Maungaturoto will be celebrating 150 Years in 2013

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Tale of Blight and Bunkum with a good dose of Snake oil thrown in

“Bouncing Bowers was very modest about the stuff; he only named £4 a gallon as the price, but Hardie was badly bitten with Bowers’ bounce and anted up like a brick.”

Whakapirau settler Henry Bowers in 1906, had tried his luck at playing the role of a snake oil merchant to unsuspecting fruit growers, with his so called ‘cure’ for blight and codlin moth. The ruse didn’t last long it seems for one of his customers soon found out Mr Bower’s so called cure didn’t do a thing for his fruit trees and thus the police were soon called.

Bowers Blight and Bunkum

NZ Truth 13 October 1906

If all that is alleged is true anent Mr Henry Alfred Bowers and his blight specific, he seems have been having a rorty time lately. According to Police Court accounts Henry Alfred,
having read somewhere that fruit farmers were having terrible trouble with insects and fungi, waded in to provide a remedy and apparently found a lovely liquid warranted to act as a
double strength insecticide and fungicide and guaranteed to kill blight at a thousand yards.

Forthwith, Henry Alfred toddled forth seeking whom he might devour. He came across one Hardie, who grows apples and other luscious morsels at Wade, and breathed his yarn about his discovery into Hardie’s credulous lug. Hardie took it all in, too, including five gallons of the guaranteed safe cure for codlin moth.

Bouncing Bowers was very modest about the stuff; he only named £4 a gallon as the price, but Hardie was badly bitten with Bowers’ bounce and anted up like a brick. Bowers bounded off and Hardie started to kill codlin moths and other worried attached to his profession but there was some antidote, which he had warranted to work wonders for the next three years, would not work at all.

Then Hardie seems to have woke up, for the next thing that happened he was sooling a bobby on Bower’s track. Another of Bowers’ soft things was Ernest William Barker. This cove said that Bowers the blighter told him and his father such tall tales anent his astonishing discovery that they were induced to try £2 10s worth of the stuff. Their hopes of a simple life ever after likewise blighted.

Government Analyst Pond never winked once when in the witness box, and he swore that the stuff Bowers charged £4 per gallon might be worth twopence for eight Imperial pints. It was certainly not worth more.

It next came out that Bowers is a settler at Whakapirau and didn’t use his beautiful blight bumper on his own trees; but simply painted them with castor oil. His lawyer tried to make out that the strength of the stuff was lost by keeping the cork out of the cans; but that tale will have been be repeated at the Supreme Court, whither Bowers was committed. There are four other similar charges pending but they were held over till next Monday.

Foot note: Bowers was later sentenced to 18 months in prison at the Supreme Court in Auckland on December 5 1906.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Obituary of Mr John Hurndall, Maungaturoto

An old settler, Mr. John Hurndall, connected with the early history of the Albertland settlements, has passed away within the last few days, at his residence, Hamilton Road, Ponsonby, and was buried at the Avondale Cemetery on November 25 by the Rev. Mr. Runciman.

Mr Hurndall arrived in Auckland by the ship Owen Glendower, in 1863, and joined some of the special settlers who came out at the same time by the Tyburnia. They took up land at Maungaturoto, and here for more than twenty years Mr. Hurndall took a leading part in all matters connected with the welfare of the settlement. For fifteen years he was chairman of the Road Board, and was elected to the County Council when that body was formed. He was for many years chariman of the school committee and licensing committee, also in the Commission of Peace, and for many years attended actively to his duties in this department.

Deceased took great interest in all religious matters, and was senior deacon of the Church to which he belonged, and whilst the district was without a minister conducted the services in the Church. The immediate cause of death was a fall whilst walking in the garden, which fractured a thigh bone, and caused a severe shock to the nervous system. At the time of his death he was aged seventy three years of age.
- NZ Herald 3.12.1888/Back Roads

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Whakapirau Anglican Church Cemetery

I made a nice leisurely drive out to Whakapirau today and what a lovely sunny day it was! I stopped at the Anglican church cemetery to take photographs of some of the graves. It's nice to see such a well looked after place, I could tell that 3/4 of the graves were nicely restored, the grass had been mowed around them and flowers were used as decoration.

