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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


page 1074


One can pleasurably spend a day or so here if of sporting tendencies. There are the creeks of the brown and mountain trout, there are the numerous fish of the salt water harbour, offering premiums to fly or hook, whilst the neighbouring hills abound in quail, hares, rabbits, and other game. Immediately overlooking the township from rising ground to the north-west is the Porirua Asylum, treating hundreds of unfortunates of the less violent type.

Fairly good accommodation is offered here at the only hotel, which is situate near all points of interest. Wellington cyclists and jaunting parties out for a holiday frequently select the charms of the route, for Porirua is one of the pleasantest of resorts. Porirua has, of course, its place of worship, post and telegraph office, railway station, and public school. Away around on the northern side of the bar, or harbour, a large portion of which is a mere mud-flat at low water, a Mormon mission station, under the control of Elder Barton, jealously teaches the native population the doctrines of Joseph Smith, and if a visit be paid to his home hard by the shores of the harbour, he will show, among other interesting things, capital photographic views of chief Mormons and their homes.

The post and telegraph office is managed at the local store by Mr. B. P. Payne.

The total population of Porirua Village, Porirua Asylum, Porirua Road, Porirua Vicinity, and Porirua Bay is 631. The height of the village above sea level is twelve feet.

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Porirua Asylum stands on an eminence about a mile distant from the Railway Station. The institution was originally established in 1887 to relieve the general pressure which unfortunately existed in the various Asylums of the Colony. A wooden building capable of accommodating about thirty patients had been erected, but soon proved to be totally insufficient. In 1891 the handsome two-story brick building now used was ready for occupation. This edifice contains thirty-eight rooms, exclusive of bathrooms, kitchen, scullery, and other offices. In the south front the medical officers' quarters, surgery, offices, and waiting and storerooms are situated. The north front consists of two wings, which are occupied respectively by the male and female patients, and the attendants. The central portion of the building contains a large dining hall, kitchen, scullery, etc. At the time of the writer's visit (1896) a new wing, capable of accommodating seventy patients, with carpenter's, engineer's, and plumber's shops, was in process of erection. Attached to the establishment there is a farm of about 900 acres of land, on which a large flock of sheep and cattle are depastured. The Porirua Asylum is lighted throughout by electric light; a compound condensing engine by Messrs. Cable and Co., indicating eighty-five horse-power, drives a dynamo by Siemens and Co., of London. There are 220 lights. mostly sixteen candle power: the machinery, however, is capable of supplying 850 lamps. The steam is generated by two multitubular boilers, made by Messrs. Cable and Co., tested to 100 pounds of steam to the square inch, all heating and cooking being accomplished by steam. The total number of patients in October, 1896, was 236 130 males and 106 females. The resident medical officer, Dr. King, is assisted by Mr. A. McLean, head attendant and storekeeper, Miss M. A. Sullivan, matron, and eleven warders and nurses. The machinery is under the charge of Mr. J. H. Anderson (engineer), Mr. C. Dunbar being manager of the farm.

Porirua Asylum.

Porirua Asylum.

Names:—Top Row—Messrs. Dent, Whren, Duncan. Gyde (cook), McDougall, Clarkson, Dale, James. Middle Row—Messrs. Walker, C. Dunbar, J. H. Anderson, A. McLean, Dr. Burns, Misses Sullivan, Boulcott, Skelley, Sisson, Newman. Bottom Row—Misses Tabor, Barwell, Maud.

Names:—Top Row—Messrs. Dent, Whren, Duncan. Gyde (cook), McDougall, Clarkson, Dale, James.
Middle Row—Messrs. Walker, C. Dunbar, J. H. Anderson, A. McLean, Dr. Burns, Misses Sullivan, Boulcott, Skelley, Sisson, Newman.
Bottom Row—Misses Tabor, Barwell, Maud.

Dr. Thomas Radford King, Assistant Medical Officer of the Mt. View and Porirua Asylums, residing at Porirua, has had large experience in the management of such institutions. Having studied at the University of Edinburgh, he gained his diploma as a doctor of medicine in 1868. Before leaving for the Colony, Dr. King was medical officer successively at Morning-side Asylum, Edinburgh, at the New Cheshire County Asylum, and at the Neweastle-on-Tyne Asylum. Arriving in New Zealand in 1881, he was appointed medical superintendent of Mt. View Asylum, and subsequently occupied a similar position at Seacliff, at Hokitika, and at other Asylums. Resigning his office in 1891, Dr. page 1076 King went to England, where he remained for two years. Returning to Wellington, he was appointed to the charge of Mt View and Porirua Asylums, and after six months rest he accepted the appointment he now holds.

Miss Mary Agnes Sullivan, Matron of the Porirua Asylum, was born in Cork, Ireland, and was educated at the Cork Convent. She arrived in Wellington in 1884, per s.s. “Ionic.” In January, 1890, Miss Sullivan joined the staff of the Mt. View Asylum as a nurse. Gaining promotion step by step, she became senior nurse, and in 1893 she was appointed to the above position.

