Maungaturoto will be celebrating 150 Years in 2013

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stories in Stone : Lionel Major Hardy

During the long process of digitising the cemetery records at the Congregational cemetery on Gorge Road I've encountered a few rather sad stories behind the names on the grave stones. In the case of Lionel Major Hardy, he was a young man at just 24 years old working for the Railways Department. Just six weeks before his tragic death Hardy had been transferred from the Maungaturoto station to Auckland, On the 14 December 1929, Hardy was out with some friends when the vehicle they were in rolled on Gorge Road. Hary died as a result of his injuries.


New Zealand Herald, Volume LXVI, Issue 20441, 18 December 1929, Page 14

A fatal motoring accident occurred at Maungaturoto late on Saturday afternoon.
Details are:— Killed Mr. Lionel M. Hardy, aged 24, a member of the refreshment room staff of the New Zealand Railways, Auckland.

Injured. Mr. John Dodds, of Huarau, aged 60, extensive injury to scalp. Mr. Alfred King, of Maungaturoto; fractured ribs and injuries to right side. The two other occupants of the car, Messrs. Williams and Peacock, also of the railway refreshment room staff, were not sufficiently injured to warrant admission to hospital. 
For some years Mr. Hardy was a well known member of the Maungaturoto railway refreshment room staff, and was transferred to Auckland six weeks ago. He was single, and as far as is known had no relatives in New Zealand. He had come to pay a weekend visit to friends at Maungaturoto.
The car in which the party of five was travelling was driven by Mr. Dodds, and was travelling down the steep siding in the vicinity of the Maungaturoto public hall at about 5.30 p.m., when it left the road, plunged over a sloping bank 5ft. high, and capsized. Evidently Mr. Hardy was crushed against a log or some hard obstacle and was terribly injured. He was alive when removed from the wreckage, and was attended to by Dr Dawson, but died half an hour before the Whangarei Hospital was reached at 8.15 p.m.
Mr. Dodds injuries lead to the conclusion that his head came in contact with the windscreen, but both he and Mr. King are progressing satisfactorily. The inquest into Mr. Hardy's death was opened at the hospital before Mr. G. N. Morris, S.M., yesterday, and. after medical testimony and evidence, of identification had been given, was adjourned to Maungaturoto on January 16.
New Zealand Herald, Volume LXVI, Issue 20440, 17 December 1929, Page 12

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Maungaturoto Congregational Church Cemetery Records going digital

Albie Paton and the Maungaturoto 150th committee, had gone through the trouble of listing the Burial Plots, and names of the people buried at the Maungaturoto Congregational Church Cemetery for the celebrations held in November last year. I photographed the list and the cemetery map recently. The Kaipara District has no online access to any of the cemeteries in the area, this includes Maungaturoto. I've created a website for the Maungaturoto Cemetery Records. This is still a work in progress, given the large amount of burials and names I still have to enter into the website database. At the time of writing, I'm currently doing the Cullen family list, which is quite an extensive one.

The forgotten war grave of Harold Frederick Cullen

During my investigations into some of the names listed in the burial register, I've discovered there are the graves of several war veterans, two of which are Commonwealth War Graves. One of them, Ivan Davidson Cullen (WW2) is listed with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), whereas the other for Harold Cullen has been somehow overlooked. At first, I thought I had photographed the same gravesite twice. But as it turned out, I had in fact photographed two separate war graves. I've since written to the CWGC advising them that Harold Cullen is not showing on their list. Harold died at the young age of 30, due to complications caused by his service in the First World War. With the 100th Anniversary this year of the start of the First World War, it's important we all pay our respects to the men who fought for their country in this war and the wars since.  I hope this year we see those men's graves and memorials with flowers on them all, so in spirit they know they have not been forgotten. Lest we forget.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Push it over the gorge" the great Maungaturoto insurance scam of 1926

