Friday, 15 January 2021

Bridges of Tauranga Borough, 1950s

From a contributer who wishes to remain anonymous.

These are my memories of life in Tauranga in the 1950s. It is amazing to think that of the 7 bridges we cross without a second thought in 2020, a mere 70 years ago 3 of them did not exist, 2 were single lane and both the rail bridges could be death traps. 

Matapihi rail bridge, Tauranga, under construction
Photograph by R.W. Meers, April 1917
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries/Pae Korokī, Ref. 02-059

Matapihi Railbridge was a train bridge only but was used quite extensively by Matapihi residents. There was no walkway, resulting in over 20 people losing their lives before the pedestrian walkway was added later.

Aerial view of Matapihi and Maungatapu, showing the beginning of the causeway bridge
Photograph by Astra Publicity, March 1958
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries/Pae Korokī, Ref. 01-340

There was no bridge at Maungatapu so to get to the Mount it was necessary to drive 17 miles around through Welcome Bay and Kairua Road.

Hairini Bridge under construction
Photograph by R.J. Rendell, 1920s
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries/Pae Korokī, Ref. 02-121

The old Hairini bridge (built in the 1920s accessed from 14th Ave and Turrett Road) was one lane with a raised passing bay in the centre. This was to allow access to the Waimapu river traffic from earlier times.

Wairoa river bridge, with cart and horse-drawn carriage
Photograph by R.W. Meers, c1909
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries/Pae Korokī, Ref. 02-050

The Wairoa River was crossed by a single lane concrete bridge. When there was a group of us needing to cross to get to our senior Pony Club instructor’s farm, she would come to meet us and ensure that the traffic from the North did not try to cross and frighten the horses.

Kopurererua Stream, Tauranga
Photograph by Fred Bicker, c1920
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries/Pae Korokī, Ref. 02-356

The small bridge over the Kopu Canal is in the same position but the stream itself was realigned in the early 40s as illustrated above.

Aerial view of Ōtūmoetai showing the new Chapel Street causeway and bridge
Photograph by Bay of Plenty Times, c1960
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries/Pae Korokī, Ref. 99-1399

Chapel Street ‘causeway’ bridge did not exist so all cars had to travel to and from Otumoetai via Waihi Rd. Prior to it’s construction, in 1959, pedestrians and cyclists used the adjacent railway bridge but one had to be very careful that the bicycle wheels did not get caught in the gaps of the plank decking. Of course all the locomotives were big steam-belching and smoking monsters and rather scary.

There was no Harbour Bridge but a good passenger ferry service connected with 3 wharves on the Mount side, Aerodrome Wharf, Salisbury Wharf and the stone jetty at the base of the Mount.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club Centennial Celebrations

The Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary. Over the past century the club, established in a Devonport Road barber shop, has made a significant contribution to the boating scene in New Zealand. One aspect of this contribution can be seen suspended from the ceiling of their Sulphur Point clubroom - a seven-footer made with planks of golden kauri. As one of the first p-class constructed, it symbolises the long and celebrated connection of Te Awanui Tauranga Moana to this important little boat.

The boat’s designer Harry Highet, at the time a draughtsman for the Public Works Department, moved to Tauranga in 1923 bringing the plans and the boat ‘Roselle’ with him. The Tauranga boating community was quick to appreciate its potential. In 1924 ten boats were constructed and the design was adopted as the club’s fourth class for racing. With names such as ‘Speedwell’, ‘Mistral’ and ‘Dottrell’, these boats were sailed by the sons of the founding members of the club. By 1926 the boat was referred to as the ‘Tauranga Class’ - the name p-class was adopted later as its popularity spread.

