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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]



Kaitaia is situated in Mongonui County, and is one of the chief distributing and trading centres of the gumfields. It lies 213 miles north of Auckland, with which it has postal communication twice a week, and it has also a full telegraphic service. The township of Kaitaia is prettily situated, and has a population of about 130. It has an agricultural hall and grounds, a school, hotel, and temperance hotel. The district is pastoral and agricultural, and the township is five miles from the port and ten miles from Ahipara Bay on the west coast, between which and Mongonui lies Lake Tangonge.

The Post Office at Kaitaia is conducted at the premises of Mr. R. H. Matthews, J.P., builder and contractor.

Mr. Richard Henry Matthews, J.P., Postmaster, Kaitaia, was born in Kaitaia in 1835, and is a son of the late Rew. Joseph Matthews, who came to New Zealand in the early thirties and was therefore one of the oldest settlers of the district. Mr. Matthews was appointed superintendent of native schools in the northern districts by Sir George Grey in 1864. These schools, after the plan of the Irish hedge-schools, were opened in all the principal native settlements from Mongonui northwards, under Maori teachers, but were closed five years later for lack of attendance. After having worked amongst the Maores for a few years he bought 1400 acres of land and engaged in farming. For a long time Mr. Matthews did fairly well, but desirous of too rapidly accumulating a fortune, he started a flax-mill, a venture which proved a failure and he suffered considerable loss. Being, however, a man of ready resource and having had some mechanical experience, he took to building very successfully and put up most of the Government structures in the district. In 1870 Mr. Matthews, with many others stricken with gold-fever, went to the Thames where he remained for about two years. On his return to Kaitaia he again became interested in the production of flax, but with no better results. He was appointed in 1869 by the Superintendent of Auckland, a member of the board of health page 598 for the port of Mongonui. For some years he was president of the Mongonui Agricultural and Pastoral Association, member of the Kaitaia Road Board and Mongonui County Council; as postmaster he performs the duties of the post office, telephone, savings bank, and money order branches, is registrar for births, deaths, and marriages, and collector of sheep rates, property, land, and income taxes. Mr. Matthews is a past-master in Masonry and has acted as grand steward of the Grand Lodge of New Zea-land. He is married to a daughter of the Rev. C. B. L. Dunn (who came to New Zealand in 1860), and has five sons.
Mr. R. H. Matthews' Residence.

Mr. R. H. Matthews' Residence.

Church Of England, Kaitaia. The first building used for worship at Kaitaia was made of raupo, but in 1840, or a year or two later, that was replaced by a large wooden building, 30 feet by 60 feet, with a tower and steeple, 60 feet high. At that time there was only one team of bullocks in the place, and most of the timber required for the church was not only sawn by the native, but drawn by them from the bush, a distance of four miles It was pulled down in 1886. The present pretty little church, 40 feet by 24 feet, not including the chancel, was then built by Mr. R. H. Matthews and his son—the son and grandson of the venerable vicar, since dead—and was consecrated by the Primate, Bishop Cowie, in March, 1887. The late Rev. Joseph Matthews was incumbent till 1888, and the present vicar is the Rev. C. J. Merton.

Mr. William George Puckey, Choirmaster at the Kaitaia Anglican Church, is one of the oldest settlers and a son of the late Mr. W. G. Puckey. He was born in 1835 and brought up to farming. Mr. Puckey acquired his present property, called “Woodville,” in 1855; it consists of a freehold of 770 acres of level country and is partly cleared. The soll is of a rich alluvial character, splendidly adapted for growing fruit, maize oats, etc. Mr. Puckey was a prominent member of the school committee and has been for some time connected with the agricultural association. He married a daughter of the late Mr. Hunt, of Carlisle, England, and has two sons and four daughters.

Mr. M. Puckey. Mr. Wm. Puckey. Mr. C. Puckey. Mr. Walter Puckey.

Mr. M. Puckey.
Mr. Wm. Puckey. Mr. C. Puckey.
Mr. Walter Puckey.

