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

Clubs, Societies and Associations

Clubs, Societies and Associations

Automobile Association, Auckland (Gisborne Branch): In 1926 the Poverty Bay Motor Association (formed on 17/2/1917) linked up with the A.A.A. Local chairman: F. Tolerton, 1926–.

Gisborne Beautifying Society (formed in 1897, with C. A. de Lautour as president and G. E. Darton, secretary, and resuscitated on several occasions): Much valuable work was carried out at different periods. The largest undertaking was the transformation of the riverbank between the Gladstone Road and Peel Street bridges. A feature of the society's activities in the 1930's was the extensive planting of native trees (including pohutakawas) and pines on Waikanae Beach, Waiuni Beach and Lysnar Park.

Gisborne Burns Society (2 December, 1938): President, Dr. R. M. Gunn. The anniversary of the birth of the “Bard of Ayr” was first celebrated in Gisborne by members of the Poverty Bay Caledonian Club, which was formed in 1878, G. Matthewson being president. A Caledonian Society (established in 1892) then sponsored the festival. For a number of years the celebrations were in the hands of a Burns Club, of which Dr. C. F. Scott was president and T. A. Hogg secretary. A Scottish Society was formed on 16 June, 1911, with Dr. W. P. Porter as president. It built the Scottish Hall (later known as the City Hall), but disbanded in 1917.

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce (4 February, 1885, and resuscitated in 1894 and again in 1908): In his annual report for 1885 A. Parnell (the first president) mentioned that inquiries had been made as to what protection the Government intended to afford Gisborne in the event of war with Russia, and that a reply had been received that cruisers would be available to protect the seaboard. He also stated that a few consignments of frozen meat had been sent to London, but that the high coastal rate of 3/- per head and the low prices ruling at Home had precluded any profit. A Junior Chamber of Commerce, with W. C. Kohn as first president, was established in July, 1945.

Gisborne Co-Operative Building Society (2 February, 1899): By December, 1947, twelve issues had been floated and five had terminated. Nearly £600,000 had been granted to members by way of loans. Chairmen: L. T. Symes, W. Morgan, C. H. Ambridge and H. Miller. Secretaries: A. G. Beere (1899–1939), M. W. Craig (1939–).

Gisborne Law Society (18 January, 1907): J. W. Nolan was the first president and R. U. Burke the first hon. secretary.

Gisborne Permanent Land, Building and Mutual Investment Society (12 May, 1874): Initial directors: J. Buchanan, J. Meldrum, T. W. Porter, A. Y. Ross, M. G. Nasmith and J. R. Morgan. It was not uncommon for small borrowers in the 1870's to be required to pay interest up to 17½ per cent; hence the movement to form the society, which is now one of the oldest institutions in the district, and has F. R. Ball for its secretary.

Gisborne Savage Club (19 May, 1913): The first korero was held on 19 June, 1913. When the membership reached 400 it had to be pegged. On account of the lack of a suitable hall the club went into recess from 1941 till 1948. Mrs. Ada Emily Beer, J.P. (one of its members), page 424 is, probably, the only lady member of a Savage Club in New Zealand. Her many good deeds as a social welfare worker gained for her the M.B.E. award in 1948.

Rangatiras: W. F. Cederwall, 1913; A. H. Wallis, 1914–17; G. Stock, 1918; F. W. Nolan, 1919; H. Kenway, 1920; W. F. Cederwall, 1921; J. A. Nicol, 1922; F. W. Nolan, 1923; H. E. Bright, 1924; Canon H. Packe, 1925; F. Tolerton, 1926; L. Miles, 1927; H. F. Forster, 1928; M. L. Foster, 1929; A. Zachariah, 1930; W. H. Irvine, 1931; C. V. Harre, 1932; J. S. Wauchop, 1933; C. L. Margoliouth, 1934 J. Chrisp, 1935; W. J. Sinclair, 1936; R. L. Maclean, 1937; L. C. Parker, 1938; Dr. W. A. Bowie, 1939; W. C. Kohn, 1940; W. M. Jenkins, 1941–48; A. Williamson, 1949–. Secretaries: H. H. Feilding, 1913–18; R. R. Baldrey, 1919–20; C. Adair, 1921–29; T. Adams, 1930–.