A little bit of history to share:
St Alban's Church (Anglican), Whakapirau was built in 1896 after a period of community fundraising that enabled it to be opened debt free. The site for the church was formerly part of a block of land made tapu by koiwi from the battle of Marohemo in 1825. The tapu was lifted from the land by the gathering of the koiwi into an ossuary. These bones were subsequently used to fertilise vineyards in the vicinity. The churchyard contains the graves of a number of members of local families, Maori and Pakeha, including several of those directly involved in the erection of the church.

The church is built of kauri, supplied from one of the kauri timber mills formerly nearby. Its lofty belfry and prominent hilltop site make it a landmark visible for some distance along the Kaipara harbour. The interior of the church reveals the warmth of the kauri boards to considerable aesthetic effect, and its timber pews and other furniture add to its charm. Information from

Please note: the photos belong to A. Forbes - if you wish to use them please email me on

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Death by Carbonic Acid Gas Bath?

Story from the Northern Advocate 16th June 1902

According to the news story anyone with lung trouble should not have one of these baths but what was the purpose of Carbonic Acid Gas? Apparently in the 1800s it was considered to be anaesthetic agent whereby painful body parts once immersed became less painful. When inhaled, in the diluted, state, the gas is said to accelerate the circulation but it sounds like this was the type of procedure that warranted the advice of a doctor first before going through with it and what made it worse for Mr Gray was that he'd first jumped in and out of a cold then hot bath which as we know is a shock to the system. (information from here).

So why did Mr Gray ignore the rule and advice of Mr Breedon?

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Kaipara Bushranger

Ned Kelly the Day before his execution
Image Wiki Commons

In the mid 1880's the Kaipara area had its own version of Ned Kelly or at least a young man going by the name of Lyman who styled himself on Ned Kelly. Lyman was a labourer working for a gentleman sheep farmer out at Matakohe. In the spirit of Ned Kelly Lyman changed his name to Sullivan and embarked on a brief career as the infamous Kaipara Bushranger.

Then Auckland Weekly News Correspondent E.P.Barlow who resided in the Matakohe at the time send this to his editor:

A North Kaipara Bushranger.

An individual has for some time past been wandering about the different settlements here, whose doings do not at all meet with the approval of the inhabitants. He has contracted an unpleasant habit of visiting houses at the witching hour of midnight, and extracting from the larders whatever comestibles he finds to his taste. His penchant for sweetmeats of all kinds is remarkable. He would risk his liberty for a bottle of lollies, while the sight of a jam tart would draw him through a plate-glass window. This gentleman rejoices in many names, Sullivan being the one he at present patronises.

Last week he visited Paparoa and Maungaturoto, and regaled himself at several establishments. On Saturday he called at Mr. D.'s. store, Maungaturoto, the owner being engaged elsewhere. Sullivan, unwilling to disturb him, broke open the door, and captured a bottle of prime bulls'- eyes and some other articles. He next made a short stay at the Doctor's, but what he secured there I have not heard.

Some time last week he honoured Mr. B. of Paparoa with a visit, took all the loose cash he could find, a jar full of sweet jelly, and a batch of bread, leaving a stale loaf in its place. Finding that creeping through windows, hiding in holes, and sleeping in the tea-tree scrub had had a very deteriorating effect on his clothes, he applied to Mr. H.'s store, Pahi, during the proprietor's absence, and selecting a suit to his satisfaction, left without a word.

Last Sunday he was reported to have reached Matakohe, and probably his presence will be felt by some of the settlers before long. Naturally, his movements have excited, and still excite, a good deal of notice and criticism, and a few weeks back some settlers, taking an unfavourable view of his peculiar free-and-easy mode of existence, applied to a local constable to come and put a stop to his little game. In due course this functionary arrived, and a sigh of relief went through the several settlements—an arm of the law was with us, and confidence was restored.

