Saturday, December 31, 2011

The First Train to run in New Zealand


I came across this image when I was searching for something completely unrelated in the ATL Library site. According to the information that was provided with this image this is the first train to run in New Zealand.

'Pilgrim' as she was called pulled the first train in New Zealand between Christchurch and Ferrymead on 1st December 1863 with much ceremony on behalf of the people of Christchurch.


"..Going down the line we found the engine in a state of polished brass and oiliness, and apparently totally indifferent to the excitement which pervaded everything else. We were informed that it is from the workshop of Messrs Slaughter, Gunning and Co., of Bristol, that its power represented about 50 horses, that the action was reversible, so as to render turning unnecessary, that its curious inverted conical funnel was constructed so as to catch the sparks as they fly upwards, and that it could draw with ease a weight of 200 tons 

The passenger carriages, of which there are four, two first-class and two second-class, are rather comfortably than expensively fitted they are built of Australian timber, in a very substantial manner, with all the latest improvements, and are from the manufactory of W. Williams, Melbourne. Besides these there are about 30 box and ballast waggons. It is expected that the rolling stock already on hand will meet the requirements of all the traffic which will pass over the line for some time to come, but another engine is on its way from England, and other stock will be procured as soon as necessary. 

We were shown through the offices, & c., which contrast in a very favorable manner with some of the Government offices at Christchurch the Indies waiting room is very neat and chastely furnished, although as may be supposed rather small. The engine shed is a commodious building of timber and corrugated iron, the same may he said of the wool shed in short the whole of the arrangements seem eminently adapted to the purposes they are to serve..."


Depiction of the opening of New Zealand's first railway on 1st December 1863




The Ferrymead to Christchurch line according to Wikipedia became a branch line after the construction of the Lyttleton Tunnel. With the opening of the Lyttleton line (9 December 1867) Ferrymead's days were numbered. By 1868 it had become a siding with the buildings removed to Christchurch and Heathcote.

Ferrymead is now a historic heritage railway run the Canterbury Railway Society. You can view their website here

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Remembering the monument to Opo


Back in October of 2011 the iconic memorial statue to Opo the Dolphin was a victim of careless vandalism. The head of the boy was broken off and there had been hopes that it could be restored. However it seems the memorial will be replaced. Plans reported in December of 2011 have indicated that it's a possibility that the monument will be replaced with a bronze version.



The monument was created in 1960 by significant New Zealand sculptor Russell Clark from Hinuera stone. Over the years since the statue has been one of the most photographed icons in Northland. The images you see here I took in 2009, when I took a trip up to Hokianga with my two children. Then it was still intact. Opo's replacement was mooted because of the statue's fragile and weathered state. I still think it should be repaired and perhaps preserved in a more secure situation. It's far too important to vanish from the Opononi township and end up in storage somewhere. I hope that will not be one of the options being considered. The memorial was a work of  love. I was 9 when I first saw the memorial and my father told me the story of Opo the friendly dolphin who had come to play with the children in the harbour during the summer of 1955/56. Opo was later found dead on some rocks a possible victim of dynamite fishing by careless boaties. The true cause was never established. But she remains as an iconic part of Northland's history.




Let's hope that in the near future Opo is restored with her friend the boy back to their original state as best as can be possible. If a new monument is put in place then I hope it reflects the true spirit of the dolphin that captured the hearts and minds of an entire nation and the world if only for a few brief years.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review -Love at the end of the Road


 Romance mixed in with rural shenanigans and history

Local writer Rae Roadley brings a down to earth account of her experiences of going from city girl to old farm hand when she meets her future husband to be Rex at a Table for Six dinner date.

Rae has lived in many of the major cities of the world, but perhaps the country  life appealed. Finding employment with the Northern Advocate as a journalist, little did she realise she would meet a farmer who lived in a big old house down the end of a long gravel road.

On the shores of the Kaipara Harbour Rae finds out how to deal with bulls in the garden, getting to know the local characters around the Maungaturoto district, and realising she is becoming a rural woman at heart.

Together with her husband Rex, Rae has transformed the old rambling Batley House into a stunning home. Tales of the dogs Jess and Floss, mixed in the mishaps and triumphs makes this a fun book. Photographs of the Roadley family are scattered through out the book.

Rae spent some time researching the history of Batley, as a result she has included family trees for the Colebeck, Roadley and Masefield families, as well as an excellent time line of events. The index is comprehensive and the bibilography of source references has been included.

David Hill of the New Zealand Herald gave this book an excellent review. He noted some of the characters had what he termed 'flawless grammar, but in my view that's being a little picky. You can read the NZ Herald review here

Published by Penguin books in paperback, Love at the end of the Road - Finding my heart in the country by Rae Roadley is a charming down to earth good read. R.R.P NZ$40 256 pages.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Dargaville Memorial Band Rotunda Circa 1928


Many years a go my grandmother mentioned to me about the band rotunda in Dargaville and of the activities she and Grandpa used to be involved with. Grandpa had a sweet shop in the township next to what was the old picture theatre. Nana was a member of the Bradley clan and was born at Te Kopuru. When she was just a girl of thirteen her parents decided to move along with their villa on a barge to River Road. The property is still standing and is now part of the River Road Historic area. Grandma and Grandpa Bradley had a house just near by and this property is also included in the heritage area. A plaque on the side of the rotunda commemorates the men of Dargaville who fell in World War 1. The structure is a registered Category 2 Historic place with the NZ Historic Places Trust Reg: 3851 and was registered in September 1984



 Situated on the reserve opposite the Central Hotel the rotunda is used even today for many events. The idea of the band rotunda was first discussed at a meeting in 1919 as one of the proposals for a memorial to the men of Dargaville who had fallen during the great war.



MEMORIAL TO FALLEN SOLDIERS
 A public meeting last evening decided to acquire a park of eighteen acres at Mangawhare as a Northern Wairoa memorial to fallen soldiers.
Evening Post 29 August 1919

As part of the proposal a grand band rotunda with a concrete base and 8 marbles pillars was proposed at the August  meeting

 "Mr Hayes proposed the erection of a band rotunda on the esplanade; with a concrete foundation and, perhaps, eight marble pillars, on which would be inscribed the names of those who had fallen They had to consider pounds, shillings and pence —the present proposed expenditure and the future upkeep, He estimated that the band rotunda would cost £800 and the upkeep would be a mere fraction Moreover, Dargaville would undoubtedly recognise its responsibility and improve the water frontage."
Northern Advocate 3 September 1919

Other proposals included a memorial institute,  sports ground and park at Mangawhare,  purchase of Dargraville Club as a Soldiers' Club.The meeting resolved to purchase land at Mangawhare for a park. However the idea of the band rotunda, was not lost.


