Vining Family History
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.
They always had a great vegetable garden and plenty of fruit from the old established orchard. Aileen was always noted for her scones, about the size of a small loaf, plus her mutton roasts .It was said that no one was ever hungry, especially the shearers. A new Kauri homestead was built in 1900, with the timber being rafted over from Thames, as the original house had burnt down.
At the front of the once spacious grounds is a Deodar Cedar, an Indian Cypress and a Crimean Pine, all approx. 150 years old. Jack was a very keen Acclimatisation man as can be seen as you walk around the farm. There are many ponds and little reserves fenced off for waterfowl. He brought in different types of waterfowl that were pioneer breeding pairs.
In 1981, Amy and Aileen gave the bush block (about 1000 acre) to the people of NZ, on three conditions; it would be ring fenced; there would be no roading; and no timber dead or alive was to be removed from the area. Finally and sadly, life became too much for them and a farm manager was employed. Amy died 1983, and Aileen 1985. They were a family that kept very much to themselves.
A big solid Kauri hay barn was built about1975, made from timber cut out of the bush. It could hold about 5000 bales. The farm today comprises 1900 acres, and carries mainly cattle.
Vining Trust was wound up in 2000 and the farm was sold to Mr. Hugh Green. Following his death a few years ago the property came under management for the Hugh Green Foundation and is now known as Emerald Downs.
16 Dec 14