Transformation into a vibrant town
By the end of 1980s Tirau was becoming a victim of the centralisation and urbanisation that had affected so many rural towns in N.Z.
The success of Oxford Court Antiques was an example for others to follow. The B.N.Z Bank branch had closed down, as had the local butcher, baker, chemist and Rose Bros General Store which had been a Tirau landmark.
Following local government reorganisation Matamata County ceased to exist, with Tirau becoming part of the South Waikato District Council based in Tokoroa. An armed hold up in 1988 was followed by the closure in 1989 of the Tirau Post Office.
This left Tirau with many empty shops and closed buildings.
Entrepreneur Henry Clothier had a vision for Tirau, realising that many people passed through the town each day due to its situation on State Highway One and its proximity to many popular tourist destinations. In 1989 he purchased the empty Rose Bros building and turned it into a large successful antique shop that was visited by many.
Mr Clothier later transformed the old council building into a Conference & Event Centre & during the past decade he has been a leading force in attracting many other businesses to Tirau. As a result of his vision Tirau became home to a range of antique & craft shops, and became a popular pit-stop and shopping destination.
Today, Tirau boasts a “Big Sheep” wool gallery, the “Big Dog” Information Centre, and wide range of specialty gift, clothing and homeware stores, a selection of great cafes and restaurants, and a medieval castle housing a doll & toy museum.
It has been a remarkable transformation for the small rural town, which has now evolved from being a place which traffic passed through, to a vibrant and popular destination in its own right.