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19260415-49-1

The service car usually run by Mr Lough between Whangarei and Waipu, went over a bank in the Waipu Gorge on Tuesday evening and was badly smashed. Fortunately no injury was sustained by either of the passengers. Trouble occurred, and while Mr. Lough and a companion were rectifying it, the car slipped over the bank, dropping over 100 feet into nine feet of water. At present only the spot light and part of the bonnet are showing above the surface and recovery of the car will probably be difficult.
Auckland Star, Volume LVII, Issue 77, 1 April 1926, Page 7

The rather tragic looking mess photographed at the base of what is known as Piroa Falls near Maungaturoto, had a rather murky story behind the event that occurred on March 30, 1926. Just ten days after the accident, a taxi driver named William Hyber was charged in the Whangarei court for willful misful mischief in the damaging of one motor vehicle to the extent of £280. The wrecked car was the property of Stewart Bevan. The day before Hyber faced charges in the courtroom, he had been arrested at Whakapara by Constable Beazley. Presiding Justice of the Peace one Mr A. Carter ordered Hyber was to be remanded on bail, until the trial could be held a few days later on April 13. By April 12th, three other men had been arrested and charged with the destruction of the car, now lying in pieces beyond repair, at the bottom of Piroa Falls. Francis Saville Lough, Foreshaw, and a driver John Wilson Reynolds all joined William Hyber in facing charges for the destruction of another man's property.

On April 20th, in the Maungaturoto court only one of the four charged admitted their guilt. Lough who had taken the vehicle on a hire purchase agreement from the legal owner Alistar Bevan. Lough had trouble with the payments on the vehicle, and the insurance had expired on March 28. He admitted to planning to arranging having the car destroyed through a staged accident.

Arising out of the destruction of a motor car in the Maungaturoto Gorge on March 30 last, four men were charged in the Maungaturoto Police Court today that on March 30 they did wilfully commit mischief by night, iv that they wilfully damaged a car valued at £280, the property of A. S. Bevin and Co., Ltd. Also that at Waipu they conspired, by fraudulent means, to defraud the Oceanic Accident Corporation Company by causing the car to be wilfully wrecked, with intent of claiming an amount of insurance. The accused were Francis Saville Lough, William Ewald Hyber, William John Forshaw, and John Wilson Reynolds. Evidence was given by Allister Stuart Bevin. of A. S. Bevin and Co., Whangarei, that on March 28, 1925, he sold the accused Lough a motor car on the hire purchase system. A promissory note in this connection, with three days grace was clue on March 31, 1926. The insurance expired on March 28, two days prior to the car being destroyed. On April 1 witness saw Lough, who said he was under the impression that the insurance expired on March 31. 
Murdoch Luther McLeod. taxi proprietor, of Waipu, related that he rang Lough up, asking for a loan of his car, as he had had an accident to his own. Witness did not. know how long he would want the car. Lough said when witness finished with it to "push it over the gorge." Witness thought it a joke, and said, "What's the idea —big insurance on her?" Lough said, "Yes, I have about £300 on her.' Witness then said: I will leave the pushing over to you." The police produced statements made by accused, and said they had been frank and truthful on the whole matter. After hearing the evidence, Lough pleaded guilty and was committed to the Supreme Court for sentence. The other three accused pleaded not guilty reserved their defence and were committed for trial.
Auckland Star, Volume LVII, Issue 92, 20 April 1926, Page 8

On April 21, salvage attempts to recover what was left of the damaged car were made. The vehicle was submerged in a pool of 15 feet (4.57m) of water. Hoisting gear was employed to haul the wreck out onto the shoreline where it was dismantled and taken back up the side of the steep rock sides of the gorge. Two doors however were never recovered. They still remain submerged to this day at the base of the Piroa Falls.

Lough was the only one to be found guilty out of the four involved with the incident. The others were found not guilty of the crime and were discharged by the court.

