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

Pioneer Factories Have Uphill Struggle

Pioneer Factories Have Uphill Struggle

During the late 1860's the residents of Turanganui (Gisborne) were supplied with milk and butter by Peter McFarlane, who then resided in the township, but who, later, moved to Matawhero. A cheese-house was built on Waikanae in 1873 by Captain Read; it had only a brief career. page 328 Subsequently, J. W. Johnson installed a herd of dairy cows on Maraetaha and supplied the settlers on the Flats with cheese. With T. Caldwell as manager, the Cook County Cheese, Butter and Bacon Company opened a cheese factory in January, 1885, on a property at Matawhero opposite the present (1949) saleyards. Twelve months afterwards the Ormond Cheese, Butter and Bacon Company entered the field. Both companies offered their suppliers only 3½d. per gallon for milk.

In 1892 Townley and Scales took over the Matawhero factory, and appointed William Picken, of Southland, manager. Shortly afterwards Barron Bros, built a small cheese factory at Bushmere. A factory at Waerenga-a-Hika, with J. Candy as manager, followed. Peter Bourke took over the Bushmere factory in 1893, and started the first butter factory in Poverty Bay. The Matawhero factory was burned down in 1898. During that year John Score built a factory at Matawhero, near the Waipaoa River, just beyond the Royal Oak Hotel. He had been guaranteed an adequate supply of butterfat at 6¼d. per lb. for three years. Mr. Picken was his manager. In June, 1901, Mr. Score found that some of his suppliers intended to support T. McGregor (of Taranaki), who was building a factory, which he named Kia Ora, about a mile beyond Makaraka on the road to Ormond, and who had offered them 8½d. per lb. Mr. Score did not reopen his factory. Hair Brothers built a creamery at Lavenham in conjunction with the new factory.

On 13 October, 1902, the Matawhero factory was reopened by a group of producers in the Matawhero-Makaraka area, who had formed the Poverty Bay Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd. Mr. Picken was appointed manager. For this concern 19 November, 1902, was a red-letter day. Over a dozen suppliers turned up with their drays to convey the first consignment to the wharf. At the head of the procession was Andrew Tuohy, who kept on waving his hat and shouting: “This is real co-operation, boys!” Unfortunately for him, his horse, which was not accustomed to walking on planks, backed over the edge of the wharf into the river and was drowned.