Elsthorpe history compiled
Elsthorpe’s rural history will be compiled into a book as part of the community’s centennial celebrations on Easter weekend.
A community group is working on the book, and group member Yvonne Macaulay said collecting information has been a big job for everyone.
“For the last two jubilees, the local school has been the focus of any publication so to celebrate 100 years we decided to produce a book on the history of the district.”
She said the idea was formed nearly two years ago while sorting old material at the school.
“We found a book that listed everyone in the district who paid rates from 1877 until 1917.
“We decided that was a good point to start from so we quietly borrowed the book and worked from that.
“We went to local farmers to find out who originally owned their property; whether it was sub-divided and the history of farm buildings.
“As a result we have compiled a unique history of the district with photographs and wonderful stories about the early settlers and their descendants, many of whom are still farming or living in the district,” Mrs Macaulay said.
A lot of information was sourced from outside the district, and committee members have spent hours in the Napier Museum, Hawke’s Bay libraries and even the National Archives.
Local, district and regional councils and Government agencies like MAF and the Department of Conservation have provided information related to farming practices, water schemes and geology.
“A lot of the farms in those days generated their own power using water-powered dynamos, and delving into the telephone service uncovered some interesting facts,” Mrs Macaulay said.
She said one interesting fact that had surfaced was the big role that Maori played in the district over the years.
“There was no local community as such, but we became aware there was a marae at Kairaku [Kairakau] Beach and another at Porangahau.
“In those early days there were a lot of Maori involved in shearing and farm work – many more than there are now.”
Mrs Macaulay said her husband Jim was raised in the district and runs the transport business started by his family.
“Because Jim is out in the community all day he has collected a lot of interesting stories about the district which have been a big help.
“She admits that putting the book together has been a nightmare at times, especially chasing up people for information.
“From the outset we decided to produce a book on the whole district with the proviso if it became too much we would revert back to another book on the school.
“However, the more involved we became we knew there was no point in stopping and so we became more determined and plugged on with the project.
“Perhaps the biggest help to us was having a computer because, in all honesty, without it we would have been forced to get someone else to write it and we don’t believe they would have done it as well without local knowledge,” Mrs Macaulay said.
Photo captions –
The Kahuru homestead and farm buildings in 1897.
The first Elthorpe [Elsthorpe] school bus, in 1945 or 1946.
A Thornycroft logging truck at Orbell’s Mill, Elsthorpe, in the last [late] 1920s.
Two large social events in 1918 were the Elsthorpe Sports Day, above, and the Elsthorpe Sunday School picnic, below.