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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


page 1334


This township—which is under the authority of the Lethbridge Town Board—with its outlying districts, composes the Otakapau Riding of the Rangitikei County, and has a total population of 584. There are two railway stations, Turakina Platform (a flag station), and the station proper, the latter being a combined post, telegraph, and railway office, Turakina is distant from Wellington 127 miles, is within twenty-three miles of Wanganui, and has the school districts of Turakina and Turakina Valley, which are under the control of the educational authority at Wanganui. It is in daily mail communication by rail with both north and south. There is a local sub-post-office at Mr. Franklin's store in the centre of the township, for the convenience of the public. Turakina, which is in latitude 10° 2″ south and longitude 175° 4″ east, is about five miles from the sea-board, and occupies a site on the left bank of the Turakina River. The Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic churches, and an excellent ladies' school, are notable to the tourist in passing through the settlement, which extends for about a mile along the main north and south road. A large area of land in the vicinity is occupied chiefly for grazing purposes; but some of the


page 1335 rich alluvial soil of the valley is in cultivation, and produces heavy root-crops. Visitors will find first-rate accommodation at the two hotels, one of which is close to the railway station, the other being in the midst of the business portion of the township. Turakina, in the coaching days, was an important and busy settlement.

The Lethbridge Town Board is the local body that governs the district, extending from the Turakina River to the Makirikiri Stream, and including in its boundaries the township of Turakina. It was established about 1876 and named after its much respected chairman, who has held that office for most of the time. The annual value of the rateable properties of the district is £1581, the rate being 8d in the £. The population of the district, as ascertained at the census of 1896, is 251. The members of the Board for the same year were:—Messrs. G. Y. Lethbridge, J.P. (chairman), R. N. Scannell, A. McDonald, G. Franklin, and D. S. Glasgow; Mr. R. J. Knox is the secretary.

Mr. G. V. Lethbridge is the chairman of the Lethbridge Town Board. He was born at Ivybridge, Devonshire, and came to New Zealand over fifty years ago as one of the early settlers, arriving in Wellington in the early days of the Colony. During the trouble with the natives, Mr. Lethbridge was a contractor for the supplies for the troops, and as such was all through the Taranaki and Wanganui campaigns. Mr. Lethbridge settled in the district about 1867, and has been prominent in all matters concerning the welfare of the district ever since. He has occupied the position of chairman of the Lethbridge Town Board almost continuously from its foundation, and in the days of provincial institutions was a member of the Taranaki Provincial Council. Mr. Lethbridge was the first chairman of the Rangitikei County Council. The railway station at Turakina is situated upon land which was presented by Mr. Lethbridge for that purpose.

Mr. George Franklin, who has been connected with Turakina for nearly forty years, has been a member of the Lethbridge Town Board almost since its inception. Born in 1830 in London, where he was educated, and brought up to a mercantile life, he came to Wellington by the ship “Maori” in 1853. Two years later Mr. Franklin settled in Turakina, and in 1857 he founded the business, which he has since conducted, with the exception of four years spent as a farmer on Fern Flats. In 1893 he enjoyed a trip to the Old Country, after completing forty years of colonial life. Mr. Franklin was married in 1867 to a daughter of the late Mr. G. Jackson, of Knaresborough, Yorkshire. Mrs. Franklin died in 1892, leaving four sons and a daughter.

Mr. Richard Nichols Scannell, who is referred to in these pages as one of the business men of Turakina, is a member of the Lethbridge Town Board, on which he has occupied a seat for about ten years, and is also a member of the Turakina School Committee. Several years ago Mr. Scannell met with a sad accident, being severely kicked on the leg by a horse; in consequence of this he was laid up for; about seven months, and put to an expense of something like £150.

Mr. Duncan Stewart Glasgow, who was elected a member of the Lethbridge Town Board in 1896, has been associated with the Turakina District all his life. He was born in 1868 on the Edenmore Estate, and was brought up to the page 1336 life of a sheepfarmer. He is associated with his brothers, Robert and William Glasgow (the latter was for two years also a member of the Town Board), the firm being Glasgow Brothers. The properties, “Invernalie” and “Edenmore,” comprise 1000 acres, exclusive of 220 acres of leasehold, and carry about 1000 sheep of the Lincoln variety. About 3000 lambs are available for the market each year. In addition to these, the firm have some good cattle, shorthorn and polled-angus, which proves to be a capital cross. Mr. Duncan Glasgow is interested in athletics as a footballer and cricketer, and is a member of the committee of the Turakina Cricket Club. He is also a member of the local library committee. In 1893 he enjoyed a round trip to Sydney and Hobart, completing en route the circle of his native island.

