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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]


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Kaiwarawara (corrupted to “Kaiwarra”) is the most important of the townships of the Borough of Onslow. It may be said to adjoin Wellington at the northern boundary of the City, though the contiunity of buildings is broken by a few hundred yards. The distance from the Wellington Post-office to the cluster of houses, shops, and hotels forming the township of Kaiwarra, is about two miles. The communication is principally by rail, though it has been computed that 1200 vehicles cross the Kaiwarra Bridge, on the Hutt Road, every twenty-four hours. Kaiwarra cannot fairly be called progressive. The industries—principally soap and candle manufacture, tanning and fellmongering—are increasing, and the population is consequently making some headway, though it is probable that the manufactures of the township are somewhat of the nature of a deterrent. Probably, as science discovers better methods of dealing with waste animal products in their conversion from the raw state to the marketable articles, Kaiwarra may become the popular suburb it really ought to be. The township occupies the flat ground on the margin of the harbour, and, practically, at the sea level; but the lofty hills round about command splendid views of the harbour and city. Landowners are holding tenaciously in the certain hope of a rise in values, and, meanwhile, some of them are engaged in dairying and sheepfarming operations.

The Onslow Borough Council has its office in Kaiwarra, and is bestirring itself to improve the roads of the district. The stream is beautifully clear and pure above the fellmongeries; and very pretty scenery photographs have been taken.

From an eminence near the town, Fort Buckley, in charge of Mr. A. Duff, commands a fine stretch of Port, Nicholson, its two “sixty-four pounders” suggesting possible “defence, not defiance.” The City powder magazine—consisting of two capacious stone buildings with slate roofs—occupies a secluded spot about half-a-mile up the Gorge, and for the last fourteen years has been in the careful charge of Mr. John May.

A short distance above the powder magazine are many beautiful spots possessing all the advantages usually in demand by picnickers—natural bush, very dense for so near town, pure water, and some reasonably flat and open ground. Difficulty of access is the only drawback; and that is by no means insurmountable. There seems to be no sufficient reason why Upper Kaiwarra has not long ago grown into a flourishing suburb. There is no more beautiful part anywhere near the City.

There are no churches in Kaiwarra; but the school building is used regularly as a temporary substitute.

The post and money order office and the telephone bureau are in charge of the postmaster, Mr. William Bowden, the manager of Mr. W. Cook's store. The letters, etc., are delivered by carriers; and mails for Kaiwarra close daily at Wellington at 6.45 a.m. and 2.50 p.m., the return mail closing at Kaiwarra at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The business places, which are not very numerous, are described in the following pages.

A word needs to be said about the corrupted name of this suburb. The word “Kaiwarra” is an offence to all who rejoice in the admirable simplicity of Maori spelling. Properly speaking, there are no double consonants in the language; no consonants ever appear together excepting the “diphthongal” consonants “wh” and “ng,” and no word ends with a consonant. Why the second “r” was inserted as an apology for the last two syllables of the original word is too difficult to say; but, by common if not unanimous consent it is there; and to avoid confusion the error is herein perpetuated.



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The Borough of Onslow, which lies on the west side of the harbour, includes in its boundaries the townships of Kaiwarra, Khandallah, Crofton, and Wadestown, the first being the principal settlement, where the office of the Borough is located. The Borough is bounded by the city of Wellington, the Borough of Karori, Johnsonville Town District, and portions of the Hutt County, and fronts the harbour of Port Nicholson from the boundary of the city at Thorndon Esplanade to a point to the northward of Kaiwarra. The Corporation have about twenty miles of formed and installed roads within the Borough, besides a large number of unformed roads. The three wards are known as North—including Crofton and Khandallah; South—embracing Wadestown and extending to the sea near the Esplanade Hotel; and East—comprising Kaiwarra. The Council (1896) is composed of Messrs. Wm. Durrell (Mayor) and Councillors P. Cavanah, J. B. Mack, J. Casey, D. Hobbs, M. H. Mc/rthy, M. Fitzgerald, and J. Valentine, Mr. S. Vickers being town clerk, valuator, and returning officer. The area of the Borough is estimated at 2,870 acres, the population being 1,530, who reside in 276 dwellings. The ratepayers, of whom there are 315, own 337 valuable properties of the capital value of £147,560, a rate of fifteen-sixteenths of a penny being levied annually. The gross revenues of the Borough, including license fees, Government grant, and rates, amounted to over £1,315 on the 31st of March, 1895.

