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



The Picturesquely-Situated Settlement on the cliffs overlooking the ocean at Tewaewae Bay is known by the name of Orepuki. It is connected with Invercargill, via Riverton, and Thornbury and Makarewa Junctions, and is forty-three miles from the capital of Southland. The township in the neighbourhood of the railway station is 157 feet above the level of the sea. One of the ridings of the county of Wal-llace, which bears the same name, had a total population of 2,464, at the census of 1901. The principal township of Orepuki is known by the name of Hirstfield, and its population at the same census was fifty-two; but in the neighbourhood there were 747 persons. Another township, known as Garfield, had a population of forty-two, with 199 in its vicinity. To this must be added eighteen, who were returned as in Orepuki, which presumably means the old mining township, and twenty-three at Orepuki creek, A traveller visiting Orepuki has to pass through the settlements of Colac, Ruahine, and Pahia. Hirstfield is the modern town of Orepuki; it is at the railway station, and has totally cclipsed the old mining township, which is about a mile away. The industries of the district, apart from sheep, cattle, and dairy-farming, are principally sawmilling and mining. Gold was discovered at Orepuki, in 1865, and numberous “beachcombers” still find steady employment on the shores of the bay. The gold on the beach is said to be practically inexhaustible, as every storm brings up fresh deposits, and some families, who have worked their claims for many years, consider that their children, grandchildren, and even their greatgrandchildren may find a living in the same way. A large sum of money has been spent, during recent years in an unsuccessful attempt to establish shale and oil works. The development of this industry was taken in hand by a company in 1879, and the site of the mine is a mile and a-half from the railway station, to which it is connected by a substantial railway. A shaft was put down 200 feet or more, and shale and coal were discovered. The industry, however, did not prove payable, and some years later a large company was floated in London with a capital of £180,000, known as the New Zealand Coal and Oil Company, Limited. The works were then prosecuted with great vigour, and about £140,000 was spent in developing the mine, and in the erection of large, complete, and extensive works on the surface, for treating the crude material. It was hoped that such quantities of refined oil, paraffin-wax, tar and sulphites of ammonia would be found as would result in a successful industry. When in full operation, about £800 a month was paid in wages. Unfortunately for the development of Orepuki, the efforts of the company's officers were unavailing, and in 1902 the mine was shut down, and afterwards dismantled. In the early days of mining at Orepuki, there were two public houses and two stores at the old township. The new township of Hirstfield has three commodious hotels, several stores and bakeries, a public school, and Anglican, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic churches, two public halls, a small library, and public offices, including the railway station and post office combined, and Magistrate's Court. The officers of the Bank of New Zealand and the National Bank stationed at Riverton, visit the township one day in each week, and the district supports a newspaper, the “Orepuki Advocate.”

The Orepuki Police Station is one of the oldest in Southland, having been opened about 1862. Formerly, the Warden—Mr. Nugent Wood, of Waikaia—visited the township monthly, and used a portion of the station as a court. Sergeant Morton was one of the first officers appointed in charge of the district, which covers an area of over 100 square milles.

Constable Henry Fretwell , formerly Officer-in-charge of the Orepuki sub-district was born in Downham Market, Norfolk, England, in 1853, He joined the Isle of Ely police force of Cambridgeshire, and served for about three years, when he resigned, and left England in 1875, for Port Chalmers, In the ship “Janet Cowan.” On his arrival he joined the Otago Provincial police force, under Commissioner Weldon, and was stationed successively at Lowther, where he was in charge. Bluff, and at Mataura. Constable Fretwell opened the Wyndham Police Station, and was afterwards transferred to Gore, where he remained seven years. On being transferred to Orepuki in 1891, the mayor and citizens of Gore presented him with an Illuminated address and Maltese
Guy, Photo. Breaksea Sound.

Guy, Photo.
Breaksea Sound.

page 948 cross in gold, as a token of their esteem. He was afterwards transferred to Dunedin.
Constable H. Fbetwell.

Constable H. Fbetwell.

The Orepuki Railway Station And Post Office Stands at an elevation of 157 feet above the level of the sea, and is forty-three miles from Invercargill, and seventeen from Riverton. The line has recently been extended five miles beyond to Waihoaka, which is the present (1904–5) terminus. The station is built of wood and iron, and has separate entrances for the postal and railway departments. It contains a ladies' waiting-room, a public ticket lobby, and an official workroom. There is a telephone bureau, and a number of private boxes in the postal division. A large passenger platform is available for traffic purposes, and the other buildings include the engine-shed, goods shed, and several railway cottages.