Mr. Robert John Knox, Secretary and Valuator to the Lethbridge Town Board, was born in Edinburgh, and same to New Zealand in 1840, per ship “Martha Ridgway,” being one of the old Port Nicholson settlers. Mr. Knox remained in Wellington until 1846, when he went to Wanganui, residing there for about eighteen months, and subsequently returning for a short time to Wellington. He settled in Turakina in 1856, accepting the management of the Hon. W. B. Rhodes's station. Mr. Knox retained this position for about three years when he took upland in conjunction with the late Mr. James Hogg, about five miles from Turakina. He was engaged in the farming line for about eighteen years, and after the dissolution of the firm he continued on his own account, purchasing an area of 320 acres in Turakina. In addition to the freehold Mr. Knox has a lease of 749 acres. His farm carries about 900 sheep, and fifty head of cattle. Mr. Knox was in March 1875 elected a member of the Town Board, and many years-ago was appointed secretary and treasurer to the Lethbridge Town Board, a position which he holds at the present time. For about eight years Mr. Knox was chairman of the Turakina School Committee.

The Turakina Public Library, which was established about 1886, is located in the Turakina Public Hall. There are some 400 volumes in hand, and it is expected that a considerable addition will shortly be made. The committee (1896) were:—Messrs. H. R. Rockel, T. E. Kiernan, R. N. Scannell, R. Glasgow, and D. S. Glasgow; Mr. Rockel is the secretary.

The Turakina Railway Station, which was opened on the 17th of May, 1877, is erected on land— the gift of Mr. G. Y. Lethbridge. There is a very fair traffic. mostly in wool, sheepfarming being the staple industry of the district.

Mr. H. H. Ford is the stationmaster, postmaster, telegraphist, representative of the Government Insurance Department, the Public Trustee, and acts as officer under the Advances to Settlers Act, besides occupying many other official positions. Mr. Ford was born at New Plymouth, where he has educated at the High School. He entered the Government service in June, 1883, in the Postal and Telegraphic Department, and was afterwards transferred to the Railway department, being appointed as stationmaster on the 1st of October 1889, Turakina being his only appointment in that capacity.

The Turakina Public School is one of the oldest in the district, having been established about the year 1865. Originally it was under the old Wellington Board. The school building is constructed of wood and iron, and contains two main rooms. There are sixty-four children on the roll, the average attendance being fifty. There are two playgrounds, for the boys and girls separately.

Mr. Hermann Robert Rockel, Headmaster of the Turakina Public School, was born in 1868 in the Lower Rangitikei. He kept two years' terms with the Auckland University College, and took the first section of the B.A. degree. In 1885 Mr. Rockel became a pupil teacher at Bulls, and three years afterwards was placed in charge of the Mars Hill School, near Wanganui, having since been transferred successively to Upokongaro and Rata schools, and appointed in March, 1895, to Turakina. He takes an interest in athletics generally, and particularly in football and cricket. Mr. Rockel was married in 1894 to a daughter of Mr. J. Scott, of Bulls, and has one daughter.

The Ladies' Classical School, Turakina. Principal, Reverend John Ross, assisted by Mrs. Ross and Miss Christie and Miss Mary Ross. The Ladies' Classical School is beautifully situated on the North Western Road, Turakina. It is a large building, and occupies a charming situation, nestling among the trees. The building has been from time to time enlarged, so as to afford ample accommodation for fourteen or fifteen young ladies, in addition to the principal, his family, and his staff. Every necessary accommodation in the shape of large and airy bedrooms, comfortable school-rooms, parlors, sitting-rooms, bath, and every convenience required in a large establishment is available. The course of instruction inculdes English, Latin, Greek, German, French, mathematics, music, drawing, singing, painting, calisthenics, and plain and fancy needle-work. The principal aim is to impart a thorough sound education, whilst the general and physical training of the pupils is carefully attended to, and every effort is made to make the school-life as homelike as possible. The Ladies' Classical School has been established about
Turakina Ladies' Classical School.

Turakina Ladies' Classical School.

page 1337 seventeen or eighteen years, and during this time a large number of pupils have passed through the college, many of whom are now occupying important offices as teachers, and in many other positions of trust and responsibility. The success which has been attained by pupils who have gone up for the university examinations has been considerable, and all previous successes have been crowned by the results of the 1894 examinations, when a young lady from the college (Miss Flora D. Ross) obtained a junior university scholarship, being the fifth on the list for the whole of the Colony, and the first for the North Island, and the first girl in New Zealand to distinguish herself in this way in that year. The engraving above affords a capital view of of this excellent college. The reverend principal is assisted in his important duties by Mrs. Ross, whose motherly care is daily exercised to promote the wellbeing of the pupils. In Miss Christie, Mr. Ross has an efficient and accomplished assistant in his scholastic duties, while Miss Mary Ross who is an undergraduate of the New Zealand University takes her share in imparting instruction.

