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



District's Oldest Pastime

The “Father of Cricket” in Poverty Bay was Mr. (later the Hon.) G. R. Johnson, who had led the Cambridge XI and had played for Gentlemen of England. He and his brother laid down a pitch at “Wharekaia” in 1869. A Settlers' XI easily defeated a team from H.M.S. Basilisk on S. Parsons's pitch at Matawhero on 31 October, 1873. The Matawhero Cricket Club was formed by the Rev. W. H. Root in November, 1873, and the Poverty Bay Cricket Club at Gisborne in July, 1875. At Matawhero, on 1 January, 1877, Hawke's Bay met a Poverty Bay XI comprising: G. J. Winter (captain), Smith, J. White, Nash, J. W. Johnson, G. R. Johnson, C. W. Ferris, J. Braithwaite, H. Johnstone, S. Parsons and R. Thelwall. Hawke's Bay made 107 and 65 and Poverty Bay 70 and 5 for 36, when rain brought play to a close. Johnson, Williams, Ferris and Winter played for Hawke's Bay against Gregory's Australian XI at Napier in 1878.

Nobody did more to promote interest in cricket in Poverty Bay than W. L. Rees. Soon after his arrival in 1879 he laid down a pitch at his home at Te Hapara. “W.L.”—as he was known to his friends—was a cousin of “W.G.,” “G.F.” and “E.M.” Grace, the famous “Three Graces” of the cricket world. He played for Victoria in its first contest against New South Wales. Among the New South Wales players were two of his cousins—W. G. Rees (later to give his name to a river and to a valley in Central Otago) and G. Gilbert. “W.L.” was a member of the Auckland XXII which met Lillywhite's All England XI in 1877.

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The Poverty Bay Cricket Association was formed on 7 October, 1901, with J. W. Nolan as president and teams as under: Gisborne (Town and West End), United (Kaiti and Whataupoko) and County (Te Arai and Ormond). A good pitch was laid down on Victoria Domain. Previously, the best town pitch had been on the Recreation Ground (now the site of the Botanical Gardens). Taruheru, Wanderers, Waingake and Te Rau also entered the competitions in 1907.

Up to and including 1948, Poverty Bay and Hawke's Bay had met on 32 occasions under the auspices of the N.Z.C.A. Poverty Bay won 11 of the matches, lost 14 and 7 were drawn. Highest scorers for Poverty Bay:

1900: E. R. Ludbrook, 94. 1901: Ludbrook, 73 and 67. 1912: L. McMahon, 122 n.o. 1914: McMahon, 82 n.o. 1928: J. Jennings, 78 n.o.; L. Thomson, 73. 1930: C. R. Fraser, 112 n.o. 1936: Fraser, 73. 1940: M. A. O'Brien, 75 and 60. 1941: O'Brien, 172; Fraser, 78.

Bowling—1901: Hussey, 4 for 13. 1902: A. M. Beale, 3 for 34 and 6 for 11; Crawford, 7 for 43 and 4 for 29. 1912: McMahon, 4 for 20. 1913: McMahon, 5 for 53. 1914: F. Kahlenberg, 5 for 29 and 6 for 33. 1928: J. Schollum, 6 for 25. 1936: G. J. Robertson, 6 for 18 and 4 for 32. 1940: L. Thomson, 3 for 9. 1941: P. Stewart, 4 for 20. 1944: D. Jones, 3 for 14 and 3 for 24.

Matches in which Poverty Bay has competed for the Hawke Cup have resulted as under:

1914: v. Wanganui, lost by 201 runs. 1915: v. Wanganui, lost by 6 wickets. 1919: v. Wanganui, won by 3 wickets. 1920: v. Wanganui, won by 7 wickets; v. Wairarapa, won by an innings and 38 runs; v. Manawatu, won by 8 wickets. 1921: v. Wanganui, won by 2 wickets; v. Wairarapa, lost by 2 wickets. 1923: v. Wanganui, lost by 9 wickets. 1926: v. Wanganui, lost by 3 wickets. 1927: v. Taianaki, lost by 7 wickets. 1928: v. Wanganui, lost by 89 runs. 1930: v. Manawatu, lost by 156 runs. 1933: v. South Auckland, lost by 127 runs. 1934: v. Taranaki, lost on first innings. 1935: v. Manawatu, abandoned. 1936: v. Manawatu, lost by 7 wickets. 1948: v. Waikato (elimination round), lost by 4 wickets. 1949: v. Hutt Valley, lost by 93 runs.

