Friday, 27 December 2019

Putting Matters Right

How W.P. Bell was elected as a Dairy Co-op Director, 1933-34

It’s possible that in 1933 William Pool Bell of Townhead Farm on Cambridge Road stood for election as Director of the Tauranga Co-Operative Dairy Association expecting merely to fill his father’s shoes. Walter Common Bell’s ill health had led to his resignation in 1925 after fourteen years’ service, and he died the next year. [1] But those eight short years had seen a collapse of butter prices and increasing anxiety about New Zealand’s sensitiveness to “external conditions.” [2] W.P. Bell, elected third on the ballot on 8 August, was in for a bumpy ride. [3]

William Pool Bell, June 1943. Image collection of Margaret Mackersey, nee Bell
The usual fuels for anxiety – rumour and controversy – were already at work. Well ahead of the 31 May 1932 balance date, the possibility that suppliers would be paid a mere seven pence per pound of butter was scotched by a statement in the Bay of Plenty Times. [4] The same statement, however, confirmed the gloomy reality that the payout would remain at ninepence-ha’penny. Later that year L. Tollemache stepped down as Chairman, a post he had held since 1927. [5] And at the 1933 meeting, chaired by his successor P.T. Keam, he was asked to publicly explain why, back in 1930, he had turned down the opportunity to improve the Co-op’s books by the sum of £2000.

The question turned on a lease of just over an acre of land owned by the Church Mission “under the old Military Cemetery.”  The 1930 Directors explained the rationale to the Co-op shareholders: they had “planned out a suitable area for a future factory [3 roods, 15 perches] when increase warrants it; the intention is to sublet the balance [1 acre 1 perch], which part we anticipate will practically leave us rent free. The site is adjacent to both deep water and the railway and will be a considerable saving in cartage of cream and stores.”[6]

None of these plans came to anything. The Board was still paying out £100 a year in ground rent when Tollemache was challenged at the 1933 general meeting by G Chapman of Te Puna, who asked “... if Mr Tollemache had received an offer for the land on the waterfront ... [and] if Mr Tollemache had advised the directors of any offer.”[7]

Tollemache averred that he had received an unspecific offer (from a Mr Green on behalf of the Shell Oil Company, to use as a depot) and had advised the Directors of it. All this occurred shortly after the lease had been taken. But now, one by one, the Directors told the meeting that they either were not aware of the offer or had not been on the Board at the time. We can only infer that this ambush affected his chances in the ballot. 

The votes were cast as the meeting traversed district meetings (fruitful opportunities for the exchange of rumour and opinion), the price suppliers paid for their butter (a loading of 2d. per pound!), and a break for lunch. They were counted after the appointment of scrutineers (and a wrangle over ballot closing time and methods), an address by the local MP (and former Chairman of the Association), C.E. McMillan, and discussion of several sundry items including a vote of thanks to the Dairy Factory manager and his staff. And Tollemache came narrowly fifth in a four-horse race [8] behind W.P. Bell [9] and C.O. Bayley.

Advert from Dairy Exporter's edition of the 1934 Report of Dairy Commission, p.19
All directors were present at the Board meeting on 9 September, the first that William Bell attended.  No mention of the recent general meeting appears in the Minutes. He successfully moved that a response to a letter of complaint from Mrs Kelso of the Womens Institute, seeking correction of a flawed advertisement, be made. [10] This was to introduce him early to anxiety levels in the dairy industry; even this small gesture had consequences.

Meanwhile, Tollemache had his champions. The adverse implications of his treatment of the Shell offer could not be allowed to stand. His supporter J. Hopkins lodged notice of a motion to remove Messrs Lever and Keam from the directorate. Keam chaired the extraordinary general meeting called to deal with this on 23 September, an unruly affair of claim and counter-claim, bearing a remarkable resemblance to twenty-first century website comment strings. Even a direct quote from the 1930 Minutes [11], confirming that on 12 April of that year the Chairman had not only received an offer (price not stipulated) and had advised the directors that he had turned it down, but also had had this decision endorsed by the Directors (moved Keam, seconded Lever) did not settle things down.

It comes as no surprise that the row descended into a procedural wrangle about the use of proxies in a proposed poll on the motion, vague references to legal opinions and “see you in Court” remarks.
At the Directors’ next meeting, on 14 October, William was prominent in support of moves by another Board member, Mr W.J. White, to regularise the stand-off between Chairman and former Chairman. [12] White wanted an opinion from the Board’s solicitors and preferred not to rely on Mr Keam’s own lawyer’s opinion. He moved accordingly. William seconded. Keam bristled. He considered this a personal, not a company, matter. "He had a perfect right to receive and pay for advice from whom he pleased." [13]

White got testy. This was a slight on the Company’s solicitors. [14] Would the Chairman indemnify the Company for costs entailed in a Court case? William temporised. "If the Chairman was prepared to get a written opinion from his Solicitors ... he would be perfectly satisfied. He would like also, as a matter of courtesy to have an opinion from the Company’s Solicitors, as he considered they were slighted.”

The move to avoid potential discourtesy to Sharp, Tudhope & Auld did not succeed, but the Chairman assured the meeting that a written legal opinion "as asked by Mr Bell" would be obtained. [15]

White, not yet placated, aired two further points of displeasure. He wished to correct a statement of the Chairman’s that was contrary to fact: he had not taken round the ‘Requisition’ to remove Messrs Keam and Lever. The Chairman conceded that he had relied on hearsay. White also pointed out that not only had no reply yet been made to Mrs Kelso; the Chairman had breached Company confidence by handing on her letter to “a third person”. The Chairman conceded again. He explained that an organiser of the Institute, visiting recently, had expressed concern that Mrs Kelso’s letter contained statements which (again) were contrary to fact. The Chairman had given her a copy in an attempt to help "put the matter right."

The energetic local atmospherics of Tauranga’s dairy industry of the 1930s illustrate, as well as desperate financial strain, a deep sense of concern for fair treatment that found immediate expression in the 1934 Commission and the (quite prompt) rehabilitation of L. Tollemache in the opinion of Tauranga farmers. [16] This concern continues to reverberate today.  Co-operatives rely on a sense of justice, driven by economics as well as social conscience. The long tradition of "putting matters right" can be aligned with modern anxieties about attitudes to dairying and a sense of division between country and town.  Tauranga dairy farmers were a spirited lot, but they ultimately stayed very loyal to a practice of sharing the risks of commodity production - and staying on side with the urbanites who bought their butter.