Mr. Samuel Crisp Gace Vickers, Town Clerk, Returning Officer, and Valuator for the Borough of Onslow, is the eldest son of the late Mr. Samuel Vickers, sharebroker, of Auckland, who died at the advanced age of ninety-six years, early in 1896. Born at Camberwell, London, in 1835, the subject of this sketch came to Auckland with his parents in 1851. Mr. Vickers entered the Government service in the Native Office of Auckland in 1863. Two years later, on the transfer of the seat of Government, he was removed to Wellington, In 1872 Mr. Vickers was re-transferred to Auckland, where he became chief clerk in the Civil Commissioners' office, which position he held till 1882. In this year he was again removed to Wellington in the Native Office, but four years later he was retrenched. In 1894 he was appointed to his present office. Mr. Vickers was married in 1859, to a daughter of the late Mr. Joseph Crisp, of Manakau, settler, and has three sons and two daughters, of whom a son and daughter are married.

Kaiwarra Post-office and Telephone Bureau is at the Kaiwarra Store, Hutt Road, and is in the charge of Mr. W. Bowden, who manages the local branch of Mr. Cook's business.

Mr. William Bowden, the Postmaster, was born in Plymouth in 1849, and came to Wellington in 1872 per ship “Ocean Mail.” He has been in Mr. Cook's employ for over fifteen years. Mr. Bowden was married in 1869 to Emma, daughter of Mr. Gruitt of Plymouth.

The Kaiwarra Public School, which is situated on the banks of the Kaiwarra Stream, was established about thirty years ago. It is a convenient building, constructed of wood and iron, and accommodating over 100 boys and girls. The head teacher, Mr. R. Johnston, who is assisted by two certificated teachers, has charge also of the side school at Ngahauranga, which is under the management of another certificated teacher.

Mr. Robert Johnston, the Head-master of the Kaiwarra Public School, is the son of the late Captain Robert Johnston, J.P., D.L., of Brook Hill, County Leitrim, Ireland, late of Her Majesty's 67th Regiment, and was educated at Foyle College, Londonderry. In 1855 he joined Her Majesty's 89th Regiment as ensign, and was promoted to the position of lieutenant the same year, serving with his regiment in the Crimea, The Cape, and India. In 1862 he sold out of his regiment, and came to New Zealand, joining the 2nd Waikato Regiment as lieutenant in the following year, and in 1866 he was promoted to the rank of captain. He adopted teaching as his profession in 1870, and conducted a private school until he joined the Education Board in 1876, having served in the position of headmaster up to the time of writing.

Banks, G. W., Slaughterhouse and Boiling-down Works, Kaiwarra, Wellington. Established 1884, Telephone 417. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. The proprietor of the above establishment is a native of Huntingdonshire, England, where he gained his experience in business with his father. Being of an enterprising disposition, he embarked in the ship “Wanganui,” and arrived in New Zealand in 1882. He was at once favourably impressed with the Colony, and shortly after received the appointment of manager of one of the Gear Company's shops in Wellington, which position he held for fifteen months, and since then has found no difficulty in securing employment. However, he saw that a strong monopoly existed in the trade, and determined to launch out on his own account, and since starting the above has from time to time extended his plant and land, which latter now comprises a bullock pad lock of forty acres, a sheep paddock of 100 acres, and a pig paddock of five acres, Mr. Banks recognising the importance of keeping his pigs entirely separate from the other animals. The main building, the slaughterhouse, is of wood and iron, with its rows of fine fresh-killed beef, presents quite a business-like appearance. Towards the rear, at the side, is a complete boiling-down plant. The refuse, along with the drainage of the stalls and pens at the rear, is carried away by an underground channel that is flushed by a strong force of water from an adjacent dam. Mr Banks's trade extends as far as Christchurch. He employs seven hands at present and from the method and system he adopts, it is easy to predict a rapid growth for this establishment. The residence of the proprietor overlooks the works, and is beautifully situated, commanding a splendid view of the city and harbour. Mr. Banks's success is to be attributed to his own untiring energy and perseverance.

