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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Waitemata County Council

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Waitemata County Council.

The county of Waitemata has an area of 613 square miles, and an estimated population of about 7000. The value of ratable property in town districts is £25,739, within road districts, £77,473, in outlying districts, £519,263, and within the limits of the county, £622,475. This does not include the ratable value of the boroughs of Birkenhead and Devonport, which rate on the annual value. There is a general rate of 3/4d in the £, and separate rates of 3/4d and 1/2d in the £ in specified ridings. The total annual receipts from all sources, including rates, licenses, grants, etc., amount to £6,766 1s 4d, and the expenditure to £6,886 8s 8d. Considerable areas of the county were at one time heavily timbered, and the timber industry still provides a great deal of employment. Some of the finest specimens of the kauri pine are still to be found on the west coast of the county. In places the land has been cleared, and the settlers are turning their attention to fruit growing and sheep-farming. The country is mostly too broken for agricultural purposes, but for pasturage it is admirably suitable. The People's Park at Waitakerei consists of 4000 acres, mostly virgin forest, and the splendid waterfalls of Waitakerei and Naihotopu, and the magnificent scenery and natural wonders of the West Coast district, are all within the county. The falls of Naihotopu are now being utilised as an auxiliary water supply for the city, which is, therefore, not likely to suffer any scarcity in future. The well known Waiwere Hot Springs and Sanatorium are situated on the northern boundary of Waitemata. These places are all within twenty miles' ride of the city of Auckland, and are much frequented, especially in summer.

The Waitemata County Council came into existence under the Counties Act of 1877. At its first meeting, held in Auckland, the following councillors were present:—Mr Oliver Mays and Mr R. Mackay, Takapuna Riding; Mr Robert Sinclair and Mr John Lamb, Ararima Riding; Mr Henry Lloyd, Waiti Riding; and Captain C. H. Otway, Manukau Riding. Mr Mays was unanimously elected first chairman of the Council, and, with one short interval, held the office for eight years. When Mr Mays retired from the chairmanship in 1887, he was appointed county clerk and treasurer, and still (1900) holds that position. Waitemata is the premier county of the provincial district of Auckland, and its popularity and success are in a large measure due to the energy and administrative ability of Mr Mays. During the first ten years of the county's existence, thirteen of the sixteen local road boards merged themselves into it. The Council for 1900 consists of Messrs J. H. O'Neill (chairman), R. Sinclair, A. Bruce, A. Wilson, A. J. Hatfield, junior, E. W. Alison, J. M. Phillips, and A. Cochran, junior. The Council, which meets on the first Friday in each month, has jurisdiction over all the country lying north of the Auckland harbour, as far as Waiwera on the east, and the Kaipara river on the west.

Mr John Henry O'Neill. Chairman of the Waitemata County Council, is the eldest son of the late Mr Allan
Hanna, photo.Mr. J. H. O'Neill.

Hanna, photo.Mr. J. H. O'Neill.

