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

Rapid Growth of Business

Rapid Growth of Business

In the earliest days of European settlement in the East Coast districts an improvised wick, steeped in a dish of whale oil, was the only available form of illuminant. Some of the traders began to import candles from Sydney in the 1850's. During the next decade kerosene lamps were introduced. A dozen street kerosene lamps were erected by the Highways Board before it was disbanded in 1877.

The Gisborne Gas Company Ltd. was formed in 1883 with a capital of £10,000. Premises in the inner area first gained the advantage of a supply of gas on 12 August, 1884. During the following October the 417 page 418 Borough Council bought a few street gas lamps from the company on the instalment plan. In 1909, when production had reached 30 million cubic feet per annum, additional retorts were installed, and the holder capacity was more than doubled. A battery of eight modern retorts was installed in 1931. The sales totalled 112 million cubic feet in 1948–9.

Electric light, heat and power were made available to the residents of Gisborne by the municipal authority on 20 March, 1912. At the outset the power station was equipped with two 100 h.p. diesel engines and a steam plant. In 1913 a third diesel unit was installed, and another was added in 1914. It had been estimated that £16,142 would prove an adequate outlay, but, by 31 March, 1921, over £45,000 had been expended out of loans. A further loan of £20,000 had just been raised when the Power Board took over the concern in 1926. Between 1912 and 1926 the receipts aggregated £218,839.

Petitions in favour of the setting up of a Power Board were signed in 1923 by 597 of the 2,313 ratepayers of Gisborne Borough, 426 of the 1,470 ratepayers of Cook County, and by a majority of the ratepayers of Patutahi Town District. Waikohu County, Te Karaka Town District and Mangapapa successfully petitioned to be admitted. Members of the first board (elected on 18 June, 1924) were: Borough representatives—F. R. Ball, I. Mirfield, G. T. Wildish and T. Todd; Cook County—F. S. Bowen, T. Corson, C. H. Williams and A. C. Steele; Waikohu County—C. H. Bridge, B. J. Holdsworth and O. V. Russell. Mr. Ball was elected first chairman and still (1949) holds that important position—a record for length of service in connection with the leadership of a local body in Poverty Bay.

By 1,203 votes to 244 the ratepayers, on 24 March, 1926, approved the raising of a loan of £280,000 to finance the purchase of, and the augmentation of, the borough plant and to carry out reticulation work to enable light and power to be supplied to the rural areas. When the change-over took place the number of consumers (all within the borough) was 2,713, and the consumption was 1,200,000 units per annum. The revenue for 1925–6 had been £25,392 and the expenditure £21,117. Two more diesel engines were obtained to strengthen what has proved a valuable stand-by plant. On 23 September, 1927, the “juice” was switched on to Cook County and Waikohu County. On 10 April, 1931 (whilst the world-wide slump was at its height) the ratepayers, by 1,116 votes to 286, approved the raising of a supplementary loan of £78,000 for extensions.

As at 31 March, 1948, the population within the board's district was 35,800 and there were 7,480 consumers (6,016 domestic and 1,464 commercial). Loans authorised totalled £623,474, and the loans raised aggregated £538,474. The capital account then stood at £463,778, with a loan liability of £292,942. Route lines totalled 477 miles. Units purchased and generated during the previous 12 months aggregated 26,349,300, of which 23,486,122 were retailed. The demand would have been greater if the Government had not instituted heavy supply “cuts” during the period. Revenue for the year totalled £114,054 and the expenditure (working costs £79,444 and capital charges £32,745) £112,189. There were then in use 2,803 ranges, 2,770 water heaters, and 339 milking-machine motors.

Chairman: F. R. Ball, 1924–. Secretaries: M. J. White, 1926–29; V. E. Sanders (manager and secretary), 1929–36; R. P. Baigent (managing-secretary), 1936–. Engineers: W. H. Buswell, 1926–33; G. T. Cuthbert, 1933–36; F. Matthewson, 1936–.