Redan Hotel (Thomas Taaffe, proprictor) Kaitaia. This hotel was erected in 1883 and is situated at the junction of Ahipara with the main north road. It contains twelve rooms, including dining-room, sitting-room, parlour, and smoking-room, with bar adjoining. There is comfortable accommodation for visitors with the additional satisfaction of a good table, the best of wines and spirits. Mr. Taaffe was born in Sydney in 1870 and educated there. After following the trade of a blacksmith intermittently for about seven years, he came to New Zealand in 1892, and went to Whangarel, where he was employed in various branches of business until February, 1896, when he took over the management of the Redan Hotel. He is a member of the Kaitaia Agricultural Association and takes a great interest in sports.

Grigg, William Robert, Saddler and Harness-maker, Kaitaia. Mr. Grigg was born at the Thames in 1872 and is the son of Mr. John Grigg, a well-known resident of that town. He was educated at the Kauearanga Boys' School and Thames High School, and was first employed in the jewellery trade, then as a saddler with Mr. George Allen for four years and with Mr. Jones for nineteen months, in order to gain more experience he went to Christchurch and entered the employ of Mr. Howell, and later, to still further increase his knowledge of the trade, he visited Melbourne, where he was in the employ of Mr. Bragg, of Elizabeth Street. On his return to New Zealand, page 599 Mr. Grigg travelled the Auckland province for awhile and finally settled at Kaitaia, where he started his present business in 1896. To meet the requirements of the district he has recently added a boot and shoe department to his business. He is essentially a cash trader, pays cash and insists on being paid in current coin, claiming that by so doing he can turn out better work at less price than if he followed the credit system. Mr. Grigg has been connected with a number of debating and musical societies.

Grassmere Station. This valuable freehold property consists of 500 acres, half of which is under cultivation and the other half listed for depasturing purposes. On that portion of the land devoted to agriculture the soil is of a rich loamy brown character with a gravel and elay sub-soil. The property is excellently watered and no difficulty is experienced in growing fine crops of wheat, oats, and maize. About 300 sheep are grazed or the farm, chiefly cross-bred Lincoln-Merinos, besides a few shorthorn dairy cows. The homestead, which formerly belonged to Dr. Trimnell, is a single-storey building, very prettily situated on a slight elevation surrounded by ornamental trees, and approached by a winding avenue. The stables, barn, granary, and other outbuildings are complete in every detail and the machinery and farming plant of modern type. “Grassmere” is about three and a half miles from Kaitaia, and seven miles from Ahipara, close to the mative settlement of Pukepoto, the only drawback being the bad state of the roads.

Mr. George Edward Hollis, Proprietor of “Grassmere,” was born at Sable in the midlands of France, is the son of the late Mr. Lytton Hollis (master mariner and professor of French), and grandson of Captain Hollis, of the British Army, who served at Waterloo. Mr. Hollis was educated at Marseilles by his father, and in 1885 came to New Zealand in the iron clipper “Turakina” with his parents, who resided at One-hunga for twelve months and afterwards removed north to Awanui, where Mr. Hollis, senior, eventually purchased “Grassmere and lived there till 1894. Mr. George Hollis has considerable musical and literary tastes and he is an excellent violinist.

Shannon, William Joseph, Farmer, Kaitaia. Mr. Shannon, who is a son of the late Mr. E. Shannon, was born in Kaitaia in 1861, and has spent all his life in the district. His farm consists of a freehold of 200 acers, formerly a raupo swamp, but now thoroughly drained and one of the best properties in the country. The breaking up of the ground proved the existence of good alluvial soil all over the farm. There are twenty head of cattle, five draught horses, and about 150 sheep, mostly crossbreds with some pure Lincoins and a few carefully selected stud sheep. He was first elected to the Mongonui County Council in 1884, and sat for many years as the representative of Kaitaia Riding. Mr. Shannon is a popular man and takes great interest in public affairs. He was for a number of years a member of the licensing committee for the Bay of Islands, a member of the agricultural society, vice-president of the acclimatisation society, and member of the North Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, representing the counties of Whangaroa and Mongonui.