Charles O'Neill, J.P., a prominent colonist in the early history of Auckland, and a member of the famous Irish family of O'Neill, the founder of which was Neal Roe, Prince of Tir-Owen (now Tyrone), whose descendants were the royal O'Neills, subsequently holders of a peerage now extinct, and O'Neill of the Fews of Tassagh. County Armagh, etc., etc. The last of the O'Neills who bore the title of King of Ulster, was Donal O'Neill, who died in 1325. Mr J. H. O'Neill was born at O'Neill's Point, North Shore, Auckland, in the year 1852. He was educated at the Church of England Grammar School, and at the High School. After spending two years on the Thames goldfields, in the unsatisfactory pursuit of a fortune, Mr O'Neill returned to Auckland, where he was for a year in a solicitor's office. That work being uncongenial, he turned his attention to surveying, and in 1878 he settled on his present fine property in Waitakerei, where he has ever since successfully carried on sheepfarming. He first became connected with public affairs in 1878, when he was returned as a member of the Waitakerei Road Board, on which he remained for five years. Mr O'Neill was elected to the Waitemata County Council in 1887, and has for the last three years been chairman of the council. Mr O'Neill has also been for some years a member of the Waitemata Licensing Committee. He is unmarried.
Mr. Robert Sinclair, J.P., Member of the Waitemata County Council, was born and educated in Perthshire, Scotland. He served his time at the building trade, and came to New Zealand in 1860 by the “Lord Burleigh,” landing in Auckland, and for five years was engaged in building and contracting work there. He then went to the West Coast, where he remained for about a year, and in 1867 removed to Kaukapakapa, where he purchased the “Eden Vale Farm,' a property of eighty-two acres. Prior to the formation of the Waltemata County Council in 1876, he was chairman of the local road board for a number of years, and afterwards represented the riding in the council. For one year he acted as chairman, but declined re-election to the office, though he is the only member who has continued in the council since its inception. He has page 145 been chairman of the school committee for more than twenty years, and has always taken an active interest in local affairs. Mr. Sinclair was made a Justice of the Peace in 1883, and shortly afterwards was appointed acting-district coroner, which office he still holds. He is married to a daughter of the late Mr. William Hazard, a well-known settler, late of Prince Edward's Island.
Councillor Alexander Wilson has held a seat on the Waitemata County Council for the last nine years, and has looked well after the wants of the district. He was instrumental in obtaining a grant of £500 from the Government, for expenditure on reproductive works at Birkenhead. Mr. Wilson was chairman of the old Road Board before it was merged into the council. He was the first chairman of the local school committee, and has been for twenty-five years president of the local Temperance Society, which he was instrumental in forming. Mr. Wilson was born in Ayrshire, in 1828, and followed farming till he left for Auckland in 1863, by the ship “Portland.” On his arrival he went to Waiwera under engagement to the late Mr. Robert Graham, then Superintendent of Auckland, and after a stay of over four years at Waiwera, he took charge of Mr. Graham's place at Ellerslie for six months. In 1868, Mr. Wilson purchased his present holding of 100 acres at Birkenhead, and carried on farming for some years, but has been obliged to
Councillor and Mrs. A. Wilson.

Councillor and Mrs. A. Wilson.

withdraw from active work, and he now leases the farm to his sons, who devote themselves mainly to fruit growing and dairying.
Councillor Alexander J. Hatfield, Junior, Member of the Waitemata County Council, was first elected to that body in 1893, with a narrow majority of nineteen votes. At the following election, the voting in his favour was 125 against thirteen, which showed that he had earned popularity by the discharge of his public duties; and on the occasion of a third election he had a majority of 132. He
Hanna, photo.Councillor A. J. Hatfield.

Hanna, photo.Councillor A. J. Hatfield.

was previously chairman of the Wainui Road Board, also chairman of the Wainui Licensing Committee under the old Act; and was (1900) lately returned unopposed to a seat on the present Waitemata Licensing Committee. As a hard working member of the Council he has had the satisfaction of seeing full justice done to his district in the direction of reproductive works. Although Mr Hatfield has contested many elections for local bodies he has never yet been defeated. Mr Hatfield was born in Auckland in 1867, and has been engaged chiefly in the timber industry. He resides at the Waiwera Hot Springs, where he owns considerable property. Mr Hatfield was made a Justice of the Peace in 1894.