On 16 May 1928 the wife of Prime Minister Joseph Gordon Coates unveiled the band rotunda we see today.

 A Press Association message from Dargaville states that the Prime Minister had a busy day in Dargaville yesterday. From 9 a.m. till 2.30 p.m., with only a brief respite for luncheon, he was attending to deputations, both private and public. In the afternoon he delivered an address at the unveiling ceremony, which was performed by Mrs. Coates, of the Soldiers' War Memorial Band Rotunda, erected at a cost of nearly £300 by public subscription in memory of the men from Dargaville who fell in the Great War. There was a very large attendance of the public. The Prime Minister left shortly after the ceremony for Paparoa, in the southern portion of the electorate, where he delivered apolitical address. He leaves for Wellington, via Auckland, to-day.

Evening Post 17 May 1928


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Central Hotel Dargaville Constructed Circa 1901




Central Hotel, Dargaville
Date of Construction: Circa late 1901 replaced the previous Kaihu Hotel (est.circa 1874) destroyed by fire 16 February 1901.
Architect: John Currie
Owner: Trustees of the Dargaville Estate
Licensee: Edmund Fitzgerald Moriarty

The Central Hotel at Dargaville has always been an iconic building in the township, situated just across from the shores of the Northern Wairoa and the historic band rotunda where ducks gather to take bread from any passing visitors.

Going through one of my many sets of images I have taken of the area I came across some from a trip to the Dargaville Museum a couple of years back. I had taken a photo of the information that came with an old historic photo of the hotel that stated it had been built during the 1870's.
Information panel at the Dargaville Museum states that the Central Hotel was 'built some time in the 1870's'

A search of the Historic Places Trust Register stated that the building was around circa 1890. The building is registered as a Category II Historic Place Reg No: 3825. It was registered in June 1983.

My curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to have a bit of a look into when the construction of the Central Hotel actually was. After a bit of research, I located the hotel which was not constructed in either of the decades indicated by either the Dargaville Museum (noted as 1870's) or the Historic Places Trust register (noted as circa 1890). To be fair both organisations can only go on the information available that was provided to them at the time. A search into Papers Past has now resolved the year of construction for this iconic building.

Originally the first hotel was known as the Kaihu Hotel (circa 1874) until it burned down on the morning of Saturday 16 February 1901. One man James Carmody, a pensioner didn't escape the fire. The victim's bones were discovered amongst the ashes after the fire and an inquest later held to determine the cause of death. The hotel itself was completely destroyed. The licensee of the hotel Edmond Moriarty, had previously been the publican of the Pahi Hotel which coincidently had burned down in September 1897, when he had been in charge of that establishment.


THE DARGAVILLE FIRE.
MAN BURNED TO DEATH
(By Telegraph.—Own Correspondent.)
DARGAVILLE, this clay
During the fire at Moriarty's Kaihu Hotel on Saturday morning a man named James Carmody, a pensioner, was burned to death in his bed. He was found to be missing after the fire, and a search among the ashes by the police resulted in the finding of a number of bones, which Dr. Purchas pronounces part of a human skeleton. 

Carmody was very feeble, and had been under the care of Dr. Purchas for some time.
The names of the injured men who were sent to the Auckland Hospital were Barry and Gemmell. Both were badly burned. They were attended to by Dr. Purchas, who ordered their removal to the hospital. Mrs. Moriarty got out by means of the fire escape. which was at the time so hot that she had to let go her hold, but was caught by those below. The servants had narrow escapes. 

The cottage adjoining the hotel, occupied by Mr. A. Mills, tailor, was completely destroyed. There was no wind at the-time, or the Masonic Hall and nearly all the adjoining buildings would have been destroyed. Temporary premises will at once be erected. Nothing was saved. An inquest was to be held this afternoon on the remains of James Carmody. 

Auckland Star Monday 18 February 1901


Tender for the construction of the new hotel by John Currie Architect Auckland Star 22 March 1901
Prolific Auckland based Architect John Currie designed the new hotel and had advertised for tenders for the erection of the new replacement hotel in March of 1901. Currie was also the architect for the replacement Pahi Hotel (1897) and possibly the Maungaturoto Hotel (1902). He had a strong association with the Nathan family, and also with brewer Moss Davis the owner of Hancock & Co for whom he had designed the Pahi Hotel.

Edmond Moriarty was granted a license renewal in June 1903 (Auckland Star 9 June 1903) by the Kaipara Licensing court under the name of 'Central Hotel'. By 1904 the license holder was under the name of Walker. In July the hotel almost again became a victim of a fire. The Thames Star (7 July 1904) reported the fire had been discovered in a downstairs bedroom then occupied by an invalid. Only the efforts of the hotels occupants prevented the hotel from again being burned to the ground.

I'm still researching this building so this post will be updated as more information is found.

The list of Licensees I have so far are:

1901 - 1904 Edmund Fitzgerald Moriarty
1904 -?        Mr Walker
19?  -  1916 Samuel Thompson
1916 -19?   W. J.G O'Dowd 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Northland's First Co-operative Dairy Company ?




These days we are more familiar with the name Fonterra than we would be with the early co-operative dairy companies that sprung up around the small settlements across New Zealand.In the small village of Paparoa, in the Kaipara District, Northland's earliest possible dairy co-operative was formed. Its life was all but a short one, lasting a mere total of four years. A cheese factory was built in the township, the foundation block laid by the Bishop of Auckland. Operations commenced in late 1895 under the management of former Eltham dairy factory manager John Hurley. In early 1896 bush fires and drought halved milk production in local dairy herds, later in the year the directors decided to lease the factory out to Hurley, who continued with operations until his unexpected death (aged 33 years) in April 1897. By November 1897 it was realised that the company was in heavy debt, with a substantial overdraft owed to the bank of £310. Management was placed under Percy Rae, with William Davis appointed as secretary of the company. In 1898 the building and plant had been auctioned off to William Davis and his business partner R.R Skelton. By 1899 the two men were using the cheese factory for a gristing mill. I found one further mention of the factory in the Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Province] 1902. After that so far my searches have come up with no further mentions of the building. Its exactly location is unknown, or if it is still standing. The only clue we do have is that the building was built on William Davis' land 'by the bridge'. The entrances to the Paparoa Village have two bridges at either end. Which bridge it was, at this stage we can't ascertain. The Matakohe Museum are kindly looking into this for me and hopefully they may come up with some clues. Below is the article timeline for the Paparoa Co-operative Dairy Factory Limited. Its closed company files are currently stored at National Archives in Auckland. It is not the first factory in Northland however, that honour is held by Maungakaramea when a cheese factory was established in 1884 by the Maungakaramea Cheese, Butter and Bacon Company. The company survived until 1889 when the directors chose to voluntarily wind up the company and appoint a liquidator (ref: Stuart Park Historic Places Trust NZ see 'further notes' at the end of this blog post for details).


