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


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Rongotea, formerly called Campbelltown, is a dairy-farming district, situated six miles from Palmerston North, and 108 miles from Wellington, and is in the county of Manawatu. The town is well laid out, with a large square in the centre, and it possesses a dairy factory, coach-building, cabinet-making, and smithing establishments, several large general stores, four churches, a public hall, a public school, good boarding-houses, and a post and telegraph office, with money order and post office savings bank. There is a resident medical practitioner, a dentist, and a chemist in Rongotea. Rongotea is governed by a town board, of which Mr. James Penney is chairman. It has a population of 350, the capital value is £34,000, and there is a general rate of Id in the pound.

Mr. James Penney has been chairman of the Rongotea Town Board since its inception, and was one of its promoters. He has been chairman of the school committee since 1901, and was one of the founders of the technical classes, is chairman of the Cemetery Trustees, lay reader in the Anglican Church, past master in the Masonic Order, an officer of the Athletic Club, and local registrar of births, deaths and marriages. Mr. Penney was born in Cornwall, England, in the year 1865, and came to New Zealand in 1874. He landed in Nelson, where he completed his education, and then served an apprenticeship to the tailoring trade under Messrs. Dee and Sons. He afterwards spent three years at his trade in Reefton, part of that time in business on his own account, and then worked as a journeyman in Wellington, Palmerston North, and Bulls, before establishing his present business in Rongotea in 1896. The premises consist of a large shop (with two windows), a stock room, a well-appointed tailoring department, and an office at the rear. A large stock of ladies' and gentlemen's tailoring materials is carried, the making of costumes being a specialty; and there is also an extensive stock of ready-made clothing and mercery. Mr. Penney is the local agent for the New Zealand Insurance Company. He is married, and has two sons and two daughters.

The Rongotea Co-Operative Dairy Factory was established in the year 1893. A large quantity of milk is put through the factory, and the annual output is 240 tons of butter, which is wholly consigned to Messrs. Collett and Company, of Cardiff, Wales. There are fifty-eight suppliers. The factory occupies a site of half an acre in the township, and is a modern wooden building. There is a large and complete plant of machinery, driven by a fourteen-horse power Tangye engine. The factory's brands for butter are: “Makino” and “Milkmaid.” The directors of the company are: Messrs. A. C. Perry (chairman), J. Dalton, H. Ehrhorn, F. Richmond, J. Cockburn, C. Clavey, and W. Davis. Mr. J. W. Whittaker is secretary.

Mr. John Tobeck, Manager of the Rongotea Co-operative Dairy Factory, was born in Canterbury, New Zealand, and gained his first experience at butter-making in the Tai Tapu factory. He then took charge of the Colyton creamery, near Feilding, whence he was appointed butter-maker at the Rongotea factory, and soon afterwards received his present position.

Persson, James Anthony, Motor and Cycle Agent, Mersey Street, Rongotea. This business was established in the year 1906. The premises consist of a large shop, a showroom, and a conveniently-appointed workroom. The showroom carries a fine stock of imported machines, including the “Birmingham Small Arms,” “Rudge-Whitworth,” “Rothwell,” “New Rapid,” “Robin Hood,” and “Reynold's Pattern, B.S.A.,” also all kinds of bicycle accessories. Mr. Persson is local agent for the F.N. make of motor cycles. He was born in the year 1882, in Rongotea, where he was educated at the public school, and afterwards followed farming pursuits for a few years. He subsequently entered the cycle trade, and soon afterwards started business on his own account. Mr. Persson is a member of the Order of Druids and Good Templars, and the Athletic Club.