Chittenden, Jesse, Butcher, Hutt Road, Kaiwarra. Bankers, National Bank of New Zealand. This business was established some twenty years ago, and has been conducted by the present proprietor since 1893. Mr. Chittenden was born at Tunbridge. Kent, England, and came to New Zealand per ship “Eastern Monarch” in 1874, landing in Lyttelton. After six years in Christchurch, he went for a trip to his native land, remaining about nine months. On his way back to the Colony, Mr. Chittenden visited South Africa, where he stayed for three years. In 1884, he settled in Wellington, and two years later commenced - business in Johnsonville as a butcher, purchasing the business in Kaiwarra as above.

Cook, William, Baker and General Storekeeper, Hutt Road, Kaiwarra. Manager, Mr. William Bowden. Head office, Molesworth Street, Wellington. This branch of Mr. Cook's business was established nearly twenty years ago, and the present manager has conducted the establishment for some sixteen years. Kaiwarra Post Office is conducted on the premises, Mr. Bowden being the postmaster.

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Hirst and Co. (John Holmes and Jonah Harris) Tanners, Fellmongers, Curriers, etc., Kaiwarra, Wellington. Telephone 483; P.O. Box 150. Telegraphic address, “Hirst, Kiawarra.” Trade Mark, an anchor, Bankers. Colonial Bank of New Zealand. This tannery is one of the oldest in Wellington and one of the most extensive in the Colony. Mr. Holmes was in the employ of the founders of this firm when it started, and may also be said to rank among the earliest of New Zealand colonists. He was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, and when young, embarked from London Black and white drawing of the premises of Hirst and Co. with his parents in the ship “Oriental,” arriving in New Zealand in 1810. Since first going to work he has devoted his whole time to gaining a knowledge of the practical part of the trade. He has later still added an all-round knowledge of business, which has enabled him, in conjunction with his partner, to build up and conduct this industry so successfully. Mr. Harris is a native of Somersetshire, England, and at an early age sailed with his parents by the ship “Clifton,” arriving in Wellington in 1840. He served his apprentice-ship to the tannery and fellmongery business with the original proprietor of the works in its early days, and continued for many years after as journeyman. In 1876 he entered into partnership with Mr. Holmes, and they jointly took over the business from Mr. Hirst, who at that time was the sole proprietor. By the continued efforts of these two energetic and thoroughly practical men this establishment has further grown in size and importance. The site is an excellent one, being nearly surrounded by lofty and picturesque hills, and may be overlooked by passengers travelling on the Manawatu railway. The land consists of about four-and-a-half acres and is divided by a permanent stream which is spanned by a bridge that connects the works. The buildings are of wood and iron and some are two and three stories high; they cover about two acres of land and contain many departments. To the left of the office and main building stands the bark shed, in which is stored several hundreds of tons of wattle bark, imported from Australia and Tasmania. Another excellent tanning material used and stored elsewhere is a kind of nut, grown in Smyrna and imported specially for the purposes of the firm. Both materials are ground on the premises by two special machines. In another shed, adjoining, the green hides are salted and packed till required in the tan pits, of which there are some 300, mostly lined with totara wood and so constructed and arranged that all the tanning liquor is conducted into one main chaunel which conveys it to a well. From thence it is pumped to the various tan pits as occasion requires, thus saving much labour and trouble. From the salt house the hides first go into the water pits to wash out he salt. They are then sorted and selected for different purposes, and placed in the lime pits, where they remain for some days. They are then cleansed of the lime and are next passed on to the beam house. From the beam house the sole leather goes to the tan pits and afterwards to the racks to dry, while the kip and harness leather has to be further prepared in the bate house before going in the tan liquor. Black and white drawing of the premises of Hirst and Co. The upper and harness leather then goes into the currying department, and the sole leathers, while yet soft, are brought to the striking machines, of which there' are two for sole leather and one for basils. This process takes out all buckling and wrinkles, and causes the hides and sheepskins to lie flat and even, at the same time scouring them. The heavier of the hides are then passed through two pairs of rollers, the thick parts being dealt with by a heavier, while the thinner parts are treated by a light pair. This process makes the leather very firm and solid and increases its durability. The lighter of the hides are selected for kip leather and are either split or reduced to proper thickness by the splitting machine. This is a marvellous appliance by which a hide is split in a few seconds. The six-feet knife of the machine is kept sharp by an automatic knife grinder conveniently located on the premises. The visitor may next look through the many rooms fitted with numerous racks and see leather, leather everywhere, and for all purposes, some wet, while those for the uppers and page 814 saddlery are covered by grease preparation. The latter go into the currying and finishing departments where the facing is put on the leather in black or tan colours of different shades. The finished article is now seen ready for market. There are sixty-five hands employed at present, and when the fellmongery department now in course of erection is completed the total number will be increased to eighty. The numerous staff employed on these large works goes a good way to form the local township. The output of this firm amounts to about 18,000 hides, 60,000 to 70,000 pelts and 3000 calf skins per annum, which are sent to all parts of the Colony. Besides his private duties, Mr. Holmes takes a lively interest in other matters, and is at present a member of the Council of the Borough of Onslow, and also of the local licensing committee. Mr. Harris's time is fully devoted to the internal working of this establishment, while Mr. Holmes (with the able assistance of Mr. Blacklock, as accountant) takes the general management. In politics these proprietors advocate protection against the imported manufactured article.

