Friday, 26 February 2021

Barney's Building and Hynds

Ghost signs are old painted signs that have been left on buildings for a long time and no longer relate to the current use of the place. There are other ghosts, names on buildings incorporated in the plaster on the façade that also relate to the past. They are not ghost buildings as they are still in use.

Corner of Maunganui Road and Pacific Avenue early 1930s taken from Hupokiore (Mt Drury)
Postcard published by National Publicity Studios, Collection of Justine Neal

Two of these are in Maunganui Road at the corner of Pacific Avenue. Although often a nickname the Barneys Building on the façade of the building on the corner refers to James (Jim) Barney and the little building next door named Hynds refers to A.S. Hynds the original owner.

Louise Fenton and friend Christine near Barney’s in 1968
Photograph collection and courtesy of Justine Neal

James Barney was a carpenter in Te Puke before he moved to Mount Maunganui with his wife and children, Marion, George and Val, in the early 1920s. He bought sections, one in Victoria Road for a store, and he built a house backing onto the store next door in Pacific Avenue. Jack Kelly owned the section on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Maunganui Road in the same block and he built a store there. In 1936 the Barney store burned down and Jim Barney bought Kelly’s building. This was the busy part of the town in the 1930s and 40s.

The Barney family were involved in local activities at the Mount including the Domain Board, Golf, Rugby, Croquet Clubs and Plunket Society. Mrs. Barney provided a room for the Red Cross at the back of the shop for meetings and storage. This was the time when the population of the town was 3000, growing to 15000 during the holiday season. Over time ownership changed but its general purpose was the same, a general store or superette. Colin Neal bought the building in 1971 and operated a Four Square business until 1976, also selling buckets, spades and beach gear. Today the ground floor consists of two shops: Downtown Foodmarket, a dairy with a liquor licence, and Tank, a juice bar on the corner. Upstairs an architect has his premises.

Barney’s Building and Hynds Building, 2021
Photograph by Shirley Arabin

On Maunganui Road the adjacent single-story building has the word Hynds on the façade. The photograph of the intersection taken from Hopukiori (Mount Drury) in the 1930s shows Hynds Butchery standing and the Barney site empty. A.S. Hynds was a butcher in Tauranga with a chain of shops including one on The Strand and this one at the Mount. Today it is the premises of Mount Fish & Chips.

Friday, 19 February 2021

The Tauranga and Bay of Plenty Photo News

On the last day of June 1962 a new magazine appeared on the shelves of a wide range of stationers, newsagents, bookshops, photographic studios, dairies and general stores in Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and other towns throughout the Bay of Plenty. The Tauranga Photo News joined a stable of seven similar regional publications from Gisborne-based Logan Publishing Company. Robert Logan had started with the Gisborne Photo News in June 1954, followed by editions in Whangarei, Rotorua, New Plymouth/Taranaki, Wanganui and Nelson. Initially Bob Logan was processing images from a darkroom in his home, but by 1969 their printing plant in Gisborne put out 60,000 magazines each month.

Tauranga Photo News, No. 1, 30 June 1962, Cover
Courtesy of Tauranga Library, Nga Wahi Rangahau

The company used a single photographer-cum-editor based in each town or city, whose role was to gather and photograph the local news, assembling photographs, captions and storylines into a magazine published every fourth Saturday. The first issue of the Tauranga edition was compiled by staff from Gisborne with the assistance of local photographers, while the newly appointed editor Tony A’Hern and his wife June, newly arrived in town, were settling in. One of those local photographers was Adrian Orr, whose Renwood Studio on Cameron Road was used as the magazine’s temporary address, and who most likely provided photographic and logistical support at least for the first few issues.

Tauranga Photo News, No. 1, 30 June 1962, page 1
Courtesy of Tauranga Library, Nga Wahi Rangahau

Their stated intention was to provide a balanced pictorial record each month of the local news at work and at play, with “25 percent to social life” and the remainder covering “general and feature topics, sport, scenic views, children’s affairs, etc.” A “willing band of boys” was recruited to distribute copies of the magazine to at least 32 outlets throughout Tauranga and the Mount, and other means were used to deliver them to towns as far-flung as Waihi in the north to Whakatāne and Nukuhou in the south-east. Each issue had full colour front and back cover photographs, but black-and-white half-tone print images were used through the rest of the 68 pages. The first issue sold out within a few days, and set the tone for a very successful run, following in the footsteps of its siblings in the Logan Publishing stable.