A novel, but extremely unfortunate means of obtaining insurance on a  motor car in order to pay liabilities was adopted by a man recently, but it was found that when he had pushed the motor car. over a cliff that the insurance policy had lapsed two days prior to the "accident." He was apprehended and pleaded guilty, but three men who were  concerned in the matter were also arrested. 
William Ewald Heyber and William John Forshaw yesterday stood their trial on charges of wilful damage to a motor car and with conspiring to defraud an insurance company at Maungaturoto. John Wilson Keynolds, who was also implicated in the matter was discharged as the grand jury returned a no bill in his case. Mr. V. R. Meredith, prosecuted, and Mr. Luxford appeared for Heyber, and Mr. Hall Skelton for Forshaw. 
Outlining the case for the Crown, Mr. Meredith stated that the two accused were charged firstly, with, mischief, and the allegation in that respect was that the car was pushed over a cliff in thei Waipu Gorge and destroyed. Secondly, there was an allegation that the accused attempted to defraud an insurance company. 
A man named Lough, for whom Heyber worked, bought the car under the hire-purchase system and owed a good deal of money on it. He found himself in a position of being unable to pay the money that was due. The car was insured with the Ocean Accident Assurance Corporation for £300. Lough was under the impression that the policy with the company expired on March 31, but in reality it lapsed on March 28. Lough, decided to push,the car over the gorge and then collect the insurance money. The actual incidents, to which the present two were charged were that they were a party to the destruction of the motor car. 
From the evidence it would appear that Lough went out to the gorge with Forshaw to look for a crank that was supposed to have been lost. Lough, jacked up the car on the edge of the gorge and somehow it went over and became a total wreck, 200 ft below. Heyber had made arrangements with Lough to go for him in another motor car and drive him back to his home. In a statement to the police Forshaw said Lough had told him that he intended to push, the car over the gorge. The excuse for being on that part of the road was that they were to look for a crank, and that while they were doing that there was supposed to be a puncture. Lough, pushed the car over the gorge, and told him (Forshaw) that he was going to collect the insurance money. Heyber stated that he was told to drive out and pick up Lough and Forshaw.
 Alister Bevin, of Whangarei, said Lough got the car from his firm on terms. He paid a third of the money and the balance was to be paid in twelve months. He owed £230 plus insurance and interest on the car. Witness was notified by Lough the day following the "accident," and was told that the insurance company would pay out. It was then found that the policy had expired two 'days before.' dropped 200 ft and cost £40 to recover. It was not worth that when brought back to the garage.
 Further evidence was submitted for the Crown, in the course of which it was stated that both the accused had been straightforward in their behaviour throughout the matter. Mr. Hall Skelton said Forshaw had not conspired with Lough, and stood to gain nothing out of the deal. He had acted in the capacity of an employee under directions from his employer. Oh the suggestion of his Honor, Mr. Meredith withdrew the charge of conspiracy leaving that of mischief standing. Mr. Hall Skelton contended that without their own admissions there was practically no evidence against either of the accused.
A country youth of 20 years, Forshaw had tried in vain to persuade Lough not to carry out the scheme. He had gone to the gorge because Lough had told him to do so, but he took no actual part in the pushing of the car over the cliff. In Heyber's defence, Mr. Luxford suggested that at the most he could only be charged with being an accessory after the fact, but according to New Zealand law that could not be held unless he had done something to enable the perpetrator of the main offence to escape his.responsibilities. Heyber had merely met Lough and Forshaw according to a prearranged plan.
His Honor directed the jury that there was no evidence by which Heyber could be found guilty, and as far as Forshaw was concerned, quoted an English, decision, that to be an aider and an abettor in any offence it was necessary to be more than a passive spectator as Forehaw had been. The jury, without leaving the box, returned a verdict of not guilty in respect of both accused, who were discharged.
Auckland Star, Volume LVII, Issue 103, 5 May 1926, Page 16


Auckland Star, Volume LVII, Issue 84, 10 April 1926, Page 14

Auckland Star, Volume LVII, Issue 85, 12 April 1926, Page 9

Auckland Star, Volume LVII, Issue 92, 20 April 1926, Page 8

Auckland Star, Volume LVII, Issue 103, 5 May 1926, Page 16

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Celebrating 150 years

Maungaturoto celebrates 150 years over this weekend. A re-enactment took place this morning at the new built wharf, followed by a through the ages Parade.  Afterwards at the Maungaturoto Country club events and other activities took place. You can see more on the Maungaturoto Community page on Facebook