Gisborne 30,000 Club (4 May, 1936): James Chrisp (the sponsor) was chairman until his death on 3 July, 1946, when P. W. Bushnell was elected to the position. B. S. Bree was appointed organiser and secretary in 1943. A. J. Cox (one of its members) made a gift of a £500 paid-up insurance policy to the club, acquired several strips (in all 5 acres 24 poles) along the banks of Waikanae Creek and presented them to the town to form an Alfred Cox Park, and raised sufficient money to enable the first section (two miles) of a marine drive along Waikanae Beach to be formed. The club plans to establish a holiday camp, on the latest English lines, on Churchill Park (about three acres adjacent to Waikanae Beach), which it presented to the town.

Gisborne R.S.A. (1916): When the first Anzac Dinner was held in Gisborne (25/4/1917) there were 187 members. Captain W. T. Pitt (the first president) was president of the N.Z.R.S.A. in 1917. The branch became moribund in 1921, but was resuscitated on 23 June, 1926, and sub-associations were formed at Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay, Ruatoria, Te Karaka, Tikitiki, Waikohu, Matawai-Motu and Te Araroa. In April, 1938, 52 Poverty Bay and East Coast “Diggers” were members of a New Zealand contingent which participated in the Anzac Day service in Sydney. As at 31 March, 1948, the association had 3,019 members.

During the economic depression in the late 1920's and early 1930's the association greatly helped unemployed members by assisting to provide funds to enable the McRae Bath and Darton Field to be constructed and improvements to be made to the riverbank in the vicinity of the War Memorial and to the Kaiti Beach Road. To mark its appreciation of the steadfast manner in which the public had co-operated with it through the years, the association presented to the district, for a park, portion of Kaiti Hill, which, on behalf of its members, Lieutenant-Colonel R. F. Gambrill had obtained, piecemeal, in the form of gifts or by purchase. This property (68 acres) includes the site of the famous Titirangi pa.

The association acquired an acre at the south-west corner of Childers Road and Bright Street, Gisborne, as a site for a block of buildings (including a Memorial Hall and club premises) as a memorial to the district servicemen who gave their lives during the Second World War. In 1945 it was proposed that this memorial should be the district's memorial, and the Gisborne Borough Council and the counties of Cook, Waiapu, Uawa, Waikohu and Matakaoa signified their approval. A preliminary campaign for donations yielded over £10,000, together with a promise from a private trust to donate £4,000 when the project was ready to take material shape.

Presidents: Captain W. T. Pitt (1916), Sergeant-Major W. R. Williams (1917), Captain Turnbull, D.S.O. (1918), F. H. Bedford (1919), Lieutenant-Colonel Moir (1920–21), Lieutenant-Colonel R. F. Gambrill (1926–47), Lieutenant-Colonel J. Leggat (1947–48), G. C. Jones (1948–). Secretaries: M. G. Oman, J. B. Erskine, C. E. Lees, A. H. Lange, W. Oakden (1929–39), and A. H. Miller (1939–). Life membership was conferred on W. Oakden in 1947, and R.S.A. Gold Star badges were awarded to G. C. Jones (1947) and J. H. Taplin, D.C.M. (president of the Rautoria sub-association, 1928–47) in 1948.

A Gisborne branch of the Second N.Z.E.F. Association (Incorp.) was page 425 formed in March, 1949, with I. McCallum as president, E. Dominey secretary, and J. G. Mackay treasurer.

Farmers' Union, Poverty Bay Branch (19 October, 1901). J. Macfarlane was the first president, and W. Lissant Clayton organising secretary. In April, 1946, the members linked up with Federated Farmers of New Zealand. The retiring president (J. E. Benson) had held office for 15 years, and C. Blackburn had been secretary since 1928.

Federated Farmers of New Zealand, Gisborne Provincial District (22 June, 1945); Branches, with membership in May, 1949, were formed at Gisborne (477), Matawai (85), Te Karaka (129), Tolaga Bay (82), and Ruatoria (169). Presidency: C. H. Williams (1945–48), S. McGuinness (1948–). Secretary, A. J. Stock.

Heritage, Gisborne Branch (May, 1945). F. S. Varnham was appointed chairman of a large committee interested in promoting the welfare of children of servicemen who lost their lives during the Second World War.