THE PAPAROA CO-OPERATIVE DAIRY FACTORY LIMITED
1895 -1899 Article Timeline
  
1894 
A further meeting of those interested in the proposed cheese-factory, took place in Mr Cliff's hall on Saturday, July 21st, Mr Skelton in the chair. It was resolved. That Messrs .Jas. Cliff and Ernest Tibbits canvass the district to ascertain what number of cows each supplier will milk, and also what number of shares parties are willing to take. These gentlemen will report to another meeting of those interested. Although the project of asking an outside company (as for instance, Messrs Reynolds, or the New Zealand Dairy Association) to step in, and undertake the business has been "mooted," the settlers in that case simply to be "suppliers," still, a majority of those present at the meeting were in favour of a factory run on co-operative lines, in which the farmers would have an interest, and the profits of which would not go outside the settlement. The establishment of a factory, could such be successfully started and worked, would certainly be a great boon to the district, as it has proved in other parts of the country where factories are in operation.

Auckland Star 26 July 1894

JOTTINGS FROM PAPAROA.

 It is now definitely decided that a cheese factory in our settlement is to be an accomplished fact. A meeting of suppliers and shareholders took place in Mr Cliff's hall on Saturday, October 20th, Mr Skelton in the chair. It was resolved, "That Mr Hook's action in calling an early meeting be endorsed." Four additional shares were reported. The report of the Committee regarding the site of proposed factory, was received. Mr W. Davis's site was recommended, on account of facility for obtaining water. It was resolved-: (1) That Mr Davis' offer of half-acre next the bridge for £10 be accepted as a factory site, subject to the condition of the company being formed." 2. "That Mr Skelton prepare memorandum of association, and that Mr E. Tibbits wait on the shareholders for their signatures, being authorised to receive 2s 6d per share on allotment." A further meeting was arranged for Friday, November 2nd, at 7.30 p.m

Auckland Star 26 October 1894


1895

JOTTINGS FROM PAPAROA.

 Matters in connection with our local Dairy Factory Company are moving on a pace. The directors—Messrs G. Skelton, E. Tibbits, G. Tibbits, A. C. Hames, G. Cliff. W. Hook, and R. Sterling—have the affairs of the Company in hand, and are holding meetings at intervals. Steps are being taken re registration, which will be effected shortly, Mr E. C. Beale having been engaged to attend to this. Arrangements are being carried out re timber for the building the logs have been purchased locally, and will be conveyed to one of the neighbouring mills to be cut up. It is expected the factory will be erected before the end of April, and will, of course, commence operations in the spring. It has been decided to request a visit from the dairy expert, whose advice and instruction re building the factory, etc., would be of value. The directors passed a resolution regretting the removal of Mr Lang, Dairy Expert, from the Auckland district, and praying that he be re-appointed or a suitable man put in his place.

Auckland Star 7 February 1895

PAPAROA.

Paparoa, this day,

 The Bishop of Auckland laid the foundation block of the Paparoa cooperative cheese factory yesterday in the presence of a number of residents and the school children. In his address he pointed out the great benefit the factory would be to the district, giving the directors some wholesome advice and wishing them every success. The Rev. E. H. Wyatt and others also spoke briefly. The contractors, Messrs Weber, are now proceeding with the erection, and voluntary labour having been given addition the building will be cheaply built). Mr Chadwick, of Pahi, contributed by cutting half of the timber free. The factory will commence operations in the spring.

Auckland Star 23 April 1895

The cheese factory is slowly approaching completion. The registration of the company is about to be effected, after some delay.

Auckland Star 18 June 1895

PAPAROA.

 The building of the Co-operative Dairy Factory is now completed. The directors are just about to procure the necessary machinery. Mr J. D. Hurley, late manager of the Eltham Dairy Factory, has accepted the position of manager. The factory will commence work-in the course of a month or two.

Auckland Star 12 August 1895

PAPAROA CO-OPERATIVE DAIRY FACTORY.

 A successful meeting of shareholders in the above and the general public took place on the 30th September, Mr Skelton in the chair. The balance-sheet and statement of assets and liabilities were received and adopted. The retiring directors, Messrs E. Skelton, G, Cliff, senr., R. Stirling, O. C. Hames. E. Tibbits, G. Tibbits and W. Hook, were re-elected, with the latter as Secretary, Mr, E. Tibbits as Treasurer, and Messrs W. Hames and T. W. Wilson as auditors. It was unanimously resolved, on the suggestion of the manager, Mr Hurley, to purchase milk at per centum of butter fat, thus paying, according to the true value, and not per gallon. A deputation was appointed to wait on the County Council, on behalf of the suppliers, to get some needed repairs done to the road, and to get the river cleared from the factory to Fenwick's landing. During the evening, Mr Hurley read an able paper on "The Production and Treatment of Milk" and it was suggested that this be printed, if possible, for the use of suppliers.

Auckland Star 7 October 1895

A dairy factory has just been started on co-operative principles at Paparoa, Auckland. This is the northernmost factory in New Zealand.

Hawera and Normanby Star 24 October 1895

1896

DROUGHT AND BUSH FIRES AT PAPAROA.

 (BY telegraph.— own correspondent.)

 Paparoa, this day. We are experiencing the severest drought  known for some years. Pastures are parched up and the supply of milk to the dairy factory has fallen to less than one half. Bush fires have done considerable damage, in some cases destroying settlers orchards, pastures and fencing. Mr E. Redfern's house at Mareretu (unoccupied) has been destroyed and other settlers have lost some stock through suffocation.

Auckland Star 21 February 1896

 
THE CO-OPERATIVE DAIRY FACTORY.

Paparoa, this day. At a meeting held on Monday evening the directors decided to hand over the factory to the manager, Mr Hurley, to work on his own account for the coming season, with the option of renewing the lease for five years. Mr Hurley has agreed with too suppliers upon 2¾d per gallon as the price to be paid for milk, the standard of quality to be 3.6, or he is willing to pay at par centum of butter fat 6½d per lb. Payment to the suppliers is guaranteed monthly. The last season's output of cheese has been disposed of.

Auckland Star 18 August 1896

PAPAROA DAIRY FACTORY.

(BY TELEGRAPH,— OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

Paparoa, this day. The dairy factory commenced operations to day, under the control of Mr J. Hurley, who has leased the building and plant from the directors for the season. The supply of milk was considered satisfactory, and there is an encouraging prospect of an increase as the season advances.