Newton, John, Soap Manufacturer, Caledonian Soap Works, Kaiwarra. Telephone 202. Bankers, Bank of Australasia. Private residence, “Ravensh[unclear: a]ll,” Wellington. Mr. Newton, who hails from Glasgow, has had thirty-seven years experience in the soap trade. He arrived in Wellington in 1885, bringing a complete soap-making plant direct from his native city, where he had long been in business. Selecting the site of his works as above, Mr. Newton has constructed his factory on the latest and most improved plans. Some of the pans at these works are capable of turning out as much as twelve tons of soap at one operation. The buildings are well adapted for the purposes of a large trade, which extends throughout the entire Colony. The leading brands turned out at the Caledonian Soap Works are known as Borns' A1, made in tablets and bars, and Newton's Perfection Soap, both of which are registered.

New Zealand Candle Company, Limited. Head Office, Customhouse Quay, Wellington; Factory, Hutt Road, Kaiwarra. Manager, Mr. J. B. Mack. This colonial industry, which is prospering under the present capable manager, is more fully referred to under the heading “Wellington City.”

Mr. James Brodie Mack, Manager of the New Zealand Candle Company's works, has had a long experience in connection with this large industry. Born in Leith, Scotland, in 1857, and educated at Bathgate Academy, Mr. Mack was for nine years in the employ of the Oakbank Oil Company, in whose laboratory he gained most valuable knowledge. He came to New Zealand per ship “Forfarshire” in 1879, landing in Port Chalmers. Joining Messrs. McLeod Bros. in Dunedin, he remained with them for five years, and became manager of the Burnside Soap and Candle Factory in 1886. Four years later he was appointed manager of the Wellington factory of Messrs. J. Kitchen and Sons and Apollo Company. Subsequently Mr. Mack was transferred to the management of that firm's extensive works in Queensland, where he continued for three years. In 1892 he paid a visit to England, and on returning to the Colonies was appointed manager of the Wellington factories, where he remained till the Company disposed of its business. In conjunction with Mr. Haughtor, Mr. Mack founded the London Manufacturing Company, which was afterwards purchased by Messrs. Turnbull and Co. Soon after the establishment of the New Zealand Candle Company, Mr. Mack was appointed to the management, which position he still retains.

Club Hotel (Mrs. C. J. Hathaway, proprietress), Hutt Road, Kaiwarra. Established 1856. Conducted by present occupier since 1895.

Overend, Mrs., General Storekeeper, Upper Kaiwarra Road, Kaiwarra. Estab. 1886.

Rainbow Hotel (A. J. Larking, proprietor), Hutt Road, Kaiwarra. Established 1873. Conducted by present licensee since 1895.

Kaiwarra Stream

Kaiwarra Stream