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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]

Provision Merchants and Storekeepers

Provision Merchants and Storekeepers.

Lovell and Christmas, Provision Merchants, of London (represented in New Zealand by Mr. James Kowin), have made Hawera their head-quarters in Taranaki. This is said to be the largest butter importing firm in the world. From France alone Messrs Lovell and Christmas import £1,000,000 worth of fresh butter annually, while Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Canada, United States of America, the Argentine, Australia, and New Zealand contribute to their wonderful turnover. The value of the total turnover in butter, cheese, and eggs is upwards of £3,000,000 annually, and of this New Zealand contributes between a quarter and half a million, mainly from Tara-naki and Auckland.

Mr. James Kowin, the New Zealand representative of Messrs Lovell and Christmas, holding powers of attorney for the partners individually and collectively, is well known in both hemispheres, as having a lifelong experience of the provision trade. He was born at Cambridge, England, in the year 1841, is a son of Mr. James Kowin, printer of that town, and was intended for his father's profession; but on leaving school in London, at the age of fourteen, he embraced an opportunity of entering the provision trade. Subsequently Mr. Kowin joined his employer as a partner, and ultimately became sole proprietor of the business. In 1887, he sold out to Messrs Hudson Brothers, and retired on a competence. He was, however, dissatisfied with a life of leisure, and accepted the offer made by Mr. Lovell, with whom he had been acquainted from boyhood, and had been intimately associated in business transactions with him. To keep himself thoroughly in touch with all matters connected with the butter industry, Mr. Kowin takes a trip to the Old Country every year, leaving New Zealand about the end of March, and returning late in August. Considering that the first year's turnover was only £2000, and that his sixth season's purchases amounted to £300,000, Mr. Kowin may fairly be said to have surmounted all difficulties by the latter date. His plan of operations is highly satisfactory to producers, for he makes immediate cash advances on the season's output, and this advance constitutes the minimum purchase price; should it prove to have been excessive, Messrs Lovell and Christmas bear the loss; but if, as is generally the case, a higher price is obtained than is represented by the advance, the producers gain the additional advantage. To show their appreciation of the benefit gained by the colony from Mr. Kowin's transactions and business knowledge, the people of Hawera entertained him at a banquet, which was one of the most successful ever held in the district. The freight alone on New Zealand butter shipped by Mr. Kowin to his principals amounts to over £20,000 a year. This sum is divided pretty equally between the New Zealand Shipping Company and the Shaw Savill and Albion Company. From the nature of his transactions, Mr. Kowin could hardly fail to be popular throughout Taranaki, but his popularity is not confined to those with whom he has commercial dealings; for, apart from the benefit conferred by the business he does with the district, he is generally liked by the settlers, on account of his personal character.

Rowe, William, Seed and Grain Dealer, Hawera. Importer of Agricultural Implements, Agent for the Massey Harris Company, Importer of English, American, German, and French page 246 Seeds, and Agent for Messrs Hirst and Company, of London. Established in 1888. Mr. Rowe was born in Cornwall, England, came to New Zealand in 1865 by the ship “Victory,” and landed at Lyttelton. Shortly after moving to New Plymouth he engaged in farming at Waitara, where he remained seven years. Mr. Rowe disposed of his farm in 1877, and started the well-known nursery at Normanby. He also opened up a seed and grain business in Hawera, but finding the work of superintending the two concerns too great a strain on his health, he disposed of the nursery. Mr. Rowe was one of the principal organisers of the Normanby horticultural show, which is celebrated for the excellence of its exhibits, and has been president of the society for many years. He takes a keen interest in farming, and is a well-known contributor to the farmers' news columns in the Auckland and Hawera papers. Mr. Rowe has for years been engaged in compiling papers on agriculture, manures, and grasses; he proposes to publish these in book form, and they will contain much information of value to the farmer and gardener. He possesses a fine printing plant, with which he issues his own numerous and interesting pamphlets. Mr. Rowe was for many years a member of the Normanby Town Board, school committee and Licensing Bench. He has put his sons into the business in partnership with his late clerk (Mr. Adam Hannah), who is well and favourably known throughout the district. Mr. Rowe takes considerable interest in all local affairs, and is ever ready to give advice of practical value to farmers and horticulturists.

Mr. W. Rowe.

Mr. W. Rowe.

Smith, John, General Storekeeper, Princes Street, opposite Post Office, Hawera. This business was established in the year 1896, and was acquired by the present proprietor in 1899. It is conducted in a wood and iron building, which contains a shop with a verandah, an office, and a store. Mr. Smith is an importer and indentor of general merchandise. Delivery is made by vehicle throughout Hawera and the surrounding districts. Mr. Smith was born in Kakaramea, in 1871, and was educated in public schools in Hawera and Auckland, where he was also brought up to commercial life. He was subsequently employed for six years by Mr. James Davidson, and was for some time manager of the business. Later, he was employed as manager by Mr. Parkinson for nearly three years, before acquiring the present business. Mr. Smith is a member of the Hawera Chamber of Commerce, the Hawera Agricultural and Pastoral Society, and is an honorary member of the local Volunteer Fire Brigade and Brass Band. In 1906 he married a daughter of Mr. M. Luther, of Auckland

West Coast Farmers' Trading Association, Limited (L. H. McAlpine, managing director), Mart and Offices, Regent Street, Hawera. This business was established in the year 1895, and is conducted in a centrally situated wood and iron building. Auction sales are held every Saturday, and the Association keeps a large stock of general merchandise, provisions and fruit. Consignments of fruit are received from all parts of the colony, and from Australia, and a considerable business is done in this line.

Mr. Lawrence Hudson McAlpine, Managing Director and Auctioneer of the West Coast Farmers' Trading Association, Limited, was born in Auckland, where he went to school. He was brought up to commercial life, and was for a number of year a traveller for Auckland and Dunedin firms. In the year 1884 he went into general storekeeping in Otago, and was extensively engaged in the grain trade. He joined the Farmers' Trading Association in 1895.