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Creative Commons digital images of Maungaturoto & Districts

Over the last five years I've accumulated a lot of digital images of Maungaturoto and the surrounding areas. These are available under a creative commons license on my Flickr account. You can view the images here

Monday, May 27, 2013

Maungaturoto's Heritage Buildings

The second National Bank of NZ Maungaturoto Branch circa 1940
Architects Mitchell & Mitchell

With Maungaturoto turning 150 years old this year, a lot of research has been going in around the area by many willing people into Maungaturoto's past. A look at Kaipara District Council's current Heritage Schedule for the Annual District Plan has me concerned that there are many heritage buildings being left off the list. Maungaturoto in the past has been very lean on the heritage buildings being noted. Much of their history has been lost to time. Thankfully there's been further additions to the schedule, including the very iconic Maungaturoto Hotel.

Tender Notice Auckland Star, 2 January 1937, Page 17

 I was talking with a friend today in Maungaturoto, while I was photographing some of the work that has been done by the Maungaturoto Beautification Project volunteers, on the new gardens and steps in the township. My friend asked me if I knew when the former Maungaturoto Post Office (not photographed) had opened. To me it looked around 1930 or so. After a short bit of brief detective work thanks to Papers Past I have a date for what is now Coast to Coast Healthcare on the corner. This building was officially opened on 19 July 1937 (Auckland Star, 2 July 1937, Page 6). Present at the ceremony were MP for Kaipara the Right Honorable J. G Coates and the MP for Marsden J. G Barclay who opened the new post office. Barclay announced at the opening ceremony that the road between the Maungaturoto Co-operative Dairy Company out to the Maungaturoto Railway Station was to be tar sealed almost immediately, and with weather permitting would be completed by the end of the same year. (Auckland Star, 21 July 1937, Page 18).  I have serious concerns about the previous post office which is in rather poor condition. That particular building dates back from the 1914 period. It seems sadly doomed to be totally ignored. Its more fortunate neighbour dating from the same year is the former National Bank of NZ building which thankfully has been well taken care of, and its heritage characteristics maintained.

Maungaturoto Hotel circa 1902

We have of course the iconic Maungaturoto Hotel, which made national headlines over the granting of the licence to Maragret Sarah in June or so of 1902. The hotel's original owner Moss Davis was no stranger to controversy, an earlier application for the Opanake Hotel (now Kaihu Tavern) had also drawn the ire of the Temperance movement. In looking at the Maungaturoto Hotel, there is a strong and close association to the former Pahi Hotel (circa 1897) in the architectural design. The Pahi Hotel was designed by prominent Auckland based architect John Currie (c1859-1921). Currie designed a number of buildings for Moss Davis' Hancock & Co Brewery (also Captain Cook Brewery). Northland has a number of Currie designed buildings. At the the time of writing I'm still looking for any tenders for the erection of the Maungaturoto building. We do know that it was built at the yard of the well known Johnny Rowe, who owned a building company in Onehunga, and the builders had come from Auckland, it's possible no tender notices were ever issued  for this particular building. More to look into. I strongly suspect the Maungaturoto Hotel is also a John Currie design based on the Pahi Hotel plans.

Gittos Church, Tanoa circa 1874

The Gittos Church (above) was opened in March of 1874 and was designed by W. J Symonds. This building is sited on a place of  importance in the Kaipara's cultural history. The building is listed on the Register of Historic Places as a Category II Historic Place.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Scandalous Maungaturoto Hotel

Few would ever suspect the local Maungaturoto Hotel could have caused such a scandal. Back in 1902 though it was a hot topic. It started off with the transfer of a license when it was brought by the colourful Moss Davis then owner of the Captain Cook Brewery from Mrs Margaret .J Sarah of the Cornish Arms Hotel at Kaiwaka. As the law stood then, no licence could be transferred between licensed hotels more that a quarter of a mile away. Moss Davis must have had friends in the Waitemata Licensing Committee. Despite strong protests from some of the local Maungaturoto temperance movement the license was summarily granted by Stipend Magistrate Mr T. Hutchinson.