Mr. Thomas J. Bell , Postmaster and Stationmaster at Orepuki, who was born in Riverton, is the second son of Mr. J. Bell, Deputy-Registrar of the Supreme Court, Invercargill, and formerly manager of the old bank of Otago (now the National Bank). Mr. Bell joined the Railway Department at Invercargill as a cadet, rising in the service until he was appointed to his present position in 1803. He is married to a daughter of the late Captain John Howell, one of the pioneers of Southland.

Orepuki Public School . This school was opened many years ago. The number on the roll is 162, with an average attendance of 135. The staff is comprised of Mr. H. P. Young (headmaster), Miss Lea (mistress), and two pupil teachers.

Mr. Henry Paterson Young , Head master, was born in Victoria, and traiued in Otago. He received his present appoint ment in 1882.

St. Faith's Anglican Church , Orepuki, occupies a pretty site of an acre in extent, and services are held once every Sunday. There is a Sunday school, with a roll of thirty-five children, in charge of three teachers. The vicar of Riverton visits Orepuki periodically, and is assisted by lay readers.

The “Orepuki Advocate” is a four-page weekly newspaper, which circulates throughout Southland. Each page consists of seven columns, and there are usually about fifteen columns of reading matter, apart from a two-page supplement. The proprietor is Mr William James Lyon, who also acts as editor, and has conducted the journal since February, 1903. Mr Lyon was born, in 1872, in Invercargill, and was educated in the district. He was brought up to the newspaper business from his youth, and commenced on his own account in 1893. In addition to running the “Orepuki Advocate,” Mr Lyon has a printing business in Invercargill.

Stockwell, George Thomas , Physician and Surgeon, Orepuki. Dr. Stockwell was born in England, in 1849, studied for his profession at St. Mary's Hospital, London, and graduated M.R.C.S. in 1871. He practised in the Old Country for several years, and came to Port Chalmers in 1880, as surgeon on the ship “Margaret Galbraith.” Dr. Stockwell practised at Mataura Bridge, and also at Wyndham before settling at Orepuki. He was married, in 1872, to a daughter of the late Mr Thomas Kent, of St. Pierre, France, and has two sons and two daughters.

Johnston, Thomas , Commission Agent, Falls Creek Road, Orepuki. Mr Johnston was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the 31st of August, 1851. He was brought out to the colony when a child, by his father, in 1853, by the ship “Rajah,” and was educated at Puerua. Mr Johnston began to engage in mining early in life, working in both Otago and Southland. In 1876 he settled at Orepuki and was for some time employed on the survey staff, after which he again took up mining, and followed it successfully for many years. As a volunteer, Mr Johnston was one of the organisers of the Orepuki rifles, but had to retire from the corps owing to an accident to his knee. For some years he was secretary of the Orepuki Miners' Association, and has been for some time secretary of the Liberal and Labour Federation at Orepuki. Mr Johnston commenced business as a commission agent in 1903, and is agent for the Royal Fire Insurance Company and the Australian Mutual Provident Life Office. He was married, in 1877, to a daughter of the late Mr John Wilson, of Riverton, and has, surviving, a family of six sons and six daughters.

Wilson's Family Hotel (Frederick Herman Wilson, proprietor) Dover Street, Orepuki. This hotel was built by the proprietor in 1899. It is a wood and iron building of two stories, and contains twenty-seven rooms, exclusive of those required by
Orepuki Railway Station.

Orepuki Railway Station.

page 949 the family. There are thirteen bedrooms, six sitting-rooms, and a diningroom with accommodation for thirty people. There is also a large sample room for the use of travellers, and there are stables with nineteen stalls and three loose-boxes. Comfortable accommodation is provided for sportsmen, commercial men and boarders, and the tariff varies, according to circumstances, from eighteen shillings to two guineas a week. For the convenience of fishermen visiting the district, Mr Wilson has provided three fishing camps at the mouth of the Waiau river, and these have been patronised by Lord Ranfurly, General Babington, Captain Campbell and others interested in the sport.

Mr. F. H. Wilson , the Proprietor, was born at Riverton in April, 1863, and educated at Orepuki. He was engaged in farming for a time, and afterwards in mining, and then took the Ranfurly Hotel, Orepuki, of which he was lessee for eight years, before acquiring the Family Hotel. Mr Wilson served as a volunteer in the Orepuki Hussars during the existence of that corps. He was married, in 1892, to a daughter of the late Mr John Forbes, of Orepuki, and has one son and one daughter.