Bay of Plenty Photo News, No. 53, 15 October 1966, Cover
Courtesy of Tauranga Library, Nga Wahi Rangahau

In October 1966, with issue number 53, the monthly became the Bay of Plenty Photo News, better reflecting its area of coverage. It also gained a new cover and had substantially more pages, but the increas in size apparently did not prove to be economically viable and it was reduced to 68 pages after a couple of years. In a typical issue there were around 270 black-and-white photographs, of which 80 to 90 per cent were taken by Tony and June A’Hern, and the remainder by other named local photographers or studios.

Oropi School Calf Club Day in Bay of Plenty Photo News, No. 91, 13 Dec 1969, p. 32

(Right) Unpublished image: “Donald Wright, who gained several prizes,” scanned from original 35mm-format negative, Courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries, Logan Publishing, Tauranga and Bay of Plenty Photo News Collection, Image pn-5285

A partial collection of the A’Hern’s negative archives that were donated some years ago to the Tauranga Library have recently been digitized and are in the process of being made available online via that institution’s new digital platform Pae Koroki. Tauranga City Library also holds ten bound volumes of the 100 issues of the Photo News which can be browsed in their Research Room/Nga Wahi Rangahau. It is worth mentioning that between a third and half of the photographs taken did not make the final cut, and many are now appearing in public for the first time since they were taken fifty years ago.

The final issue of the Bay of Plenty Photo News, No. 100, 19 September 1970
Courtesy of Tauranga Library, Nga Wahi Rangahau

On 19 September 1970 the last issue (No. 100) of the Bay of Plenty Photo News was published. With increases in production and printing costs and magazine sales providing the sole source of income, it had become unviable. Over the previous eight years they had published 40,000 photographs and produced a significant photographic record of life in the Bay of Plenty. The Gisborne Photo News and other regional issues lasted a few years longer before they too succumbed. In partnership with local associates, Tony and June A’Hern started up the Bay of Plenty News, a weekly newspaper which became the Bay of Plenty News Mirror, published daily from 1974 as the Bay of Plenty Mirror. Tony was still working as a photographer in Tauranga as late as 1978.

Bay of Plenty News, No. 22, 3 February 1971
Courtesy of Tauranga Library, Nga Wahi Rangahau


I am very grateful  to staff of the Tauranga City Library in Nga Wahi Rangahau who have given freely of their time and expertise in ferreting out the details of this publication, and have given kind permission for the images to be used. I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of John Logan, son of the founder of the firm Logan Publishing, who graciously provided vital background information on the magazine’s formation and operation.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Early Infrastructurists - Tauranga's First Four County Engineers

At the turn of the twentieth century the Tauranga County Council was in the confident hands of its elected chairman, J AM Davidson of Te Puna. He, the Cyclopaedia of New Zealand noted [1], “is at present [time of publication, 1900-1901] chairman of the Tauranga County Council. He has been chairman of the Te Puna Road Board since his arrival in the district and has taken a general interest in local matters.”

The route to local power and influence in the new settlement was, quite literally, via its roads.  Politicians decided the timing and committed the money; and appointed staff, the County Engineers, built them.  In the early days of the Tauranga County, however, qualified engineers were almost as hard to find as stone to make the roads with.  Consider, therefore, the satisfaction of County Clerk John H Griffiths when he gazetted an advertisement for the position of County Engineer in 1907.  He knew he would get at least one good-quality candidate – Archibald Campbell Turner, often also referred to as Captain Turner [2].

Advertisement for County Engineer

Captain Turner had been working on and off for the Council, in an ad hoc, private capacity, for at least a couple of years.  A gnomic reference in a 1905 Audit Office letter reminds the Council [3] that a 5 per cent commission can be drawn from grants (for public works) “only where the Council has no salaried Engineer.”  The letter was referred to Captain Turner.