[1] Obituary, Bay of Plenty Times, Vol LIV, Issue 9262, 16 August 1926,
[2] Report of the Dairy Industry Commission, H-30 of 1934,
[3] Acknowledgements are due to Bell’s daughter Margaret Mackersey, who kindly allowed access to his small archive of Minutes and associated papers from his time as Director of the Tauranga Co-Operative Dairy Company.
[5] He took over from C E McMillan, MP who held office until 1926:
[8] Ibid: It seems to have been a preferential voting process: total votes cast were significantly fewer than votes enumerated for the seven nominees.
[9] Ibid: Bell may not have been present when the results were announced.  The BP Times records thanks to supporters being offered only by Keam, Clarke and Bayley.
[10] Bell archive, Minutes of meeting of Board of Directors 9 September 1933, p.2., Collection of Margaret Mackersey, nee Bell
[12] Bell archive, Minutes of meeting of Board of Directors 14 October 1933 p.4., Collection of Margaret Mackersey, nee Bell
[13] Ibid: all further quotes are from this source.
[14] Sharp, Tudhope & Auld, a firm still practising in Tauranga.
[15] Op. cit: Bell archive, 14 October 1933. Perhaps indicating that the legal opinion had yet to be put into writing? Collection of Margaret Mackersey, nee Bell
[16] He was re-elected in 1934 (W. P. Bell did not stand) and was still being elected to the Association in 1945:

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Gilmore’s Store

The Exchange, J. Gilmore's General Grocery & Produce Store, c. 1900s
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. N6F6D5

Gilmore’s store, known as The Exchange, was situated on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Cameron Road. It was purchased in 1880 by John and Letitia Gilmore who both emigrated from Ireland in the 1870s.

The store sold general merchandise, hardware, and grain, as well as providing accommodation. In 1974 the site was cleared for a car yard and Eric and Val Diggleman donated the building to the Historic Village, where it remains today.

Friday, 20 December 2019

John Lees Faulkner (1807-1882)
Photo Tauranga City Libraries Image Collection, Ref. 00-208
John Lees Faulkner was an early trader, ship builder and farmer and he and his thousands of descendants have left an indelible mark on the fabric of our society.

Because of the digital age in which we now live new information has come to light in recent times It appears that John was the son of a Nottinghamshire store man and a seamstress-not a Yorkshire farmer as was previously believed and that his date of birth was 1807, not 1811. Apprenticed to a shoemaker, in his early teens he was arrested and charged as being an accomplice (i.e.lookout) for two known pick pockets. After spending time in a prison hulk he was transported to NSW,Australia on the Princess Royal arriving on the 26th March, 1821. He was set to work in a Port MacQuarie dockyard and taught the art of a ship building. His  certificate of freedom was dated 22nd October, 1828

It does not seem to be known how or when he reached New Zealand but the following extract from Papers Past seems to indicate that he may have fathered a child around that time.

The Bay of Plenty Times extract, March 3rd, 1913
Courtesy of Papers Past
After reaching the Bay of Islands he met and began a family with Ruawahine, their son Joseph was baptised in Kororakea (Russell) by Henry Williams in 1835. Several trips were made to Tauranga Moana and they lived for a short time with her people in Maungatapu. They established a trading post and later built their 4 room homestead, Okorore, on family land near the large Otumoetai Pa.

In 1842 Rev. Alfred Brown at Te Papa Mission Station was pleased to marry them in the chapel at the Te Papa Mission Station and the two families became lifelong friends.

The Faulkners thrived in many senses of the word, John built many small ships and several larger ones and they had at least 13 children.* There were 6 sons, 5 daughters and 2 infants who died. John (Jnr) passed on at 13 and Alfred never married but Joseph, Jarvis, George and Christopher had 31 children between them.

Headstone for Daniel and Jane Sellars, Cliff Road Cemetery, Tauranga
Photo Julie Green
Captains Daniel Sellars and Christopher Faulkner became very involved in local and coastal shipping and the Faulkner family were the tribal trading agents where flax, pigs, kumara, maize and wheat were exchanged for blankets, clothing, iron tools and farming implements. John Lees owned a four horse threshing machine used by local Maori for over 20 years. In 1860 he was commissioned as the first Tauranga postmaster for 5 pounds annually, a role he had been filling for several years anyway.

Headstone for Faulkner family, Cliff Road Cemetery, Tauranga
Photo Julie Green
Ruawahine’s daughters were Elizabeth Beazley, Maria Maxwell, Jane Sellars, Eliza Bush and Isabella Neighbour. These marriages eventually resulted in another couple of dozen grandchildren. Ruawahine (also so known as Elizabeth at times) died aged 44 in 1855 and was interred in the Mis-sion Cemetery, John Lees died in 1882 aged 75 and is buried there also. He passed on suddenly while resting at his son’s Yorkshire Grey Hotel after a visit to his oldest friend Alfred Brown.

Elizabeth Faulkner who lived to be 91 and was buried in the Tauranga Anglican Cemetery
Photo Tauranga City Libraries Image Collection, Ref. 00-210
In 1857 John L. married a second time, an old acquaintance from England, 35 year-old Elizabeth Humphries. She produced one more son, John Daniel, who in middle age ommenced a ferry service to the Mount. He was tragically killed in 1917 on his boat Farina, but his sons George and Barley and grandson Charlie carried on. Faulkners Ferries were faithful and famous for 60 years and prior to 1960 acted as tugboats for the shipping when required.

Faulkners' store, c. 1920
Photo Tauranga City Libraries Image Collection, Ref. 99-730
Another of John Daniel’s sons, Arthur, set up his own store at 11th Ave (MacDonalds site) in 1921 and this area became known as Faulkners Corner. Arthur’s middle son Eric became Mayor of Tauranga in 1977 and Faulkner Park in Judea is named for him.

The homestead Okorore was moved to 17th Ave Historic Village in 1990 from Beach Rd and is presently in use as an art studio by another descendant, Aroha Matthews. Faulkner’s eldest son Joseph was her great great grandfather and is part of the huge Pirirakau Iwi from Te Puna. Joseph’s 6 daughters married into the Tangitu, Bidois, Borell, Heke, Smith and Nicholas families.

Memorial, Cliff Road Cemetery, Tauranga
Photo Julie Green
In 2004/5 there was a reunion and an attempt to break the world record of more than 2,600 descendants in one place together. It is believed that  about 800 attended this event.

In March 2020 there is to be another, I wonder how many will be there…..