Auckland Star 7 October 1896

 1897

Death of John Hurley

OBITUARY.
  
Paparoa, this day. Mr John D. Hurley, manager of the Paparoa dairy factory, died on Friday evening last, aged 33. He leaves a wife and two young children. His remains were conveyed yesterday to Whangarei Heads for interment.

Auckland Star 19 April 1897

The remains of the late J. D. H. Hurley were interred in the Whangarei Heads Cemetery, under the shadow of Mount Manaia, on Easter Monday. The cemetery is near Parua Bay, where the relatives of the widow of the deceased reside, and he was buried there in accordance with Mrs Hurley's wish. The body was conveyed from Paparoa overland to Maungapaia, a distance of thirty miles, and from thence to the burial ground, a distance of about eighteen miles in a yacht. Many friends attended the funeral for the first mile as it left Paparoa, and others joined again at the cemetery. Indigestion, the cause of death, is distinctly traceable by the medical attendant to the ill effects of factory work on weakened digestive organs.

Hawera and Normanby Star 26 April 1897

At the annual meeting of the shareholders of the Paparoa Co-operative Dairy Factory Company, the balance sheet, read by the secretary, Mr Litherland, showed a credit balance of some £33 on the past season's operations, which considering the unfavourable season and other drawbacks, was thought most satisfactory. The balance will be applied to the reduction of the bank overdraft An effort will be made to pay off half the overdraft by the 1st January, 1898, and the balance by 1st January, 1899, thus relieving the Company of the heavy yearly charge for interest. The overdraft now stands at about £310. The factory re-commenced operations on the 3rd November, under the management of Mr Percy Rae, of Opunake   Mr Wm. Davis is the new secretary to the company.

Auckland Star 4 November 1897

1898

PAPAROA NEWS.

PAPAROA, this day,

 The Paparoa Co-operative Dairy Company's buildings and plant were to-day auctioned by Mr Thomas Wakelin.  Mr William Davis was the buyer at the sum of £152. The property originally cost-some £600. Mr Davis intends to hold the factory with a view to future working. The directors will be enabled to pay off the balance of the bank overdraft, some £80, and repay the shareholders a portion of the money invested. This season's output of cheese is all disposed of.

Auckland Star 26 May 1898


As reported by wire on Thursday, the local dairy factory has been purchased by Mr William Davis, in partnership with Mr R. R. Skelton, at the sum of £152. It is not yet certain whether Messrs Davis and Skelton will work the factory during the coming summer; this will depend wholly on the supply of milk likely to be forthcoming. In any case they purpose utilising the machinery for private purposes, such as motive power for chaff cutting, etc., until the cheese-making plant and appliances will he preserved intact and in good order, in readiness to be used should a sufficient guarantee of milk be available.

Auckland Star 1 June 1898

 1899

PAPAROA.
(From Our Own Correspondent.)

 Messrs Davis and Skelton, who purchased the machinery and plan of the Paparoa Co-operative Dairy Factory Company, having secured necessary appliances have been utilizing the motive power for flour milling purposes, and during the last two months have been busily engaged gristing for settlers. The firm has put through some 600 bushels in this way, some of  the grain having come a considerable distance. The establishment of a flour-mill in. the district will prove a boom to the settlers, and should have the effect of greatly stimulating the wheat-growing industry.

Auckland Star 15 June 1899

 1902

Paparoa village, four miles and a half by road, has also water communication with Pahi by the Pahi and Paparoa rivers, and all heavy goods are taken that way; coaches running for the passenger traffic. It has Church of England and Wesleyan places of worship, with parsonages, a school, a cheese factory, stores, and the shops of saddlers, butchers, and blacksmiths.



FURTHER NOTES:

Stuart Park of the Historic Places Trust (Northland) recently published a report on the North Kaipara Co-operative Dairy Company Building down at Whakapirau. In his report he gave an outline of the history of dairy factories in Northland. He noted the earliest factory established in Northland was in Maungakaramea near Whangarei which was established in 1884. I did some further investigation and found the name of the company was known by Maungakaramea Cheese, Butter and Bacon Manufacturing Company. The company existed from 1884-1889. The factory was later advertised for sale after the directors chose to voluntarily wind up the company and appoint a liquidator . The factory was advertised with machinery and 6 acres of land. Whether or not the factory still stands at this stage is unknown.




Friday, September 2, 2011

'Little Jim' versus Striped Marlin - Whangateau Harbour 1932

Blue marlin being weighed on scales at the Oceanside Marina: Key West, Florida


I've always been aware of the big fish stories folks like to tell. This big fish yarn is one that is ture. In February of 1932 the launch Little Jim was heading towards Leigh when she was struck by a large Marlin. The report at the time stated it was a Blue Marlin and noted that the fish stocks were relatively plentiful. These days the East Coast has been badly fished out and affected by increasing population pressuring the resources on the coastline.

Fish Attacks Launch.SWORD JAMMED IN BOAT
Charged by a swordfish at a point several miles south of Cape Rodney last Friday evening, the Auckland owned launch Little Jim, a vessel of 40ft., was struck so heavily that the impact caused some alarm. The sword of the fish, which was a striped marlin, penetrated the thick planking of the hull on the port side of the bow above the water-line, and protruded in through the foredeck, the fish breaking its sword.
The Little Jim, which is owned by Mr J. Knaggs, of Auckland, was proceeding from the fishing grounds between Cape Rodney and Little Barrier Island to Leigh when the incident occurred. It had passed Tawharanui Point and was standing off Whangateau Harbour at 9 p.m., travelling up the coast to Leigh, when the swordfish struck the boat.
A fresh westerly breeze was blowing at the time and the Little Jim, which was travelling at eight knots, was shaken from stem to stern by a terrific impact after it had dipped into a big wave. The three men on board believed from the force of the blow that the launch had encountered a large log or some submerged obstacle.
The launch was stopped instantly in the choppy sea in order that an inspection for damage could he made. No leakage was detected, and Mr Knaggs then made his way to the bows to conduct an examination by means of a torch. He was astounded to see the end of a swordfish's sword protruding 8in. through the foredeck, which had been opened up for about lft.

On looking over the port gunwale Mr Knaggs saw that the sword had entered the hull about 15in. or 13in. above the waterline. It had passed through two thicknesses of stout planking in the hull and. the foredeck.
The fish had broken clear and it was not sighted by those on board. The hull had been broken for about 2ft. It is considered that the launch would have been in serious danger of filling and sinking had it not dipped into the wave and in that way been struck by the swordfish above the waterline.
An examination of the sword when the vessel arrived at Leigh led to the conclusion that the fish was a striped marlin and probably weighed about 4001b. Several men were occupied for half an hour in removing the sword from the launch, which will require four new planks to repair the damage.
Swordfish are fairly plentiful on the coast where the incident occurred —Herald.

