Friday, 26 May 2017

Industry in Rotorua : the early years

Industry providing jobs in Rotorua c.1880's-1930's 

Rotorua has long been the stronghold for saw milling.  One of the 1st mills was the Rotoiti Sawmill Co. which was established at the lake edge, the other belonged to the Steele Brothers leased in 1888 in the Maraeroa-Oturoa block and not long after this they set up a new timber yard which was sited on the corner of Eruera and Tutanekai Streets and took up the entire block back to Amohia Street. 

Don Stafford records in his 'Founding years of Rotorua',  that "Railway construction, probably more than anything else, gave impetus to the development of a timber industry for Rotorua" 

Joan Boyd records for us the history of Afforestation in NZ and principally here in Rotorua in her book 'Rotorua forests : a history' c.1980.  
By the late 1890's a nursery was set up in Rotorua at the foot of the hills adjacent to the Whakarewarewa thermal area 1. , following this afforestation began in 1901 at Waiotapu, the planting of the trees was undertaken by good-conduct prisoners at the Waiotapu Prison Camp. 2.  This planting continued apace and by "1926 some 47,000 acres had been planted on the Kaingaroa-Waiotapu blocks." 

Joan's book gives a great insight into why Rotorua still has a forestry industry today. 

Another not so well-known industry in Rotorua c.1889-1900 was Sulphur Mining which was started by a Mr J.H. Taylor c.1889 when he purchased two pieces of land which encompassed the area "known locally as 'Sodom and Gomorrah' as sulphur deposits there were substantial" p.318 by 1893 Mr Taylor had sold his sulphur business to a Mr Wilson, By then other sulphur deposits were being worked by Maori... in Tikitere and Taheke" p.319. Don Stafford records that during this time "shipments of 100 tons to Auckland were not uncommon. Francis Moss Boord was one of the 1st and probably largest dealers."
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19021211-4-3

Another industry in Rotorua in the 1920's was our Rotorua 'mud' which made good 'face powder' which 'takes the tone of any complexion' as reported in the Bay of Plenty Times 4.8.1927. This industry was still very much in vogue in 1936 when the Rotorua Morning Post reported this :'Tourist Department workman commenced excavating a quantity of thermal mud from a blowhole on the Arikikapakapa extension reserve' to be sent to health spas in England.

With thanks to the Don Stafford Collection, Commerce folder for this interesting snippet. 

*Tourists of today are still buying Rotorua Mud products at all good souvenir shops.

To read more of Rotorua's history look out for books by Don Stafford, Phil Andrews and Enid Tapsell.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Careers and Education in Rotorua : Past and Present

Careers in a bygone era

These days a career must have an IT component to it, and the student must have a computer or device like iPad Pro.  Just think what changes there have been since 1886 (post Mt Tarawera eruption).

In the 1885/86 Electoral Roll the careers/occupations for Rotorua were : Bakers (6), Bootmaker (1), Builder (1), Butcher (2), Carpenter (12), Coach Proprietor (1), Coach Driver (4), Dentist (1), Farmer (3), Groom (7), Physician (1), Postmaster (1), Resident Medical Officer (1), Stable Owner (1), Surveyor (4), Veterinarian (1), Barman (2), Bath Attendant (1), Clerk (1), Contractor (1), Gardener (1), Native Agent (2), Native Interpreter (2), Overseer (1), Publican (1), Sawyer (7), Storekeeper (9) and Waiter (2).

Don Stafford's "Founding Years of Rotorua" tells us that the population at that time was approximately 453 Europeans and 1,375 Maori. By 1901 the population of Europeans had jumped to 1,278 and an estimate of 930 Maori.

In 1901 the occupations listed included an Architect, a Station Master, a Cordial Maker, a Tobacconist, 7 Engineers, 2 Police Constables, 3 Photographers, 3 Laundresses, 13 Storekeepers , 2 Fruiterers, 2 Mill Owners and 7 Domestic Servants, to name a few.

Sulphur Mining was a booming industry from 1889 with Rotorua's biggest dealer being Mr Francis Moss (Mossy) Boord and it provided an income for local Maori landowners around the region.

Also at this time the Okere Falls Power Station was built and also Gold Mining occurred around Horo Horo and Kaharoa, but this was a short lived occupation as little gold was found and other rumored finds in the region were unsubstantiated.

One of the most unusual occupation for the time was Mr Lakin's Fern Collecting business.

This advert was placed in the Wises Post Office Guide of 1898.

As you can see some careers are still very much in existence although the methods/styles might have changed, a carpenter, butcher, veterinarian and builder are still careers worth pursuing in our modern age.

For more information pick up Don Stafford's books The Founding Years of Rotorua and The New Century in Rotorua which can be found in the New Zealand History and Travel section at 993.423z STA

The Wises Post Office Guides are available online via the Library Edition of

Monday, 1 May 2017

Iconic Business of Rotorua Past

A Spotlight on C. A. Clarke & Son Ltd

Advertising in Wise’s N.Z. Post Office Directory 1954

You can view this advertisement at via the Rotorua District Library
Bottling began in 1883 in a shed at Utuhina, and by 1967 the firm had some 30 employees.  The factory was on Tutanekai Street , where the Novotel Hotel is now (2012). The plant was probably the only cordial factory in the world to operate on geothermal steam. Their bottles all had the letters 'CAC' on them in glass raised letters. 
A new factory opened at Ngapuna on Friday 1st December, 1967. It incorporated a heat exchange system that generated the steam and hot water required to sterilise bottles.
When the factory moved to Ngapuna it was where the Timber Yards are now (2012). The site on Tutanekai Street was bought by Reg Durrant who operated a supermarket there, called DURRANTS, and later it changed hands becoming a Woolworths Supermarket. 

Four generations of the Clarke family were involved in the manufacture of aerated waters and cordials.

You can view this image at Kete Rotorua