*I note that there is an extra child recorded on the Tauranga Kete as Porina(Pauline) being born c1855, possibly shortly before the death of Ruawahine in Sept 1855. I assume this may be recent information as she is not recorded in any other sources that I have read.


Tauranga 1882-1982 The Centennial of Gazetting Tauranga as a Borough—Alan Bellamy for TCC 1982
Maritime Tauranga-Max Avery 2013. (quotes on page 8 from Faulkner Book by Jackie Lloyd, 2004)
Papers Past — Bay of Plenty Times, March 3rd 1913
Tauranga Historical Society Journal Nos. 16 and 36.
Faulkner File in Heritage and Research Collection, Tauranga City Library.
Jinty Rorke, "Faulkner, John Lees," Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990.
Te Ara — the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, (updated Nov 7th, 2017 by Debbie McCauley)
Informants: Patrick Nicholas, Graham Faulkner, Ngaiiti Faulkner

Friday, 13 December 2019

Captain Jack and the Prince of Denmark Schooner, 1831-1832

Early Sailing Vessels and Visitors to Tauranga, Part VI.

Built in 1789 at Kirkudbright Scotland, on the Dee River, which flows into the Irish Sea, the 70 ton schooner Prince of Denmark spent most of its working life in Australian and New Zealand waters. Commissioned as a revenue cutter, Kirkudbright’s shipbuilders constructed a fast, relatively light schooner, intended to intercept smugglers. Though theoretically too light for these roles, the vessel spent long periods in the sealing and whaling trade from the 1820s, and frequently carried cargo and passengers between New South Wales and New Zealand. [1]

The harbour of Kirkudbright, River Dee, Scotland
Among the many skippers employed by her various Sydney owners was Captain Jack, an opportunist adventurer given to drink, like so many of his peers, who faced constant hardship and danger in their quest for profitable cargoes. In early 1831, he took the Prince of Denmark into Tauranga Harbour to complete his cargo of flax, timber and salted pork, before returning to Sydney. Captain Jack found the various Tauranga hapu still in a state of excitement, having defeated an amphibious, predatory expedition of Ngapuhi and Ngati Kuri from the Bay of Islands a few months previously. [2]

Led by the Ngati Kuri tohunga Te Haramiti, the invading 150-200 strong musket taua (expedition), had voyaged southwards to the Bay of Plenty in seven waka taua (war canoes,) transporting two ships’ cannon. After surprising, killing and enslaving some Ngai Te Rangi people on Tuhua (Mayor Island), they crossed to Motiti Island and camped on Hurepupo, a plateau (long since eroded away) at the centre of the spit where it curves away to the old Matarehua Pa. [3]

The invaders were then surprised by a combined amphibious force of 1000 Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Haua and Te Whaktohea warriors led by their respective rangatira Hori Tupaea, Te Waharoa and Titoko. Following a fierce exchange of musket fire and hand to hand fighting the invaders were defeated and Te Haramiti was killed. The enemy slain were cooked and devoured, and their waka, cannon, muskets and heads seized as trophies by the victors. After returning to Tauranga, the victors sold the toi moko  or cured tattooed heads of 14 northern chiefs to Captain Jack. [4]

Motiti Spit, the site of 1831 battle and the long vanished plateau of Hurepupo
When the Prince of Denmark returned to the Bay of Islands on 16 March 1831, the missionaries Henry Williams and Thomas Chapman went on board and were horrified when they saw that many of the toi moko were ‘relatives of the principal chiefs at the Bay of Islands.’ [5] Undeterred by their remonstrations:
The master of the ship in a state of tipsy jollity, brought up a sack containing twelve heads and rolled them out on the deck. Some of the New Zealanders on board recognised their fathers’ heads, others those of brothers, and friends. Appalling weeping and lamentations rent the air, and the natives fled precipitately from the ship. [6]
A Dreadful Recognition: Captain Jack displays his tattooed heads
Before they left the vessel, the Ngapuhi visitors swore vengeance. Fearing a taua ito or blood vengeance raid, Captain Jack and the Prince of Denmark promptly departed for Sydney. There, the missionary leader Samuel Marsden also went aboard. After viewing the 14 toi moko, Marsden made strong representations to the New South Wales authorities. Governor Darling banned the New Zealand head trade later that year. [7]

Undeterred, Captain Jack was soon back trading in New Zealand waters. In 1832, during Ngapuhi’s artillery siege at Otumoetai Pa he again took the Prince of Denmark into Tauranga Harbour. When they recognized the schooner, the Ngapuhi artillerymen bombarded the vessel from the shore. Once again, Captain Jack was compelled to make a rapid departure to escape their wrath. [8]

In the remaining years preceding the Treaty of Waitangi and long after, the Prince of Denmark continued its role as whaler, trader and a passenger vessel, conveying a mix of missionaries, whalers, sawyers, colonists and colonial officials across the Tasman Sea. In 1863, following 74 years of service, the Prince of Denmark was driven ashore in a storm and wrecked at a remote whaling station in the Coral Sea’s Chesterfield Island group. [9] The fate of Captain Jack is unknown.

[1] Prince of Denmark,
[2] Kirkudbright’s Prince of Denmark, by David R. Collin,
[3] Bentley, Trevor, Tribal Guns and Tribal Gunners, WilsonScott, Christchurch, 2014: 62-64.
[4] Rusden, G. W. History of New Zealand, Vol I: Chapman and Hall, London, 1883: 133.
[5] Williams, Henry, The Early Journals of Henry Williams, 1826-1840, L.M. Rogers (comp.), Pegasus Press, Christchurch, 1961: 174.
[6] Thomson, Arthur, The Story of New Zealand, Vol. II, John Murray, London, 1859: 263.
[7] Marsden, Samuel, The Letters and Journals of Samuel Marsden, 1765-1838, J. Elder (ed.), Coulls Sommerville, Dunedin, 1932: 498-499.
[8] Yate, William, An Account of New Zealand, Seeley and Burnside, London, 1835: 131.
[9] Prince of Denmark Schooner, Australia,

1 The Harbour Kirkudbright,
2 Motiti Spit, Motiti Island, Bay of Plenty, author’s collection.
3  Arthur McCormick, ‘A Dreadful Recognition,’ in Horsley, Reginald, Romance of Empire: New Zealand, T.C. and E.C. Jack, London, 1908: 122.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Croquet at the Mount

The Mt Maunganui Croquet Club, undated photograph
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 24842

Some time ago a photograph of women enjoying a game of croquet at the Tauranga Domain in the early 1900s featured on this blog. Here is another group of croquet playing women but this time at the base of the Mount possibly in the 1930s or 1940s.

