Henry (known as Harry) and Lionel Manoy were born in Napier on 24 November 1879 and 19 December 1881 respectively. They were the sons of Maria Moss and her husband, Abraham Manoy, a storekeeper and wine and spirit merchant. Maria was born in Sydney and Abraham in Russia. In 1882 the family moved to Motueka, where Abraham bought a general store. Harry and Lionel received their primary schooling in Motueka and later attended Nelson College.
After leaving school in 1896, Harry began working for W. & G. Turnbull and Company, general merchants of Wellington. In the early 1900s he went to South Africa, where he represented an American refrigeration company in various towns. He returned to Motueka after 10 years and with his father formed the general merchants business A. Manoy and Sons. Lionel, and for a while another brother, Bert, also joined the business. Over the next few years A. Manoy and Sons diversified to meet the needs of its rural customers: in addition to the original store, it operated a bacon factory, a creamery, a flour mill, a hop garden and a farm. After Abraham Manoy’s death in 1913, Harry and Lionel ran the business.
As Motueka developed into a busy small town, the scattered farm-based enterprises such as the bacon factory and flour mill were sold or closed down. The Manoy brothers concentrated instead on what had become by the 1930s a large complex of shops on diagonal corners of central High Street. These included a general grocery, a drapery, outlets for wine and spirits, paint, grain and confectionery, and a boot repair shop. Two Manoy vans also made weekly trips to supply homes and farms in outlying areas. All the Manoy shops were burnt to the ground in August 1938, when much of the central business district of Motueka was destroyed. Harry and Lionel were forced to begin again and opened a wine and spirits business, H. & L. Manoy, in other High Street premises.
Harry Manoy never married. He was involved in local sports administration and was an enthusiastic supporter of rugby football, serving for a period as president of the Golden Bay – Motueka Rugby Union, and in 1927–28 as president of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union. He was a foundation member of the Motueka Bowling and Golf clubs and an official in the Motueka Amateur Athletic Club. Manoy Street in Motueka is named for him. He died in Motueka on 15 December 1954.
Lionel Manoy married twice. On 18 October 1911, at the Wellington synagogue, he married May Newman, a gifted young singer from Dunedin. May died on 13 December 1913, a few days after the birth of a daughter. In a second Jewish ceremony in Wellington, on 14 February 1917, Lionel married the artist Hermina (Mina) Arndt. He always encouraged and appreciated Mina's painting, etching, drawing and printmaking. He provided her with home help and built a studio for her in their home, where she painted and gave art lessons. Mina died on 22 December 1926. She and Lionel had one child, a son.
Lionel had served with the Territorial Force prior to and throughout the First World War, rising to commissioned rank. Like Harry, he took a keen interest in sport. He was a foundation member of the local bowls, tennis and golf clubs and donated a cup to the tennis club for team competition. He was also a foundation member of the Motueka Druids’ Lodge. A quiet man who valued education, he presented a general excellence (or dux) medal in about 1916 to his old primary school, and every year pinned the medal on the pupil selected as the winner. After Harry’s death, Lionel ran H. & L. Manoy. He died in Nelson on 18 April 1960, survived by the daughter of his first marriage and the son of his second. His son then took over the business, operating it until it was sold in 1986.
Henry and Lionel Manoy were respected merchants whose family firms were closely linked with the growth of Motueka. They also contributed to the life of the community and, on behalf of the Manoy family, gave the land where the Motueka Memorial Hall stands.