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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 2 (May 1, 1934.)

The Wheat-growers

The Wheat-growers.

The Maori was an industrious grower of wheat in the days when it paid to grow breadstuffs in the North Island. Before the refrigeration process made meat-raising and dairying profitable, potato and maize and wheat were the market staples, and particularly wheat, which at one time fetched as much as ten shillings a bushel. That was in the days when vessels were loaded with produce at Auckland for the great gold-diggings in California and Victoria. Some twenty years later there was still good money in it for the Maori as well as pakeha. It is on record that at Tauranga alone the Ngai-te-rangi tribe threshed out 15,000 bushels of wheat from their crop of 1874–75. The price that season was 4/3 a bushel, a little lower than usual, but even at that the farmers of the tribe were able to take their wives and families for a few days’ vociferously enjoyable shopping in Tauranga town.

Much of that wheat was ground into flour at a water-mill on the Wairoa River, operated by a white miller who charged so much per bushel of wheat ground. There were many such mills driven by waterpower in the various Maori districts, and here and there still one may see the old mill-stones, long useless, lying in the fern or on the riverside.