‘The Mt Maunganui Croquet Club’ has been handwritten on the reverse of this photograph. While there are no details of a Mount Maunganui Croquet Club in A History of Mount Maunganui, there is mention of a women’s bowling club in the 1940s occupying the site where the Mount Hot Pools are now located.

Friday, 6 December 2019

The East Coast Railway

Beginning of East Coast Railway Bridge, Tauranga. Postcard by Henry Winkelmann (Tourist Series 999)
Published by Frank Duncan & Co., Auckland. Collection of Justine Neal
The first reference for a railway to Tauranga was made in January 1873 when it was suggested that a line from Cambridge to Tauranga be built, but this was not favourably received at the time. In March 1879 it was proposed that any railway to be built should be between Tauranga and Rotorua. The Government couldn’t find the money to carry out this work so The Tauranga and Hot Lakes and East Coast District was formed in 1882 to construct the line. A struggle to raise the capital continued until 1887 without result.

First Train to cross Bridge & enter Tauranga. Mirrielees Photo 50
Courtesy of the Brain Watkins House Collection
By 1905 the railway from Hamilton reached Waihi and interest was shown in a possible route to Tauranga via Waihi. In 1904 a survey was made from Waihi to Katikati and by December 1908 had reached Tauranga. In March 1912 Sir Joseph Ward, the Prime Minister, turned the first sod on the Waihi-Tauranga line. In 1910 the Government decided to use Mount Maunganui as the headquarters for the construction of the East Coast railway. The first sod was turned by the Minister of Public Works 12 April 1910. The first scheduled trains began running from Mount Maunganui to Te Puke on 10 October 1913.

Railway Bridge, Tauranga, N.Z. (4821). Photographer unknown
Published by Tanner Bros. Ltd., Wellington. Collection of Justine Neal
Local interests were still keen to have the line extended to Tauranga. There was much discussion involving the route this line was to take. At one stage it was to come off the bridge, pass along Elizabeth St. and through to the Waikareao Estuary but it was finally decided to adopt the present route. A start on this section of line was made in March 1914 but because of the shortage of steel during the war it was not until February 1924 that the bridge was completed and the rails laid to the Town Wharf. On February 26, 1924 the Manawatu Standard reported:
Tauranga Harbour Bridge. Important Ceremony. Mr. C. E. McMillan, M.P assisted by Mr. B. Dive, Mayor of Tauranga, performed the ceremony this afternoon of driving the last rivet in the railway bridge across Tauranga Harbour, an important link in the east coast railway, connecting Tauranga with the eastern portion of the Bay of Plenty. Sir Maui Pomare was also present, representing the government. The bridge has 14 spans of 105 feet each and each weighing 85 tons and 15 sets of cylinders, varying in length from 15 feet to 110 feet. It is expected to be about three months before the bridge is opened for regular traffic.

Harbour and Railway Bridge, Tauranga, N.Z. Photographer unknown
Published by Frank Duncan & Co. Ltd., Auckland. Tourist Series 8168. Collection of Justine Neal
By 1925 the line to Taneatua was completed but the link between Taneatua and Moutuhora was never completed and so a small rural town inland from Whakatane became the railhead for the East Coast Railway. A great gala day was planned for the opening of the railway station on January 21, 1926. Visitors from all parts of the Bay were present and a special excursion train arrived at the Taneatua station at 11.45pm when the opening ceremony was performed, followed by a lunch at the Taneatua Hall. The children of the district were taken for a trip in the train over the bridge, which spans the Whakatane River at Taneatua. People travelling from Tauranga to Taneatua could catch a train on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, arriving at Taneatua at 12.05 pm. The return train left at 1.05 pm, arriving at Tauranga at 5.40 pm.

Tauranga, N.Z. Photographer unknown
Royal Series. Collection of Justine Neal
The connection to the North Island Main Trunk Line was completed with the finishing of the Katikati – Wairoa Bridge section in 1928. The March 28 1928 edition of the Bay of Plenty Times ran the following story.
Tauranga is en fete today for the opening of the East Coast railway, between Waihi and Taneatua. Approximately 15,000 people assembled on the Strand, which is gaily decorated. There were many hundreds of Maoris, who accorded the Ministerial party an effusive welcome. The official party included the Hons. J. G. Coates, K.S. Williams and A.D. McLeod. The Hon. J.G. Coates was accorded a wonderful welcome. In replying, he traced the history of the railway operations in the Bay of Plenty, and referred to the consummation of their hopes and their endeavours. The gathering today was the largest in the history of the Bay. The town was gaily decorated and a big programme of attractions was arranged for the day and the evening. Trains from Tauranga and Waihi brought about 5000 visitors, the feature of which are great assemblages of children and of Maoris.
Tauranga, N.Z. Photographer unknown. Collection of Justine Neal
Today only freight trains rumble along the Strand and over the bridge on their way to the port at Mt. Maunganui. The last passenger train to run in Tauranga was at the Jazz festival in 2009. The line to Taneatua was run as the end section of the East Coast Main Trunk from 1928 – 1978. Freight services continued to be operated on the line until 2001, the line was closed in 2003. In 2015, a rail cart operation, Awakeri Rail Adventures, was established on the section of the line between Awakeri and Rewatu Road.

Papers Past.
Tauranga 1882 – 1982.
Going By Train. Graham Hutchins.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Arthur Dagley

Dagley building, c. 1920s, Photographer unknown
Image courtesy of Tauranga Library Ref. 99-1154
This largely self taught artist was born in Hastings in 1919 but resident in Tauranga from toddlerhood where his father had a large drapery. Arthur worked there as a young man but studied and took courses with other well known artists such as Claudia Jarman, Paul Olds, Louise Henderson, Rudi Gopas, Garth Tapper and Colin McCahon. 

He spent at least 3 decades as a professional artist, first exhibiting in Elizabeth St in 1966 and the Hamilton Art Gallery the following year.

Tauranga port scene, by Arthur Dagley
Private Collection
One of NZ’s most underrated painters, possibly as a result of his loyalty to this city. Dagley had his own private gallery but it was his vision to see Tauranga with a pubic facility. Ironically there was a posthumous exhibition and sale of many of his works in the Tauranga Public Art Gallery many years after his passing in 1998.

Arthur had a love affair with the port and shipping as a subject but also produced landscapes, seascapes and figures. A lot of his work was rather abstract and he also used mixed media.

