Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Cutter, A Captain and the Tairua Sawmill

Looking down from Mount Pauanui on Tairua Harbour Entrance - Photo CRB 2013
Looking back and doing some research, am fascinated with how the machinery and equipment for the first sawmill was bought to Tairua. There were no roads nor a railway back in 1864. A few rough tracks through what was said to be dense bush. Shipping was heavily relied on in those days and it was shipping that bought the machinery and equipment. Seccombe, Bleazard and Tothill were establishing a mill at Tairua. Seccombe being well known in Auckland back in the early 1860's as a brewer.

This was no small mill like some I have seen around the country. Said a few years after completion, to be employing 100 men in the sawmilling operations, it would even by today's measurement, be called a large sawmill.

The end of October 1864 saw the 21 ton cutter Ringdove departing from Port of Auckland with a cargo of sundry merchandise for the sawmill and four passengers. Captain Poulgrain was her master.

Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua October 1864:
OCTOBER 1864





Ringdove
Cutter
21 Tons
Poulgrain
31/10 for Mercury
sundry merchandize for the




Bay & Tairua
Saw Mill Company—4 passengers




 NZ Herald
Seccombe, Bleazard and Co. agents


Ringdove was a cutter said to have been built in 1864. ( Koel Junction ) Initially from newspaper records it appears Ringdove was on the Russell Mangonui run, Rackstraw her first  Master. In October Lloyd is recorded as master and Buchanan & Stewart as agents. ( Daily Southern Cross 11/10/1864 ) Two weeks later,  Captain Poulgrain was recorded as master with a voyage from Mercury Bay with 5 passengers. ( Daily Southern Cross 29/10/1864
  
The next two months  saw Ringdove to and from Tairua with passengers. Captain Poulgrain was used to coasters and the coastal waters of the New Zealand eastern coastline. Poulgrain had been master previously of Victoria, Albatross, Marwell and  Miranda.

Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua November 1864:
NOVEMBER 1864





Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
10/11 from Tairua
20 tons firewood




 NZ Herald
1 passenger
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
11/11 for Tairua
sundries




 NZ Herald
5 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
24/11 From Tairua
Daily Southern Cross
 in ballast
7 passengers
 
Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua December 1864:
DECEMBER 1864





Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
16 /12 From Tairua
In ballast





5 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
19/12 For Tairua
Sundries –




 NZ Herald
7 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
29/12 From Tairua
In ballast




 Daily Southern Cross
5 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
31/12 For Tairua
1 ton coals





4 passengers

Tairua Harbour Entrance, just as it is even today, was one to be treated with respect. To the North and South of Tairua Harbour Entrance was a rugged coastline. Cliffs and rocky outcrops out of volcanic origins.

Cliffs near Onemana and Tairua Harbour Entrance - Photo CRB 2014
Into 1865. Ringdove was to be seen over the next few months, delivering cargoes of machinery and equipment for the new sawmill along with sundry foodstuffs and passengers.

Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua January 1865:
JANUARY 1865





Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
12/01 From Tairua
In ballast




 NZ Herald
2 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
17/01For Tairua
66 pieces Machinery




 NZ Herald
 2 chain cables, 18 kegs nails,





1 bag shackles,





 3,000 fire bricks,





 Ex light brigade -





1 case groceries





10 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
31/01 From Tairua
In ballast




 NZ Herald
2 passengers

Woodworking machinery was introduced to Auckland in the 1860's. Prior to this it was pit- sawn timber. It was also reported in the Daily Southern Cross in early January 1865 that the well known foundry of George Fraser had manufactured entire machinery for the Auckland Timber Company and improved machinery for Seccombe & Sons Brewery in Khyber Pass Road. (Daily Southern Cross, 2 January 1865, Pg 5 )

Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua February 1865:
FEBRUARY 1865





Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
06/02 For Tairua
for Tairua, with




 NZ Herald
4 cases machinery,





24 cases galvanised iron,





3 kegs nails,





1 cask iron work,





1 case fire bars,





1 anvil, 1 smith's bellows,





1 bundle cast steel,





 42 bars iron," 5 bundles iron,





20 pork, 1 ton potatoes,





 6 bags rice, 17 bags sugar,





3 casks beer, 2 bags salt





3 bales blankets,





1 box tobacco, 2 chests tea,





1 box medicine





,1 pkg. matches,
 8 casks





 oatmeal, 3 cases raisins—





7 passengers.

