Mr. Stubbs came to Mangatangi in l9l2 to take up his block of land, an area of 7213 acres. (2885 hectares), which was part of a block owned by Mr. E Wright of Taranaki.
He had previously owned a coal mine north of Waitara in Taranaki and had an involvement in shipping to service the mine. Some of the mineworkers were brought out from England. He lived there for a number of years.
He was a bit of a mystery man, he was alleged to have been a doctor in England, but for some reason he was banished to New Zealand with a reputed fortune of thirty thousand pounds. While he spent most of his time on his property at Mangatangi, he kept a hill-time room available for himself at the Grand Hotel, Auckland.
In l9l5, he formed the Mangatangi Land Company which consisted of 3000 acres, (1200 hectares) stretching four kilometers along the Kaiaua Road from the Mangatangi centre, then south-east across country to the Esk Redoubt and back to the Mangatangi centre. This block was surveyed into 23 sections in l9l9. lt consisted of scrub with a few pockets of bush in the gullies. These sections were all ring-fenced and a small four roomed house built on each. For many years Mr. Stubbs lived in one of the small cottages on the block now owned by Mrs. Roulston in Kaiaua Rd.
The first time that I visited Mangatangi was as a school boy in 1916, and again in 1918, when I spent the Christmas holidays on my uncle’s farm, more recently owned by Montana Ltd. This farm was originally owned by one of the pioneer settlers, Mr. Richard Bentley.
Our residence at the time was Mr. Stan Hutchinson’s weekend bach. He was an Auckland grocer. The bach later became the first Mangatangi School. The building at that time stood adjacent to the Bentley homestead which was destroyed by fire in December 1958. The old school building was later moved up to the road where it became the nucleus of the Montana cottage.
Little did I think at the time that I would be returning in 1924 and spending most of my life in this new district.
The celebrations of the Golden Jubilee would not be complete without a reference to earlier history of the district. We must remember however, that we are only youngsters compared with our neighbours who have in the last few years celebrated their centenaries.
The first mention of our near area is Pukorokoro, now Miranda, when in 1832 one Charles Marshall, a trader, walked the seashore from Pipiroa on the Hauraki Plains. 1869 saw the first white settlers arrive at Miranda where a store and telegraph repeater office were established in 1873.
All communication was by water at this time although a rough bush track led to Pokeno, 22 miles westward. Even as late as the 1920’s much of the inward and outward goods for the district were handled by water, the, SS Hirere, skippered by Captain Couldry making regular calls at the Kaiaua and Miranda jetties, enroute to Thames.
The first farming venture in Mangatangi itself was when a Captain Porter took up the Mangatangi block, a portion of which has been owned by the Vining family since 1871. Another old property, the Poupipi Block adjoining the Vining property is now owned by Mr. W. Bridgeman and was bought from Maori owners in about 1868.
ln the early 1930's an attempt was made to establish a Tennis Club in Mangatangi. Mr. Frank Shuker even made a start with horses, plough and scoop on the present Hall site, owned by the Ratepayers Association. Unfortunately the depression of the times proved too much, and the project lapsed for want of support.
Tennis was played however on a private sealed court, and another grass court had been inexistence for some years. The war delayed any further efforts and it was not until 1948 that the Mangatangi Progress League, an Incorporated Society, formed in 1940, purchased the site of the present of the present Mangatangi Tennis Courts.
On a winter’s morning in 1915 my father, Mr. George S Johnston, set off from Auckland with a wagon drawn by two horses to make the then two-day journey to Mangatangi. His destination was the newly acquired property of the late Mr. S Hutchinson, previously owned by Mr. R Bentley and more recently belonging to Montana Ltd.
A month later, in July, he set off from the farm to Pokeno, again by wagon with two horses, to meet my mother and myself. We had arrived there at mid-day by the train from Auckland. By the time the wagon was loaded with our luggage and sundry farm materials, our departure was somewhat delayed and it was well on in the afternoon when we drove out through Mangatawhiri. There I saw my first herd of cows being taken home to be milked. A few miles further on, we came to metals end and took to an unformed road over what was known as the Gumhills.
In December l927 we did our first shearing at Mangatangi. In those days before machines were introduced we relied on the Maori who were good blade shearers. I well remember Rangi TeWhare and Toi Katipo doing a good days work, about 50-60 sheep a day.
The late Mr. Donald Shanks helped us to handle and press the wool. The wool press at that time consisted of four plough chains hung from the roof and attached to corners of the pack. Later on we improved on this method and made a box similar to the bottom half of a modern press.
Later on we introduced a hand shearing machine but the job of turning it was a jolly sight harder than the actual shearing. Volunteers for the turning were not too numerous.
From the l850’s on, Maori were collecting the surface kauri gum from around the area.
Maori had long used the gum for making torches, lamp black for tattoo pigments and mixed it with sow thistle for chewing. They used to use it for lighting fires in the bush in winter time as it is very inflammable. Mr. Thos Vining always told of a large settlement of Maori living at the true Mangatangi, adjacent to his residence on Kaiaua Road.