Tauranga harbour scene, by Arthur Dagley
Private Collection
Dagley was a prolific artist whose style was forever developing and changing. During his full-time painting career of three decades, he exhibited in approximately 50 solo exhibitions and numerous group shows, and was a 1968 Benson & Hedges Art Award finalist and recipient of the National Bank Art Award in 1973. Examples of his work are held in several collections including the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

He was an elder of St Peter’s Presbyterian Church and contemporary and friend of other well known residents such as Lynne Harpham (nee Christian), Alf Rendell and Duff Maxwell.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The Foresters’ Hall

Foresters’ Hall, Spring St, Tauranga
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection. Photograph by and with permission of Alf Rendell
The Foresters’ Hall at the Historic Village in 17th Avenue originally stood in Spring Street as Tauranga Court Royal Oak No.6497 of the Ancient Order of Foresters. The earliest records of the “Royal Foresters” in Britain date from 1745, and from 1834 they adopted the name of “Ancient Order of Foresters.” The principles of forestry are considered akin to the deeds of Robin Hood and his merry men in Sherwood Forest with the emphasis on helping the less fortunate.

Ladies’ Restroom, Spring St, Tauranga, 1958
Image courtesy of Tauranga District Libraries. Ref. 99-369
The Lodge in Tauranga was first established in 1880 as a Friendly Society to provide against hardship in the days before social welfare commenced as a government function. There was both a Grand Templars’ and a Manchester Unity Lodge in Tauranga for some years. A Masonic Lodge was founded in Tauranga in 1902 and in Mount Maunganui in 1951.  All held to the principles of Friendly Societies.

Court Royal Oak in Tauranga flourished and in 1908 built the hall. It was described at the time as being 36 by 18 feet with a 12 foot stud and divided into two rooms.  The interior décor included an elaborate floral stencilled frieze below the cornice and a colourful centreflower in the ceiling.

Foresters’ Hall relocated to Historic Village, 17th Avenue, Tauranga
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection
By the 1930s the lodge as an organisation was defunct and the Borough Council, in whom the hall had been vested, took over the hall. In 1934 the Council moved it to the back of the Spring Street section and had a ladies’ restroom erected at the front. St. John’s cadets and the Municipal Band used the hall, and in 1989 the Council moved it to the Historic Village.

Foresters’ Hall, Historic Village, 17th Avenue, Tauranga
Imaged courtesy of Heritage New Zealand. Photograph by Janet Hetherington
The exterior of the hall is unaltered with the arched entrance to a porch opening matching two arched windows on each side. The façade also has an arch in the centre. The front wall is weatherboard while the sides and rear are clad in corrugated iron. Wooden pilasters stand at each corner of the building supporting a cornice across the front suggesting a classical style. The centreflower remains in the ceiling and the doors, architraves and skirting appear to be original. Attached to an interior wall is a cabinet from the Te Puke Foresters’ Lodge that includes a lodge document and list of members.

Source: Arabin, Shirley. Heritage New Zealand file.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Changing Tauranga CBD - Part 2

My July post, which shared images of city centre buildings demolished in the past year, received a comment that it was hoped I had more photographs capturing changes around town over the last decade. Fortunately, I can oblige and for this post I thought it would be interesting to add an ‘after’ photo as well. I have enough images for a couple of posts so watch this space.

001 Fiona Kean, 11 October 2016, Private Collection
This photograph, taken from the top floor of Harrington House in October 2016, shows the cleared site of 15-17 Harington Street. Aspen Park, sometimes referred to as Aspen Reserve, is visible to the rear of the site.

002 Fiona Kean, 26 August 2016, Private Collection
Prior to demolition this villa, which occupied 15 Harington Street, was a bar and nightclub. At one time it was also described as a casino. Although the construction date of this villa is not known it does appear on a survey map of the town completed in 1934 by G. Duncan. This photograph, taken in late August 2016, shows the demolition process underway.

003 Fiona Kean, 16 October 2019, Private Collection
This photograph is of a portion of the new building that occupies 15 Harington Street. The building is known as ‘The Reserve’, a nod to the park behind. The tree to the right of villa, visible in previous image, gives a sense of scale between the old and new buildings.

004 Fiona Kean, 7 November 2017, Private Collection
This photograph, looking south from the top floor of Harrington House, provides a bird’s-eye view of the final stages of the demolition of Tauranga City Council’s administration building at 91 Willow Street.

005 Fiona Kean, 17 January 2017, Private Collection
This photograph of the Tauranga City Council’s former administration building was taken on the corner of Willow and Hamilton Streets in January 2017. The 30 000 square ft building took 17 months to construct and was opened in 1972. Demolition began in October 2017.

006 Fiona Kean, 16 October 2019, Private Collection
Described as a ‘container city’, Our Place, a temporary retail, hospitality and entertainment space now occupies the site.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

The Strand Ablaze

The Strand Fire, Tauranga, 12/11/16, by Tarr Photo (G N Tarr)
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 0248/09

This dramatic photograph, sold as a postcard, was taken on 12 November 1916 at approximately 2am as twelve buildings on The Strand, including the Commercial Hotel, burnt to the ground. A subsequent inquiry found that the blaze started at Joseph Bird’s fruit and confectionery store. The cause of the fire was unknown but, according to Superintendant Gumbley, almost certainly spread ‘due to the breaking open of the shop’s doors and windows.’ Fortunately the alarm was raised quickly and no lives were lost.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Charles Spencer (1854-1933) – Part IV – Colour Portraits

Hand-coloured photographic enlargement of a portrait of Rev. A.N. Brown
by the Universal Copying Company of San Francisco (Charles Spencer, New Zealand Agent)
Image by Brett Payne, reproduced courtesy of Elms Collection Ref. 1935.0016
This coloured portrait of Reverend Brown hangs in the dining room at The Elms, Tauranga, on the left-hand wall as you walk in through the door from the hall. Superficially it looks rather like a painting, but on closer examination, the face and hands have a more photographic feel to them. This pose is one of several well-known images of Brown, and is reproduced on Tauranga Library’s Kete page [1].

Reverse of Brown portrait mount
Image by Jo-Anne Knowles, reproduced courtesy of Elms Collection Ref. 1935.0016
A clue to the portrait’s origin is revealed by the above photographs, taken by the late Jo-Anne Knowles when she opened the back of the portrait for conservation in August 2005 [2]. A blue stamp identifies it as having been produced by the Universal Copying Company of San Francisco, California, “Manufacturers of India Ink, Berlin Finish, Crayon, Pastel and Oil Portraits, also Cabinets and Cartes de Visites.”