At the beginning of March 1865, Tairua Sawmill were advertising for six labourers. They must have hired these for the voyage of Ringdove for Tairua on 2nd March recorded 10 passengers. Newspaper shipping reports of coastal shipping in the 1860's did not generally record names of the passengers.

Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua March 1865:
MARCH 1865





Ringdove
Cutter
21tons
Poulgrain
02/03 For Tairua
Sundries




 NZ Herald
10 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
22/03 From Tairua
In ballast




 NZ Herald
12 passengers





T.W. Brown agent

Tairua Sawmills continued advertising for " hands" throughout March, the end of the month for two men to work  " Tide Work in a punt" (Daily Southern Cross,  27 March 1865, Pg 1)  No doubt the work was welcome for those hired.
 
Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua April 1865:
APRIL 1865





Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
10/04 From Tairua
In ballast




 NZ Herald
12 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
15/04 For Tairua
31 pkgs. Machinery-





2 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
28/04 From Tairua
In ballast




 Daily Southern Cross
6 passengers


April 1865 saw the following names recorded on the Electoral Roll  as residing in Tairua and Hikuai ( spelled Hikowai )( Franklyn Electoral Roll 1865  then ) :

Bach, John 
Bleazard, Robert
Bradley, Robert
Craig, Arthur
Craig, Joseph
Dyer, John
McDonald, Peter
Millburn, James
Rogers, Owen
Tapsell, Philip
Tothill, Charles

( Daily Southern Cross 12 April 1865 Page 6. & New Zealand Herald,  15 April 1865, Page 5 )
 
Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua May 1865:
MAY 1865





Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
01/05 From Tairua
in ballast





16 casks beef





7 passengers





T. W. Brown, agent
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
14/05 From Tairua
in ballast





timber





damaged sails
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
20/05 From Tairua
in ballast –





6 passengers

T. W Brown was the first agent for the Tairua Sawmill. Based in Auckland, he arranged sales of timber after the mills were opened and cargoes to and from Tairua.


Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua June 1865:
JUNE 1865





Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
14/06 From Tairua
1 mule




 NZ Herald
8 passengers

Captain Poulgrain reported heavy weather saw the Ringdove windbound at Tairua for several days. The coasters of the 1860's, under sail, were reliant on wind, weather and tide.


Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua July 1865:
JULY 1865





Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
06/07 From Tairua
1 mule




 NZ Herald
2 casks beef





8 passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
06/07 For Tairua
11casks beef, 1/4 ton flour,




 NZ Herald
 2 bags sugar, 2 bags rice,





 1 box tobacco, 1 case belting,





6 boxes passengers' luggage





, 1 case saw-makers' tools,





Seccombe, Bleazard ,Tothill—





7 passengers.
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
28/07 From Tairua
7 tons kauri gum-




 NZ Herald
19 passengers

Tairua Sawmill, even by today's standards, could not be regarded as a small sawmill. James Mackay in a report to the Colonial Secretary in 1875, wrote that the Tairua Sawmill employed an average of 100 men in the mills and forest. ( AJHR 1875 I, C-03 )Sawmills of that era were labour intensive and saw the employment of a number in mill, bush and on vessels loading and carrying cargoes of timber.

Union Sash &​ Door Co. Booms, Tairua River Webb &​ Webb.c 1865 photo use courtesy
Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria

                     Please do not copy this photo without permission  of State Library of Victoria, Australia

When Tairua Sawmills were first built there was no wharf to unload machinery and sundry items for the mill being established. The sawmills were built close to the waters edge in the Tairua Harbour. Two months after opening of the Tairua Mills, the Herald reported the following on the band saw and boiler: - 

" This saw is of unusually large size, in one entire piece, and in the short space of twenty minutes will cut 550 feet, or at the rate of 2000 feet per hour, any size from ½ to 60 inches in width. The boiler attached to the mill is one of Harrison's patent, of 60 horse power, and takes up 8 feet square room."


