Thursday, 25 May 2017

Industry in Rotorua : the early years

Industry providing jobs in Rotorua c.1880's-1930's 

Rotorua has long been the stronghold for saw milling.  One of the 1st mills was the Rotoiti Sawmill Co. which was established at the lake edge, the other belonged to the Steele Brothers leased in 1888 in the Maraeroa-Oturoa block and not long after this they set up a new timber yard which was sited on the corner of Eruera and Tutanekai Streets and took up the entire block back to Amohia Street. 

Don Stafford records in his 'Founding years of Rotorua',  that "Railway construction, probably more than anything else, gave impetus to the development of a timber industry for Rotorua" 

Joan Boyd records for us the history of Afforestation in NZ and principally here in Rotorua in her book 'Rotorua forests : a history' c.1980.  
By the late 1890's a nursery was set up in Rotorua at the foot of the hills adjacent to the Whakarewarewa thermal area 1. , following this afforestation began in 1901 at Waiotapu, the planting of the trees was undertaken by good-conduct prisoners at the Waiotapu Prison Camp. 2.  This planting continued apace and by "1926 some 47,000 acres had been planted on the Kaingaroa-Waiotapu blocks." 

Joan's book gives a great insight into why Rotorua still has a forestry industry today. 

Another not so well-known industry in Rotorua c.1889-1900 was Sulphur Mining which was started by a Mr J.H. Taylor c.1889 when he purchased two pieces of land which encompassed the area "known locally as 'Sodom and Gomorrah' as sulphur deposits there were substantial" p.318 by 1893 Mr Taylor had sold his sulphur business to a Mr Wilson, By then other sulphur deposits were being worked by Maori... in Tikitere and Taheke" p.319. Don Stafford records that during this time "shipments of 100 tons to Auckland were not uncommon. Francis Moss Boord was one of the 1st and probably largest dealers."
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19021211-4-3

Another industry in Rotorua in the 1920's was our Rotorua 'mud' which made good 'face powder' which 'takes the tone of any complexion' as reported in the Bay of Plenty Times 4.8.1927. This industry was still very much in vogue in 1936 when the Rotorua Morning Post reported this :'Tourist Department workman commenced excavating a quantity of thermal mud from a blowhole on the Arikikapakapa extension reserve' to be sent to health spas in England.

With thanks to the Don Stafford Collection, Commerce folder for this interesting snippet. 

*Tourists of today are still buying Rotorua Mud products at all good souvenir shops.

To read more of Rotorua's history look out for books by Don Stafford, Phil Andrews and Enid Tapsell.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Careers and Education in Rotorua : Past and Present

Careers in a bygone era

These days a career must have an IT component to it, and the student must have a computer or device like iPad Pro.  Just think what changes there have been since 1886 (post Mt Tarawera eruption).

In the 1885/86 Electoral Roll the careers/occupations for Rotorua were : Bakers (6), Bootmaker (1), Builder (1), Butcher (2), Carpenter (12), Coach Proprietor (1), Coach Driver (4), Dentist (1), Farmer (3), Groom (7), Physician (1), Postmaster (1), Resident Medical Officer (1), Stable Owner (1), Surveyor (4), Veterinarian (1), Barman (2), Bath Attendant (1), Clerk (1), Contractor (1), Gardener (1), Native Agent (2), Native Interpreter (2), Overseer (1), Publican (1), Sawyer (7), Storekeeper (9) and Waiter (2).

Don Stafford's "Founding Years of Rotorua" tells us that the population at that time was approximately 453 Europeans and 1,375 Maori. By 1901 the population of Europeans had jumped to 1,278 and an estimate of 930 Maori.

In 1901 the occupations listed included an Architect, a Station Master, a Cordial Maker, a Tobacconist, 7 Engineers, 2 Police Constables, 3 Photographers, 3 Laundresses, 13 Storekeepers , 2 Fruiterers, 2 Mill Owners and 7 Domestic Servants, to name a few.

Sulphur Mining was a booming industry from 1889 with Rotorua's biggest dealer being Mr Francis Moss (Mossy) Boord and it provided an income for local Maori landowners around the region.