An article appeared in the Evening Post 18 July 1902
BY TELEGRAPH—Auckland Press Association)
AUCKLAND, 17th June 1902.

A crowded meeting was held in the Foresters Hall tonight to protest against the granting of a license at Maungaturoto. Mr George Fowlds M.H.R., the Rev. R. N. Davidson (Maungaturoto), the Rev. Mr Gittos (Wesleyan Missionary), Mr Wesley Spragg, The Rev. Mr Garland, Mr A. C. Caughey, and the Rev. Hugh Kelly spoke in favour of a resolution calling for enquiry into the declaration charging Mr. Hutchinson, S.M., with exhibiting bias in the conduct of the case. This was carried by a large majority.

The statutory declaration made by Mr. Fowlds, M.H.R., the Rev. Messrs Davidson (Congregational), and Gittos (Wesleyan), and Messrs H. Cullen and W. Spragg, states that they were present at the sitting of the Waitemata Licensing Committee, which was presided over by Mr. T. Hutchinson, Stipendiary Magistrate.

They then declare—that at that sitting an application was made in the name of Mrs Margaret Sarah for an accommodation license, to be issued for a new hotel building, at Maungaturoto, in lieu of one which was being allowed to lapse at Hakaru, over eight miles distant, Mr Moss Davis, brewer, being the declared beneficiary owner of the new house. That Maungaturoto is a Non-conformist settlement, with a history of nearly forty years, and hitherto taken pride in excluding the sale of liquor from its neighbourhood. That during the hearing of the application referred to Mr Hutchinson exhibited marked bias and unfairness in his treatment of witnesses.

Bias was shown by his complete failure to condemn a false description given by five carpenters, who were taken to Maungaturoto for the purpose of erecting the hotel building, and who would be leaving shortly after the building was completed, who signed the petition in favour of a license, describing themselves as “settlers, Maungaturoto,” the falsity of this description having been sworn to by a witness named Harrison, who had collected the signatures to the petition in favour of the license. That when the same witness for the applicant admitted, upon cross-examination, that at least four-fifths of the adult bona-fide residents of the whole of the Wairau Riding, which contains the settlement of Maungaturoto, were opposed to the granting of the License, the Magistrate again showed his bias by severely reprimanding the witness because he could not say that he had personally canvassed and carefully counted the numbers for and against the license, himself repeated a rumour which he said he had heard at Maungaturoto, “That many who had signed against the license would be very glad to see an hotel there, and would be the first to go for a nip when it was opened.” That during the examination of the Rev. Mr. Davidson Mr. Hutchinson asked of him from the Bench if he drank lager beer, and being told by the witness that he did not drink lager beer and did not know what it was, retorted, “You do not know what life is if you do not know what lager beer is.”

That from the beginning and throughout the hearing of the case, it was manifested that as far as the Chairman was concerned , the case was prejudged, and his influence was being used to discredit evidence from whatever source which was adverse to the application for the license. That it was given on sworn Testimony that the opposition of the residents of the district immediately concerned to the establishment of a house licensed to sell intoxicants was so strong that settlers had refused to sell sections for its accommodation, notwithstanding that high and tempting prices were offered. It was further proven before than Licensing Bench that 88 bona fide adult residents within the Wairau Riding (including a radius of 4½ miles from the proposed hotel) had petitioned against the granting of the license, while only about 20 similar residents had petitioned in favour of it. That the Magistrate, in giving his judgement, said that people living outside the Wairau Riding, but within a nine mile radius, of the proposed licensed house, had a right to an equal voice in locating the hotel with the bona fide residents with the affected settlement. That the Magistrate then declared that a majority of the settlers of this extended area had petitioned in favour of the license (a statement which we believe to be contradicted by the petitions then before the Court). That finally he did, in violation of the Act, which expressly provides that licenses may not be transferred from house to house when such houses are separated by a distance of more than a quarter of a mile, and against the petition of an overwhelming majority of the settlers of Maungaturoto proper, and to the grievous annoyance of many within the district, announce the license granted.