Slowly as the kauri gum became more widely recognised, the price rose as did the numbers who came searching for it. Kauri gum was free for all gum diggers in the early days. One gum digger worked on a property on a royalty basis.
Roll of Honour
Roll of Honour The Fallen
Baldwin F L Baldwin E
Baldwin W F Brown J
Beacock F Clark J
In 1957 the Smith family purchased from Mr. Ted Waller, a block of land comprising 956 acres (388 Hectare) of hill country on Kaiaua Road which rose from 300 ft. to 800 ft. above sea level. The land, which was mainly covered in scrub, with some bush gullies and only 3 paddocks in grass. The land was not ring fenced, and the road was not tar-sealed.
A year later we moved into the only building on the property, an old cottage built from native timber from the property, adding a room or two to accommodate our five children. Angus, Laura, Ian, Constance and Peter.
During the next 10 years, a woolshed and other out buildings were erected and further additions made to the house. A second house was built a mile along the road, about l5 years ago.
Health reasons were responsible for bringing us from a wet, low lying, dairy farm 30 miles away, to Mangatangi. Eighteen months after moving, Constance had a successful heart operation at Green Lane Hospital, (her second), and we cannot speak too highly of the dedicated team of doctors who performed the operation which had been impossible before the introduction of the heart-lung machine.
John Cummings was born in County Antrim, Ireland in 1869 and came to New Zealand in 1874, on the ship Waitangi, with his parents William Henry and Mary. The family settled in Pukekohe where Mary was a school teacher and William kept books for the firm of Roulstons. John was educated at Pukekohe, and then went with his father to clear land at Whangarata.
In 1887, he drew a ballot farm of 100 acres in Onewhero and set about breaking in this uninviting land.
John married Agnes Pellow in 1898 and they had eight children. Six daughters and the two sons, Jack and Henry. In l918 the sold farm at Onewhero and bought land in Manurewa, so his daughters could obtain work more easily in Auckland.
In 1926, John bought 800 acres (325 hectares) of land in Mangatangi, this being part of the Mangatangi Land Company formed by Mr. George Stubbs, originally owned by a Mr. G.Fayen. Mr. Stubbs had built his homestead on this land in 19l3, construction being unusual in that the exterior was clad entirely in corrugated iron.
A new lime works was established at Miranda c1931 with Mr. Herbie Tait as the managing Director of the new company formed to utilise the abundant shell beds adjacent to the Pukorokoro Stream.
The shell was trucked to the Lime works, crushed and burnt to produce powdered lime which had a ready market to sweeten the local acidic soils. The rule of thumb was to apply lime annually at the rate of a ton to the acre. This use resulted in a dramatic change to the productivity of the land and was relatively cheap, being a local resource. The lime was also in demand as a roading material and an integral part of cement for concrete manufacture
At its peak the works operated around the clock with lime being carried by truck to the rail at Pokeno for distribution further afield. Lime also travelled by sea with a scow taking 78 ton to Clevedon in February 1932 and scows and barges also travelling to Thames.
A virgin country such as ours in the l9th Century had to rely on its natural resources. Our district was no exception to this rule for we hear of tales of the vast Kauri timber industry, flax, kauri gum, a little gold and traces of coal. I believe a quartz seam was worked sometime in the l890’s and taken to Thames for processing, but assayed at only l0/- per ton.
A flax mill was in operation in the l89O’s on the Shuker property under the Surrey Redoubt, by Mr. Hastie Dean. An interesting point here is that the mill boiler was fired with coal from a nearby coal seam, and was later used to fire the boilers of traction engines hauling road metal.
The Shuker family originates from Shropshire and leased land from an aristocratic family, with no likelihood of ever owning their own farm.
George and Sarah Shuker had three sons and five daughters when they sailed from Tilbury docks in London bound for New Zealand aboard the RMS Corinthic, landing at Wellington on the 20th of January 1913, after a journey of six and a half weeks, via Cape Town and Hobart. They immediately travelled by train to Auckland where they rented a house while George looked for a suitable farm south of the city.
They purchased a property at Ararimu however the venture was not a success and after three years they sold and the family moved to Glenbrook Beach where George firstly worked for Mr. McLarin, then as a sharemilker for Mr. Claud Motion at Otaua.
Frank and Fred bought the Mangatangi property of 730 acres (292 hectares) in 1931.
Towards the end of 1913 an area of 2373 acres was purchased by the late Mr. Abram Corrigal Waller from Mr. E Wright who was the principal partner of a group known as the Taranaki Syndicate, who had purchased 10,300 acres from Maori in 1911. The original old house was always known as the Wright’s house.
This totally unimproved block bought by Mr. A C Waller was broken in and fenced by his son George Edward Waller. Later an adjoining farm in the A Mangatangi Block was also purchased.
The original block was subdivided by Mr. AC Waller and portions of it farmed separately by his family. His daughter, Mrs. Lill Keith and grandson Fergie were on one lot while his son George Edward Waller (Ted) and grandson Earle farmed the portion adjoining the Waller homestead which was built about 1924.
