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Peninsula Past - 1873

Mercury Bay was the ‘most unjustly treated district’ complained a would-be settler. Residents themselves had been responsible for town improvements which included five wharves, a schoolhouse, a reading room, a church and a harbour light, which enabled vessels to enter the river at all times even on the darkest nights. All this was done without the aid of even sixpence from the Government, despite no other east coast port exporting so much in value as Mercury Bay annually.

A visitor from Auckland was “much pleased” with the good order, cleanliness, and attention on board the steamer he travelled on to Mercury Bay. They arrived before daylight and ran alongside an excellent wharf with railway and truck to carry baggage to the Whitianga Hotel at the end of the wharf. He went up to Gumtown, about eight miles distant, finding the scenery very fine. Gumtown was a selection of rather indifferent shanties and was expected to be only a trading station for a short time until the gum was exhausted. There were a few settlers round the Bay who seemed to be getting on slowly and surely. There did not seem to be a better locality to relax in for a few weeks with its ease of access by steam, good hotel, boating, and sea fishing.

The barque Lion, which had been loaded with 12,000 of feet timber at the Whangapoua sawmills and was bound for Adelaide, stranded on the Whangapoua bar in a very heavy sea. Efforts were made to float her off without success. Next morning the sea, having risen considerably, was making clean breaches over the barque. The captain, seeing that nothing could be done to save the ship, ordered out the ship's boats, and with the crew, returned to the mill. The barque broke up during the day and a large portion of her cargo drifted ashore and was recovered. The p.s. Royal Alfred was chartered by the New Zealand Insurance Company to proceed to the wreck, but while she was getting up steam a telegram was received stating that the Lion was a complete wreck, nothing being left of her.

Tairua residents were refusing to pay the school rate after the government declined to give them a teacher saying they were short of funds. Tairua had about twenty-five children which, according to the school act, entitled them to aid from the Government. To add insult to injury, every Tairua householder was being asked to pay for something they wanted which they were not going to get. If this was justice, one resident complained, he should very much like the Education Board to give him their definition of injustice.

Caption : Whangapoua Harbour, looking towards Motutere (Castle Rock), in the distance at right.

Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 7-C1341


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