Detail on reverse of Brown portrait mount
Image by Jo-Anne Knowles, reproduced courtesy of Elms Collection Ref. 1935.0016
Local photographer Charles Spencer had announced in August 1880 that he had been appointed agent for the Universal Copying Co., and was receiving orders. He and his partner Henry Clayton spent that summer soliciting orders for copying, along with their normal photographic work, throughout the Bay of Plenty and Thames region:
Wanted known, that Mr Charles Spencer, of the Thames, has received from F.F. Wells, the Universal Copying Co., San Francisco, Cal., the General Agency for receiving orders for Painting Portraits from all kinds of Family Photos. We guarantee perfect satisfaction. Do not fail to see his samples, for they are of the finest of arts. N.B. – Mr Spencer, or his agent, will visit every town in the North Island. [3]
The residents of Opotiki are informed by advertisement appearing elsewhere, that Mr Charles Spencer or Mr Henry Clayton will visit Opotiki early in the new year with samples of the new American Portrait Pictures. [4]
In early December they received what was probably the first batch of orders back from San Francisco, the steamship usually taking three to four weeks for the journey [5]:
We had occasion a few days ago to notice some specimen pictures of American Art which were shown in our office by Mr Charles Spencer. We paid a visit yesterday to the neat studio, which he has lately erected at the rear of the chemist's shop, where we had the pleasure of inspecting a batch of pictures which had been unpacked for examination before delivery to their respective purchasers. These were not sample pictures but the bona fide merchandise of the House represented by Mr Spencer, and as the completed order will bear a close inspection side by side with the sample picture it is evident that the Universal Copying Company of San Francisco mean doing a trade in New Zealand. We congratulate Mr Spencer on the successful prospects which this agency gives to his ordinary business, as we are quite sure that if the House in 'Frisco continue to turn out work equal to the present sample, a large development awaits their future trade in New Zealand. Our friend Mr Henry Clayton has been appointed general agent for the Colony. [6]
Archdeacon A.N. Brown portrait (detail)
Image by Jo-Anne Knowles, reproduced courtesy of Elms Collection Ref. 1935.0016
This favourable coverage in the Bay of Plenty Times probably resulted in a rush of new orders. By mid-autumn another batch of portraits had arrived and were being displayed to good effect in the window of Spencer’s chemist shop on the Strand. Included in these was the handsome portrait of Archdeacon Brown which appears to have greeted visitors to The Elms ever since:
We have seen a number of pictures by the San Francisco Picture Company, brought here by Mr Henry Clayton. The pictures are mostly those of local persons, some of them being remarkably well executed. Among the more noticeable of them we may mention those of the venerable Archdeacon Brown, and Mr John Conway. They are all taken from photos by Mr Charles Spencer. [7]
Archdeacon A.N. Brown, c. 1879-1880
Cabinet card portrait by Hemus & Hanna, Queen Street, Auckland
Image courtesy of The Elms, Ref. 1972.0308
Actually, the last part of this editorial wasn’t quite accurate. In the case of Brown’s portrait at least, it was copied/enlarged from a cabinet card portrait, shown above, taken at the studio of the Auckland firm, Hemus & Hanna, probably 1879 or 1880 [8] [9] [10].

Spencer continued to advertise this service until July 1882, although no further accounts of them appear in the local newspapers. Between 1879 and at least 1882 the Universal Copying Co. had a network of agents as far afield as Oregon [11], Hawaii [12] and New South Wales [13]. After this date it seems likely that rapid advances in technology allowed individual studios to create their own enlargements more cheaply and quicker with enlarging cameras, employing local artists to add the finishing artistic colourisation by hand.


[1] McCauley, Debbie et al (2016) Elms Mission House, Tauranga, on Tauranga Memories Kete,
[2] Knowles, Jo-Anne (2005) The Elms Collection Catalogue entry, Ref. 1935.0016, dated 10 Aug 2005, retrieved 18 Oct 2019 by Andrew Gregg
[3] Advertisement, Thames Advertiser, Vol XIII, Issue 3694, 31 Aug 1880, p2 (on
[4] Bay of Plenty Times, Vol IX, Issue 982, 30 Dec 1880, p2
[5] Whitehouse, Olwyn (1998-2019) Transpacific: San Francisco - New Zealand, on New Zealand Bound,
[6] Bay of Plenty Times, Vol IX, Issue 974, 9 Dec 1880, p2
[7] Bay of Plenty Times, Vol X, Issue 1026, 12 Apr 1881, p2
[8] Hemus & Hanna (Auckland) fl 1879-1882 : Cabinet card Portrait of Archdeacon A N Brown. Ref: PA3-0103. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
[9] Hemus & Hannah, on Early New Zealand Photographers and their successors,
[10] Hemus & Hannah, Auckland Library Photographers Database,
[11] Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, Oregon, January 14, 1882,
[12] The Hawaiian Gazette, Honolulu, Hawaii, Vol XV, No. 18, 30 Apr 1879
[13] Portraits of William Neild Philips & Margaret Brunker of Newcastle and Sydney, New South Wales, Web page of Margaret Taylor,

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Waikato Hounds in Tauranga

Waikato Hounds in Tauranga. Postcard by Talma Studios (41), c. 1910-1914
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. N4F4D5

At the beginning of the 20th century the Waikato Hounds were regular visitors to Tauranga and were hosted by the Tauranga Hunt Club, which was formed in 1897. Hunt Club members were from well-known Tauranga families and many of the hunts ranged across Otumoetai farms owned by Tollemache, Matheson, Baigent and Darragh.

Unfortunately the exact date of this photograph is not known although it is thought to have been taken between 1910 and 1914. The group appear in front of the Tauranga Hotel on the corner of Harington Street and The Strand.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Alf Rendell turns 102

Local legend and historical society member Alf Rendell turned 102 today.  Alf started his day in style with a tour of the city in this vintage beauty. Happy birthday Alf.

Photos by Fiona Kean

Friday, 1 November 2019

Ceramic Water Filter

This ceramic water filter from the late 1860s-1870s and donated to the museum collection by Elva Brain, is currently housed with the museum collection. It was used by the Brain family to provide clean safe drinking water for their needs. There are two handles and a hole at the base where a tap would have been located. Flowers in relief over the surface and a coat of arms/crest in the centre above the tap. The name J. Carder is imprinted above the crest.