Also at this time the Okere Falls Power Station was built and also Gold Mining occurred around Horo Horo and Kaharoa, but this was a short lived occupation as little gold was found and other rumored finds in the region were unsubstantiated.

One of the most unusual occupation for the time was Mr Lakin's Fern Collecting business.

This advert was placed in the Wises Post Office Guide of 1898.

As you can see some careers are still very much in existence although the methods/styles might have changed, a carpenter, butcher, veterinarian and builder are still careers worth pursuing in our modern age.

For more information pick up Don Stafford's books The Founding Years of Rotorua and The New Century in Rotorua which can be found in the New Zealand History and Travel section at 993.423z STA

The Wises Post Office Guides are available online via the Library Edition of

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Iconic Business of Rotorua Past

A Spotlight on C. A. Clarke & Son Ltd

Advertising in Wise’s N.Z. Post Office Directory 1954

You can view this advertisement at via the Rotorua District Library
Bottling began in 1883 in a shed at Utuhina, and by 1967 the firm had some 30 employees.  The factory was on Tutanekai Street , where the Novotel Hotel is now (2012). The plant was probably the only cordial factory in the world to operate on geothermal steam. Their bottles all had the letters 'CAC' on them in glass raised letters. 
A new factory opened at Ngapuna on Friday 1st December, 1967. It incorporated a heat exchange system that generated the steam and hot water required to sterilise bottles.
When the factory moved to Ngapuna it was where the Timber Yards are now (2012). The site on Tutanekai Street was bought by Reg Durrant who operated a supermarket there, called DURRANTS, and later it changed hands becoming a Woolworths Supermarket. 

Four generations of the Clarke family were involved in the manufacture of aerated waters and cordials.

You can view this image at Kete Rotorua

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Business in Rotorua : a Then & Now project

From : Rotorua Public Relations Office, Tourist Guide c1969

Business in Rotorua
The Old Grand

This was Rotorua’s old picture theatre. It was also used as stables, a cabaret, a skating rink and a furniture store.
Robert Harris Café

1205 Tutanekai Street
Durrants Super Value

(Located at the north end of Tutanekai Street)

First major supermarket in Rotorua.
Do you have a memory about this business? Come in and tell us your story.
Arawa Wine & Food

(106 Tutanekai Street)

Atticus Finch

(1106 Tutanekai Street - Dwyer Building)
The Palace Hotel

Originally at Ohinemutu (corner of Lake Road & Ranolf Street)

It was moved to the corner of Tutanekai and Arawa Streets
Do you have a memory about this business? Come in and tell us your story.
Sheaf’s Pharmacy

(272 Tutanekai Street)
Proprietor Douglas E. Sheaf, operated from 1928 to 2003. Following the closure of Sheaf’s, this location housed McKenzie Fashions (closed in 2015).
Jubilee Café Deli

(1202 Tutanekai Street – Jubilee Building)
C. A. Clark and Sons
(located on Tutanekai Street)
An aerated drink factory, that was located on Tutanekai Street for 66 years.
Do you have a memory about this business? Come in and tell us your story.
Café Royal

(48a Pukuatua Street)

Do you have a memory about this business? Come in and tell us your story
Odeon Theatre

(1132 Tutanekai Street)
Built on the site of the old St James Theatre. The Odeon was originally to be named the ‘new’ St James Theatre.
It opened on 21st March 1966 and closed 23rd September 1993. Owned and operated by Rotorua Civic Theatres Ltd, c1940…

"Incorporated in the Odeon Theatre building are 8 shops, originally the idea was to create a ladies shopping  area with such shops as clothing, chemist, hairdresser, and cake retail" Excerpt from Daily Post. 18 March 1966
Destiny Church
Arjays Maternity Wear

(68 Hinemoa Street)
This shop was located next to Wickett’s Drapers.
Do you have a memory about this business? Come in and tell us your story.
The Kensington

(Fenton Street)
An eatery
Do you have a memory about this business? Come in and tell us your story.
Rotorua Printers

(47 Haupapa Street)
Opposite Bryce’s Buildings where it was in c1940. The Commercial Printing Dept. moving to this site by 1957 and here it stayed until 2006.
Lakes Prime Care Radiology
RM Transport & NZ Rail/Road Services. (Northwest corner of Hinemoa and Tutanekai Streets

Royal Court Apartments

(Hinemoa Street)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Rotorua Then & Now

Rotorua Business from Yesteryear

In Rotorua the first businesses were the Hotels and Guest Houses and of course the Comet Store on Lake Road.  From humble beginnings with some 44 Europeans and 3,294 Maori in c.1874 (Census Tables from "The Founding Years in Rotorua by Don Stafford. p.422-423.) 