The energy displayed by this officer was indeed most reassuring. No sooner did he hear of a settler's house having been entered the previous night, than he was off at once to the place. No sooner did the news reach him of another depredation being committed elsewhere, than away he went again, and at last succeeded in capturing—not the man—but some mementoes of his travels.

The story goes, that he very nearly captured the man himself, and would have done so, if the man, who is very powerfully built, had not unfortunately captured him instead. It was in this way. Having sighted his proposed captive, our energetic and plucky local official immediately gave chase, and was evidently gaining ground, when the pursued suddenly crouched down in some tea-tree scrub. ‘Now I have him,' thought the exulting rural representative of the law, and in another instant he was on the back, and his hand was on the collar, of the larder-breaking Sullivan, while in a voice of thunder he shouted, ‘I arrest you in the name of the law.' Had the midnight prowler any sense of decency and the fitness of things, now was the time to show it by resigning himself quietly to his fate and the majesty of the law. But no! the bump of reverence must indeed be wanting in the cranium of this sweet-toothed bushranger, for instead of thus comporting himself, he actually (so runs the tale) passed his hand over the constable's shoulder, grasped his coat collar, and raising himself from his stooping posture, marched off with the highly indignant officer kicking and struggling on his back. On arriving at a creek, he shot the representative of the law over his shoulder into the water like a sack of coals, and retired into the bush to suck lollipops.

After this episode our rural official returned to his home (eighteen miles away) to consider what was best to be done, leaving word, however, at Paparoa that should the knight of the jam tarts and bulls'- eyes be seen anywhere, he was to be detained until our rural official could come over to arrest him. Mr. Sullivan has made his presence felt several times since, but there always seems to be a difficulty about inducing him to remain in any one place sufficiently long to call in the services of our rural officer. Another rural officer from the Wairoa has now come forward, and is at present at Maungaturoto, while Sullivan is here. By the time the rural officer arrives here, the wily Sullivan will probably be at Pahi. If he could only be induced to partake of some carefully doctored jam tart, I think the rural officer would be more evenly handicapped. As it is, unless our volatile visitor gets a sunstroke, or accidentally chokes himself with a bull's eye, I fear a good many more larders will be emptied and a good many more jam tarts reported missing before he is safely placed under lock and key in Mount Eden Jail.

This lollipop-sucking bushranger for several weeks completely baffled all efforts to arrest him, and pursued with impunity his meteoric course, leaving behind him a well-defined train composed of jam tins, lolly bottles, pie dishes, infuriated settlers, and rural policemen. He was finally captured near Helensville, about sixty miles from here, and in due course brought before the magistrates at Pahi, who committed him for trial. I rode over to be present at the hearing of the case, and in returning after dark, my horse shied, the saddle, too loosely girthed, slipped round, and I was thrown, the result being concussion of the brain. An acquaintance, a Paparoa settler, got me home somehow or other, and for three days my mind was wandering, during which time my poor wife had to attend to me entirely unaided, as on the very day of my accident she had dismissed our servant girl for dishonesty. The principal storekeeper in Matakohe kindly came at once, offered his services, and telegraphed for the doctor, who unfortunately was engaged attending a serious case at a distance. When he did arrive he said my wife had done everything he could have done, and that I was going on all right. It was months, however, before I could get about again, and neither my wife nor myself are likely to easily forget the North Kaipara bushranger, now safely installed in Mount Eden Jail, and about half way through the term of three years' imprisonment with hard labour to which he was sentenced.

- P. W. Barlow Kaipara, or, Experiences of a Settler in North New Zealand

Originally I couldn't find much on this at all. A further search today in Papers Past revealed further information on Mr Lyman. According to the Waikato Times 26 January 1886 Lyman had previously attended an Industrial School before being employed as a labourer at Matakohe on the sheep farm. It seems Lyman was not much more than a teenager who hero-worshipped Ned Kelly and thus wanted to follow in his footsteps. Over all 4 charges of Burlary were laid against Lyman and he was sent to Mt Eden Prison for his crimes.