Rodney & Otamatea Times 3 February 1932

Old Stockman and a poem from 1895

Stockmen and cattle, 1890-1900

A few years back when I was driving down the back roads of Pakiri, I came across an old stockman leading his clydesdale cross gelding down along the gravel road. He paid me no heed of course as I passed on by. I slowed a while, just take in that last long glimpse of an era long gone by. No more do the stockman drive cattle down the long roads. It's cattle trucks these days and diesel fumes rising on the way. There's only one place the cattle head and that's for the works these days. The back roads are slowly but surely vanishing and giving way to tarseal. Over time the dust will cease to rise whenever a vehicle goes by. If you ever see such a sight then keep in strong in your memory. It's a moment in time that will be lost if we don't remember. On thinking about this I came across an old poem written in the Otago Witness from December of 1895. Have a read it's worth the time.

Old Stockman.

'Tis strange that I should dream last night we lived in Meadow Vale,
And I was branding cattle in the yard,
Dad was plaiting stockwhips, and my mother held the pail,
And little Cis was pegging stones at Dad.
The kiwi and the Maori hen were picking near the fence,
The tui and the thrush were full of glee,
The bush fires in the distance with smoke was thick and dense,
The birds were busy building in the tree.
 And now I'm here, and all alone, beside the dear old home,
The walls have long been, crumbled to the ground,
The gum trees still are standing, the currant flowers in bloom,
And all the place is full of silvery sound.
The chimney — why, here's the name,
I remember it quite well,
It's a little indistinct and hard to see,
There's a little piece of " H." left and a part of " WL,"
And it bears the date of eighteen sixty-three.
 I'm sitting near the stockyard rails, where years and years ago
We used to have so many fearless rides
Yarding up the cattle that bolted to and fro
With a horse that never wanted for his strides
Dingo Joe the horse was named, a lovely wiry bay,
His honest bones are lying over here.
 We got a little careless, and the mob broke straight away ;
While turning Joe got ripped up by a steer.
We tried our best to pull him round ; he never quite got well ;
He teemed to have a swelliug in the girth,
And one bright summer morning he gave a groan and fell,
With heavy thud he tumbled to the earth.
We buried him 'neath the gum tree there, though not without some tears,
All except his polished shoes and hide ;
I carved a little sentence with a blade of broken shears,
"Dingo Joe I never more will ride."
 It doesn't seem the same old place, yet there's the rotten rails
That Jack and I once sledged from Bushy Mound.
Some of them are standing still, just hanging by the nails,
And some are fast embedded in the gronnd.
The day we cut that gatepost down to make that crushing pen
We had a stand-up battle with a boar,
The dogs our only weapons, but they fought like tigers then-
Old Captain Cook got quite enough and more.
 Yonder shines the mossy loom with slope and fleecy ledge,
Where the cattle in the early mom were seen,
And there's the little kauri spur above the river's edge,
With every nook bedecked with ivy preen.
'Twas lovely in those hilltops, where 'tis patted down with rain.
To ramble half knee deep in mountain grass,
Or sit on old manuka stumps, and coo-e down the plain,
And listen for the echo in the pass.
Only can the stockman tell the pleasure that we breast
Riding up the ranges strange and steep,
Ringing out the stockwhips on the lonely, piercing crest  Boulders rolling from the horses' feet
O'er some outlandish slope or rocky-pillar'd run,
Woodland music sounding low and long ;
The valleys down beneath  gleaming in the sun.
The flitting birds above us full of song.
 What times we used to spend in dells, watching the sheep o'erhead
Leaping over pillar, rock, and mound
And we among the raupo sticks or wiry bracken bed
List'ning to tbe bell-bird's silvery sound.
 And then we'd rise and scramble up the weatherbeaten rocks
That over-looked the sheep downs in the glade ;
I fancy still I see the stock come rolling down in flocks
To seek a little coolness in the shade.
That matagauri ridge beyond was called the camping ground ;
By break of day the stock were on the tramp ;
The frisky lambs would bleat aloud and skip from rock to mound
In little droves while wandering from the camp ;
‘Twas there we turned the buffalo chips we used at home for fuel
With coradi sticks and pest to make them burn ;
And often when the days were long we'd wag away from school
And wander o'er that ridge of matted fern.
 The brooklet shine was bright to-day,
the hills look just as green,
The sky still holds its distant smoky tinge.
The ivy on the mimi there is curtained to a screen,
The weeping willows still maintain their fringe.
And there's the house— at least the walls ;
and there's the garden walk
Where we played as boys together, Jack and I;
But now it lies deserted, there's neither noise nor talk.
It seems I've wandered home again to die.
 Dunedin, December 1895. — W. H. F.


Otago Witness 26 December 1895

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One last song at Kaihu


A MAN DIES WHEN SINGING A SONG.

The police authorities received word to-day that Mr Wainhouse, railway manager at Dargaville, dropped dead last night in the Kaihu Hotel, at nine o'clock. An inquest will be held, probably on Monday.

The Hon. E. Mitchelson received a telegram to-day which shows the death of Mr. Wainhouse took place under sensational circumstances. It appears that Mr T. H. Barstow was formerly stationmaster at Dargaville, but he was appointed secretary of the Mitchelson Timber Company and resigned his position. Mr Fox was temporarily in charge of the railway station, and Mr Wainhouse, late stationmaster at Rotorua, was transferred to take the place of Mr Barstow.

Last night a farewell social was tendered to Mr Fox, and while singing a song at this function Mr Wainhouse dropped dead.
It is unnecessary to say that this brought the social, to a close. When the sad occurrence became known it caused quite a gloom at Kaihu and adjacent districts.

Auckland Star 29 July 1899


A moment in 1913 at Takapuna Beach (Sketch)



I have a love of old photographs. I sketched this last December from a great book loaned to me. The original image had a scene of Takapuna Beach in 1913 with boats and of course the kids enjoying the beach. These two figures caught my interest. It gives us an idea of what it was like back in those days. Not much different to today with families enjoying the sea.

Mishaps At Herekino






If anyone ever decides to do a trip of Northland then take the West Coast back down towards Hokianga. The drive is worth it. On the way stop in and check out the settlements around the region. I haven't been to the small settlement of Herekino in 20 years. Like all places on the coast it has had its own stories to tell. I found a few short snippets about a fire bug being in the area. Between the years 1909 -1912 fires were reported including the burning down of the public school, and an alleged attempt to blow up a local resident's house. Little comfort for those living in the area at the time when an alleged arsonist was on the loose. The sadder one was the bursting of a dam which killed one person.