Joshua Carder operated major clay works at Limeburners Bay, Hobsonville, Auckland, from 1863 to 1929. According to a Archaeological Report completed by Clough & Associates in 2008:

“Joshua Carder arrived in New Zealand in September 1863 and soon after he was producing pottery at Hobsonville, his wife and sons arriving to join him in 1865. The skills he had gained in Staffordshire set him up well for production in his new country. He had plaster moulds for press moulding ornamental pieces including sporting scenes and sheaves of wheat. He no doubt made use of these moulds as well as producing more functional wares. Joshua Carder’s sons, Walter and George, set up their own pottery in 1872.”

The filter when in use, had a layer of soft cotton in the base. If available, another layer of charcoal covered the cotton, with a layer of fine clean sand on top. Water poured into the top of the jar would filter down through these layers and when the tap at the bottom was turned on, clean water emerged. This method of purifying water is still a practical alternative in certain areas where water quality is doubtful.

Friday, 25 October 2019

SO 424 of 1865

Left of centre, near the bottom of this beautiful, poignant old map, in letters too small to be seen in the image, is the word, MILL. The map was made in 1865 and endorsed by an eminent surveyor, Theophilus Heal: “I certify that all the inland lines coloured red on this map have been properly cut, all corners marked with circles properly pegged and lockspitted, and all the map accurately represents all the work done.”

A half-size colour copy of the original document is in the Tauranga Library. The map itself is in the public domain, obtainable from Land Information New Zealand if you care to penetrate its arcane and frustrating file systems (I used a professional search agency). SO 424 is the first map of Te Puna, Peterehema (modern Bethlehem) and Otumoetai to be made after the raupatu that followed the battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga. It is the landscape we know, drawn after a war. Elsewhere, in similarly tiny letters, are place names we also know, and still use: Epeha, Waikaraka, Oikimoke.  There are more, and they are all Maori. Perhaps influenced by Crown Commissioner H T Clarke, surveyors did not invent names for an already well-populated geography.

Names of landowning families appear. Roha Borel survived the sack of Rangiaowhia and married Emile, who twice [1]  persuaded the Crown to make a grant of land to her. The “Nicholls children” are perhaps the Nicholas family whose marae is Tawhitinui. The one pākeha name, R C Fraser, requires further research into some tantalising leads.

Beside those already noted, ‘MILL’ is the only other pākeha word. How did such modern technology - a water-wheel, alongside a substantial building housing the shafts, chutes and stones that ground wheat into flour – come to be alongside a riverbank in the valley of the Wairoa? Who built it, and when? How long was it used?

The Wairoa River near Tauranga, circa 1918
Photograph by Frederick George Radcliffe
Courtesy of the F G Radcliffe Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library (G-6933-1/2)
This much later image of the riverbank offers no clues. A horse drinks from the river alongside a reed-thatched hut. Something that looks like a cooking pot sits alongside something that looks like a cookstand. There is nothing to indicate what might be cooked.

Nevertheless, in the mid-1860s, there was a flour mill at Pukekonui. And mills were very much the thing for entrepreneurs: Te Ara tells us [2] that “between 1846 and 1860, 37 flour mills were built for Maori owners in the Auckland province alone.” Ours stood almost exactly where the boat ramp is now, just upstream from the road bridge, south-west across the river from Potariwhi on the Bethlehem bank. (Colonists mangled the name into “Point Relief”.)  Maori and pākeha alike moored their river scows there. 

Ngati Kahu owned the mill. The New Zealander newspaper of 31 May 1864 described it, admittedly as a site recently abandoned to the oncoming Colonial Defence Corps, as “an extensive corn mill worked by water… the whole neighbourhood is covered with plantations of potatoes, corn [ie, wheat], pumpkins and melons… [the natives’] retreat must have been a hurried one, to have sacrificed so much food.”

The loss of such abundantly fertile land after 1865 must have been especially grievous. But the mill survived in Maori ownership, possibly because the status of the river and its bed were, until the passage of the Coal Mines Act 1903, debatable; at a less abstract level, post-confiscation native reserves were mainly in the vicinity of the river mouth. [3] Theophilus Heal’s 1865 field book notes the hapu of Matehaere residing at the Mill, Wairoa. [4] It was too valuable an investment to be abandoned for long.

And its value was well-understood. In 1872 Commisioner Clarke was reported in the Waikato Times as hearing an “important native case [that] has lasted two days. It was concerning the ownership of the mill at Wairoa. The litigants are leading chiefs of the district. The decision of the Court may lead to bloodshed.”

Bloodshed was fortunately avoided, and by 1888 [5] our old friend Mr Lundon was involved in some kind of partnership deal between one Mr Blundell and the native owners:

The parochial hopes of the editor of the Bay of Plenty Times were not to be borne out. David Borell blamed the sparrows. [6]  Perhaps an imported shipment of Australian seed, or just a prevalence of strong north-westerly winds [7], meant that local wheat crops succumbed to rust. Or maybe it was simple economics: the wide dry plains of Canterbury were much better suited to producing flour for even North Island bakers. Mr Blundell turned his attention to a new project, the flour mill at Waimapu, and the Wairoa mill’s grindstones were taken there in 1893. [8]

And the mill building? During the early 1880s it may have been, briefly, repurposed.  Longtime Wairoa Road farmer Doug Harrison provides this reminiscence: “… there was a Flour Mill built near the end of the Wairoa River Bridge.  This had a very checkered career, standing idle for most of its life, eventually being used as a school for a few years. When the Bethlehem school opened about 1900 the pupils from the Mill transferred to the Bethlehem school.”

This sits tantalisingly alongside Antoine Coffin’s remark that “some schools were initially set up on temporary sites, for example the Paeroa Native School [the original name for Bethlehem School] started out in an old mill and moved several years later once attendances had been confirmed.” [9] Paeroa Native School officially opened in 1884, but before that had been operating “as a half-time school along with that at Huria.” [10] It is just possible that, before Mr Blundell got the grindstones moving again, the mill had been a makeshift classroom.


[1] The first allocation, around today’s Snodgrass Road/Wallace Road area, met with resistance from settler neighbours and was replaced with a grant on the other side of the Waikaraka estuary, where Borells still live.
[3] , p.28
[4], Appendix 6
[6], p.35
[7] For a mid-twentieth century account of rust infections in wheat, see
[8], citing Bellamy, A.C. 1982. Tauranga 1882-1982. Flour Mills, ed A.C. Bellamy. Tauranga County Council. pp204-207
[9], citing Nightingale, Tony.March 1996.History of the Economic and Social Conditions Affecting Tauranga Maori.Crown Forestry Rental Trust. p81

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Infants School

Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection, Ref. 0597/08

This photograph is recorded as having been taken outside the Good Templars Hall in Wharf Street, and is of pupils who attended an Infants School run by Miss Roberts (on the left) and Miss Smith (on the right). It is likely to have been taken in the early 1900s.