Mr Alexander Bruce, who sits on the Waitemata County Council as Member for the Northcote Riding, is also chairman of the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board. He was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1839, and was educated at his native place. On leaving school he acted for two years and a half as page to the late Lord Lindsay, who was celebrated as the author of “Lindsay's Travels in Egypt, Edom and Syria,” a work of great research. Mr Bruce afterwards entered the service of Messrs Blackie Bros., engineers, Aberdeen, and remained with the firm for three years, after completing his apprenticeship. He afterwards worked in Glasgow and at the Blackwall Company's Shipbuilding Yards in London, then one of the largest yards in Great Britain. In the year 1863, Mr Bruce came to Auckland by the ship “Scimitar,” and entered the employment of the engineering firm of Messrs Vicary and Masefield, now Masefield and Co. After being for some time with that firm, he entered the service of Messrs Fraser and Co., and remained there until 1865, when, owing to a lock-out about increased wages, Mr Bruce left the firm. In conjunction with his brother-in-law, Mr Teasdale, he then started in Queen Street in a bakery and confectionery business, which was most successfully carried on for three years. Mr Bruce was then attracted by the glowing accounts of fortunes quickly made on the Thames goldfields, and disposed of his interest in the business. He was mining for a year and a half at the Thames, but had no success as a gold-seeker. He then commenced the more certain occupation of engineer, and was over a year busily employed in erecting quartz-crushing machinery. Mr Bruce returned to Auckland, where he re-entered the employment of Messrs Masefield and Co., with whom he remained for over twenty years, and had charge of a department. Mr Bruce first took part in public affairs in 1884, when he was elected a member of the Northcote Road Board. He remained on that body until its amalgamation with the Waitemata County Council, and was for several years previous to the amalgamation a member on both bodies. He has been continuously a member of the Waitemata County Council for over thirteen years, during which he has been returned three times, unopposed, and twice at contested elections. Mr Bruce has been connected with the Hospital and Charitable Aid Board for eight consecutive years, and is now (1900) chairman of that body. He has been for over forty years a member of the Society of Amalgamated Engineers, one of the largest and most influential societies in existence, and has for many years been secretary to the Auckland branch. As a public man, Mr Bruce is painstaking and consistent, and enjoys the utmost confidence of his constituents. Mr Bruce married shortly after his arrival in Auckland, and of a family of ten, three sons are now, as engineers, following in their father's foot-steps.

Mr Ewen William Alison again (1900) represents the Takapuna Riding in the Waitemata County Council. He was born in Auckland in 1855. On leaving school he entered a printing office, but, finding the confinement unsuited to his health, he left that employment, and in conjunction with his brother, Mr Alexander Alison, now manager of the Devonport Steam Ferry Company, started an extensive butchering business, which they carried on most successfully for fourteen years. On retiring from that business. Mr Alison took up various commercial undertakings, which have all been successful in his hands. He was the founder of the Devonport Ferry Company's service, the assured success of which is in a large measure attributable to Mr Alison's perception, unflagging energy, and knowledge of business. Mr Alison was returned to a seat on the Waitemata County Council, when he was only twenty-three years of age, and at that time he remained a member of the Council for nine years. On the formation of the Devonport Borough page 146 Council he was elected one of the first councillors, and continued to sit in that capacity until 1889, when he was elected mayor, and held the office for five consecutive years. He was then obliged to decline further re-election on account of the demands made on his time by his extensive business interests. During his terms as Mayor Mr Alison introduced and successfully carried out, against much opposition, the Devonport water supply, which has proved to be of inestimable benefit to the inhabitants of Devonport. It was also during his term of office that Parliament passed four Acts conveying valuable endowments to the borough, the affairs of which were, in fact, quite revolutionized during Mr Alison's mayoralty. The pavements in the borough were systematically made and tarred, and other important works carried out, chiefly in consequence of his initiative and persistency. Mr Alison is largely connected with the coal trade, and holds valuable interests in various coal mines. He is at present a member of the Conciliation Board of Auckland, and has, by reason of his fairness and impartiality, gained the confidence of both employers and workers. Mr Alison is chairman of the Takapuna Jockey Club, the most successful suburban racing club in the colony. He is still a member of the Devonport Borough Council, is chairman of directors of several prominent and successful goldmining companies, and is chairman of directors of the Devonport Steam Ferry Company, and also of the Taupiri Coal Company. Mr Alison was for two terms a member of the Auckland Harbour Board, and during that period he was chairman of the Finance Committee.
Mr Alexander Cochran, Junior, who represents the Waikumete Riding on the Waitemata County Council, is a son of Mr Alexander Cochran, well known in
Hanna, photo.Mr. A. Cochran.

