A Tribute to George Herbert Stubbs
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.
Mr. George Johnston (Jenny Holder’s father) managed the properties which had been surveyed into farms until they were taken up. Mr. Barndt Mattson was also engaged by Mr. Stubbs to look after the families as they arrived and to see them settled. One of George’s projects was to plough ten acres on each farm using a big Sampson tractor, the first tractor to come to the district. There was a lot of activity at this time with teams of horses being used to work up ground for crops and new grass,
As far as I know Mr. Stubbs provided all the money for this development and was given second mortgages on these properties. 1919 saw sixteen of these sections taken up, but being undeveloped and with no income, most of the settlers walked off with nothing. Most of Mr. Stubbs fortune went into this venture so he too lost a lot of money.
The Mangatangi residents owed him a great debt, as he used his medical skills to the benefit of everyone, be it a doctor, or dentist, you name it. ln l9l8, during the influenza epidemic he set up a fields hospital at Whakatiwai, and with a band of willing helpers, Mrs. Coxhead Senior of Miranda and others did a wonderful job of nursing the sick patients and saving many lives.
He acted as the Local Manager or School Commissioner in the early days until the first School Committee was elected in 1925. He took charge of the first working bee at the school, clearing the school ground of fern, tea-tree and more fern.
One day at school, Arthur Chipman fell out of a tree and landed on a sharp end of a fence batten. This made a three inch gap under his arm pit. Mr. Stubbs put the boy in his car, drove him to Pukekohe, stitched up the wound and arranged for him to stay on a night in a maternity hospital. This was typical of the things Mr. Stubbs did for the early residents of Mangatangi.
He owned the first car in the district, a distinctive Minerva, a brand to rival Rolls Royce.
While resident in Mangatangi Mr. Stubbs was very active in the community yet he kept his private life to himself. He lived in Tuakau for some time and returned to the district when he was buried in the Miranda cemetery. He is survived by a granddaughter resident in South Auckland.
Of all the early settlers none left a greater mark than George Stubbs. Today his name lives on at Stubbs Bridge, built in 1922, over the Mangatangi River and at Stubbs Rd off Kaiaua Rd.
He is best remembered as the Father of Mangatangi.
He was held in very high regard by everyone around and when he left the district in Feb l932, he was presented with an Illuminated Address as a tribute, from friends in appreciation of his help in times of trouble. lt was signed by two people from Mangatangi and by two from each of the other districts, Kaiaua, Miranda, Whakatiwai, Mangatawhiri and Pokeno. lt is kept in a cabinet at the Mangatangi Hall.
List of signatories on the Illuminated Address -
Mangatangi; -- Mr. Thomas F Bell & Mr. George Sime Johnston. Miranda --- Mr. Robert G Finlay & Mr. George Coxhead Whakatiwai -- Mr. Tamati Wirumu & Mr. Fred Lowry
Kaiaua ---- Mr. Walter Peters & Mr. R C Workman. Mangatawhiri -- Mr. Sam J Mcllroy & Mr. R G Pendergrass. Pokeno --- Mr. J Dean & Mr. Alf J Bourne.
Mrs. K Banks. 2015