Article from The Waikato Times 26 January 1886

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Historic abuse in Maungaturoto - 1921

Articles from Ashburton Guardian - 31st January 1921 and 17th January 1921. Gosh, just goes to show society might have been different back then but things like this weren't unheard of back in 1921's small town Maungaturoto. I wonder what young William had done that was so bad that provoked a beating from his father?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Matakohe Museum

The Matakohe Kauri Museum is one of our family's favourite places in the Kaipara to visit. For those who don't know Matakohe is a small settlement about 20 mins from both Dargaville and Maungaturoto. Matakohe was first settled by white people in 1863 when members of the Albertland group landed there. The Kauri Gum industry was established around 1867 but it was not profitable and was soon converted to a timber mill. The museum has different displays of some of the machinery that was used along with the names of the original men and women who lived and worked with them back then.

Firstly here's one of the timber machines. At some of the displays you can push a button and it will start up and show exactly how it would have been used.

This is the boarding house - if you can imagine folk would stay there and no doubt have their meals prepared and clothes laundered etc along with renting a room from the owner.

This is my son's favourite display - in this one it shows a dinner table set up with Victorian china, crystal etc and in the corner is a woman making bread, on the left a boy is stealing some cream from a bowl.

Kauri gum - here's a model of a man studying some pieces of gum he's thinking of buying from a person who's worked very hard at digging it up.

Here's a big cabinet of some of the larger kauri gum specimans found in the area.

This one is especially larger and it's got a huge weta stuck inside it. I'll be posting soon some more photos and information on Matakohe.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A destructive experience at Whakapirau Wharf 1918

Now and then I come across some very very odd news items and this one indeed has a lesson to be learned by it. Three well known surnames were involved with this rather dangerous incident that occurred on a boat near the the Whakapirau Wharf in 1918.

Three men named Cartwright, Taylor and Horniblow, who were in a boat off the Whakapirau wharf, Auckland this week , met with some very serious injuries. Horniblow had some gelignite and a dynamite cap in his vest pocket into which he placed his smouldering pipe. A loud explosion occurred, Horniblow receiving a wound to his side and losing a hand, while Cartwright lost an eye. The other man was uninjured. The side of the boat was blown out, but the occupants got ashore.

- Poverty Bay Herald 6 April 1918

My question is..what the heck was Mr Horniblow doing with dynamite on a boat? Strange but true.

The North Kaipara Co-Operative Dairy Company Co Ltd. 1904 - 1915

Opening Day 1904

Many who go down to Whakapirau would have noticed the old building located next to the current wharf. Over the years it has seen use as a Community Hall, Oyster factory and currently for storage for a local commercial fisherman. I had an opportunity recently to view the interior and photograph it. However, this old decaying building didn't start life as a hall or an oyster factory. It was purpose built in 1903/04 to house the butter manufacturing operations of the North Kaipara Co-operative Diary Company, and for eleven years it served the supply areas of Whakapirau, Paparoa, Matakohe and Ararua - before amalgamation with the Maungaturoto Co-operative Dairy Company in 1915.

Wharfside view of the old North Kaipara Butter Factory at Whakapirau

The following is from The Maungaturoto Co-Operative Dairy Company 1902-1952, P19

The North Kaipara Co-Operative Dairy Co. Ltd 1904 - 1915

Area: Whakapirau, Paparoa, Matakohe, Ararua

Unfortunately, no records of this Company are available and the following account is a brief memory effort.

The Maungaturoto Company in the year 1903, made an attempt to cater for the above area by aquiring a creamery at Ararua previously operated by Mr Frank Pheasant. It was planned to convey the collected cream from Matakohe Wharf by steamboat to Maungaturoto. The plan was good, but it was defeated by the failure of the shipping company to carry out its undertaking. After a year of trial, the district was abandoned.

The reader is reminded that at this period (1903) long road haulage was not feasible owing to the bad roads everywhere. The motor launch had not yet arrived and the advent of the motor truck for cream cartage dated ahead to 1920.