Hanna, photo.
Mr. A. Cochran.

the Waikumete district. He was born at Waikumete in 1869, and was educated in his native place, and at Titirangi. On leaving school, he started to learn his business with his father, with whom he still remains. He has been for a number of years vice-president of the Waikumete Fruit Growers' Association, and in 1896 he was elected to the Waitemata County Council. Mr Cochran carries on business as a fruit grower and nurseryman at Waikumete. He married Miss Jane Ferguson, daughter of Mr John Ferguson, of East Tamaki.

Mr James Martin Phillipps. Member of the Waitemata County Council, is the son of Mr John Phillipps, of the firm of Messrs W. Phillipps and Son, oil and colour merchants, Auckland, and was born in Auckland in 1862. He was educated first at a public school, and afterwards at the Grammar School, and then devoted himself to the breeding of sheep, cattle and horses at his extensive property at Woodhill, Helensville. Mr Phillipps has long been well known as a most successful breeder of draught horses, and horses of his breeding are celebrated throughout New Zealand. Latterly, however, he has gone in more for cattle and sheep. Mr Phillipps has been chairman of the Woodhill school committee for over twelve years; in fact, from its earliest existence. He is also chairman of the Helensville Agricultural Society, and is judge at all the horse shows held in the provincial district of Auckland. Mr Phillipps was elected to his present seat in the Waitemata County Council in 1899.

Hanna, photo. Mr. J. M. Phillipps.

Hanna, photo.
Mr. J. M. Phillipps.

Mr Oliver Mays, Treasurer of the Waitemata County Council, was born at Leicester, England, in 1835, and received
Hanna photo.Mr. O. Mays.

Hanna photo.
Mr. O. Mays.