(New Zealand Herald, 19 October 1865, Page 4)

From Mt. Pauanui looking down on Tairua Harbour and Tairua River  - Photo CRB 2013

 Following the voyages to and from Tairua in August 1865, Ringdove was put up for auction with the well known firm of Jones & Co.


Voyages of the Ringdove to and from Tairua August 1865:
AUGUST 1865





Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
02/08 From Tairua
7 tons kauri gum—




 NZ Herald
21 passengers.—





T. W. Brown, agent.
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
03/08 For Tairua
 37 bags flour, 2 casks cement,




 Daily Southern Cross
1 cask split peas, 6 tins coffee,





2 paper parcels, 1 box tobacco,





4 bags sugar, 10 barrels pork,





3 bags rice , 3 half chests tea,





1/4 ton iron, 1 grindstone,





2 water-tanks, 1 case crockery-ware,





1 case glass, 1 boat, 1 cask





blasting-powder, 1 barrel rum,





 5 gallons oil, 1 casting and sheet





brass Passengers 4
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
14/08 From Tairua &
In ballast




 Mercury Bay
4 passengers.




 NZ Herald
 —T. W. Brown, agent.
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
16/08 For Tairua
1 cask oatmeal,





2 cases axes, 1 parcel drapery





2 doz axe-handles,





50 lb tobacco,





15 Ib powder, 1 cwt paint,





1 parcel groceries-





 11 Passengers
Ringdove
Cutter
21 tons
Poulgrain
From Tairua
In ballast





4 passengers



Before the end of September the cutter Ringdove and Captain Poulgrain were  to see new waters  Messrs Harris and Turner purchased Ringdove at an auction held by Jones & Co and was laid on for the Hokitika diggings  . Captain Poulgrain took charge of the Cutter Glimpse which was purchased by a Canterbury firm.



Tairua Sawmill



James Mackay reporting to the Colonial Secretary in 1875 recorded the following in a return - 


Tairua Sawmill Company :

Cost of Mill & Plant £23,000

Date of Erection: 1864

Situation of Timber: Tairua

Date of Timber Purchase: 1864

Amount Paid for Timber including land surveys: £3000

Value logs in stock or in bush : £5500

Estimated present value  Mills, Plant and Standing Forests: £26000

Total Value Mills, Plant and standing forests &  timber in stock: £31500

Average number men employed in mills & forest : 100

Average number vessels employed in timber trade: 5

Average number men employed in vessels: 10

                                                   AJHR 1875 I, C-03

In comparison to the other mills in this report, the cost of Mill & Plant of £23,000 was one of the more expensive. In 2013 terms  the relative value of £23,500 from 1875 ranges from £1,932,000.00 to £29,900,000.00.The Tairua Sawmills went on milling until into the 20th century. Another mill  was built further down on the Tairua River and the Tairua Valley saw employment in sawmilling until 2005.

As to the cutter Ringdove - a varied and chequered use  followed the Tairua Sawmill era. From the diggings of Hokitika to the Mahurangi run to notoriety because her new master, Mather, was reputed to use Ringdove for smuggling to being sold and used to carry a cargo of timber to Noumea and on to inter island trade.
Reference Source

  • AJHR Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1875 Session I, C-03 CLAIMS UPON LANDS TAKEN OVER BY THE PROVINCE OF AUCKLAND FROM THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT. (FURTHER CORRESPONDENCE RELATING THERETO).
  •  Koel Junction
  • Papers Past, National Library New Zealand  including : 
  • PORT OF AUCKLAND. MISCELLANEOUS  Daily Southern Cross, 11 October 1864, Page 4
  • PORT OP AUCKLAND. WEEKLY SUMMARY. MISCELLANEOUS. Daily Southern Cross, 29 October 1864, Page 4
  • Daily Southern Cross 12 April 1865 Page 6.
  • THE TAIRUA SAW MILLS. New Zealand Herald, 19 October 1865, Page 4
  • http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~sooty/franklynERoll1865.html 
  • Measuring Worth http://www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare/relativevalue.php 
  • Fiji Shipping Index https://fijishipindex.wordpress.com/inter-island/ringdove/
  • Bennett, Francis, Tairua, Arrow Printing Limited, Morrinsville, reprint soft cover 2004