Old Folks' Association (17 March, 1943): In 1948, when the membership stood at about 400, a valuable site in Bright Street was acquired for club premises. Presidents: G. Smith, J. McLeod, C. E. Greig, J. Pirie, J. S. Moss and F. Fox

Poverty Bay Acclimatisation Society (20 May, 1881): G. L. Sunderland was the first president. Several residents had, earlier, introduced various kinds of English birds, including linnets, sparrows and starlings. Trout fry were first liberated in Poverty Bay in 1882. Some ova were placed in the Coast streams in 1885. Six pairs of opossums were freed in the Mangatu district in 1890. Hares were procured in 1892. Some fallow deer, liberated on Lorne station in 1891, bred in 1894. Quail were freed in 1902. Settlers at Motu established a trout hatchery in 1909, and restricted licences to fish in the Motu River were issued in 1913. In later years the breeding of pheasants, as well as the hatching of trout, was encouraged. A start was made to stock the Hangaroa and Tahora streams in 1916 and the Wharekopae stream in 1927. The East Coast Acclimatisation Society was formed on 23 July, 1902, “on account of the failure of the Poverty Bay Society to supply that district with deer, opossums and trout ova.” In 1948, the Government removed all restrictions upon the slaying of opossums, which had become a pest.

Poverty Bay A. and P. Association (31 August, 1875): J. B. Poynter was the first president. The first show was held at Makaraka on 29 October, 1875—entries, 133; receipts, £80; expenses, £81 4s. Makaraka was also the locale for the next two years, and then: Waerenga-a-Hika, 1878–80; Patutahi, 1881–3; and W. L. Rees's grounds at Te Hapara in 1884–5. The association went into recess until 1891. Further shows were then held at Makaraka till 1900, when a move was made to the Park at Te Hapara, which became the showground for 30 years.

In September, 1913, the association acquired a block of 38 acres adjacent to the Park from the Riparata Estate, and, in 1925, through H. G. Tucker, it obtained an adjoining block of 34 acres (which the Tucker Estate had sold at £120 per acre, but which had fallen back upon its hands) for £2,225 on terms enabling the payment of the principal to stand over for 20 years. Mr. Tucker paid the cost of levelling, building, the terrace, the timber for 2,000 seats, the cattle-ramp, and of many of the shrubs and trees. In addition, he placed £2,500 in a trust account to be drawn on at the rate of 10/- for every £ collected for building improvements. The new ground was ready to accommodate the whole show in 1930.

The membership stood at 796 in 1935; by 1946 it had reached 1,303. Only £44 was taken at the gates in 1884; the figure in 1946 was £1,261. page 426 Entries have grown as follows: 1875, 133; 1900, 586; 1924, 1,747; and 1946, 4,251. Details of the 1946 entries are: Horses (including competitions), 1,339; cattle, 218; sheep, 455; pigs, 89; poultry, 278; dogs, 376; produce and home industries, 1,017; competitions, etc., 350; fleeces, 129.

Presidents: J. B. Poynter, 1875–79; G. L. Sunderland, 1879–84; A. Graham, 1884–86; G. L. Sunderland, 1891–92; P. Donner, 1892–94; J. Macfarlane, 1894–98; C. Gray, 1898–1900; J. Macfarlane, 1900–02; T. Holden, 1902–09; F. B. Barker, 1909–12; G. Witters, 1912–15; W. G. Sherratt, 1915–18; J. R. Murphy, 1918–19; E. M. Hutchinson, 1919–20; C. A. Fenwick, 1920–22; G. M. Reynolds, 1922–23; G. V. Smith, 1923–24; F. Sherriff, 1924–25; R. W. Coop, 1925–30; J. Eivers, 1930–32; H. G. Smith, 1932–36; J. C. Graham, 1936–39; R. Graham, 1939–41; L. Field, 1941–44; H. W. Barker, 1944–46; A. C. Langford, 1946–48; P. F. Barker, 1948–. No shows were held between 1886 and 1891, and none in 1942. Secretary: A. R. Trafford, 1943–.


Henry George Tucker (born at Okitu in 1868) was the eldest son of Captain W. H. Tucker. He was educated at Kaiti native school under his father, and then at Gisborne Central School. Taking up farming, he became manager of his father's estate at Makauri. He was a member of the East Coast Hussars and also took a keen interest in hunting nd polo. His death occurred on 24 July, 1945.