Masonic Hotel (Andrew McFarlane, proprietor) corner of Dover Street, opposite railway station, Orepuki. This hotel is a handsome two-storey wood and iron building, and commands a splendid view. It contains twenty-three bedrooms, six sitting rooms, and a dining room. The dining-room is a fine apartment, and can easily accommodate from thirty to forty persons, while on special occasions the accommodation can be doubled by the addition of a second table. There is also a travellers' sample room. For the convenience of sportsmen, the proprietor has a camp at the Waiau river, where there is good fishing, and a conveyance to the camp can be obtained at the hotel.

Mr. Andrew Mcfarlane , the Proprietor, was born in 1875, at Chinaman's Flat, Talbot, Victoria. He was educated at the Middle School, Invercargill, and was brought up as a baker, by his father. Mr McFarlane was afterwards for four years in partnership with his brother in the bakery business in Invercargill, before acquiring the Masonic Hotel at Orepuki in 1900. He served for about four years as a volunteer in the Invercargill City Guards, and was for two years a member of the City Band.

Masonic Hotel, Orepuki.

Masonic Hotel, Orepuki.

Garden, Henry , General Merchant, Dover Street, Orepuki. Mr. Garden acquired his business in 1900 from Mr J. A. Adamson. The premises, which stand on a freehold of a quarter of an acre, consist of a large double-fronted shop, which provides ample accommodation for the several departments of the business, including grocery, ironmongery, crockery and general merchandise. Mr Garden indents his goods, chiefly from Europe. He was born in 1867, in Riverton, where he was educated and brought up to farming, in which he was engaged till be bought his present business. As a volunteer, Mr Garden was for some time a member of the Orepuki Rifles. He was also chairman of the Pahia school committee for some time. In 1895. he was married to a daughter of the late Captain George Thomson of Pahia, and at one time harbour master of the Bluff, and has one son and two daughters.

The Southland Sawmilling Company's Mill at Orepuki is situated in the outskirts of the township. The plant comprises a sixteen horse-power stationary engine, a boiler of 120 pounds pressure, two benches, two planing machines, and two hauling engines of eight and nine horsepower respectively. Cutting rights are held over 800 acres of fine bush. Sixteen men are employed at the mill, and the monthly output is about 100,000 feet of timber.

Mr. Thomas Abel Roff , Manager of the mill, was born in 1872, at Invercargill, where he was educated. His father was a sawmiller, and Mr Roff has been in the sawmilling trade since he was thirteen years of age, and has managed mills for the Southland Sawmilling Company for seven years. He was a member of the Bluff Navals for three years, is attached to the Order of Rechabites, and also takes an interest in athletics. Mr Roff was married, in 1900, to a daughter of Mr Sinclair Young, sawmiller, Invercargill, and has one daughter.

Mr. Michael Dowling , Yard Manager for the Southland Sawmilling Company, at Orepuki, was born in Christchurch, in 1877. In 1884 his parents removed to Longbush where he was educated, and after working on a farm for some time, he started sawmill work. He was engaged in engine-driving at a sawmill for a time, and managed yards at Tisbury, One Tree page 950 Point, Wright's Bush, and Waimatuku, before he was appointed to his present position at Orepuki. Mr Dowling has competed with success in cycle racing at meetings held at Invercargill, Dunedin, Timaru, Christchurch, and Gore, and he has also competed in long distance running.

Gerstenkron, photo. Mr. M. Dowling..

Gerstenkron, photo.
Mr. M. Dowling..

Te Tumutu Sawmill (Messrs Fortune and Cross, proprietors), Orepuki This mill is situated near Te Tumutu siding, and the plant comprises a fourteen horse-power portable engine, six horse-power hauling engine, two benches, two planing machines, and a complete equipment. About eighteen men are employed and the daily output averages from 3,500 to 4,000 feet.

Mr. Leonard Cross , the Junior Partner, was born at Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, in 1867, and came to New Zealand in 1879. His parents settled at Fernhill, in the Winton district, and after leaving school he learned the trade of a painter and paperhanger. Mr Cross settled in the Orepuki district in 1888, and followed mining until the Te Tumutu sawmill was started in 1901. He still holds an interest in the “Undaunted” claim. Mr Cross is a deacon in the local Presbyterian church, and was superintendent of the Sunday school. He is a member of the school committee, and also of the Public Library Committee, and for ten years he took a leading part in football and cricket. He has been Lodge Deputy of the Independent Order of Good Templars.