P-class racing on Tauranga Harbour photographed by Robert Rendell in the 1920s. The Strand is visible in the background
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, 0100/09

"Those who have been interested in the seven footers of this town, which have become known as the Tauranga Seven Footers, will be pleased to learn that, an enquiry has been received from Southern India for plans. The enquirer intends to use the little boat on a storage reservoir there. “The Field” published in England recently contained photographs and particulars of these little boats. Mr A. Tilney Long, C.B.E. British Consul in Lorenzo Marques, Portuguese East Africa, has written to Mr Highet, asking him to design a fourteen footer on the lines of the now famous seven footer. When the midgets were designed it was not expected that they would become a good advertising medium for Tauranga. One of the gentlemen who made inquiries has an idea of settling in New Zealand. Races for what are termed the 7ft. Tauranga class are now held in Wellington. All inquiries for plans should be addressed to Mr H.A. Highet, of Tauranga, who designed the seven footers.” Bay of Plenty Times, 9 January 1926

Brochure promoting the p-class published by the Tauranga Yacht Club in the 1960s
Tauranga Heritage Collection

National competitions were established in the 1940s, the Tauranga Cup (1940) and the Tanner Cup (1945). Both these races became steppingstones for New Zealand’s greatest sailors and local sailing legends like Jimmy Gilpin. In 1947 Highet generously gifted his copyright of the design to the Tauranga Yacht Club cementing the club’s ownership of the little boat.

Postscript: At the time of posting the 2021 P Class National Championship (Sun 3 Jan to Fri 8 Jan), hosted by the Charteris Bay Yacht Club, Canterbury, has finished and new champions found.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Arthur John Ingram, 10740 RNZN (1925–2020)


Jack Ingram was born to a farming family in New Zealand, the eldest and last survivor of a generation of seven children.  His father and uncles began sawmilling in Australia and he received some of his primary education in Bunyip in Victoria. While he was President of the Historical Society he returned there for a school reunion and later told those of us on the committee of his memories as a school boy being told to take a spade and kill any snakes on the cricket field before a game. The family returned to New Zealand and Jack attended Auckland Grammar School. He worked on farms for a while until he joined the RNZN and was sent to England to train for the Fleet Air Arm. WW2 ended before he saw active service and he studied for a Diploma of Agriculture at Massey College.

Arthur John Ingram, 10740 RNZN (1925-2020)

Jack’s career was in farming but he was committed to public service and he served on the Matamata County Council, South Auckland Education Board, Federated Farmers and Tauranga Harbour Board. He had a sharp, active mind and a strong sense of social justice fostered by his extensive reading and belief in socialism. For instance, he saw from the success of the dairy cooperatives the fair distribution of profits to the producer rather than the middle man. His time on the Kiwifruit Marketing Authority (later Zespri) saw these principles put into action again. Sir Walter Nash appointed Jack to the Board of the Reserve Bank.

Jack Ingram

The mother of their four children was Winnie McLaren and some years after her sudden death he married Joyce Allen who was known to many of us in the Historical Society. Jack had strong connections with his family and looked forward to school events, birthdays and graduations with his grandchildren. He loved music and sang in choirs and was a keen Scottish Country dancer. He had a phenomenal memory for, and a great interest in, history and was President of the Tauranga Historical Society for six years, took part in U3A history groups and was a member of the Founders’ Society.

The crowd of people at Jack’s funeral attested to the impact he had made on his community and the people who valued him. It was pleasing to see the men and women from Scottish dancing wearing kilts and sashes. Jack’s two sons Tom and Chris Ingram gave the eulogy. The funeral concluded with bagpipes followed by the Last Post, the Ode, and Reveille.

Friday, 1 January 2021

John Snodgrass

John Snodgrass
Image courtesy of Arnold Snodgrass

I first heard the name John Snodgrass when researching the Arabin family in 1985 in Ireland. We reached the townland of Moyvoughley in County Westmeath and talked to the current owners of the estate that belonged to the Arabins from 1703 to the 1850s. Charles Arabin R.M. was the last member of the family to live at Moyvoughley. He farmed cattle and was a Resident Magistrate, the career he continued in County Roscommon. While in Moyvoughley, Arabin was a member of the Moate Agricultural Committee and the Newtown Barn Agricultural School which promoted the improvement of agricultural methods in the County.

The estate was sold, then leased by William Dargan a famous railway engineer who was building the line from Mullingar to Athlone, and he grazed 300 horses on the land. At this time he employed Snodgrass, called locally the “Scottish agriculturalist” as his factor or farm manager. Snodgrass’s local fame lay in draining the Bugaun bog with a method known as jam shores. Some of his drains are still visible today.