The evidence shows it was quite a stretch for the Council to commit to a salaried appointment [4].  A 1906 discussion of the pros and cons showed a reluctant Vesey Stewart successfully deferring the matter for a month, but by the time Griffith’s advertisement was posted matters had crystallised into an offer of an annual salary of £200 plus the opportunity to continue with private work.  It is tantalising, therefore, that the printed Conditions of Engagement to be found pasted inside the relevant Minute Book of County Council meetings has at some stage been hand-amended to strike out this provision.

Terms of employment, County Engineer

Archie Turner held office until 1912, but the indefatigable Vesey Stewart, apparently now reconciled to the position, invited the Council to consider appointing a successor Engineer in 1910.  The meeting [5]  not only traversed the same pro and con arguments as four years previously, but also revealed that the job now cost £225 p.a. and the annual public works grants administered amounted to £2000.  It may be that Stewart had observed early the ill health Turner was suffering from – Davidson referred to this in his 1911 retirement speech [6] – and in January 1912 Archie relinquished his position [7]. He had been “informed by his doctors that he must give up surveying except in very flat, even country. They informed him that ordinary county work would not be injurious, but as every now and then the Council requires deviation surveys to be made, he thought it advisable that he should give the Council the required notice of resignation ... he regretted having to take this step as his connection with the Council has always been of a most agreeable nature.  In the meantime he will go on with the surveys when he has time, as best he can, until the arrival of his successor.”

Archibald Campbell Turner died on December 30 1912 aged 78 [8]. His were big boots to fill, and the Council was seriously challenged by the range of demands he had been able to meet and the modesty of his salary [9]. For a while the County’s new works were taken on by a combination of private contracts with W. H. Dunnage, another colourful and adventurous surveyor [10], and A.W.H. Gray, a ‘Supervisor’ rather than a qualified engineer, but evidently something of a godsend through the labour and funding scarcities of the war years. By the time J R Page was appointed in 1920 [11], the salary of the County Engineer was £600 and – a sign of the roading times – he would provide his own car.

Like the infrastructure they made, County Engineers are often ignored or at best taken for granted. But contemporary records of our developing colony show that a great deal of attention was paid to their career moves and intriguing initiatives (such as Taranaki’s F.R. Basham’s advocacy of tar- and even concrete-sealed roads). Those who interest themselves in Tauranga’s civil engineering stories can learn much about the day-to-day realities of economic and social life in our district – and make the acquaintance of some powerful, appointed officials who exercised a great deal of influence on the lives we lead today.

I am indebted to the staff of the Western Bay of Plenty District Council for allowing me research access to the original Minute Books of the Tauranga County Council.

[1] Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, p 937
[2] He obtained his captaincy in 1868 having joined the First Waikato Regiment in 1864.  See
[11] He was the second choice: WW Upton declined the County’s offer

Friday, 5 February 2021

The Brigantine Victoria and Ensign Abel Best, 1842

Early Sailing Vessels and Visitors to Tauranga

Part XII. The Brigantine Victoria and Ensign Abel Best, 1842

In 1842, the colonial vessel Victoria entered Tauranga Harbour after sailing from New Zealand’s new fledgling capital of Auckland. On board were colonial officials and British Imperial troops, intent on ending an intertribal war between Tauranga’s Ngai Te Rangi and the Te Arawa people at Maketu. The acting governor Thomas Shortland’s pretext for intervening was a report that each tribe had seized a vessel belonging to one of their enemy’s resident traders, for use as warrior transports.

Built at Deptford, N.S.W. in 1840 for Governor Hobson’s new colonial administration, the 200 ton square-rigged Victoria was well prepared for any conflict with Maori. Armed with two 18 pound carronades and a four pound cannon, there were 226 round shot and 175 rounds of grape shot and canister on board. The vessel also carried 40 soldiers of the 40th Regiment led by Major Thomas Bunbury (who had taken a copy of the Treaty of Waitangi around New Zealand for Maori to sign in 1840), and some seamen and marines from HMS Tortoise, for whom 7,100 musket ball cartridges had been loaded.

The colonial brig Victoria
Image courtesy of Keith Snow, New Zealand marine artist

Shortland established his headquarters at Maketu and began peace negotiations, but the leading rangatira at Tauranga and Maketu objected to the right of the British to interfere in their wars. Shortland managed to effect a temporary peace and the return of the cutter Nimble, seized by Te Arawa from the traders Charles Joy and Peter Lowrie. Conscious of the escalating cost of the expedition, the limited size of his military force and the intransigence of the opposing rangatira, Shortland withdrew his troops and returned to Auckland. This was the first of several occasions where British army and naval troops were called out to settle an intertribal dispute and to recover European property during the 1840s.