The following names are handwritten on the back of the photograph:

Seated on ground (left to right): Salt, Alf Smith or Stewart, Doug McKenzie
Front row: Elsie Wrigley, May Stewart, unknown, Esther Salt, Elsie Copeland, unknown, Millie Copeland
Second row Ida Hine, Hazel Bickers, Tilly Bennett, Emily Thom, Doris Stewart, Connie Humphreys, Lena Thom
Third row: Simpson, Arch Hardy, Ossie Daines, unknown, McDowell, unknown, Charlie Robinson
Fourth row: Baker, Ken Commons, Jack Berridge, George Saveron, Fred Stewart, Percy Thom, Fred Trigg, George Asher

While many of the children would become well known members of our community at least one was killed while serving in the First World War. Kenneth Commons was born in Tauranga 19 September 1894 and enlisted while underage and an engineering student at Auckland University. He was reported missing believed dead at Gallipoli on 8 May 1915.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Peter Densem 1917-2019

Peter in a Fleet Air Arm dive-bomber cockpit. Densem Private Collection
Peter Alex Densem was born in Tauranga on 9 May 1917 in The Palms, a nursing home on the east side of Cameron Road between 8th and 9th Avenues. The parents of Peter and his two siblings, Rod and May, were Mary and Peter Densem, who had a confectionery and tearooms on The Strand. The Densem family lived at No.28 Durham Street and in that house, Peter grew up and from it he went to his first teaching jobs and then to war.

Alongside his lifelong friend Alf Rendell, Peter began his education at the Tauranga District High School (now Tauranga Primary School) in Cameron Road between Arundel Street and Fifth Avenue in February 1923. Peter chose a professional course when he entered the standards, gained the highest educational standard, matriculation, in the fifth form and planned to leave school, uncertain of what career to pursue. To earn money immediately, he managed, in late 1937, to get a job with the Bay of Plenty Times. While engaged in this work he met his teacher, Mrs Mackle, who enquired what he was doing. On being told she advised Peter that teacher training colleges were being re-opened and suggested he return to school for another year and study for the “D” teaching certificate. This he did, and in 1939 he entered the Auckland Teachers’ Training College.

Peter’s first permanent job was at a new one-room sole-charge school at Pehiri, 50 kilometres west of Gisborne in the Urewera hinterland. While teaching during the early World War Two years Peter also completed Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) courses. The roll at Pehiri School had grown to 19 pupils when he entered the RNZAF in 1941. After completing a basic training course with the RNZAF in New Zealand with the intention of becoming a pilot, Peter had a change of course. The service had discovered that he was a good mathematician, and at that time the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm (FAA) was desperately short of competent navigators.

Peter flew first in a Swordfish open-cockpit biplane torpedo-bomber and then in the Barracuda, a monoplane torpedo/dive-bomber, from which he progressed to the more powerful and faster American-built torpedo-carrying Grumann Avenger, equipped with a power-operated gun turret. His service included a tour in Trinidad flying cover over convoys far out into the Atlantic Ocean. A forced landing in an Albacore at Trinidad’s Piarco airport wiped the wings off his aircraft and left Peter with a badly-injured leg. After recovering in a London hospital, he served in the aircraft carriers HMS Furious, Indefatigable and Formidable. Peter was among the Barracuda crews whose mission it was to sink the mighty German battleship Tirpitz. So great was the sudden change in air pressure as the Barracudas dived almost vertically on their target, he suffered permanent damage to one ear-drum.

After the war Peter married Christine, a Scots girl he met while overseas, and bought a house at the east end of First Avenue, planting out the land around it with native trees. The situation appealed particularly because it overlooked a beach, the harbour and his boat mooring. After Christine died in 1959 he lived there with his mother and sister May.

Home from the war, Peter with his Tauranga Primary School class. Densem Private Collection
Returning to his teaching career Peter attended a short course at the teachers’ training college, completed a B.Sc. degree in biology and began work at Tauranga Primary School and then as deputy headmaster at Tauranga Intermediate when that school opened in February 1958. He was appointed first headmaster of Arataki Primary School at Mount Maunganui when it opened in February 1963 and was the second headmaster at Otumoetai Intermediate School in 1967, a year after it opened. Peter retired from Otumoetai Intermediate in 1975.

It was in the 1930s that Peter became interested in boats. Peter’s first craft, in association with his brother, Rod, was the 12ft 6ins centre-boarder Koa, with a flat bottom and clinker sides. In 1934 they bought the 16ft Doreen. An open clinker boat, they put a cabin on Doreen and sailed her all around the Tauranga Harbour. After the war Peter had a variety of craft. He had Sanda, a 28ft motor-sailer of English design, built by Percy McIntosh in Fraser Street, Tauranga, in the late 1940s. Peter bought Jeanette from Phyllis Dumbleton and sold her to Captain George Carter, later Tauranga harbourmaster.

He obtained the 30ft launch Anne-Michelle in exchange for Whangaroa, a 34ft sloop-rigged motor-sailer, and next owned the 24ft launch Tauhara, the last launch built by Henry Geros (later of Tauranga) in W.G. Lowe’s Auckland yard. Then came Peter’s last yacht, the 30ft Koanui, built by Barwick Harding at Pyes Pa. His last boat was Ngako, a 16ft clinker launch built by Percy Vos in Auckland, bought in 1979 and kept on the foreshore beneath his house at the east end of First Avenue. Peter used his boats to good effect when he was appointed an honorary wildlife ranger for the coastal islands, thereby continuing an interest in fauna and flora established with Bernard Sladden over many years. He and Sladden had cruised regularly from White Island to Great Barrier, monitoring the Raurimus, Plate, Mayor and Cuvier Islands, the Mercuries and the Aldermen.

Lifelong friends Peter Densem and Alf Rendell, January 2016. Fiona Kean Private Collection
In 2003 Peter moved to Althorpe Village where he and his tabby cat Katie had a much-loved townhouse with a view of Mauao. In 2017 Peter celebrated his 100th birthday and was surrounded by many family, friends and formers students who gathered to acknowledge the significant impact he had had on their lives.

Peter will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Taken from Max Avery’s article on Peter Densem and Alf Rendell which featured in the November 2017 edition of the Bay of Plenty Historical Review