The Cummings Family
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.
John Cummings, 60 years old and affectionately known as Pa or Jonnie, along with his two sons, Jack aged 20, and Henry aged 18 set about breaking in this land which was covered in tea-tree, blackberry, danthonia and browntop.
By the early 30's, in the depression years, Jack and Henry were milking 160 cows.
In 1937 Jack married Iva Barton, a local girl, and they went to live in the cottage on the 'top' farm. The farm and stock were then divided and a cowshed built for Jack.
Henry married Ethell Mcllroy from Mangatawhiri in 1938 and they lived in the homestead while a cottage was built for Johnnie and Agnes nearer the Store now occupied by Neil and Sue Cummings.
During the growth of Mangatangi it became a tight knit community but with few amenities. The woolshed on the Cummings farm became the meeting place for all social and community activities until in 1940 the Mangatangi Hall was built on the Post Office site.
The hospitality of the family was never in short supply.
Johnnie Cummings was a supportive resident in this development for the community. 1960 was to see further additions to the hall to cope with the growing population and Johnnie, now 92 years of age took a keen interest in the progress. So much so, that in spite of being ill in bed and advised by his family to stay there, he walked alone to the opening of the new addition!
On the sporting scene, he was a very good bowler - both indoor and outdoor, and was a respected member of the Pokeno, Buckland and Papakura Clubs having started bowling in 1918.
He was Patron of the Pokeno Club until his death in 1963, in his 97th year.
In 1946 Jack sold his dairy herd and farmed beef and sheep.
Jack and Iva had three girls and two boys, Laurie and Neil. When Jack passed away in 1973 Laurie then took over the running of the farm, building a cowshed and going back into dairying as this was the only way to make a living. Laurie and Audrey are still farming the property as well as farming Ostriches since 1993. They have two daughters and two sons.
Neil took over the 15 acres with the grandfather’s house. Neil and Sue have two daughters. He grew vegetables, built glass houses and grew table grapes for a few years, pulled the grapes out to grow hot-house beans, tomatoes and capsicums, as well as going out to work.
Ethell and Henry had 3 girls and 1 boy. They continued milking on their farm for several years before turning over to dry stock. They sold out in 1972 and moved to Pukekohe. Mr. Jack Grant bought the farm, demolished the old corrugated homestead and built a big house on the property with another house for workers.
Henry passed away in Mar 1995 while Ethell celebrated her 90th birthday on 12th June 2000
A new brick house was built on Jack and Ivor’s farm in????
John Cummings, (Johnnie, Pa), my grandfather was a man of great strength and fortitude. Although small of stature, strong and determined in spirit. His true Irish heritage showed itself in many aspects of his personality. He was authorative, steadfast and resolute. I am proud to have had this gritty little man as my grandfather.
Diane Story (Cummings) 2000.