A SCHOOL BURNED.
 (Per United Press Association.) AUCKLAND November 26. The Inspector of Police has received notification that the public school at Herekino was destroyed by fire last night. The circumstances lead to suspicions of incendiarism.

Wanganui Herald 27 November 1909
  

Sensation at Herekino.
ATTEMPT TO BLOW UP A HOUSE
Auckland, July 19
An attempt was made on Sunday night at Herekino to blow up the residence of Mr Powell, a member of the local county council.

Shortly after the family had retired to rest there was an explosion, and one of the rooms was filled with smoke. The inmates heard a horse galloping away. The constable found an  empty treacle tin and a length of fuse under Mr. Powell's bedroom.

The occurrence is supposed to be the work of the fiend who some time ago started the fires in the district and was not captured.

Northern Advocate 19 July 1910


SUPPOSED BURGLARY AND INCENDIARISM
[BY TELEGBAPH— PRESS ASSOCIATION.]  AUCKLAND, 22nd April. A gumfields store at Herekino, owned by J. Bergham, was destroyed by fire in circumstances that suggest burglary and incendiarism. The property was uninsured.

Evening Post 23 April 1912

BURSTING OF A DAM.
WHANGAREI, November 16
News has been  received at Whangarei that a fresh dam burst yesterday at Herekino. Two Maoris working in the vicinity were caught by the sudden onflow and washed away. One was killed and the other rescued with difficulty, seriously injured.

Ashburton Guardian 17 November 1916


Friday, August 19, 2011

Jaws!



A trip away from Northland History this time. This time a rather fishy tale - a rather large one that occured in Port Chalmers back in 1901. I came across the image in Flickr Commons a while back. Finally I've managed to locate the story behind the image of a large great white shark with its captors standing proudly behind it. The sad part is Great White Sharks are now on the endangered species list. We have them cruising in the Kaipara Harbour near where I live. Years back visiting Shelly Beach near Helensville a young child I still recall seeing a dozen large sharks all dead left to rot on the beach. It was a sign of the times, and also the same year the movie Jaws was released - that was 1976.



A LARGE SHARK CAPTURED.
A large shark has been prowling about the lower harbour for some time past, and up to Tuesday night evaded all the efforts of the fishermen to take it. However, at nightfall on Tuesday, when Mr John Noble, a well known, lower harbour fisherman, was returning home, he was informed that the monster, some 18ft long, was in the vicinity of  Mr. W. Innes's fishery.  Mr. Noble, who has previously taken several sharks in the Port Chalmers waters, at once manned his boat and went in pursuit, succeeding, after a hard contest, in harpooning the creature off the George street wharf.
 The fish was then towed round to Tunnage's fishery to be hoisted up. Here what might have been a very serious accident occurred, for a number of young and old of both sexes desirous of seeing the shark made their way round to Mr. Tunnage's fishery and took up a position on the landing-stage designed for the reception of fish. In all, the unexpected visitors must have been between 30 and 40.
 The landing stage (only intended to receive fish) proved unable to support the weight, and it sank, taking its occupants into deeper water than they eared to encounter. One young lady, seeing the stage was sinking, very pluckily held on to a wire rope stretched above her head, and succeeded in sustaining herself and two friends. Some few bruises were sustained by some of the young people on the stage, but eventually everyone was landed.

Otago Witness 25 September 1901

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Another New blog - Ship Wrecks NZ

I've added on another new blog to the Back Roads blog. Ship Wrecks NZ will concentrate on disasters and mishaps of New Zealand Shipping. I've transferred over most of the posts I've done here on Back Roads so they are all in one place. I still have another to add yet. Back Roads and Ship Wrecks NZ are repositories for my research which is there to share. I would highly recommend also you check out the outstanding Timespanner Blog which covers all subjects to do with New Zealand Heritage. Lisa its author started Timespanner in late 2008. It's perhaps the best heritage blog in Australasia. Well worth following and worth a read.

The Isabella de Fraine


On the 14 July 1928 the schooner (ketch) Isabella de Fraine was sunk while crossing the bar at Hokianga with the loss of 8 lives. She had been well known to the Auckland shipping scene, plying her way along the Northern New Zealand coastline carrying goods from one port to the other. Sadly on that afternoon the weather was not kind to her nor her crew. Waves rolled the ketch over and all 8 hands on board were lost to the sea.

The Isabella de Fraine was built at Camden Haven (Balmain) in New South Wales, Australia by J.W. Davies, and registered in Sydney in 1902. She had a weight of 110 tons (gross) and was reported as being owned by A.J. Frankham Ltd. She was fitted with an auxiliary oil engine of 60 hp. For some years the Isabella de Fraine had run on the Auckland-Gisborne trade before being transferred over to the Auckland-Hokianga service.

At the end of May 1927, a year prior to her sinking the vessel had almost met the same fate.

SCHOONER STRIKES A LOG

HOLE KNOCKED IN HULL

(By Telegraph.) (Special to "The Evening Post.")

AUCKLAND, 30th May.

The auxiliary schooner Isabella de Frame, in charge-of Captain Kennedy, whilst coming up the Hokianga Harbour, struck a submerged log off Karaka Point, which knocked a hole in the forward part .of the hull. The pumps were manned, and finding the vessel making water, the captain beached the vessel and plugged the hole up with a sack of flour.

The cargo is considerably damaged and is now being unloaded at Rawene Wharf, after which the vessel will be beached at Kohukohu for repairs.

It is fortunate the accident happened where it did, as if the schooner had struck outside the bar there would have been a. great risk of total loss.

- Evening Post 21 May 1927

For a further year the vessel continued on with her trade runs until the fateful day of 14 July 1928 came. The Evening Post were the ones to report the regretful news...


TRAGEDY ON HOKIANGA BAR

ISABELLA DE FRAINE CAPSIZED SWIFT AND TERRIBLE DRAMA

Two men —the harbour master at Hokianga and his assistant — were horrified witnesses of the loss of the well-known schooner Isabella de Frame on Saturday afternoon. Struck by a heavy sea while apparently out of control on the Hokianga Bar, she capsized and sank, and search parties have failed so far to find any trace of her crew of eight.

Eight lives were lost when the auxiliary schooner Isabella do Frame capsized at the entrance to Hokianga Harbour at 4 o'clock on Saturday afternoon. The victims formed the entire crew of the vessel.

It is the gravest maritime disaster in the history of New Zealand coastal shipping since the steamer Ripple foundered with the loss of 17 lives off Cape Palliser on 7th August, 1924

. The vessel was approaching the entrance to the harbour when she was suddenly caught by the wind and a heavy swell, and turned completely over.

