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Life in Early Poverty Bay


Gisborne, nowadays, is once again troubled with the problem of an inadequate water supply and the “City Fathers,” ever and anon, cast around in search of a fresh source to supply the increasing demands made on the system. It is, however, merely a case of history repeating itself. Fifty years ago, even with the scanty population of those days, difficulty in this direction was a continual cause of worry. But, at that time, it was not a question of a leaking pipe-main, for the font of the town's supply was merely a spring, situated right in the town, close to the position now occupied by the Wi Pere Memorial in Read's Quay. Here, in those good old days, Gisbornians gathered with buckets and cans and obtained their daily supplies of water for washing and cooking. It was the only supply pure enough for these purposes, for all other available water was merely from the river or had gathered in wells after rain, and required boiling before becoming fit for human consumption. Use of the impure water often resulted in a disease commonly known then as “Gisborne fever.” When this single spring ran low, then, the town's water problem became acute.