The matter didn't end there. George Fowlds took the matter all the way to parliament charging the Stipendory Magistrate T. Hutchinson with bias and for his removal - stating Mr Hutchinson 'was unfitted to hold the office of Stipendory Magistrate."

The Minister for Justice, however, didn't seem so convinced the charges would stick:

On the first charge of Bias the Minister replied

"If the Petitioners are in a position to prove the charge of bias their proper remedy is by way of proceedings in the Supreme Court which has the power to quash the license if to be illegally granted."

On the second issue of Mr Hutchinson's removal the Minister had this to say

"The petitioners allege that they believe the Magistrate is unfitted to hold the position, but it must be obvious that the Government would not be justified in acting upon such an expression of belief unsupported by any concrete facts or specific instances."

And just when you figured that was the end of the scandalous Maungaturoto Hotel Saga the building itself had its own tale to tell. The hotel of course still stands today there right beside a now much improved road bridge coming into the Maungaturoto Township.

This excerpt comes from This Valley in the Hills 1963 compiled by Dick Butler for the Maungaturoto Centennial Committee. 

Hakaru Hotel (called the Cornish Arms Hotel) was brought by the brewery interests from Mrs N. J. Sarah, and was transferred to Maungaturoto. There was only a limited time to build a new hotel and have the licence in use again or it would lapse. All new buildings for the breweries were constructed at this time by Johnny Rowe, who was Mayor of Onehunga (the forerunner of prefabricated buildings today) and intended to ship them on the barquentine May from the Manukau onto the Kaipara, and up to Point Curtis. There it was to be transferred onto barges for the trip up the river to Maungaturoto.

 The scheme was a good one in theory, but not work out of practice.The May was weather-bound inside the Manukau Heads for a week and the bar conditions were so bad she had no chance of getting out. Back went the May to Onehunga. The hotel was unloaded and loaded on a train to Helensville. At Helensville Captain Cecil (Sandy) Vause waited with the tug Tangihua and a cattle punt, and every other boat in the Kaipara which could be engaged for the cartage of the remainder was pressed into service.Captain Vause, who served all of his life on the Kaipara until the boat traffic ceased altogether, and who died earlier this year (1963) at the age of 78, told the story of the race against time to get the building to Maungaturoto. 

The cattle punt, which the Tangihua was towing, developed a leak coming across the harbour entrance, and started to list badly. The Tangihua let go the tow-line about Tinopai, and went back to tie up beside the punt. It looked at one stage as if the whole lot was going to capsize.The punt, still leaking badly, was run aground on the hard alongside the old Batley wharf. When the tide had dropped the plugs were pulled out of the punt, the water drained out, and replaced. She was refloated on the next high tide. “We then went for our lives for Maungaturoto with the barge still leaking,” recalled Captain Vause. Then it was “flat out” back to Point Curtis to unload bricks and cement off the steamer, and the rest of the building from other boats which could not make it up the creek to Maungaturoto. 

When all the materials were landed at Maungaturoto, they had to be dragged up the hill to the hotel site in the pouring rain. The frame was up, a door hung, and the licence nailed to the door – the day the time limit expired. 

 “Every time I went past the Maungaturoto Hotel after that I always thought of the hard work connected with getting it there,” continued Captain Vause. He said it was lucky any of it got there, apart from the leaking barge. The builders travelled on the Tangihua, and had a “ dinkum” party to pass the time. Even the Tangihua’s engineer, one “Scot” McKenzie, was drunk, and Captain Vause did not know how he even kept the engines going.
The hotel still stands today as a reminder of those good old bad days of the scandal that made national headlines for a tiny rural Northland township.