On board the Victoria during the initial voyage to Tauranga was Ensign Abel Dottin Best. A talented officer of the 80th regiment, Best had served on a convict ship in New South Wales and Norfolk Island. In New Zealand he was given special instructions by Bunbury to take detailed notes on the defences of all Maori pa he visited. Posted to India in 1843, Captain Best was killed in battle in 1845, not yet 30 years old. He kept a journal however, which casts further light on some of the residents, locations and vistas at Tauranga during July-August, 1842.

"July 13th Running down the coast passed close to the Islands Hausey Mercury Aldermans Mayor &c - and at Night shortened sail at times laying to.

14th The harbour of Tauronga is so remarkable that it cannot by any possibillity be mistaken. At its immediate entrance the S. E. head rises into a conical hill with a flat top of a very considerable elevation all the coast to the N. W. being low for at least 15 miles and about 12 miles off lies the island of Kawera.

Sighting Mounganui, the hill mentioned at daylight we beat in with close reefed Topsails against a strong Gale having the flood tide in our favour at half tide carrying in four fathoms. As the harbour was little known when inside Capt Richards let go his anchor in 10 fathoms. We had not long been anchored when a Canoe boarded us containing some of the people who had escaped from Taraia two of whom had been wounded one of them severely in the hand and thigh. The Canoe one of the best constructed I ever saw came down in capital style against a powerful tide her crew twenty in number keeping time to the waving of a battle axe dressed with feathers."

Captain Abel Best 1816-1845
Photo courtesy of Don Armitage, Voyages of the Colonial Brig "Victoria" 1842-3
"Shortly after Mr Browns (the resident Missionary) six oared boat arrived & we all went on shore  & were speedily introduced to Mr Brown & Miss Baker. Mr Brown having told us off to our respective Quarters Sd & Mr Clarke being allotted rooms in his house & Ed & I having the old dwelling of Mr Stack assigned to us we went to dinner and then amused ourselves untill tea wandering about. I observed that the Maories had adopted a system of imperfect Intrenchment as their system of Fortification probably owing to the nature of the ground & the deficiency of timber fit for Stockades.
In the afternoon the Brig worked in and let go her anchor opposite Otu Maitai. The Country round Tauronga for a distance of at least Ten miles is devoid of wood the first forest occurring on the road to Rotorua in which valuable timber abounds. I am of opinion that the whole of the Plains around Tauronga were once wooded but that the trees gave way to agriculture in the days when Tribes inhabiting the Bay of Plenty were in their glory. The whole appearance of the country the size of its remaining Pa's the ruins of Native forts all bespeak a time when Tauronga swarmed with thousands of Warriors and when its people were among the great of the land."

The Victoria’s master, Jeremiah William Nagle
Photo courtesy of Geoff Lloyd and

"17th Sunday. Breakfast over Ed Sd Mr Clarke & I visited Otu Maitai, the main stronghold of the People of Tauronga it is situated on the Katikati about 1 1/2 miles from the Mission house. Part of the Pa is on the sea beach and part on the top of a cliff or steep bank 40 feet high. By its position naturally strong it is rendered more secure by a strong palisade and on the land side & flanks it is further protected by a deep and wide Ditch having a Stockade on its exterior side. Moreover the level of the exterior plain is somewhat lower than that of the Pa. Where it well defended its intricacy alone would render it formidable but at present there are not men in it to defend one fifth of its great extent. Nowhere have I seen so great a number of fine Canoes the care with which they preserve their fishing nets was also worthy of remark every net being placed on a little elevated platform and then securely thatched over.

18th Up at 1/2 past six and at nine shoved off in the Brigs boat for Mounga Nui which we ascended in about 20 minutes. The day was remarkably clear and the view we obtained from the summit highly interesting & extensive. To the S. W. the sacred mountain of Tarawera was distinctly visible though at a distance of at least fifty miles. Looking along the coast we distinctly saw Cape Runaway on one side and the high land near Cape Colvil on the other. Extensive plains extended some 20 miles up and down the coast running back to the hills towards Rotorua but the most striking object was White Island, enveloped in a cloud of smoke or vapour.