Mr Cross was married, in 1893, to a daughter of Mr James Fortune, of Orepuki, and has one son and one daughter.

Gerstenkorn, photo. Mr. L. Cross.

Gerstenkorn, photo.
Mr. L. Cross.

Printz, Henry Albert , Farmer, Orepuki. Mr Printz, who is a son of the late Mr G. V. Printz, of Pahia, was born in 1874, at Riverton, and educated there and at the Boys' High School, Dunedin. He was for a time in engineering works at Invercargill, and afterwards worked for several years on his father's property. On the death of his father, Mr Printz acquired his present farm, but he still manages the various portions of the estate left by his father. He has taken part in football matches, and in sports generally, at both Dunedin and Orepuki. Mr Printz was married, in 1901, to a daughter of the late Captain George Thomson, of Forest Hill, and has one daughter.

Printz, John Louis , Stationowner, Orepuki. Mr Printz is the fourth son of the late Mr G. V. Printz,
Mr. And Mrs J. L. Prinrtz. Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.

Mr. And Mrs J. L. Prinrtz. Wrigglesworth and Binns, photo.

page 951 and was born at Riverton, in 1880. In conjunction with his brothers, he owns a large sheep and cattle station extending from Orepuki southwards beyond Pahia. Mr Printz is devoted to music, and is a cornet soloist. He resides in a charming locality facing the sea, at Orepuki, and his house commands a splendid view. Mr Printz was married, in December, 1903, to a daughter of Mr Samuel Bennett, of Orepuki.

Riddle, Walter , Farmer, “Fairhope,” Orepuki. Mr Riddle was born at Sprouston, Roxburghshire, Scotland, in 1834, and early gained a knowledge of farming, especially in connection with stock. He had charge of a small estate for four years before coming to Port Chalmers, in 1866, by the ship “Militia.” On his arrival, he proceeded to the Clydevale estate of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, as head shepherd, and afterwards had charge of the Lincoln sheep, on the Woodlands station, for about six years. Mr Riddle managed the Oaklands station for eight years and a-half, and then took up land at Wyndham and Pahia successively, before taking up his present farm of 276 acres at Orepuki. He was chairman of the Pahia school committee for many years, and had previously been a member of the Woodlands and Wallacetown committees. Mr Riddle was married, in 1856, to a daughter of the late Mr William Crichton, of Berwickshire, Scotland, who, at her death, left him three sons and five daughters. In 1877, he married a daughter of the late Rev. Mr Stevens, Presbyterian minister at Wallacetown, and there are eight sons and four daughters by this marriage. Mrs Riddle is one of the contributors to the Otago Witness, and has written both verse and prose for other papers.

Gerstenkorn, photo. Mr. W. Riddle.

Gerstenkorn, photo.
Mr. W. Riddle.

Mr. Albert Cassels , J.P., was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 5th day of May, 1841, and his father was Mr. Robert Cassels, hat manufacturer, of that city. At the early age of thirteen years. Mr. Cassels accompanied the family to Melbourne, and after arriving In that city on the 13th of September, 1854, obtained a situation in a gold broker's office. He soon afterwards went to Gisborne, an up country township forty miles from Mei bourne, where he found employment, and, subsequently, at Castlemaine, as a stockkeeper. In 1856, Mr. Cassels crossed over to New Zealand in the ship “Gil Blas,” under engagement to Mr. William Cameron, of Centre Island, near Riverton. He was sent with a mob of sheep from Fortification station, Hindon, Upper Taieri (afterwards owned by Messrs Boyd Bros.), to Waicola station, beyond Otautau. Accompanied by the late Mr. N. Bates, he then proceeded to the Glenquoich station, beyond Dome Pass, where they erected the first hut on the property; after negotiating the Pass with a dray, a very difficult and hazardous undertaking. In the following year, together with his brother, the late Mr. Henry Cassels, he revisited the country adjacent to the Nevis Range, where they erected a hut for the late Mr. Trotter. Some years afterwards, when the gold “rush” to the Nokomal took place, Mr. Cassels commenced to carry merchandise and stores to the field from Riverton, freight being charged at the rate of £55 per ton. When the “rush” extended to Lake Wakatipu. he entered into partnership with Messrs. Daniels and Barrett, of the Nokomai, storekeepers. At one time they took a dray load of provisions, etc., to Kingston, which they sold out in less than an hour, receiving as much as £2 10s. for a fifty pound bag of flour. Mr. Cassels' next enterprise was the purchase of a whaleboat, which he placed upon Lake Wakatipu for the conveyance of the mails from Kingston to Queenstown, under a twelve months' contract. On the expiration of that period, he dissolved partnership with Messrs. Daniels and Barrett, but continued the carrying business to Kingston for a further length of time, after which he took up a section at Steven's Bush, Jacob's River district, and brought it under cultivation. Mr. Cassels was one of a party which unsuccessfully prospected Lake Te Anau. and afterwards engaged in a similar expedition on the Longwood Ranges, near Riverton. He participated in more than one dangerous undertaking. With ten mates he once embarked in an open boat with the Intention of reaching George's River, West Coast, better known as the “Seal Rocks.” The party were blown out to sea off Windsor Point, and were compelled to throw half their provisions overboard to avoid being swamped; and at last they reached Colac Bay after a most risky passage. After spending some time on the West Coast, Mr. Cassels returned to Riverton, and became a partner with the late Mr. Peter Grant in a small run known as “Grant's Mistake,” which was ultimately abandoned. On arriving at Orepuki, about 1869, Mr. Cassels worked on the Te Wae Wae Beach, and did some prospecting on the Longwood Ranges, in the neighbourhood of what is now known as Round Hill, and experienced great hardships. Three years later he started a butchery business at Orepuki, but this he subsequently sold to Mr. A. McPherson, of Pahia, and, returning to Riverton, worked for the late Mr. Richard Lock until the latter's death. Mr. Cassels then opened a store in Orepuki, where he was placed on the Commission of the Peace in 1884.