The comparative isolation of the times led to the establishment of dairy companies in many of the settlements. Many of these, at a later date were amalgamated when better roads and the motor truck permitted a measure of centralisation.

The North Kaipara Company began operations in 1904, provided with a butter factory built on concrete piles, at the Whakapirau Wharf, creameries at Matakohe and at Ararua, a motor launch to operate on the tidal waters of Paparoa and Matakohe. This motor launch was the first to appear in the district. The first Directors were Messrs H. McMurdo (Chairman), J. Morris, W.H. Angel, Ernest Smith, S. McCallum, Alex. Smith, Chas (Charles) Gaille. The first manager's name is forgotten - he was succeeded by A.M. Campbell (five years), A.M. Sterling (four years), G.J. Grant (two years). These three managers, all having clerical knowledge were also secretaries to the Company. The launch transport shortened, but did not eliminate, considerable road haulage, and the dual expense was a heavy charge. There were other difficulties - tidal delivery of cream made for extended hours of factory work; when springs dried up, there was insufficient fresh water and sea water had to be used for all purposes; there was no market for buttermilk until Manager Campbell added pig feeding to many other duties. The pig branch proved both interesting and profitable. Despite a large contributory area, dairy development was disappointingly slow and the output never reached the point of low overhead and low manufacturing costs. The circumstances pointed to the advantages of amalgamation and eventually the Directors, in 1915, opened negotiations with the Maungaturoto Company. These were finalised by an agreement whereby most of the suppliers became members of the Maungaturoto Company and the absorbed company received £1,200 as compensation for its supply and its assets. The butter factory was sold and became a community hall; the manager's house, transported on a barge, found a permanent location at Maungaturoto. This short-lived Company justified its formation and operation for eleven years; it catered for the farmers in a wide area at a time when no other company could or would do so. Its main service was promoting the growth of co-operative dairying with its uplife to the farm economy of the district.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paparoa Cemetery

Photos of Paparoa Cemetery taken September 2008. Copyright A. Forbes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's who says it that sells the product

These days in modern advertising it's the young, the gorgeous and the famous that endorse a manufacturers products. Back in the 19th and early 20th Centuries in the small settlements scattered around Northland and New Zealand what the most respected of gentlemen recommended mattered. Joesph Ryan Hotel Keeper at Pahi in 1913 was more than pleased to endorse a product with most likely a less than pleasant taste. This little snippet was found in the Evening Post 25 March 1913


Mr Joseph Ryan, Hotel Keeper of Pahi, N.Z, was very bad with colic and tried many remedies without results. Then the honourable Mrs Scotland advised his wife to give him Chamberlain's Colic and Diarrhoea Remedy. He says

"I was skeptical and refused to take it. I reckoned such things were no good. At last I got so bad that my wife prevailed upon me to take it. After two doses I was right and have been so ever since. I was in a bad way, I can tell you, but now I swear by Chamberlain's Colic and Diarrhoea Remedy and always keep it handy." -Advert.

I'm not so convinced...



from the writings of William Bailey Maungaturoto

(Reproduced by the kind permission of Mr Alan Flower Maungaturoto)

Speaking of Captain Cook, reminds that there was one animal in the country we heard a great deal about. The bush, we were told, was over-run by wild pigs. Both speakers and writers had enlarged on the advantages the settlers would have in the ready supply of fresh and tasty meat almost at their very door; on ship-board any talk about the future settlement, otherwise The Bush, was invariably garnished with abundance of anticipated wild pork; it went so far, in fact, that any uneasiness in regard to future meat rations was thought quite unnecessary. On several occasions after our arrival circumstances pointed to the desirability of drawing on this reputed supply of pork. Indications of wild pigs being about had been seen, and a hunt had been more than once mildly suggested. That no-one was disposed to take what I may call a too prominent part in the matter will be better understood, when I explain that no-one in the settlement was too well acquainted with the manners and habits of wild pigs to inspire us with the confidence necessary to undertake a hunt of our own account, and judging from the manners of the domesticated pig we had very grave doubts about a wild pig being such a mild accommodating creature, as he appeared to be when the subject of conversation in an English sitting room or on board a ship. Then he was mere animated pork. But at close quarters, and in his native wilds, what might he not be endowed, as we had now good reason to know, with such formidable carver-like tusks.