Mr. Archibald McLean, Head Attendant and Storekeeper at the Porirua Asylum, was born in 1862 in Inverness, Scotland, where he was educated. Coming to Wellington, per s.s. “Aorangi,” in 1888, Mr. McLean joined the staff at Mt. View Asylum as a warder in the following February. In March, 1891, he was transferred to Porirua, and after serving about two years, returned to the Wellington institution. Mr. McLean was promoted to the position he now fills in June, 1894.

Mr. John Herbertson Anderson, Chief Engineer at the Porirua Asylum, is a Scotchman. Mr. Anderson served six years apprenticeship at Messrs. T. Aimers and Son's Waverley Ironworks, completing his term in 1880. Five years later he joined the Union Company on board the s.s. “Mararoa,” by which vessel he came to New Zealand. He rose to the position of second engineer. He was appointed in September, 1893, to the position he now holds.

Mr. Charles Dunbar, Manager of the Porirua Asylum Farm, is a native of Morayshire, Scotland, where he was born in 1862. Brought up to country life in the “land of brown heath and shaggy wood,” he came to the Colony via Melbourne in 1888, and after a short time in Dunedin he removed to New Plymouth. For several years Mr. Dunbar was engaged in country pursuits in the Wanganui district, being appointed to the office he now holds in March, 1895.

Porirua Public School was established at least thirty years ago. The old building, which served as a school room for many years, is still standing in the township, the school house—a five-roomed dwelling—being situated on an eminence behind it. The convenient school now used, which was erected about 1885—is a wooden building, and contains two rooms, having accommodation for 100 children. There are sixty-six pupils on the roll, the average attendance being fifty-one. The headmaster is assisted by an ex-pupil teacher. Attached to the school there is an acre of land, which is divided into play-grounds for the boys and girls.

Mr. John James Pilkington, Headmaster of the Porirua Public School, hails from Bridgeworth, Shropshire, England. Born in 1853, he was educated at the local grammar school. Coming to Wellington in 1874, per ship “Langstone,” shortly after arrival he joined the Wellington Education Board as assistant at Thorndon School. Subsequently he was successively headmaster at Upper Tutaenui, Masterton, Wainui-o-mata, and Taueru, being appointed to Porirua in 1890. Mr. Pilkington was married in 1881 to a daughter of Mr. W. Luxford, of Wellington.

Kainapoura Lodge, M.U.I.O.O.F., No. 4635, Porirua. This Lodge meets every alternate Saturday in the Oddfellows' Hall, Porirua.

Gear, James, Settler, Okariai, Porirua. Born in 1837 in Somersetshire, England, the subject of this notice was brought up to business as a butcher from the age of ten years. After arriving in Melbourne in 1857, he was employed at his trade for four years, and came over to the Gabriel's Gully rush in Otago in the early sixties. Eighteen months later Mr. Gear came to Wellington and established himself in Lambton Quay, taking a shop opposite Mr. George Moore's wharf. About two years afterwards he bought a business conducted by Mr. Ling, which had been originally founded by Mr. Luxford, who established the first butcher's shop in Wellington. Subsequently Mr. Ling joined Mr. Gear in a partnership, which subsisted for many years. After Mr. Ling finally retired from the firm Mr. Gear carried on a large and growing business, to which the meat preserving branch was added. The trade became so considerable that Mr. Gear decided on the formation of a public company—the Gear Meat Preserving and Freezing Company of New Zealand, Limited—of which he has been managing director since the date of its incorporation in 1882. Mr. Gear has steadily declined to enter local politics, his time and energies having been fully absorbed in his large business, which was considerably increased by the acquirement of the Te Horo station—referred to elsewhere in these pages. In 1890 he was unanimously elected patron of the Wellington United Butchers' Association, which office he still holds.

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In 1879 Mr. Gear was married to a daughter of Mr. Joseph Milstead, of Wellington, settler, and has a son and two daughters.

Mr. J. Gear.

Mr. J. Gear.

Mitchell, John, Farmer, Porirua. Born in 1853 in the district, where also he was educated, Mr. Mitchell was brought up to farming pursuits, and after remaining with his grandfather (who was also his guardian) some few years, he started upon his own account in 1876. His farm of 450 acres at Porirua carries about two-and-a-half sheep to the acre. He also has a 500 acre farm at Longburn, which is capable of carrying five sheep to the acre, and is under the management of his son. A keen, pushing John Mitchell business man, Mr. Mitchell has been the promoter of two butchering businesses, both of which are still doing a large trade. In local polities, he is a member of the local school commitee. In 1876 Mr. Mitchell was married to a daughter of Mr. Eli Allen, farmer, of Tawa Flat, and has eight children.

Payne, George Pentecost, Baker and General Storekeeper, Porirua Road, Porirua. Bankers, Union Bank of Australia. Mr. Payne is the local postmaster and telephonist.

Postmaster Hotel (Louis Henry Eilers, proprietor), Porirua Road, Porirua, Bankers. Bank of Australasia. Established 1866. Conducted by present licensee since 1895.

Dixon, Joshua, Farrier and General Blacksmith, Porirua Road, Porirua