The Turakina Presbyterian Church is situated on the North Western Road right in the centre of the township. It is a wooden building with a small turret and spire, the former containing a bell. It was built about the year 1864. The accommodation is for about 140. The Presbyterians are the strongest body in Turakina, and number 400 to 500 adherents in the entire district. They have a neat little church at Bonny Glen a few miles away in the direction of Marton, which has recently been built, succeeding the oldest established church in the provincial district. The foundation stone of the Bonny Glen Church was laid by the Reverend William Ross, of Cowcaddens, Glasgow, brother to the present minister. It was opened free of debt in May, 1893, and will accommodate 100 persons. The local Sunday school at Turakina numbers about fifty scholars, the superintendent being Mr. James Bruce, of Glen Cairn. There are altogether in connection with the Presbyterian cause in the district four Sunday schools, the total number of scholars being altogether 100. The land occupied by the Presbyterian Church and Manse at Turakina consists of five acres, the gift of Mr. Wilson, of Ann Bank. The son of this gentleman still takes an active part in church matters in the district. The Manse is a large and substantial building, and has been built during the present minister's term of office, the first portion having been erected about eighteen years ago. It has been considerably enlarged and added to by Mr. Ross.

The Rev. John Ross is the Presbyterian Minister in charge of Turakina and district. Mr. Ross was born at Caithness, Scotland, where he received his preliminary education. His subsequent education was received at the University and New College, Edinburgh, studying four years at each. He was ordained in 1866 by the Presbytery of Tain, Rossshire, and came to New Zealand in the same year per ship “Resolute,” captain Wallace, from Glasgow. Mr. Ross was first appointed to Masterton, in the Wairarapa, where he was the first resident minister of the Presbyterian Church, his district extending over a wide range of country sixty miles by forty miles wide. Mr. Ross resided in the Wairarapa for five years, when he was transferred by the Presbytery of Wellington to Turakina district, where he has resided ever since. The reverend gentleman is a member of the Wanganui Education Board.

page 1338

The Turakina Cricket Club, established some years ago, was re-organised in 1896, the officers being Messrs. A. McDonald (president), G. Franklin (vice-president), C. Russell, J. W. Proctor, T. E. Kiernan, T. Hogg, R. Glasgow, and D. S. Glasgow (committee).

Maskill, John, Contractor, Turakina Valley. Mr. Maskill was born in 1859 in County Clare, Ireland, but at the age of mine he accompanied his parents to Cumberland, where he remained until fifteen years of age. Coming out to Lyttelton in 1874, he spent eight years in farming in the South Island, and then went to Taranaki, working on the railway for about four years there, and afterwards for three years at Wellington. Farming again attracted him, and he returned to Taranaki and followed his old occupation for five years, but sold out and commenced contracting in the Turakina District. In local politics in Canterbury Mr. Maskill took an active part having been a road board member, school commiteeman, and volunteer. Mr. Maskill married, in 1886, Miss Ataly, of Canterbury, and has a son and daughter.

Ben Nevis Hotel (Mr. A. McDonald, Proprietor), North Western Road, Turakina. This large hotel, which contains twenty-six rooms, of which fifteen are bedrooms, and four are parlors was established about thirty years ago, and has been conducted by the present proprietor since 1886. The stable accommodation consists of eight stalls and seven loose boxes. The hotel is built of wood and iron, and is the freehold property of the licensee.

The Railway Hotel (John William Proctor, proprietor) is close to the railway station, Turakina. It was established before there was any railway station site decided upon, but being destroyed by fire later on, the new building was erected in closer proximity to the station than its predecessor. It is a prominent feature of the town, and affords ample accommodation, there being no fewer than thirteen bedrooms, besides the usual complement of drawing-rooms, dining-rooms, sitting-rooms, commercial-rooms, etc. The bedrooms are all light and airy, and the bath-room is very conveniently fitted with all the latest requirements, including, of course, a good supply of hot water. The stables at the back are large and convenient, containing ten loose- Black and white photograph of John William Proctor, proprietor of The Railway Hotel boxes, and there is a ploughed training-track connected with the hotel, and every convenience for horse-trainers. Since Mr. Proctor took possession in June, 1896, the house has been renovated, and new beds and bedding have replaced those formerly used, thus making the house all that can be desired for visitors. The genial host, who was born in Picton in 1861, was brought up to a country life. For three-and-a-half years he was manager of the Kakare Estate in the Wairarapa, three years of the Awamate Estate, Wairoa, and as overseer at Carnarvon for eight years. In 1886 Mr. Proctor was married to a daughter of Mr. J. C. Retter, of Levin, farmer, and has one son.