Mr. A. Cassels.

Mr. A. Cassels.

Mr. John Leiper Currie , one of the pioneers of the mining industry at Orepuki, was born at Strathavon, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1832, and was brought up in business with his father, who was a general merchant. On arriving in Victoria, he entered into business as a general merchant at Maryborough and Dunnolly, and was also connected with mining for five or six years. Mr Currie crossed to New Zealand when gold was discovered, and, after engaging in mining for a time, started in business in Orepuki with his former Victorian partner. However, some years later he gave up business, and has since devoted himself exclusively to mining. He is interested in both sluicing and driving claims in the district. Mr Currie was for years an elder of the local Presbyterian church, and the first religious page 952 services held at Orepuki were inaugurated by him. He was also the first to to open a Sunday school, and was for many years a member of the Public Library Committee. With Mr Cassels he started the Orepuki shale works, and was a large shareholder in the company.

Mr. William Philip Mirrielees , J.P., Is the holder of driving claims in Orepuki, where he also owns freehold property. He was born in 1837, in Aberdeen, Scotland, and on leaving school, entered the service of a large soft goods firm in Moscow, but returned home at the time of the Crimean war. In 1854 he arrived in Victoria, where he engaged in mining for some time, and removed to New Zealand in 1860. He started work on a station at Morven Hills, but the following year took part in the Gabriel's Gully “rush.” Mr Merrielees has followed mining ever since; and worked at Kawarau, Queenstown, Nokomai, Hokitika. and various places on the West Coast, before settling at Orepuki in 1871. He has been a member of the local school committee for many years, and has also been chairman. He has been a member of the cemetery trust since its inception, and he was for some years on the committee of the Presbyterian church. In his spare time Mr Mirrielees engages in literary work. He was married, in 1868, to a daughter of the late Mr John Lyon, of Riverton, and has three sons and one daughter.

Mahan and Muir, photo. Mr. W. P. Mirrielees.

Mahan and Muir, photo.
Mr. W. P. Mirrielees.

Mr. George Valentine Printz , sometime of Orepuki, was born in 1833, in Sydney, New South Wales. As a youth, he was employed on a whalins ship, and landed at the Maori Pa, Pahia. in the early days. He was afterwards owner of whaling vessels for many years before buying a station at Burwood, near Riverton. Mr Printz subsequently sold that property, and took up 7,000 acres of free hold land, at Pahia, on which he effected many improvements, and which he worked till his death, in 1897. Mr Printz was attached to the Aparima Lodge of Freemasons., He was married, in 1866, and left five sons and three daughters.

The Late Mr. G. V. Printz.

The Late Mr. G. V. Printz.

McEwen, Isaac , Miner, Orepuki. Mr McEwan was born at Strathavon, Lanarkshire. Scotland, arrived at the Bluff in 1868, by the ship “Sir William Moir,” and for about two years Worked in the neighbourhood of Invercargill. Mr McEwen has an interest in a mining claim at Orepuki, where, with the exception of about nine months spent on the West Coast, he has resided since 1870.