Settler Kaponga 1881–1914 — A Frontier Fragment of the Western World
We will deal only briefly with the remaining occupations. The largest group were the keepers of the shops and workshops of the township. Table 9.2 is designed to show how their variety increased over these years, with the growing affluence and sophistication of the district. Settlers increasingly patronised services that in earlier years most of them would have forgone, or produced (often crudely) by domestic endeavour. From November 1905 these business folk worked formally together in their Tradesmen's Association to protect and further their interests, campaigning for improved amenities, arranging about holidays and closing times, setting agreed limits to their contributions to subscription lists &c. They were happy with the way the old problem of credit had faded away with the coming of regular dairying cheques and in 1914 were considering making Kaponga a ‘cash only’ town.76
The other considerable groups were the sawmill workers and the wayfarers. The sawmill workers were declining in numbers and forced to seek their logs ever further up in the broken country of Egmont's lower slopes. Since they could no longer come near meeting the district's needs, carriers were bringing a growing flow of Auckland timber across from the railway.77 As we have seen, these carriers had plenty of other work as they faced the transition to motor transport. And the livings to be made along the roads by tinkers and hawkers, roadworkers and drovers, were better than ever over these good years.