Snodgrass house, Ōtūmoetai, 1917-1920
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library / Pae Korokī, Ref. 03-218

John Snodgrass was born in Renfrewshire in Scotland in 1814 and he married Barbara Graham.  Scottish agricultural methods were more advanced than in Ireland so he was welcome when he moved to Moate, a market town near Moyvoughley in light of the Newton Barn School and the Agricultural Committee. He left there after some years for the Greggs and Glinsk estate in Galway. Barbara Snodgrass’s brothers David and Robert Graham had emigrated to New Zealand earlier and were well established in Auckland. In 1861 the Snodgrass family decided to follow them and sailed on the Mermaid, arriving in Auckland in December.

Snodgrass set up as a carter and then, with his Graham connections, was appointed as a supervisor on the building of the Great South Road and a stockade at Clevedon. After an unsuccessful farming venture in Auckland, he was made bankrupt and spent some time in the Mount Eden debtors’ prison. In 1873 he sailed with his family for Tauranga to take up land at Ōtūmoetai. He and Barbara had ten children.

Playing tennis at Ōtūmoetai, 1917-1920, Foreground: Geoff Sharp, Lynn Snodgrass
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library / Pae Korokī, Ref. 03-218

With other farmers Snodgrass initiated the building of a cheese factory on Waihī Road, Tauranga but due to problems with keeping export cheese fresh the venture went into liquidation. His name remains in the district in Snodgrass Road, Te Puna.

Arabin, Shirley – No Petty People, the Arabin Family  - Moyglare Publishing, 2012
Snodgrass, Arnold – The History of the Snodgrass Family in New Zealand - 2011

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

New Books: A Path Through the Trees

Mary Sutherland graduated from the University College of North Wales (now Bangor University) in 1916. She was the first woman forestry graduate in the world, and during WW1 she worked with women in Britain’s forests; on a Scottish Baronet’s estates, then with the developing British Forestry Commission. Mary came to New Zealand in 1923 and was employed by the NZ State Forest Service. An educated woman with practical skills working in an entirely male-run industry created challenges. 

After losing her position for the second time following the 1932 Economic Commission report, Mary forged a new career in botany at the Dominion Museum. During World War 2, she supervised at the YWCA-administered War Workers’ Hostel in Woburn and at the end of the war, she was appointed the Department of Agriculture’s first farm forestry officer.

A conservationist, and life-long lover of trees, Mary maintained her membership with the New Zealand Institute of Foresters throughout life: she served on the NZIF council in 1935-36, and as vice president during 1941-42. Interested in the world and in travel, Mary was proud of her university training. Believing all women deserved higher education, she served on various committees and the executive, for the Wellington Branch of the Federation of University Women.

Vivien is grateful to the Stout Trust, and the New Zealand Institute of Forestry for enabling Mary’s story to be published.

Tauranga connections

Mary Sutherland’s niece was the late Frances Glendenning, who lived in Welcome Bay, and was a friend of the Tauranga Library. Known as Frankie, she collected Sutherland family information, which included nine letters written by Mary, her 1952 diary and photographs.

Marion Stewart, who was Margaret Mackersey’s aunt, was a friend to Mary Sutherland. Marie, as she was called, owned the chicken farm ‘Cheriton.’ She set up the Tauranga Egg Marketing Cooperative which supplied American forces in the Pacific with eggs and chickens, and she was a long-standing member of the Tauranga Hospital Board. Mary and Marie’s cruise together in Fiordland in 1950 is a chapter in the book, written using information taken from Marie Stewart’s diary and Mary’s family letter.

Violet MacMillan was born in Katikati in 1902 and died in Tauranga in 1981. She was the first supervisor at the Woburn War Workers’ Hostel in World War 2 and  returned a year later to her position at Otago University College. Mary Sutherland who had been working as assistant supervisor, then took over as supervisor.

The author

Originally a trained nurse, Vivien Edwards worked as a freelance writer for over 20 years. She used to be a regular contributor to New Zealand Forest Industries magazine, hence her interest in how a woman came to be working in this country’s forests in the 1920s and 30s. Vivien has an interest in research, and Mary Sutherland’s story is her third book. The others were ‘Winkelmann: Images of Early New Zealand’ (Benton Ross 1987) and ‘Battling the Big B: Hepatitis B in New Zealand’ (Dunmore Publishing Ltd. 2007). As many readers will be aware, Vivien is also an active member of the Society and a past contributer to this blog.

A Path through the Trees has been reviewed on Kete Books and is available from Books A Plenty or directly from the author (Email).