Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Rotorua Then & Now

Rotorua Business from Yesteryear

In Rotorua the first businesses were the Hotels and Guest Houses and of course the Comet Store on Lake Road.  From humble beginnings with some 44 Europeans and 3,294 Maori in c.1874 (Census Tables from "The Founding Years in Rotorua by Don Stafford. p.422-423.) 

Rotorua became a tourist mecca of Royalty and the Nobility which local Maori were quick to welcome. Then came the Tarawera Eruption in 1886 which slowed the tide of tourists, but only temporarily as recorded in Don Stafford's 'The Founding Years of Rotorua' ---- "Three years later, after the Tarawera Eruption, the industry was still strong enough for the Tauranga people to oppose the Cambridge-Oxford route to Rotorua... thus bypassing the Tauranga to Rotorua route" 

By 1894 when the Railway arrived in Rotorua the tourist traffic was back to normal and from here on the town grew, and grew... !

Timber mills were a very popular money making venture. The first mill's were in the centre of town! The Steele's mill was on the corner of Tutanekai and Eruera Streets and went all the way back to Amohia Street. 

Excerpt from the Cyclopedia of NZ via NZETC online : 
"STEELE BROTHERS (Duncan William Steele, George Steele, Walter Steele, and Alfred Steele), Sawmillers and Building Contractors.
This business was established in 1888. The premises, erected on Government leasehold sections, include a drying shed capable of storing 200,000 feet of timber, shop, workshop, an eight roomed residence, and a large hall—the Rotorua Assembly Hall—the largest and best outside of any large city in New Zealand".

Published by Braynart Group as part of Rotorua’s Centennial Celebrations. Photographs for the calendar were supplied by the Rotorua Museum.

Excerpt from "The Founding Years in Rotorua" by Don Stafford.
Kusabs Brothers 
Owners of the Mountain Rimu Co. Mill at Mamaku was a successful business from the late 1880s.
"In July 1895 the Kusabs Brothers opened a timber yard on the north side of Amohau Street, between Fenton and Hinemaru Streets... the block owned by the Kusabs Brothers at Mamaku consisted of 2000 acres of heavily timbered land, the major species being Rimu, Totara, Hinau, Tawa and Tanekaha." 

Jump forward a few years :),  here are some of the ones Library staff who were brought up in Rotorua remember. 

Photograph by Alison Leigh
Add your memories to our interactive site Kete Rotorua

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