Thomas Holden (born in Lancashire in 1851) was brought out to New Zealand by his parents in 1859. His father (Jonathan Holden) took up Springvale (Hawke's Bay). In 1890, Thomas Holden bought Rimuroa (near Gisborne), which was in heavy bush. He served on Pouawa Road Board, Cook County Council (18 years), Cook Hospital Board, Gisborne Harbour Board, and East Coast Rabbit Board. He died on 14 November, 1941.

Poverty Bay Sheepdog Trials Club: The first trials in Poverty Bay were promoted by E. M. Hutchinson at Waihuka in 1894. On 1 August, 1895, the club held its inaugural trials at Ormond. Fifteen clubs were affiliated in 1948.

Poverty Bay Winter Show Association (1922–38): Keen rivalry between Makaraka-Matawhero and Waerenga-a-Hika in the district courts section was a feature of the earlier shows. In 1927 a Poverty Bay court gained first award at the Auckland Winter Show, and the success was repeated in 1928. G. E. Darton arranged the exhibits. In 1949 the plant was presented to the Kaiti Residents' Progressive Association. Presidents: H. J. Lougher, 1922–27; J. Greig, 1927–28; J. B. Greig, 1928–29; F. Murphy, 1929–30; G. W. Armstrong, 1930–36; T. G. Johns, 1936–38.

Red Cross Society, Gisborne Branch (30 January, 1939): Dr. A. L. Singer was elected first president. A special feature of the branch's activities during the Second World War and subsequently, was the splendid work carried out by the ladies' transport section under Miss D. Bagnall as commandant. During the five-year period up to 31 March, 1947, its members made 5,832 trips, aggregating 50,939 miles, to assist 9,352 service personnel from trains to their homes or from their homes to and from hospital.

Rotary Club of Gisborne (26 April, 1926): Past presidents: A. L. Muir, F. W. Nolan, W. H. Irvine, L. Miles, H. Kenway, F. R. Ball, L. G. Barton, J. A. Mackay, R. F. Gambrill, C. A. Smith, V. E. Sanders, H. F. Forster, J. O. Musgrave, I. J. Quigley, J. Hutton, J. Williams, F. T. Robinson, H. D. Chrisp, W. M. Jenkins, P. C. Dwyer, H. Gilmer, H. F. Wise, W. Keith. During 1947–48 R. F. Gambrill held the position of Rotary Governor for the 39th District (which embraces the bulk of the North Island).

St. John Ambulance Association, Gisborne Branch. First aid classes were inaugurated in Gisborne in July, 1895. Dr. J. Craig instructed the East Coast Mounted Rifles in ambulance work in September, page 427 1901. Classes for women were held by Dr. Welby Fisher in May, 1902. A Field Ambulance Corps was formed by Surgeon-Captain Schumacher in March, 1909. First aid classes proved very popular during both Great Wars. Divisions formed in Gisborne: Gisborne Ambulance Division (11/9/1926), Gisborne Nursing Division (6/6/1928), Gisborne Cadet Nursing Division (1/12/1931), Gisborne Cadet Ambulance Division (1/12/1931), Turanganui Ambulance Division (20/9/1935), and Turanganui Cadet Ambulance Division (1947). C. E. Bickford became superintendent in 1938, and, two years later, District Officer. He and Mrs. Berridge and Miss H. Humphreys (of the Gisborne Nursing Division) hold the Long Service Medal of St. John. The first cadets to gain the Grand Prior's Badge were Donald Neal, Dean Cockburn and Roy Muir. Winners of the Wendy Bickford Memorial Cup (for most proficient cadet in Gisborne Nursing Cadet Division): Kathleen McQuillan, Lorraine Tucker, Gertrude Atkinson, Ann Clark, Jocelyn Hailey. A campaign in 1949 for funds to build an ambulance station in Gisborne netted over £4,000. Miss Suzanne Field (the “County” candidate) won the Popular Girl contest.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (13 April, 1907): First president, Colonel T. W. Porter.

Tai-Rawhiti Maori Association, “Te Ropu o te Tai-Rawhiti” (10 July, 1931): Patron, Sir A. T. Ngata; president, Judge H. Carr; secretary, R. W. Halbert. The proceedings for 1931–32 were published in a booklet entitled Echoes of the Pa.