Scannell, Richard Nichols, General Blacksmith, North Western Road, Turakina. Mr. Scannell was born in Fermoy, County Cork, Ireland. He came to New Zealand per ship “Rakaia,” landing in Wellington in 1878. Not long after his arrival he settled in Wanganui, where he worked about eighteen months at his trade, establishing himself in business about 1880, in the Valley Road. The present business was established by the late Richard Nichols Scannell page 1339 Mr. Gleeson about thirty years ago, and was at one time said to be worth about £2000 a-year from general trade on the road. This was at the time when there was a large traffic, before the railway was established. About seven years ago Mr. Scannell purchased the business, which he has successfully conducted since that time.

Kiernan, Thomas Edward, General Blacksmith. Turakina. Established 1890.

Franklin, George, General Storekeeper, Turakina. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. The premises occupied are situated in the centre of the township, the building being of wood and iron, with the proprietor's residence adjoining. A large stock of grocery, ironmongery, drapery, crockery, glassware, and general merchandise is always available. The business, which is the oldest establishment in the district, was founded in 1857, and for many years was the only one in Turakina.

McHugh, Mrs. F., General Storekeeper, North Western Road, Turakina. This business was established in 1893 by Mrs. McHugh. The building is of wood and iron, and two stories in height, occupying a central position in the township. Mrs. McHugh was born in Auckland, and has been in the Turakina district for about eighteen years. Her husband; Mr. F. McHugh, is a farmer in the Turakina Valley, holding about 600 acres of Maori land. Mrs. McHugh's trade extends right up the Valley, also in the direction of Bulls, and over a considerable area in the district. She keeps a general stock, and is agent for the celebrated Arab and Shah teas. In patent medicines she is agent for Mr. R. M. Gatenby, of Wanganui.

Jermy, W. J., Baker and Confectioner, Turakina. Established 1894.

Hales, Everett, Builder and Contractor, Turakina. Established 1865.

Davis, William Augustus, Boot and Shoemaker, Turakina. Established 1870.

Day, John Hill, Saddler and Harness Maker, Turakina. Established 1886.

Cameron, George C., Butcher, Turakina.

Bowen, John, Farmer, “Pembroke Vale,” Turakina. This old colonist sailed from Liverpool for Australia in 1853, and was wrecked some fifteen miles from Port Phillip, losing everything he possessed. His brother George, who accompanied him, died of fever shortly after. In company with his brother James, Mr. Bowen went up to the goldfields to join two other brothers. There he met with varied success, leaving for New Zealand in 1861, with Mr. James Bowen, on the news of the find at Gabriel's Gully. After another short space at gold-digging in the Nelson District, the brothers crossed Cook's Strait, taking up their present holding in the Turakina Valley in 1862. They were among the pioneer settlers of this fertile district, and saw service during the Maori troubles. There are two pretty homesteads on the estate.

Grant, Alexander, Sheepfarmer, Turakina. At the time of writing—1896 this old colonist was in his eighty-ninth year, having been born on the 12th of August, 1808, at Glen Morison, Inverness, Scotland. He landed in Wellington per ship “Blenheim” in 1840, and ten years later settled in Turakina, purchasing 700 acres of land, on which he resided for the best part of fifty years. Mr. Grant considered New Zealand the best country in the world and held the opinion that all who have health, and are careful and industrious, may make a fair living in the Colony. He enjoyed robust health till just before his death, and in 1894 paid a visit to a married daughter in Gippsland, Victoria, with whom he remained three months. Mr. Grant was married in February, 1844, to a daughter of Mr. D. Cameron, of Argyllshire, Scotland, and left three sons and four daughters, a great many grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. [Mr. Grant died in January, 1897].

