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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]



Kawakawa is the chief town in Bay of Islands County and the centre of an important coal-mining industry, as well as of a large kauri gum trade. It is fourteen miles from Russell, four miles by water and the remainder by rail from Opua, at which the inter-colonial steamers call for coal. Kawakawa has many stores and offices, hotels, churches, hall, and public school, besides post and telegraph office, court-house, and police station. It also supports a weekly newspaper named the “Northern Luminary.” There is a bi-weekly mail service with Auckland.

Bay Of Islands County is one of the most interesting divisions of the colony, both for its historical reminiscences and for its salubrious climate and natural resources. The area of country under the jurisdiction of the County Council is 826 square miles, and the population is nearly 2600. The ratable value of property is set down at £37,441, and


page 569 there is a general rate of 1d in the £. Members for 1900–1901:—Mr P. McAlester, chairman, and Messrs H. S. Williams, J. A. L. Hall, W. Stewart, J. B. Clarke, H. S. Ludbrook, R. B. B. Willis, and A. W. Edwards. Clerk and treasurer, V. H. Reed; engineer, H. C. Blundell. The County office is at Kawakawa.

Councillor J. A. L. Hall has been a Member of the Bay of Islands County Council for fifteen years. He was born at Dungaunon, Ireland, in 1855, and came to the Colony with his parents in 1866 per ship “Mary Shepherd,” landing at Russell. After several years' experience as a settler, Mr. Hall established himself in business in Kawakawa as a commission agent. His farm is situated at Ohaeawai and consists of 350 acres all cleared and stocked with cattle and sheep. He is a son of the late Rev. R. A. Hall, who was for many years a Church of England clergyman at Howick. Mr. Hall was made a Justice of the Peace in 1893.

Councillor H. S. Ludbrook, Member of the Bay of Islands County Council, is referred to at length on another page of this section.

Mr. Vernon Herbert Reed, Clerk and Treasurer to the Bay of Islands County Council, was born in Auckland in 1871, and educated at Victoria College, Jersey, Dulwich College, London, and the University of Sydney, New South Wales. Mr. Reed visited England in 1878 and returned in 1887. Two years later he joined the literary staff of the Melbourne “Daily Telegraph” and subsequently the “Sydney Morning Herald” on each of which he remained two years. He returned to New Zealand at the close of 1893, and settled in the Bay of Island, where he began his legal studies. Mr. Reed was initiated into Masonry in 1896, joining the local lodge. He is a member of the Kawakawa Domain Board, and during 1896 was chairman of directors of the New Bay of Islands' Coal Company. As a footballer, Mr. Reed represented Auckland Province in 1889, Victoria in 1890, New South Wales Colony in 1891–92, Hawke's Bay Province in 1895, and captained the Waipara Branch Union in the same year.

Mr. V. H. Reed.

Mr. V. H. Reed.

Kawakawa Railway Station, opened in 1884, connects the most northerly township in the Colony with the railway system, the port of Opua being situated eight miles distant with two intervening stations, Taumarere and Te Ake Ake, three and four miles respectively from Kawakawa. The Kawakawa-Opua section was constructed at a cost of £90,000 and has been chiefly used for coal transport, immense quantities having been exported from the Kawakawa mines during the past eighteen years. The line is also largely used for conveying general merchandise to Kawakawa, which is the centre of a populous district. The station at Kawakawa consists of offices, ladies' and general waiting-rooms, cattle and sheep pens, and goods sheds. Bi-weekly trains run between Opua and Kawakawa, or as occasion requires.

Mr. Robert Betts Peat, Stationmaster in charge of the Kawakawa-Opua section of the New Zealand Railways, received his present appointment in 1879. He was born in Bombay in 1859, was educated at Margate, England, and came to New Zealand per ship “Tiburnia,” landing at Auckland in 1863. He was engaged in storekeeping at Whangamata for three years and spent a like term surveying in the Napier, Wellington and Pahiatua districts, and subsequently in the Waikato under Mr. Lawrence Cussen, the well-known Government surveyor. He joined the railway department in 1878 and was first stationmaster at Ohaupo, was then transferred to Penrose, and was over eight years at Frankton Junction, when he received his present appointment. Owing to irregular hours he is prevented taking any active part in public affairs, but is associated with the Masonic Order. Mr. Peat is married to a daughter of the late Mr. John Bishop, of Titirangi, Auckland.