This large property was sold in recent years to three separate owners, while Ted Waller still retained his farm in the Mangatangi Block.
In July 1866, the Vining brothers, Thomas and Sydney, aged 18 and 16, left London on the ship Ida Zeigler arriving in Auckland on 23rd Oct 1866.
They worked as farm cadets for a Mr. Graham at Tairua for 5yrs. to gain experience, and then in 1871 the brothers purchased part of the Mangatangi Block for £1 an acre. All goods came from Thames by sailing boat, as at that time was larger and more prosperous than Auckland. In 1898, a second bush block was purchased in a liquidation sale from the Mineral Prospecting Co. for l0/- an acre. This took the acreage up to 2900 acres. (1160 Hectare)
In 1900 Mr. Thomas Vining married Miss Susan Lyons of Mangatawhiri, while Syd Vining stayed single. Thos & Susan had four children, two boys and two girls. The eldest son, Lew, died 1938 aged only 30. The original brothers both passed away in l939, whilst Mrs. Vining survived them by 22 years. The Vining family then consisted of Amy, Aileen and Jack (Huia John) who continued farming the property. Jack passed away in 1980, aged 72 years. Amy and Aileen continued farming the property, with Amy managing the farm and Eileen running the homestead.
1932 TO 1979
The Barton family arrived from England in 1885 and after a period in Auckland, farmed in Onewhero and Pukekawa before moving to Papatoetoe.
Here Sam Barton, who had married Ella Drake in 1900, became involved in valuing land offered for resettlement under the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act and destined to be taken up by soldiers returning from the First World War. Later in the 1920's he spent some time in Fiji advising on the setting up of dairy herds.
Sam’s eldest son Harry began working for Wright Stephenson’s when he left school. In those days they sold cars to farmers and Harry had to take the car to the purchaser and teach him to drive before returning to Auckland.
After a brief spell farming in Northland, Harry joined forces with his Father and Alfred E Odlin, Manager of the Odlin Timber Company, and in 1932 they purchased 450 acres of land in Mangatangi.
Called the Totara Stud Farm, it was previously part of a much larger block owned by Mr. George Stubbs.
The farm originally carried a pedigree herd of 50 Jersey cows plus replacements. There was also a team of 4 Clydesdales required for theheavy work of breaking in the scrub covered parts of the farm. About1943 came the first tractor, an old Farmall. Later on the farm changed to dairying plus a flock of Romney crossbred sheep. Pigs were also raised on the skim milk and the occasional consignment of old cracker biscuits purchased from surplus American war requirements.
Aoturoa Tamati Ramanui was born in 1868 at Whakatane and moved to Mangatangi with his wife and six children in about 1922.
Aoturoa Tamati's sister married a great Maori chief named Te Kooti and Aoturoa was one of his few body guards.
He settled on a farm at Mangatangi now owned by Messrs. Henry Bros. and Edgar Smith and later in 1927 moved across the road to the farm now owned by Graeme Yern.
Aoturoa had a family of seven children altogether, one dying at a very early age and two others at five and seven years old. The others were Peter Tamati, Joe Hokari, Annie and Mac Rotohiko. Annie and Mac both went to Mangatangi School.
The objectives of the expedition
During 1860 the Taranaki and Waikato areas lurched closer to war, made inevitable because the Pakeha settlers wanted more and more land, and the Maori landowners were becoming less inclined to sell. In Taranaki, because most of the action took place within an area 10 miles either side of New Plymouth, access by the army was not difficult as it was in the Waikato. The main objective in the Waikato was to take the war to the King Movement which they saw as the main impediment to land purchase for new settlers. The Maori King was based at Ngaruawahia, 60 miles south of Auckland and, although reasonably accessible via the Waikato River, access to the river was difficult by sea and the river was 30 miles from Auckland over land. A road of sorts extended as far south as Drury, 20 miles from Auckland and Drury was accessible by sea across the Manukau Harbour from Onehunga; but from Drury to Pokino (Pokeno) the road, widened from a bridle track in 1856, had never been formed or metalled.
On the 16th November 1863 a force of about nine hundred men, under Lieut.-Colonel Carey, embarked at Auckland for the Thames Gulf. The object of the expedition was to occupy the principal Maori settlements on the western shore of the gulf, whence men and supplies had been sent to the Waikato, and to establish a line of forts across country from the sea to the Queen's Redoubt.
By Nan Motion
Captain William Field Porter arrived in Auckland in 1841, having embarked with his family in his own brig, the "Porter" from Liverpool. In Liverpool his family owned a shipyard on the Mersey River with docking and shipbuilding facilities. The whole town gathered to farewell their very popular citizen who was then 57 years old.
The family established themselves in Auckland and in a short time Captain William Field Porter was appointed Attorney General, a position he held from 1841-44 under the Hobson Government of that time. He served on the Auckland Provincial Council from 1853, and also represented Suburbs of Auckland in the first House of Representatives. During some of this time he lived on Waiheke Island.