Turanganui Public Library (12 April, 1869): This is the oldest public institution in Poverty Bay. Its founders were: C. Evans (chairman), A. F. Hardy, J. W. Harris, G. Scott, A. Kempthorne, T. Oliver and G. G. Mill (secretary). It was then known as the Turanga Library, the books were kept in a room in the old courthouse, and it was open only on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. till 8 p.m. In 1872 a move was made to a back room in the Music Hall. A branch was formed at Ormond in 1870, and another at Makauri in 1873. The Auckland Provincial Council set aside a section in Lowe Street for the joint benefit of the library and the Highways Board in 1873. In June, 1874, the library was styled “The Gisborne Public Library (Incorp.).” When it was located in Townley's Buildings in the late 1870's chess, draughts and backgammon boards were installed. On 7 February, 1880, its property was vested in the mayor (T. W. Porter), A. Graham, J. Townley, J. T. Large and E. Woon. For some years the library was located in Lowe Street, then in Bushnell's Buildings, and, in more recent years, in the Albion Buildings. It received its present name on 12 July, 1882.

Y.M.C.A., Gisborne and East Coast Branch: The first branch was formed in April, 1880. It was resuscitated in March, 1903, with C. Rosie as president, to stress the religious side of the movement. In 1908 steps were taken to include social and sports activities. Charles R. Webster (of Melbourne) was appointed secretary in 1909, rooms were rented and equipped with a billiard table, pingpong table, chess and draughts boards, and reading and writing rooms were provided. Within a year a drive yielded 390 members, and teams were entered in various sports competitions. A Ladies' Auxiliary, with Mrs. W. D. Lysnar as president and Miss F. Quigley as secretary, was formed in April, 1911. Mr. Webster resigned in September, 1910. On account of the branch getting into financial difficulties, his successor (S. Morris) resigned in February, 1911. P. W. Bushnell then took over the post. The branch was closed in February, 1912. It was re-formed in February, 1918, with H. Kenway as chairman. In 1927 the Y.M.C.A. building was erected. F. T. Robinson and H. J. Poole became the first life members in 1946.

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Waikanae Beach Improvement Society (28 May, 1918): Waikanae Beach—which, to avoid confusion with the beach of like name on the mainland opposite Kapiti Island, might well be renamed “Gisborne Beach”—is famed for its wide sweep and gentle shelving. The only dressing sheds on it in the early days were the depressions among the sand dunes. In 1878 complaints arising from neglect on the part of some bathers to wear costumes led to a ban being placed upon bathing between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. A small bathing shed for women was erected in 1888. Two sheds were built by the borough authorities in 1906 at a total cost of £52, and, in 1912, Kaiti Beach was similarly equipped.

The society owed its origin to an offer by the Borough Council in 1918 to grant a subsidy of £150 towards the cost of new bathing sheds if the public subscribed a like amount. In the ranks of the earliest workers were: C. W. Cameron, R. Stone Florance, T. J. Adair, W. J. Robinson, R. Morse, D. S. Jamison, J. Mouat, T. Todd, C. Bruce, C. G. Bloore, H. F. Forster and Mesdames Keaney and Sceats. Extensions to the new bathing sheds soon became necessary. Under Mr. Adair a team collected gifts of cement and other materials, as well as money, to provide the promenade and the paddling pool. A striking feature of the improvements is the model camp, which attracts a large number of visitors each summer. In 1949 the society's accumulated funds amounted to £7,000. As a Centennial memorial a more commodious bathing pavilion is to be erected. J. A. Nicol (as chairman for 25 years) and A. S. Jamison (as hon. secretary for 21 years) have built up fine records of service.


Waikanae Beach could not have been so named by the natives; they used the designation “Te Oneroa.” The Waikanae block lies on the north side of Waikanae Creek. Wai-o-Hiharore block abuts on the beach.

The Gisborne branch of the Navy League (formed 26 August, 1909) was the largest outside the cities in 1910. Gisborne Central School provided 328 members. On Empire Day in 1913 a huge bonfire was made on Kaiti Hill as one of a chain encircling the Empire.

A Gisborne branch of the Overseas Club (formed on 5 April, 1911) raised sufficient moneys in 1917 to enable two aeroplanes to be presented to the Royal Air Force.

The Poverty Bay branch of the New Zealand Philosophical Institute (formed on 11 June, 1918, with Archdeacon H. W. Williams as president) was disbanded on 19 January, 1924. Its aims included the establishment of a museum and a reference library. If a suitable building could have been obtained G. J. Black would have handed over his extensive collection of curios, and W. D. Lysnar and W. E. Goffe would have made substantial contributions from their collections. The branch's efforts proved fruitless.