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

The Napier Harbour Board

The Napier Harbour Board was incorporated in the year 1875, and its first members were Messrs J. D. Ormond, J. Gibson Kinross, A. Kennedy, J. A. Smith, A. Newman, Joseph Rhodes, J. N. Williams, J. H. Vautier, F. Sutton, H. C. Robjohns, John Chambers, and the Mayor of Napier, ex-officio. Almost immediately after its formation the Board set about improvements in the way of wharfage space, etc., and by 1877 had constructed two piers, and made good progress with the wharyes and landing facilities, at what is known as the Inner Harbour. Now (1906) vessels drawing up to fourteen feet six inches berth at the Inner Harbour, and there is about 2,100 feet of wharfage accommodation. It is in connection with the Breakwater Harbour, however, that the Board's operations have been mainly directed of late years. On the 25th of January, 1887, the first block of the breakwater was laid, and the work is still being steadily carried on. On the 12th of June, 1893, the first vessel, a steamer of 910 tons register, was berthed alongside the breakwater wharf, and took a shipment of circus animals, etc., and this at a time when a heavy sea was running. In October, 1896, the Glasgow wharf was officially opened for traffic, and now the s.s. “Manuka,” a vessel of 4.505 tons register, and other steamers almost as large, are regular traders. The breakwater, which is in the shape of an angle of about 160 degrees, is completed for a distance of 2,542 feet from the point of the Bluff, and the remaining part of the work in progress is marked by buoys. It is constructed of concrete blocks, weighing about thirty tons each, upon a rubble foundation, and is well protected with thirty-ton blocks piled irregularly on the weather side, to act as wave breakers. There are two wharves, one running fore aft the breakwater for 1,200 feet, and the other projecting north eighteen degrees west for 410 feet, from a point one cable's length from the Bluff; the latter being known as the Glasgow wharf. The largest local and inter-colonial steamers, including the Union Steamship Company's and Huddart, Parker and Company's vessels, berth regularly at the Breakwater Harbour wharves. Ocean-going vessels anchor in the roadstead, loading and discharging cargo by means of sailing and steam lighters.

The Board has one large storage shed, 194 by 35 feet, at the Breakwater, near the Bluff, and two small ones at Port Ahuriri, one on the West and the other on the Iron Pot Quay. The harbour, pilotage, port charges, wharfage, and storage fees are based upon a reasonable scale. The signal station, which was formerly at the old barracks, on Barrack or Hospital Hill, is now situated on the highest point of the lighthouse reserve, overlooking the breakwater.

The total liability of the Napier Harbour Board is £500,000, which is provided for by a sinking fund. In 1905 the sum of £5,287 19s 5d was added to the sinking fund, which brought the gross amount, as at 31st December, 1905, up to £66,042 9s 9d.

Shipping business at the harbour has, year by year, steadily progressed. In 1877 the general revenue—exclusive of rates, interest, and Government grants—was £4,386; in 1887, £12,886; in 1897, £19,937; in 1904; £20,989; and in 1905 it had increased to £23,955. The amount of tonnage of vessels inwards in the year 1872 was 52,732; in 1882, 126,632; in 1892, 284,511; and in 1905 it amounted to 730,703 tons. The cargo imports grew from 46,493 tons in 1899, to 80,509 in 1905, and in the same years the cargo exports were respectively 55,475 and 65,162 tons.

The Board's offices are situated in Bridge Street, Port Ahuriri, and consist of a wooden building of six rooms. Members of the Board for 1906 are: Messrs J. Vigor Brown (chairman), J. S. Large, Henry Williams, John Harker, J. C. McVay, Charles Ellison, F. W. Williams, W. K. White, G. M. Morris, G. A. Macdonald, A. E. Jull, A. H. Russell, and the Mayor of Napier (Mr. S. Carnell) ex-officio. Officers of the Board are: Messrs J. P. Kenny (Secretary, Treasurer, Chief Wharfinger and Rate Collector), O. J. W. Lake (Harbour-master and Chief Pilot), E. page 316 Forne (Assistant Pilot), J. Taylor (Foreman of Works), K. Cameron (Chief Clerk), J. P. Fortune (Cargo Delivery Clark), and Captain H. Kraeft (Dredge-master). The Board's Sinking Fund Commissioners are the Hon. J. D. Ormond and Mr. J. Vigor Brown. Bankers, The Bank of Australasia; Solicitors, Messrs Sainsbury, Logan, and Williams.