is a photograph on display of a woman in the pub after the floodwater receded, pointing at the waterline on the wall.

Just before I left the museum, I stopped to thank the volunteer for remaining open for me. Thankfully I did because next to the front counter were mannequins wearing the Red Cross uniforms as well as the medals awarded to Mrs Davies in 1947. Her son-in-law donated her uniform and her medals to the museum.

Though the museum in Paeroa is not large, it is worth popping in, saying hello to the lovely volunteers there, and having a look around. Even just learning the origins of L& P made the stop worthwhile for me. I haven’t included the details here so you have to visit the museum and learn about it yourself.