Highest Poverty Bay scorers:

1915: A. C. Cooke, 79; M. Guthrie, 72; L. McMahon, 63; J. Moore, 52. 1919: D. Miller, 76 n.o. 1920: D. Miller, 62. 1921: W. T. Drake, 63; W. A. Blair, 60 n.o. 1926; J. Schollum, 55. 1028: G. J. Robertson, 68; J. Schollum, 62 and 54; H. F. Forster, 56. 1932: S. Ward, 74. 1934: W. N. Carson, 119; S. Reeves, 71. 1935: C. R. Fraser, 61. 1948: G. Rabone, 104 and 52.

Noteworthy Bowling Performances—1914: McMahon, 8 for 79; Cattanach, 5 for 20. 1920: W. J. Schollum, 5 for 32 and 6 for 23, and 5 for 41 and 3 for 37; D. McLachlan, 5 for 31 and 6 for 61. 1921: W. J. Schollum, 8 for 39; McMahon, 6 for 61. 1923: F. Kahlenberg, 6 for 69. 1926: H. Ellis, 6 for 57. 1927: F. Bennett, 6 for 50. 1928: Bennett, 6 for 37.

Visits to Gisborne by overseas teams:

1914: Sims's Australian XI, 461; Poverty Bay, 155 (McMahon 87 n.o.) and 43 for 5 wickets. McMahon was selected for New Zealand for the second test match.

1925: Mayne's Victorian XI, 505 for 6 wickets; Poverty Bay-Waiapu, 187 (A. C. Cooke 56 and H. F. Forster 30).

1928: Richardson's Australian XI, 120 for 1 wicket; Poverty Bay, 91.

1936: Holmes's M.C.C. XI, 206 for 5 (declared) and 158 for 9 (declared); Poverty Bay, 105 and 67.

1948: Fiji, 271 for 8 (declared) and 70 for 4 wickets; Poverty Bay, 259 (G. O. Rabone, who went to England with the New Zealand team in 1949, 107) and 74 for 4 (declared). In the last 18 minutes the visitors made 49 runs, but had required to make 52 to win.

In 1921, W. T. Drake, W. Blair and W. J. Schollum played for Minor Associations against Ransford's Australian XI; in 1923, W. Blair, L. McMahon, H. F. Forster and H. Ellis (the only Australian “rep.” player to take part in match play in Poverty Bay) were members of the East Coast side which met M.C.C., led by A. C. MacLaren, at Napier; and, in 1924, S. Reeves and W. Oates were in the East Coast team which played against New South Wales (Macartney, captain) at Napier.

Cricket on East Coast

The development of cricket on the East Coast was due to strenuous efforts on the part of scattered bands of enthusiasts. Nowhere else in page 448 the Dominion could playing fields have proved more difficult to construct. At Tokomaru Bay, W. Oates, senior, was a prominent figure in the movement for 25 years. He received a lot of help from his sons. E. R. Ludbrook also was a tower of strength, and A. B. Williams was unstinting in his support. Other keen workers included the Rev. P. Tamahori, R. J. Stevens and F. Atkins. At Waipiro Bay, A. M. Beale was most prominent at the outset. C. E. Nurse, who represented Waiapu even after he had attained the age of 60 years, then became the mainstay. H. W. and H. M. Akers were the stalwarts at Ruatoria. At Te Araroa, Sam Mill was the leading spirit. Nobody did more for the game at Tolaga Bay than the members of the Reeves family.

Waiapu challenged only once for the Hawke Cup (1930–31), but was overwhelmed by South Auckland. Up till the close of the 1938–39 season 27 matches had been played between Poverty Bay and Waiapu, with 17 wins for Poverty Bay, 3 for Waiapu, 5 games abandoned, and 2 drawn. The series was marked by two crushing defeats for Waiapu. In 1933–34, Poverty Bay made 554 in its only innings, and Waiapu compiled 129 and 122, and, in 1934–35, Poverty Bay reached 583 in its only innings, as against totals of 139 and 126 by Waiapu. Scores of over a century during the series:

For Waiapu: 1924–25, J Oates 149; 1930–31, F. Bennett 127.

For Poverty Bay: 1929–30, S. Reeves 147; 1932–33, G. N. Lockett 121 and C. Fraser 110; 1933–34, S. Reeves 137 and E. Dow 118; 1934–35, P. Dow 101, M. K. Boon 128; 1935–36, M. K. Boon 121; 1937–38, E. James 111.

