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

Maoris Outpace Europeans

Maoris Outpace Europeans

According to the census taken in 1878, there were 1,541 European residents within the original boundaries of Cook County—Waiapu Riding, 109; Tolaga Bay, 187; Waimata, 101; Gisborne, 871; and Te Arai, 273.

1906: Cook County, 7,173; Waiapu County, 858; total, 8,031.
1926: Matakaoa, 539; Waiapu, 1,809; Uawa, 1,074; Waikohu, 2,604; Te Karaka T.D., 321; Cook County, 5,495; Patutahi T.D., 283; total, 12,125.
1945: Matakaoa, 303; Waiapu, 1,641; Uawa, 749; Waikohu, 1,912; Te Karaka T.D., 262; Cook County, 5,247; Patutahi T.D., 203; total, 10,317, plus 3 per cent, to represent residents out of the district on war service.

The Maori population within the area originally occupied by Cook County has more than doubled in less than 40 years, whereas the European population during the same period has increased not much above 25 percent, and was, in 1945, much below the 1926 figure. Maori census figures:

1906: Waiapu, 2,611; Cook County, approximately 1,500; total, 4,111.
1926: Matakaoa, 963; Waiapu, 3,292; Uawa, 592; Waikohu, 536; Cook, 940; total, 6,323.
1945: Matakaoa, 1,547; Waiapu, 4,341; Uawa, 754; Waikohu, 1,028: Cook, 1,468; total, 9,138, plus 3 per cent. as an allowance in respect of native residents absent on war activities.
On 28 March, 1886, the native population of Gisborne and Cook County (as originally constituted) was 3,739.
In 1906 the combined European and Maori populations in the area which originally formed Cook County was 12,141; in 1926, 18,448; and in 1945, 19,455, plus 3 per cent.

In August, 1885, the ratepayers of Waimata, Tolaga and Waiapu Ridings decided to petition the Government to form their areas into a separate county. They complained that, during the previous six years, £29,578 had been spent in the Gisborne, Te Arai and Waikohu Ridings and only £5,149 in their ridings. The rateable value of, and number of electors in, each of the ridings then was: Gisborne, £226,330, 182 electors, with an aggregate of 280 votes; Te Arai, £343,330, 111 electors, with 181 votes; Waikohu, £342,341, 35 electors, with 116 votes; Tolaga, £191,172, 37 electors, with 80 votes; Waimata, £211,060, 88 electors, with 105 votes; Waiapu, £232,132, 18 electors, with 48 votes. Totals, £1,546,365, 471 electors, with 810 votes. The council held that subdivision would be premature. When the petition was ready to be dispatched it became known that the Counties Act had just been amended to provide that a new county could be formed only under a special Act of Parliament.

As the council never had much money to expend on works not listed on its schedule, many early deputations had to return home empty-handed. In 1902 some coastal ratepayers were so sore when their request for road works was declined that they failed to smile when Captain Tucker rebuked them with the facetious remark: “What more should you require? You already have a road (he was alluding to the beach) which is washed twice a day by the Creator!” When Rua, the Maori” prophet,” applied in 1908 for better access to his settlement at Maungapohatu, he was told that he would have to provide £150 towards the cost. Wi Pere, who page 399 accompanied him, suggested that the council should deduct 2/- per day from the wages of each of the natives whom it employed on the work until Rua's share had accumulated. It was pointed out to him that the council would have to spend £1,000 before Rua's share could be raised in such a manner. As Wi Pere went off he roundly denounced all and sundry connected with the administration of the county.

The need for the adoption of roadmaking methods which would produce more durable results was stressed by Mr. Keane (the county overseer) in 1919. He pointed out that only a few of the roads had lasted even a third of the term of 36 years relating to the loans which had been raised to construct them. His estimate of the cost of improving the Gisborne-Morere, Gisborne-Kaiteratahi, Gisborne-Hangaroa, Gisborne-Mangapoike and Gisborne-Waimata roads was: Metalling only, £114,100; metalling and tar-sealing, £257,300; and, for concrete, £405,200. Early in 1920 the council sent him to the United States of America to study the latest methods of roadmaking and to inspect the newest types of plant.

A proposal to borrow £150,000 for road and bridge works was rejected in 1923 by 910 votes to 665. However, in 1924, the ratepayers agreed, by 1,016 votes to 181, that £153,000 should be raised. On the occasion of the first poll, ratepayers were allowed to vote in respect of each of their holdings, and some of them exercised as many as 10 votes. No ratepayer was permitted to cast more than three votes in the case of the second poll. With the aid of grants made by the Main Highways Board the county highways were soon greatly improved.


The capital value of the undivided county in 1877 was £343,385, in 1900 (after Waiapu and Matakaoa had seceded) it was £2,581,000, in 1939 (after Waikohu and Uawa had also hived off) £5,294,358, and in 1949 £6,895,361, (net).

Area of the county (1947), 791 square miles. Rateable properties, 3,033. Ratepayers, 2,085. Debt (1949), £171,660. Sinking funds, £17,593. Population (including Patutahi T.D.) in 1945, 6,918. Roads: Bituminous or cement concrete, 0.01 miles; bitumen or tar surfaced, 89.25 miles; metal or gravel, 291.85 miles; formed but not paved, 80.9 miles; bridle tracks, 28.5 miles, and unformed legal roads, 129 miles. Bridges: Concrete or stone, 10 (aggregating 985 feet); steel and concrete, 4 (710 feet); steel, concrete and timber, 8 (690 feet); hardwood, 50 (5,010 feet); native timbers, 8 (780 feet).

Administrators: Chairmen—J. Woodbine Johnson, 1877–79; A. Graham, 1879–81; J. W. Johnson, 1881–82; W. K. Chambers, 1882–84; G. L. Sunderland, 1884–86; John Clark, 1886–92; C. Gray, 1892–05; James Macfarlane, 1895–1902; W. H. Tucker, 1902–12; H. Kenway, 1912–14; T. Jex-Blake, 1914–17; F. J. Lysnar, 1917–18; G. M. Reynolds, 1918–19; C. Matthews, 1919–21; G. M. Reynolds, 1921–25; C. Matthews, 1925–38; W. G. Sherratt, 1938–43; E. H. Baker, 1943–49; R. Graham, 1949.

County Clerks: W. H. Tucker, 1877–80; J. Warren, 1880–1918; C. Perry, 1918–24; F. T. Robinson, assistant clerk, 1910–15, and county clerk, 1924–46; R. K. Gardiner, 1947. [Mr. Robinson (born at Castlemaine, Vic., in 1881) died on 14 September, 1949.]

Engineers: R. M. Skeet, 1877–78; G. J. Winter, 1878–1892; De G. Fraser, 1901–15; J. J. Keane, overseer, 1908–1921, and engineer, 1921–27; A. Guthrie, 1927–33; K. F. Jones, 1934–. Whilst Major Jones was on war service J. Gunn was acting-engineer.