Moreover we have been told by hunters of experience, that the proper way when hunting, was to at once fall on the quarry, turn it over, and the rest was simple. I must say, that we could hardly regard it that light, at any rate not until we felt fully assured about the somebody who was doing the 'falling on'. However, while each one interested was exercising a diplomatic reserve about the matter, there appeared on the scene, a renowned hunter of pigs in the person of Mr G. Williams, accompanied by his famous dog, Namou; here was our opportunity.

Mr Williams was bent on 'sport', we were bent on pork, and by joining forces, there appeared to be every possibility of bringing about satisfactory results to both parties. This Mr Williams, I should say, resided near the Great North Road which runs behind the Pukekaroro Mountain, a very out of the way situation in those days. He had come direct through the bush, killing as he said, two pigs in the course of his journey. This must have been the previous day, as he arrived in the district rather early in the forenoon, and was prepared to start on the hunting expedition at once. This was as near as I can remember in the early part of the year 1864. Who were of the party, other than myself and Mr Williams, I am unable to say of any certainty, not is it of any particular consequence. Suffice to say we started off on our quest a company of four, accompanied by three dogs - after tramping some distance, the redoubtable was sent out to find the quarry, and shortly afterwards made announcement to the effect, when the two other dogs were sent off to his assistance, we following as best as we could through the most broken tangled country imaginable.

Breaking through eventually onto the scene of conflict, we found the dogs facing certainly, the most ugly, savage looking animal it was ever out lot to see. Also I may add, the most odorous, for the vile animal smell of the creature was in evidence before we saw it. That this was not the kind of pig we had been led to expect was apparent at once, for why this savage, resentful attitude anything more unlike the plump, amiable, good natured Albertland pig - it would be impossible to conceive. for my part, I would have been quite willing to have apologised for our rude interruption of his usual daily occupation, and have retired with best grace possible. I wished afterward that I had, but no, the hunting instinct had been aroused, and he must be made to yield up his pork. This was a decision, of course; still, if he wasn't pork, he was undeniably pig, and therefore having come so far, there would be some satisfaction in finding out what he was composed of. There still, however, remained the question of how this was to be done.

This ancient animal was plainly a tactician of some quality, due no doubt to many an old time fight with other chieftains of the porcine race, for he backed his hindquarters into a cavity at the root of and enormous rata, consequently the only point of attack was the awe-inspiring head, and I don't think the whole British army could have been induced to make a frontal attack of that kind, at any rate unaided by artillery. Fortunately, one member of the party, seeing probably that there might be some difficulty in following out the proper course, by 'falling on the quarry', had brought a gun and some ball cartridge. that it was unsportsmanlike to use this means of slaughter thus afforded, was countered by the fact that he animal himself was responsible, inasmuch as he had maliciously and with evil intent, put his 'falling on' part out of our reach. Consequently the only course was to bring our artillery to bear on him. A kill having been effected, we were able to make a closer inspection of our quarry, and a sorry spectacle it was, as indeed were all its kind that I ever saw.

Our enthusiasm had cooled by this time, the noisome smell and terrifying ugliness of the beast had gone far toward extinguishing our desire to make any further acquaintance with wild pork. However, so tenacious are preconceived ideas, that notwithstanding our repugnance to the whole business we were shortly on our way homeward, loaded up, each one of us, with portions of the carcase. To skip all details of our journey, I may say that our reception at the end of it was not of a cordial character; in truth, the smell of the meat we carried talked louder than we did, and the tone of the remarks which were made, unmistakably intimidated that the more distant the point where we unburdened ourselves, the better several people would be pleased, and thus ended our first and last pig hunt in Maungaturoto.

- W. J Bailey 'Manuscripts of Maungaturoto Early History' C.1920