Bowling for Poverty Bay: Schwabe, 6 for 3 in 1924–25; W. J. Schollum, 9 for 17 in 1928–29 and 9 for 29 in 1929–30; Newton, 7 for 31 in 1934–35; and D. Wells, 8 for 12 in 1938–39.


The Poverty Bay team which met Hawke's Bay in 1895 included W. L. Rees and two of his sons, Arthur and Teddy. Arthur Rees met with remarkable success as a bowler for Auckland in 1889. In successive innings he took 6 wickets for 27 and 8 for 36 against Otago, 7 for 35 and 4 for 63 against Canterbury, and 7 for 56 against Wellington. He was a slow left-arm bowler with a leg break. His removal to Gisborne was a great loss to Auckland.

Several members of other families have been promincnt in district cricket. For Poverty Bay there were the brothers W. and J. Gibson and W. J. Schollum and his two nephews, J. W. and B. Schollum. On the East Coast five sons of William Oates, senior—Willie, Joe, George, Norman and Hedley—were all good cricketers. George, Sam and Jimmy Mill and Colin, Peter and E. H. Dow also represented Waiapu. James, Ernest and Wellwood Reeves were regular players at Tolaga Bay, and, in later years, three sons of James Reeves—Stan, Gordon and Hedley—also attained “rep.” rank.

Up till December, 1902, E. R. Ludbrook, in 10 “rep.” matches, had gained a batting average of 44.6, and surprise was expressed in Poverty Bay cricket circles that he had never been included in a New Zealand XI.

The highest first-wicket partnership in Poverty Bay stands to the credit of J. Moore (90) and H. Ellis (132), who, with extras 5, produced 227 runs in 1913 for Wanderers v. United.

Enterprise on the part of the Poverty Bay Cricket Association provided Gisborne with the “Oval,” its finest sports ground. In 1915 its executive (H. E. Maude, chairman), with the aid of a bank overdraft guaranteed by lovers of the game, acquired a block of 22 acres from Captain Tucker for £4,454. Nine acres were cut up, roaded and sold for residential sites. By 1923 over £3,000 had been expended on improvements, but the ground still lacked a pavilion. The undertaking proved too great a burden for the association. In 1926 it sold a one-half share to the Poverty Bay Ruboy Union for £3,500, and, in 1938, it handed over its equity in the property to the Rugby authorities in return for the perpetual right to use the ground, at an annual peppercorn rental, for cricket between 1 October and 31 March each year.


Len McMahon (born in North Sydney on 9 October, 1889) gained a place in North Sydney's first-grade team in 1905–06, and became captain of the New South Wales juniors. He played for Auckland in 1909. In December, 1910, he and Athol Young, playing for Wanderers v. Taruheru, knocked up 518 runs for the second wicket, their partnership occupying two Saturday afternoons. Young made 275 (out) and McMahon 226 (not out), extras being 17. The partnership was dissolved by the veteran Stichbury with an “under-armer.” In 1912 McMahon had the remarkable average of 349, his scores being: 30 (not out), 2, 85 (not out), 108 (not out), 131 (not out), 135 (not out), 161 (not out) and 46.

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Gisborne, 1949. View looking across Whataupoko and the business area to roadstead.

Gisborne, 1949. View looking across Whataupoko and the business area to roadstead.

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Kaiti Basin, Gisborne's new inner harbour.

Kaiti Basin, Gisborne's new inner harbour.

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Major William Nicol Carson, M.C. (born at Gisborne on 16 July, 1916) served with distinction in Greece, Crete, the Western Desert and Italy. On 29 July, 1944, he was gravely injured at Ronio, south of Florence. Jaundice supervened, and he died at Bari on 8 October, 1944. When he was only 16 years old he was regarded by Mr. Hugh Duncan, of Auckland, as Poverty Bay's star player. In Auckland, in 1934, he made several centuries for Eden Cricket Club, his highest score being 259 against Ponsonby. When Auckland played Otago at Dunedin for the Plunket Shield in December, 1936, two valuable wickets had been lost by the northerners for only 11 runs. Carson then became associated with P. E. Whitelaw in a partnership which produced 445 in 268 minutes—a Shield record. His contribution was 290. During the 1936–37 season he made 500 runs in Shield contests, including 194 in his first innings against Wellington. He went Home with the Dominion team in 1937. In the match Auckland v. Otago in 1938 he compiled 108 (not out), and, in 1939, playing against Wellington, he was associated with A. M. Matheson in an eighth-wicket partnership Shield record of 189, of which his share was 136. Carson played 40 innings for New Zealand, gaining a batting average of 21.00, and he took 17 wickets at a cost of 21.29 runs apiece.