Lethbridge and Sons (Messrs. G. Y., F. Y., J. P., H. Y., B. P., and G. Y. Lethbridge, junior), Sheep Farmers, Turakina, and at Ruatangata, Bonny Glen, and Feilding. Messrs. Lethbridge and Sons have a splendid station of 3300 acres of freehold land at Turakina, close to the railway station. The large residence and station buildings were erected about twelve years ago. The flock consists of 8300 big sheep, excluding lambs. The firm go in chiefly for the Lincoln variety, and breed stud rams only for their own requirements. Their run at Ruatangata comprises over 7000 acres, held on lease from the Maoris. This land is securely fenced and in good order, and carries over 17,000 sheep, besides 1000 cattle. At Bonny Glen the firm has from 2500 to 2600 acres of freehold land, which is also in thorough cultivation, and carries over 4000 sheep. The Feilding station includes 7200 acres of freehold land, which is largely bush, a great deal of which has been felled and sown down in permanent grassess, and at the present time carries 700 sheep exclusive of lambs. The firm have been prominent settlers in this large and fertile district for very many years. They have always been forward in furthering the interests of the district with which they are connected. Mr. G. Y. Lethbridge's family consists of five sons, of whom all but one are married, and two daughters. The sons are all members of the firm, and are resident on the various stations and each takes an active interest in the management of the business. The firm of Messrs. Lethbridge and Sons afford another illustration of what can be done in New Zealand by steady and persistent occupation of the land.

page 1340

Lourie, James, Settler, Glen Nevis, Turakina. Born in 1819 in Argyllshire, Scotland, Mr. Lourie followed mining pursuits until 1849, when he left his native heather for New Zealand, arriving in the ship “William and Jane” in the same year. After a month's stay in Wellington he went to Wanganui and settled up the river. In 1862 he took possession of a run in Turakina Valley, of which he was a pioneer settler. He stocked the place with 400 sheep and sixteen head of cattle, but wild dogs destroyed almost the whole of the sheep, and his first wood-clip did not exceed one bale. He had also great difficulties to contend James Lourie with during the Maori troubles, and twice had to leave his farm to take care of itself for a time. In 1847 Mr. Lourie was married to Miss McMillin, of Glen Nevis, and has one son. The grandchildren number eleven, and the great-grandchildren three.

McIvor, Daniel, Farmer, “Flowerburn,” Turakina. A native of Gaithnesshire, Scotland, Mr. McIvor, with his brothers Kenneth and James (the latter of whom afterwards went Home, where he died), took up their present holding of 1200 acres in 1860. It is now highly improved, most of it being under crop. A good flock of Lincoln sheep is depastured on the farm.

Mr. D. McIvor

Mr. D. McIvor

McKenzie, Walter, Farmer, “Puriri,” Turakina Valley. Mr. McKenzie was born at Ullapool, Scotland, in 1876, and was educated at a public school. He joined the staff of the Great Northern Railway Company in 1893, being employed in London in the invoicing office. After two years in London he was transferred to Glasgow, but left for New Zealand shortly afterwards, arriving in Wellington in 1895. Mr. McKenzie held the farm of Loch Miln, Rosshire, and he is descended from the war-like chiefs of Kinlail, who served in the 72nd, 74th, and 78th Highlanders, in the latter part of last century and the early part of this.

page 1341

McLeay, John, Farmer, “Pokowaru,” Turakina Valley, Turakina. Mr. McLeay was born at Applecross, Rosshire, Scotland, and at the age of thirteen went to sea. For ten years he followed this calling, visiting almost every quarter of the globe. In 1883 he landed in Wellington, having determined to give up a “life on the ocean wave” and engage in farming. Eventually he took up his present holding of 1200 acres, which carries 3000 Lincolns and a herd of cattle.

Mr. J. McLeay.

Mr. J. McLeay.

McPherson, Alexander, Farmer, Turakina Volley, Turakina. A native Invernesshire, Scotland, where he was born in 1838, Mr. McPherson left, home for the Colonies in the ship “Tornado,” landing in Auckland in 1859. Here he remained eight years; then, coming to the Turakina Valley, he settled on land higher up the valley than anyone else at that time. He stocked his farm with dairy cattle, and the first produce, was brought down the Turakina River in a canoe. About 1891 he gave up dairying and placed Lincoln sheep on the farm, and he is now crossing them with Border-Leicesters, the result being a good breed of hardy and profitable sheep. Mr. MePherson married Miss McGregor, and has three sons and six daughters, three of whom are married.

Taurimu Farm, Turakina, the property of Mr. Norman Fitzherbert, is under the management of Mr. John Gibson, who was born in Roxburghshire, Scotland. He accompanied his parents to New Zealand in 1860, and his early days were spent on his father's farm on the Conway Hills; subsequently he was on some of the best runs in the South Island, and succeeded to the management of Mr. Fitzherbert's property in 1891. At that time there was considerable mortality among the sheep (Lincolns) on the farm, and Mr. Gibson set to work to remedy this. He crossed the Lincolns with Border-Leicester rams, and the desired result—a good, sound, healthy flock—was obtained. Mr. Gibson married Miss Connor, of Victoria, and has one son.

Mr. J. Gibson.

Mr. J. Gibson.