Mr. Herbert Cummings, formerly of the Station Staff at Kawakawa, was appointed at the opening of the section in 1884. He was born at Ramsgate, Kent, England, in 1857.

The “Northern Luminary” (Francis Mackenzie, proprietor), Kawakawa, was established in 1879 by Mr. Mackenzie. The journal is issued weekly and has a good circulation in the northern districts. Its tone is free, with political views of a liberal character.

Mr. Francis MacKenzie, Proprietor of the “Northern Luminary,” was born of Scotch and English parents in London in 1846, and apprenticed to Messrs. Witherby and Co., law stationers and printers of Birchin Lane, Lincoln's Inn Fields and Middle Row Place, Holborn. He came to Auckland with his parents in 1863, and after finishing his training at the office of the “New Zealander” he visited Australia and the goldfields. After serving a term with the Government Printer in Sydney, Mr. MacKenzie returned to Auckland with his family, and was employed as an overseer on the “Southern Cross” newspaper. When that journal was wound up, he started the “Northern Luminary.”

Reed, Vernon Herbert, Solicitor, Kawakawa. Mr. Reed has been at Kawakawa since 1895, and is clerk and treasurer to the Bay of Islands County Council.

Dowling, William Patrick, Tailor, Kawakawa. Mr. Dowling, who is well and favourably known among leading cyclists North of Auckland, claims to have been the first wheelman in the Bay of Islands, and promoter of cycle racing in the district. He commenced racing in 1894, and competed unsuccessfully at Auckland in March, 1895. Coming to the Bay of Islands the same year to open a tailoring establishment with Mr. G. Hodge at Ohaeawai, Mr. Dowling was as enthusiastic at cycling as ever, and succeeded in having a bicycle race added to the athletic programme at Waimate on the 24th of May, 1896. This proved a “big draw,” although those whose duty it was to handicap lacked the necessary knowledge, so that Mr. Dowling, the scratch man, was not “in it.” He also competed with a fair amount of success at Kawakawa on Boxing Day, 1896, and a week later at Ohaeawai. Mr. Dowling's colours are well known on the Auckland Domain, where he has competed on several occasions as a member of the Auckland Amateur Athletic and Cycling Club, scoring two seconds and one third. He is agent for page 570 Rambler bicycles in the Bay or Islands district. As a tailor and habitmaker he is extensively patronized, his style and make comparing favourably with city work.

Ngaheia Station (James Close, proprietor), Kawakawa, consisting of 1800 acres, formed part of the original Pakaraka Estate, and was formerly owned by the late Mr. Joseph Williams. This fine property is one of the best in the district and has undergone many improvements since it was taken over by Mr. Close in 1894. By fully stocking the property and continually moving the cattle from paddock to paddock the troublesome fern has been to a large extent eradicated. The Waitangi river has its source on the estate and flows through the larger portion of it. The station possesses numerous volcanic hillocks, the Walotapu Falls and a fine natural spring of mineral water. Over 500 head of shorthorn cattle and 2000 sheep, chiefly of the Romuey strain, are grazed on one run. Mr. Close's residence and grounds are most pleasantly situated.

Mr. James Close, Proprietor of Ngaheia Station, was born in Reeth, Yorkshire, in 1843, and was educated at an academy in Leeds, in which town he afterwards followed the calling of a grocer and provision merchant. He came to New Zealand per ship “Persia” in 1860 with his parents, who settled at Te Arai, near Mongonui. Removing to Auckland soon afterwards, he, in conjunction with his brother, established the firm of Messrs. Close Bros., and after a successful career of thirty years, and owing to the death of his brother, Mr. Close disposed of the business and removed to the north to a climate better suited to his health. He is married to a daughter of the late Mr. John Harding of Mount Vernon, Hawke's Bay, and has two sons and two daughters.

Mr. J. Close.

Mr. J. Close.