August 18th Taking leave of Mr Brown & his family we walked to our boat & shoved off amidst loud cries of Go to your friend the Governor at Auckland to which we replied we will go to our friend the Governor of all of us which repartee (for so it was when expressed in Maori) occasioned a hearty laugh & gave much satisfaction to this singular people who three days before would not have heard it without visible displeasure.

About 4 P.M. weighed with a light breeze and the ebb tide carrying four fathoms over the outside flat the water gradually deepening to 15 fathoms at three miles from shore.

19th Little or no wind crept up as far as the Mercury Islands inside which we passed without seeing the sunken rock reported to lie in that Passage. The water was perfectly alive with shoals of Porpoises darting about in every direction no doubt rejoicing in the fineness of the weather.

20th Found ourselves inside Cape Colvil little wind all day at night anchored off Wai Heke.

21st Weighed at dawn. Wind foul tried to make Taraias but the weather became so thick and threatening that with much reluctance Mr Shd ordered the vessel to be put about and at 3 P.M. in a heavy Gale we reached Auckland."


Armitage, Don, Voyages of the Colonial brig 'Victoria' 1842-3, › Home › great-barrier-island-history
Best, Ensign Abel, The Journal of Ensign Best, 1837- 1843. Nancy M. Taylor (ed.), Wellington: Government Printer, 1966.
Bunbury, Thomas, Reminiscences of a Veteran, Vol III, Charles Skeet, London, 1861.
Collinson, T. B., Remarks on the Military Operations in New Zealand, Vol III, John Weale, London, 1853: 48.

Friday, 29 January 2021

The Yerexes of Kelston

Most Tauranga residents will have heard of Kelston Way near Tauriko but I wonder how many know anything of the Kelston Estate? In the course of researching the origins of our own 100 year old house nearby I have learned quite a bit and would like share a ‘taste’ with fellow history buffs. The original homestead has gone but there is another home on the site under the large Norfolk pines.

Kelston, Cambridge Road, Tauranga
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries/Pae Koroki, Ref. 03-077

The land was granted to Lieutenant Colonel Harington as part of his allocation for military service in the 1860s. I am not sure what it’s acreage was at the time but by 1906 when the Yerex family of Wellington took over it comprised of 800 acres and occupied the strip of land between Cambridge Rd and the Wairoa River. 200 acres fronted onto Moffat Road which was then just a farm track. In 1886 it was sold to W.N. Ley and in 1904 F.W. Wood purchased it for 1,150 pounds.

George Yerex had 4 sons and 3 daughters and though the homestead was roomy he extended the dining room and also the back porch for summer dining. A bathroom and hot water system were also added. There was a panoramic view of the river from the coach house and many other outbuildings included stables for 6 horses. Hay and oats were grown and there was a 16-acre apple orchard.

Kelston stables, Cambridge Road, Tauranga
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library/Pae Koroki, Ref. 03-076

The roads were typical of the day, boggy and dusty by turns, but they had a launch, and later a barge. The Wairoa River became their highway and their marine craft were made good use of by others, for example the transportation of machinery up river for the Omanawa power station.

Each of the four sons had their own area of skill and responsibility. Lincoln the eldest was the boatman and engineer, cutting and transporting hundreds of bales of chaff. Frank was the stockman caring for horses, beef and dairy cattle, and sheep. Lowell was the ploughman until he went to America with Lincoln to complete his education and was later a noted WWI pilot. Max, the youngest, fed the 40 or so calves and about 50 pigs. He devised a system of wooden rails running from the dairy shed to the pens along which he propelled the skim milk in an old barrel mounted on a chassis and four wheels.

To finish, a quote from Max Yerex himself, who wrote an article for one of our much earlier journals:


Pae Koroki, Tauranga Archives online
My Life at Kelston by Max Yerex, Tauranga Historical Society Journal, No. 57, Sept 1976
Maritime Tauranga 1826-1970, by Max Avery, self published, 2013
Map New Zealand - 100 magnificent maps from the collection of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Random House NZ, 2006