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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

How Grave Menace of Scab Was Tackled

How Grave Menace of Scab Was Tackled

Scab broke out in Hawke's Bay in the early 1860's. Ramsden (The Chronicles of the Nairn Family) says that it was introduced with some rams which H. S. Tiffen obtained from Wairarapa. There were outbreaks in Riddell's flock at Mohaka and in W. Morris's at Waikokopu in August, 1862. When T. U'Ren, junior, was appointed scab inspector for Poverty Bay in August, 1866, Captain Harris, in a letter to Mr. McLean (25/8/1866), said: “It is through no fault of our settlers that their flocks are infected. The Natives brought diseased sheep here from Waiapu.”

In December, 1873, the General Government offered to erect dips on the East Coast and supply dipping materials if the native sheepowners would do the mustering and the dipping. Only Major Ropata, Mokena Kohere and a few others were willing to co-operate, and, consequently, the plan fell through. There were then about 14,000 native-owned sheep on the southern side of the Waiapu River, 4,000 on the northern side, and a further 2,000 about East Cape. In all, there were 52 native sheep-owners. The principal owners in 1875 were: Major Ropata, 6,000; Pine Tuhaka, 3,000; Tamihana Ruka, 2,300; Arapete Waititi, 2,000; Raniera Kawhia, 2,000; Mokena Kohere, 1,500; Koti, 1,500; and Wi Hihopo, 1,000.

Under the East Coast District Sheep Act, 1874, stringent measures were taken to cope with scab. All sheep driven into Poverty Bay or on to the East Coast, as well as those which arrived by sea, were inspected. If a single sheep was found to be infected the whole mob was quarantined. After protracted negotiations the General Government bought all the native-owned flocks on the East Coast at the rate of 5/- per sheep and 1/6 per lamb. In March, 1877, the tender of Bycroft and Ferral, of Auckland—3/1 per sheep and 1/1 per lamb—was accepted for the condemned sheep, and 25,000 were boiled down at Port Awanui.

The scab menace was at its height in Poverty Bay in 1878. Mr. page 323 Orbell (the inspector) insisted that all flocks should be kept within fenced areas, and rigidly enforced dipping in hot lime and sulphur. In October, 1880, 18 flockowners were fined at the rate of 3d. per sheep. David Doull (formerly of Southland), who was fined £156, told Parliament that, when he bought Wainui run and stock in 1878, the sheep were infected, although he had been assured that they were clean. It had cost him £500 for dipping materials and £500 to muster and dip on eight occasions. On account of being required to dip in mid-winter, he had lost 4,500 sheep, and, as he was not allowed to breed for two seasons, he had, in each of those years, been deprived of the anticipated natural increase of 3,500 lambs. For his own protection he had also had to dip his neighbours' sheep. Percival Barker, senior, of Whataupoko (fined £82), and James Seymour, of Whangara (fined £100), also sought relief.