The captain was thrown from the rigging, and with the other members of the crew, was carried under water as the vessel turned over. The witnesses of the foundering saw no sign of the crew after the schooner capsized. For twenty minutes she drifted upside down, and then turned slowly over and sank. The tide was running almost full when the schooner attempted to take the bar, and why she did not go straight through is baffling to seamen who have learned the story of the wreck from the eye-witnesses.

It is suggested that perhaps the rudder became loose, and it is stated, that when the vessel turned over the rudder was not seen: This swift drama of the sea was witnessed by Captain Mitchell, harbour master, assistant, Mr. Bryers but they were powerless to do anything, and they were alone on an isolated part of the coast.

They at once reported the wreck to nearby townships, and by nightfall many search parties had been organised. Throughout the night and again yesterday the rugged coastline was combed by searchers in the faint hope that some of the crew might have reached the shore; but their efforts; were in vain, the only evidence of disaster being pieces of wreckage and cargo washed ashore.

LIST OF THE VICTIMS.

The names of the crew are: — Captain A. Berridge, aged 47, married. D. Teixeira, mate, aged 53, married. A. Kendrick, engineer, aged 32; married. H. Trevarthen, assistant engineer, aged 22, single. E. Merritt, cook, single. F. Liewendahl, able seaman, single. A Suvanto, able seaman, single. M. Kennedy, ordinary seaman, single.

WELL-KNOWN SHIP

The Isabella de Frame was carrying between 40 and 50 tons of cargo, including a small quantity of fruit and some case-oil. She was insured with the Hartford. Insurance Co., but the amount is not available. The Isabella de Frame was well known in Auckland shipping circles, and has been engaged in tho New Zealand coastal trade for over ten years. She was a wooden schooner of 110 tons gross, owned by A. G. Frankham, Ltd., and built at Camden Haven:, in the north of New South Wales, in 1902, She had an auxiliary oil engine of 60 h.p. After running for a considerable time in tho Gisborne-Auckland trade, she was transferred to the Hokianga service, trading first from Auckland, and, in more recent months, from Onehunga to Hokianga.

WITNESS DESCRIBES THE WRECK.

Graphic details of tho scene were given by Captain Mitchell, who said: "I sighted the schooner at 10.45 a.m. She was coming from tho north under sail, and by Semaphore signals I notified her at 1.30 p.m. to keep to the south. About ten minutes later I observed the vessel starting up her engines, and then I hoisted the signal, "Wait for the tide at 1.50."

"I wanted the vessel to bo in a good position, but then I saw something which seemed odd. She was under power of her sails again, but presently the engines were started for the second time, and she went on the port tack. At 3:40 p.m. the crew took in the mainsail and the vessel made toward the south channel about a quarter of an hour later."

"At this moment I put up the signal; "Take the bar" I hoisted the Semaphore to show that the schooner was to turn inward, and come over the bar, but she did not take notice of my signal, and stood off to the northward just outside the bar."

"Then I dropped the Semaphore and watched the captain carry on past the bar and go south to the edge of the main, channel. Again I put up the Semaphore to come into the harbour. This she did not do. She turned out and then suddenly made for the bar. She jibed when almost on the bar and taking a run on a sea, it appeared as if she would never; stop."

" Then she went broadside on, and did not seem under control. The booms swung across the decks, and the craft listed and was hit by a swell. Then she turned over."

Captain Mitchell at once ran to his home, and telephoning to the police, he gave the alarm which spread swiftly to tho townships in tho district. — Mr.. Bryers, who remained on watch with his telescope trained on the floating hull, saw tho Isabella de Fraine spring up from the sea and then go down finally.

VAIN SEARCH FOB SURVIVORS.

The Harbourmaster's station is isolated, and accessible only by motor launch, aud leaving their station, which is on the,south side of the harbour, both men boarded the Harbourmaster 's launch and sped for the north side. They ran along tho waters edge vainly searching for men. Two other men came running along the beach, and the four continued the search, but nothing but flotsam was sighted. Helpful Maoris galloped up on horses, but nearly three hours elapsed before other volunteers arrived.

About 8.o'clock search parties organised in small towns along the harbour began to arrive. By noon 400 people from all, parts of the neighbouring; districts were, scouring the shore, and so the search continued throughout the day, but at midnight no trace was found of the crew.

Having travelled post haste from Auckland to Hokianga, the owners of the ship, Messrs, Frankham and Lowe, arrived shortly after midday.

Until a year ago Captain Kennedy, agent for Frankham and Company, was master of the Isabella de Frame, which was under his command for four years.

"She was the finest little craft any man could wish to put his foot aboard," he said. "She was as seaworthy as the next ship, and fast. It is a mystery to me how the disaster occurred. She would take this bar with ease. She was particularly good in bar work, but this bar is generally known by men of the sea to be the worst in the Dominion. Captain Berridge was a sure and careful master."

- Evening Post 16 July 1928


NO TRACE OF VICTIMS

(By Telegraph.) (Special to "The Evening Post") ( AUCKLAND, This Day. The "Herald's" special reporter telegraphed last night from Kohukohu:

There is no sign to-day of the hull of the Isabella de Frame, which was wrecked on the Hokianga Bar late on Saturday afternoon. Parties of searchers patrolled twenty miles of wild, rugged coast to-day from the north head of the harbour to Whangape, vainly looking for the bodies of the eight men who perished.

A little more cargo has been washed , ashore since yesterday, and oil mixed with petrol forms patches on the beach. Iron tanks aboard the schooner held about 6000 gallons of oil. No launches have yet left Hokianga to search off the coast, as conditions are not favourable. Four miles north of the entrance to Whangape Harbour, which is about twenty miles from the scene of the wreck, more wreckage has been found.

In a rowboat, Mr. Carrol, Officer-in-charge of the Customs Department at Whangape, went along the coast this afternoon, and a variety of cargo from the schooner was found. The sea was less than yesterday, but breakers rolled on the bar.

One or two life jackets have been picked up, but no clothing or personal effects have been seen. Proof that the schooner was seaworthy and lent herself to easy management is found in the fact that recently she negotiated the bar at Manukau Heads after her rudder had been lost. Six weeks ago she crossed the bar at Hokianga en route to Manukau. While off Kaipara Heads next morning her rudder was carried away, but later, balanced by her sails, she successfully crossed the Manukau Bar and, sailing down the harbour, anchored in Cornwallis Bay. The following day she proceeded to Onehunga Wharf, where she berthed. All this was accomplished without a rudder.