his training as a teacher at the Diocesan schools in his native town. He came to New Zealand in the year 1858, and was at once appointed by the Auckland Board of Education to the charge of a school at Woodside, on the Great South Road, and was there for two years and a half. Mr Mays soon obtained a first class certificate from the Board, and was promoted to the larger school at Devonport, which he conducted with marked success for five years.
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Several of the prominent public men in Devonport to-day were his pupils during this period. In 1863, Sir George Grey, during his second governorship, proposed to establish a school for the sons of Maori chiefs, on the island of Kawau, where, being removed from the influence of tribe and custom, they might be educated on purely English lines. On the recommendation of the Board of Education Mr and Mrs Mays were appointed to conduct the institution. The exigencies of the Waikato war, however, prevented his Excellency from carrying out his benevolent scheme. Shortly afterwards the Bishop of New Zealand (Dr Selwyn) offered Mr Mays the charge of the large Native School at Waimate, Bay of Islands, which he accepted; but before he could enter upon his duties, the school buildings were unfortunately destroyed by fire. Mr Mays then commenced business as a general storekeeper at Devonport. He was appointed the first postmaster for that district, and held the office for twenty years. On retiring from business in 1883, Mr Mays was appointed Immigration Officer and Superintendent of Quarantine for the port of Auckland, and carried out his duties to the entire satisfaction of the General Government until the system of assisted immigration ceased in 1889. When the Counties Act came into operation in 1877, Mr Mays was one of the two members then elected to represent the Takapuna Riding in the county of Waitemata. During his thirty-nine years' residence in Devonport Mr Mays has been conspicuously and closely identified with nearly every movement for the advancement of that important suburb. He collected funds for the erection of the first public wharf and the first church, and for the acquisition of the present splendid site of the public school. In 1867 the first road board was established in Devonport, mainly by his exertions, and he was chairman of the board for some years. He represented the local body on the Harbour Board for ten years, and in 1881 he was a member of the special committee, and moved the adoption of its report, which recommended the construction of the large dock at Calliope Point. Mr Mays has been a member of the Devonport Borough Council since 1892. Immediately after his election he moved that a deputation consisting of Messrs J. C. Macky, R. H. Duder, A. Buchanan and himself, should wait upon the Auckland Harbour Board to obtain the transfer of the public reserve at Devonport, known as the “Triangle,” to the Devonport Borough Council. Mr Mays' action in this matter was ultimately successful in recovering for the people of Devonport a valuable block of land, which was originally reserved by Sir George Grey for public purposes, and was specially exempted from sale at the first disposal of Crown lands in the district. The Harbour Board acknowledged the justice of the claim, and assisted in the promotion and passing of an Act of Parliament, authorising the transfer of the land to the local body. Mr Mays has rendered very special service to Devonport in connection with education. Having secured the best possible site for a public school, he urged the committee to obtain a new building, adapted to the needs of the district, and the result was that a vote of £1200 was made by the Board of Education and expended in the erection of the original block of buildings on the present site. As chairman of the school committee for very many years he has, with the cordial cooperation of his colleagues, done a great deal in other ways to place the Devonport school in the front rank of the public schools of the province. The Devonport school committee is one of the very few in the colony which have established a technical work-shop and kindergarten classes; and one of Mr Mays' colleagues on the committee, Mr Edward Bartley, voluntarily undertook the first year's management of the workshop, and brought it to such a state of efficiency that the Education Department gave a yearly grant in aid of the cost. The Devonport school has now a roll of 600 scholars, with a staff of sixteen teachers, and Mr Mays and his colleagues are justly proud of its success. In 1885 Mr Mays was appointed treasurer of the Auckland Grammar School Trust, and his management of the school's endowments has been equal to the progress made by the school itself, which now stands at the head of the secondary schools of the colony. In 1888 Mr Mays was gazetted an official visitor of the industrial schools in Auckland, and devoted a good deal of his time to the promotion of the boarding-out system, which, in the Auckland district at least, has proved a great success. When the Hospital and Charitable Institutions Act came into operation in 1886, Mr Mays was elected to represent the counties of Rodney and Waitemata, and the Borough of Devonport, on the Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board. He held the position for six years, and was chairman in his last year of office. During his membership the late Mr Edward Costley bequeathed £100,000 to the charitable and other institutions of Auckland. Of this bequest, £12,150 was for the Old Men's Home, and Mr Mays was one of the first to advocate the erection of a suitable building outside the city for the aged people, who were then lodged in two very old buildings on the Hospital grounds. There was much opposition to this project from those who wished the money to remain on fixed deposit, in order that the interest might be applied in reduction of the rates levied for charitable aid purposes; but the agitation thus commenced was eventually successful, and in 1889 his Excellency, the Earl of Onslow, laid the foundation stone of the new home at Epsom. On that occasion Mr Mays made an impressive speech, in which he gave the history of the benefactors of Auckland, and dwelt especially on the characteristics of the noblest of them all—Edward Costley. Mr Mays is recognised as a high authority on the law relating to local government, in connection with which he has had such exceptional experience. Apart from his knowledge of practical affairs, Mr Mays is a man of much natural ability, and always speaks with persuasive eloquence on subjects in which he is interested. This is so well recognised that, in 1884, a deputation from Sir George Grey's Central Election Committee twice waited upon him, and earnestly requested him to contest the Waitemata seat for the House of Representatives. The committee offered to support him with the whole strength of its powerful organization, and had he allowed himself to be nominated, his election would have followed almost as a certainty. He, however, declined to enter the parliamentary arena. Mr Mays, who has been a Justice of the Peace for a number of years, is further referred to in an article on the Waitemata County Council.

Mr Hugh Munro Wilson has held the position of Engineer to the Waitemata County Council since 1889, and has fulfilled his duties with benefit to the county and credit to himself. He has recently received an additional appointment as engineer of the Waitakerei Water Supply. Mr Wilson carries on an extensive private practice as a mining engineer and surveyor at 16 and 21 Palmerston Buildings, Queen Street, Auckland, and in that connection he is referred to in another article.