Rotorua became a tourist mecca of Royalty and the Nobility which local Maori were quick to welcome. Then came the Tarawera Eruption in 1886 which slowed the tide of tourists, but only temporarily as recorded in Don Stafford's 'The Founding Years of Rotorua' ---- "Three years later, after the Tarawera Eruption, the industry was still strong enough for the Tauranga people to oppose the Cambridge-Oxford route to Rotorua... thus bypassing the Tauranga to Rotorua route" 

By 1894 when the Railway arrived in Rotorua the tourist traffic was back to normal and from here on the town grew, and grew... !

Timber mills were a very popular money making venture. The first mill's were in the centre of town! The Steele's mill was on the corner of Tutanekai and Eruera Streets and went all the way back to Amohia Street. 

Excerpt from the Cyclopedia of NZ via NZETC online : 
"STEELE BROTHERS (Duncan William Steele, George Steele, Walter Steele, and Alfred Steele), Sawmillers and Building Contractors.
This business was established in 1888. The premises, erected on Government leasehold sections, include a drying shed capable of storing 200,000 feet of timber, shop, workshop, an eight roomed residence, and a large hall—the Rotorua Assembly Hall—the largest and best outside of any large city in New Zealand".

Published by Braynart Group as part of Rotorua’s Centennial Celebrations. Photographs for the calendar were supplied by the Rotorua Museum.

Excerpt from "The Founding Years in Rotorua" by Don Stafford.
Kusabs Brothers 
Owners of the Mountain Rimu Co. Mill at Mamaku was a successful business from the late 1880s.
"In July 1895 the Kusabs Brothers opened a timber yard on the north side of Amohau Street, between Fenton and Hinemaru Streets... the block owned by the Kusabs Brothers at Mamaku consisted of 2000 acres of heavily timbered land, the major species being Rimu, Totara, Hinau, Tawa and Tanekaha." 

Jump forward a few years :),  here are some of the ones Library staff who were brought up in Rotorua remember. 

Photograph by Alison Leigh
Add your memories to our interactive site Kete Rotorua

Friday, 7 April 2017

Book Review : Rainbow and Fairy Springs by S & D Cole.

Rotorua's two well known Springs

Cole, S., Cole, D. (1985?). Rainbow and Fairy Springs.  Rotorua: Rainbow and Fairy Springs.

A short 24 page publication that includes a brief history and highlights the different areas of the park. It was interesting to note that the park was opened to the public in 1928, but had admitted visitors, possibly as early as 1898. Reading about the trout, kiwi, native birds and native forest brought more of an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into maintenance and care of the enclosures and to furthering public education about the species in the park. It’s a brief and informative read with plenty of images.

Postcard of Rotorua's Fairy Springs from the collection of Colleen Jeffrey.
Photo by Cherie Priest at Rainbow Springs c.1988.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Book Review : Rotorua Trout Fishing Guide

Rotorua, a Trout Fishing Destination.

Rotorua Trout Fishing Guide / Rotorua Anglers Association c.2000

A guide to many trout fishing venues in the Rotorua and Bay of Plenty area. It is mainly for the inexperienced or beginner, but experts may find something of value in these pages.

Members of the Rotorua Anglers Association have generously shared their experience, tips & advice, local knowledge, fishing techniques and photographs.

I do not fish, but found some of the history on the Rotorua Lakes Fishery and the Ngongotaha Hatchery an interesting read. I especially liked the, “Anglers Prayer.”

The Angler’s Prayer
Lord suffer me to catch a fish
So big that even I
When telling of it afterwards
Should have no need to lie….

From : Papers Past, Auckland Star 30 January 1923, pg. 5