- Evening Post 17 July 1928

HOKIANGA WRECK

BODY WASHED ASHORE

HULL DRIFTING TO THE NORTH (By Telegraph.) (Special to "The Evening Post.") AUCKLAND, This Day. ,

The body of Amos Suvanto, an able seaman, who was drowned on Saturday afternoon in the wreck of the Isabella de Fraine, was found yesterday morning near the Golden Stairs, a steep track winding up the side of a precipitous hill on the coast, about fifteen miles from the sceno of the wreck. No sign has been seen of the other victims of the disaster.

Parties patrolling the beach from Hokianga to Whangape saw fresh wreckage washed up by the tide in the vicinity of Mitimiti. The men saw the hull of the Isabella de Fraine drifting off the same spot late on Monday night, when she seemed to be. moving further northwards and out to sea. Pieces of the vessel and scraps of cargo are being seen by the police and volunteers searching the coast from Ahipara to Herekino.

- Evening Post 18 July 1928

LOST SCHOONER

HOKIANGA TRAGEDY NAUTICAL INQUIRY BEGUN CAPSIZE ON BAR (By Telegraph.) (Special to "The Evening Post.") AUCKLAND, This Day.

A nautical inquiry into the loss of the auxiliary schooner Isabella de Frame with all hands on the Hokianga Bar opened this morning, before Mr. E. C. Cutten, S.M., and Captains W. B. Watt and E. Gibson, assessors. Mr. V. E. Meredith appeared for tho Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine, Mr. Allan Moody was retained by the Merchant Service Guild on behalf of the relatives of Captain A. Berridge, master of the vessel, and Mr. D. Teixiera, mate. The owners A. G. Frankham, Ltd. were represented by Mr. K. M'Veagh.

Mr. Eldon Lansley, surveyor of ships, said he surveyed the Isabella de Fraine on 2nd February and found everything in order. John Mitchell, pilot and signalman, said he sighted the vessel at 10.45 a.m. on 14th July eight or nine miles to the northward. The wind was moderate, south-west, and the sea decreasing on the ebb tide.

The vessel arrived due west of the bar at 1.30 p.m. Witness signalled at 1.40,."Wait for the tide." The vessel kept to the southward. The engine was run for a short time. At 3.40 it was stopped, and was started again, and the vessel came round to the south channel. At 3.55 the signal was given, "Take the bar." The bar was then working; it was half-tide.

Captain Berridge had worked that channel two or three times previously. He did not take the south channel, but passed a bit northwards. When he got close to the main channel he was given a semaphore signal to cross the bar.

He ran on a very short distance, and then turned in as if answering the semaphore. The engines were still going. From the movements of the vessel witness concluded there was something wrong, as his signal was not answered immediately. The vessel was about to veer in to cross the bar when she turned northward again.

A wave slowed the ship to starboard, the boom came right over, and all control appeared to be lost. Another sea struck her broadside on, and she capsized on to her port side. Just prior to this the pilot saw a man in the rigging, though this was not unusual in crossing a bar. On every occasion the Isabella took the north channel en route from Onehunga to Hokianga. The south channel had been unworkable.

In reply to Mr. Meredith the pilot said Captain Berridge had not always displayed good seamanship. On one occasion he had taken the south channel against the signal and worked it. Captain Berridge later informed the witness that there was 17 feet of water in the south channel, but witness contended that the bar was always changing.

Early in the afternoon of the wreck Captain Berridge carried south of the heads, and first made for the south channel, but passed it and was two lengths east of the north channel when he turned to cross inwards.

- Evening Post 8 August 1928

MAST OF SCHOONER FOUND

(By Telegraph.—Press Association.) DARGAVILLE, Bth September.

The mainmast of the ill-fated schooner Isabella de Frame, wrecked on the Hokianga Bar in July, came ashore at Chase's Gorge to-day. The sails and ropes were still attached to the mast, which had drifted south nearly 70 miles, and was in a good state of preservation.

- Evening Post 10 September 1928









Friday, August 5, 2011

The true case of a very old oak tree at Waimate North

Trawling through the old newspapers sometimes brings up some fascinating history. This time it was the issue over whether or not the old English Oak tree situated at the old Anglican Mission Station at Waimate North was indeed the oldest Oak in New Zealand as the Evening Post in

THE OLDEST OAK IN NEW ZEALAND AN INTERESTING CONTROVERSY.

AUCKLAND, This Day. The controversy about the oldest oak in New Zealand has brought to light a specimen which, being now over a century old, may with some safety be accorded the title.

The tree is in the grounds of the old Anglican mission station at Waimate North. Recently an oak which formerly stood at Petone, having been planted there by Mr. J. Hewlett Percy in 1842, was claimed by a son of Mr. Percy as the oldest in New Zealand. This assertion is challenged in the "New Zealand Herald" by a correspondent, Mr. W. Johnstone, who stated that at a former Wesleyan mission station at Waima, Hokianga, there was an enormous tree, 80ft high, planted by the Rev. John Warren in 1840. It now appears that the Wesleyan oak when it first sprouted had an Anglican rival sixteen years old, not a great many miles away. This tree was raised from an acorn grown, in Dorset, and planted at Paihia by the Rev. R. Davis, one of the early C.M.B. missionaries, soon after he arrived at the Bay of Islands in the brig Maquarie on 15th August, 1824.

A few years later Mr. Davis's house at Paihia was burned down. The tree, which stood nearby, was saved by being covered with wet blankets. In 1831 Mr. Davis removed to Waimate, taking with him his treasured tree, which he replanted where it now stands.

Its presence there in 1835 was noted by Captain Fitzroy, E.N., afterwards Governor of the colony, who wrote in his journal:

"A thriving young English oak near Mr. Davis's house augured well, for where English oaks succeed very many other useful trees will certainly grow. A living healthy English oak was a sight too rare near the Antipodes to fail in exciting emotion."

When, nearly 20ft high, the tree had much of its lower bark destroyed by sheep which had been penned around it. Mr. Davis, in the hope of saying its life, cut it off about 3ft from the ground. It sprouted again, and is now rather over 50ft high, and the branches have a spread of over 60ft. The trunk, however, is only 7ft high, measuring 10ft 9in in girth.

- Evening Post 8 January 1926

A quick search using google came up with an article from 2008 "Oldest Exotic Trees in the Far North" and sure enough mentioned was the same tree.

"An oak tree planted at Waimate North in 1831 - after being moved from Paihia where it stood for seven years - is New Zealand’s oldest oak at 184-years."

Certainly a fascinating story I checked the Notable Trees of New Zealand website but couldn't find any record. However the Register of the NZ Historic Places Trust for the Mission House notes that the tree is the oldest Oak Tree in the country.