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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]



Romahapa is a small village on the Catlins river line of railway. It lies sixty-one miles south-west from Dunedin and eight miles from Balclutha. Early in the “fifties,” settlers went to South Clutha, and in 1854 there were five families in the district: namely, those of Messrs Hay, Brugh, Mercer, Willsher, and Archibald Brothers. A considerable portion of the country was covered with bush and flax, and sawmilling was one of the first industries. Dairyfarming is an important industry among the present settlers; but, in addition to the local creamery, there are twine, flax, and sawmills in active operation. The pioneer settlers built the first school on church endowment land, and their example has been imitated in more modern days by the younger generation, who have erected a public hall. The village has an old-established Presbyterian church, a Government school, post and telegraph office, and a good general store. Romahapa is the nearest railway station to Port Molyneux and Puerua.

Jackman, Marcus Thomas , General Merchant, Romahapa. Mr. Jackman is referred to in another article as lieutenant of the Clutha Mounted Rifls.

Begg, W. and Co. , Twine Manufacturers, Glen Mills, Romahapa. This important industry was established by the late Mr. A. S. Begg, in 1891, and since its inauguration the business has been considerably developed. The company owns several flax mills throughout the province of Otago, and the fibre received from these mills is converted into twine at Romahapa. From there the product is railed and shipped to all parts of the colony, and used in connection with the harvesting twine binders. The premises at Romahapa consist of a main factory, two store houses, and the manager's office. The factory is fitted up with two large double drawing-frames, sixteen spinners, and a balling machine of four spindles. A large turbine, which is fed by a water-race from the Omaru river, drives all the machinery, as well as an electric dynamo for lighting purposes. When the water supply fails, in the dry season, a 23-horse-power oil engine is used. The output of the Glen Mills is 150 tons per annum, with an eight-hour shift; but the growth of the business has necessitated the working of two eight-hour shifts per diem.

Mr. George Calder Begg , General Manager and Secretary of W. Begg and Co., is the second son of the late Mr. A. S. Begg. He was born in Scotland, and came out to New Zealand, as a child, with his parents. At Romahapa he was engaged with his father in the sawmilling industry, and in 1883 went to India, where for ten years he conducted a large sawmilling business. On returning to New Zealand he assumed his present position. Mr. Begg is married to a daughter of Mr. George Nicoll, of Dunedin, and has one son.

Mr. G. C. Begg.

Mr. G. C. Begg.

Kilgour, Andrew , Farmer, Romahapa. Mr. Kilgour is the youngest son of the late Mr. Alexander Kilgour, of Balclutha, and was born at Kinross in 1851. He arrived with his parents in New Zealand by the ship “Sir Edwin Paget” in 1856. His father settled in Balclutha, where he carried on business successfully as a baker, and was in the course of time joined in the trade by his son. During his residence in Balclutha, Mr. Andrew Kilgour took a very prominent position in the community as a successful vine grower and horticulturist. Mr. Kilgour possessed a large vinery and conservatory, in the centre of which he had the oven of his bakehouse. In that way he secured the necessary sub-tropical temperature, and made one supply of coal serve two purposes. Mr. Kilgour was one of the largest prize takers at the local show, and won several trophies at Dunedin. He took an active interest in the temperance cause, and was a prominent member of the Hope of Balclutha Lodge.

Mr. Alexander Sutherland Begg , one of the early pioneers of South Clutha, was born at Thurso, in Scotland, and came out to Melbourne in the ship “Africa,” in
The Late Mr. A. S. Begg.

The Late Mr. A. S. Begg.

page 747 1856. At Melbourne he transhipped to New Zealand in the “Thomas and Henry,” which is now utilised as a hulk in Port Chalmers. Upon his arrival Mr. Begg settled at Romahapa, where he took up land, and established a flour mill and a sawmill. Subsequently he erected and instituted the twine factory known as the Glen Mills. Mr. Begg was for some years a member of the local school and cemetery committees, and he took an active part in the progress of the district, where he resided until his dead in 1899. He left a family of six sons and two daughters.