Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Coromandel - Early Butter Days

Coromandel - Early Butter Days - graphics of cow, cow being milked and butter courtesy Graphic Stock. Photos Long Bay and Gorrie homestead courtesy CR Ball

Reading  newspapers about the opening of a  creamery dairy factory , felt it must have been an exciting occasion, for the residents of Coromandel township and area on the Coromandel Peninsula, back in October in 1911. One that marked a change from gold field  activities to farming activities. The Auckland Star reporting the event wrote that the Chairman of Directors , said in the opening speech that the Coromandel Co-operative  Dairy Company Limited:-

"  would be run on a thoroughly co-operative basis. Some people were of opinion that the factory was too large for Coromandel, but he considered that results would prove that such was not the case, and that the industry would increase in the course of a year or two. he hoped the present plant would need to be enlarged, and prove a boon to settlers". (Auckland Star   09 /10 /1911   P 2) 
Evidently the opening of the Coromandel Co- Operative Dairy Company culminated in  a " treat of all treats" - "Coromandel made butter  used in the afternoon tea prepared by Mrs  Gorrie and other ladies of the community. "( Mrs Gorrie being Barbara Gorrie, wife of Morton Gorrie - farmer and an active  member back then, of the  Coromandel Community).
The opening of this dairy factory was the culmination of a meeting held by the resident farmers in 1910. A committee made up of  Messrs. Gorrie, Troughcar, Hovell, Jeffcoat, R. A. Wight, S. James, jun., W. Turner, A. Otto, and M. Hawkeswood, was set up to progress the ideas based on a co-operative, rather than a proprietary business concern.

TURNING THE WORKED-OUT GOLDFIELDS TO GOOD ACCOUNT: THE OPENING OF A CREAMERY AT COROMANDEL, AUCKLAND, RECENTLY. Photo W. E. Carlyon Auckland Weekly News (26 OCTOBER 1911) courtesy  'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19111026-10-4 '
Dairying and dairy factories processing farm produce was sweeping the country at the turn of the 20th century a follow on from  butter  made at the end of  1886 at a little factory at Pukekura near Cambridge. The end of the first decade of the 1900's , marked the opening of a a number of  small dairy factories across the Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki as farming took the place of extensive  gold mining and bush felling activities -  Bagnall Brothers Creamery Turua about 1900; Paeroa Butter Factory 1901;  Netherton Creamery 1905; Mercury Bay Butter Factory  at Whitianga in 1911; Matatoki in 1912; Hikutaia Cheese Factory  1917; Tairua Butter Factory in 1922. Lemuel ( father in law of Mary Morton - sister of Morton Gorrie ) and of  Bagnall Bros and Co. was attributed with the first radiator dairy factory in New Zealand established at Turua near Thames in 1902
Showing the first radiator dairy factory in New Zealand, erected on Messrs Bagnall Bros Turua estate, Thames courtesy Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19021023-5-1

 Chairman of Directors of Coromandel Co-Operative Dairy Company, Morton Gorrie was eldest son of William Gorrie Jnr ( of Upton & Co - booksellers and stationers based  in  Auckland ). Morton Gorrie was not new to the farming industry.  With his brother Keith Gunion Gorrie ( who died in the Boer AKA South African War ) originally farmed near Maungatautari near Cambridge and Pukekura.  It is no doubt that he would have been influenced by the initiatives of Henry Reynolds in the processing of butter in 1886 at Pukekura. Also that of Joseph Banks , of the New Zealand Frozen Meat and Storage Company who was said " to have   great faith in the future of the butter industry" (Auckland Star, 07/05/ 1888, P 5) Susan Banks nee Buckland bought 'Gwynnelands' near Cambridge, in 1895, after the death of her husband Joseph. Their son Norman was to continue farming here and in establishing the Cambridge Dairy Co-Op.

Looking across Lake Karapiro towards Maungatautari - photo courtesy Chris Ball 2014
By 1909  Morton Gorrie and his wife Barbara had moved to Coromandel on the Coromandel Peninsula, continuing a farming life and contributing as  active members of the Coromandel Community.  A July meeting of the Coromandel Bowling Club saw Gorrie elected President of the committee . Elected at the meeting were : " Patrons, the Hon. James McGowan, M.L.C., and Mr. E. H. Taylor, M.P.; president, Mr M. Gorrie; vice-presidents, Messrs. G. H. Applegate, S. James, H. Rostgard, and C. Fraser; treasurer, Mr. G. F. Mellars; hon. secretary, Mr. G. G. Paul; committee, Messrs. Ben. B. Johnson, E H. Law, G. St. George, J. W. Barker, Rev. C. A. Vaughan, treasurer and secretary ex officio; auditor, Mr. A. Baker."  (Auckland Star ,  07/ 07/ 1909 P 7) 

Bowling club committee, Coromandel. Ref: 1/2-C-028340-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23111737

Before Christmas of 1909, The Coromandel Bowling Club opened their new bowling green, celebrating the occasion with a large number of visitors from elsewhere and a " roll up. "  For Morton Gorrie, the sport of bowling was popular with  family members , his father William Gorrie, one of the first members of the Auckland Bowling Club.
   New Zealand Herald   21 December 1909  Page 8
     courtesy Papers Past, National Library NZ
 From newspaper accounts a  February 1916 meeting  of Coromandel School of Mines, five years after the Coromandel Co- Op Dairy Company in 1911 , indicated mutual benefit to the mining and agricultural community of the mining school.
" The report showed that the equipment of the school had been kept thoroughly up to-date, and emphasised the value of the institution not only to the mining community, but also to all classes on the peninsula for technical, scientific, and agricultural purposes."
At the same meeting elections of  Coromandel School of Mines Office Bearers and Council took place:
" Office-bearers for the ensuing year were elected as follows President, Mr. T. W. Rhodes, M.P. vice presidents, Messrs. J. B. Rockliff and F P Burgess, secretary, Mr. A. G. Harvey, council. Messrs. L. Autridge, A King, W Hunter M. Gorrie, T. A. Norrie, J O'Hara, and E J Surflen."
Group portrait of the School of Mines council, Coromandel, New Zealand. Photographed by an unknown photographer 1915-1916. School of Mines council, Coromandel. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: 1/2-023131-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22722894
Morton Gorrie was no stranger to mining in the Coromandel Peninsula for his father William Gorrie had been involved in the Chamber of Mines when it was formed in 1895 ,  Also a shareholder and director in the gold mining companies Coromandel Freehold Proprietary, Zealandia, Buffalo, Kennedy Bay, Miowera United, Pride of Tokatea, New Tokatea, Midas and Hauraki North.

The  Coromandel Co- Op Dairy Company continued to go from strength to strength. In June 1922 extensive alterations were announced. An outcome of increased tons produced at the factory as a result of increased butter fat supplies from the Coromandel area. However at an extraordinary meeting of the Coromandel Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd in 1926 it was resolved to dispose of  company's assets and liabilities to the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company ( what was to become a giant corporate company in NZ ) The decision was made  to voluntarily wind up the local creamery.
In the 1930's Morton Gorrie moved Northward, leaving behind the memories of a relevant part of the past of New Zealand history - what was the Coromandel Co-Operative Dairy Company or creamery.

Reference Sources:
        - biographies - Gorrie , Pukekura Dairy Factory

  •  Auckland Weekly News 23 October 1902 p005
  •  New Zealand Herald   21 December 1909  Page 8
  •  Taranaki Herald   6 September 1910   Page 4  
  •  Auckland Star   9 October 1911   Page 2
  •  SCHOOL OF MINES. New Zealand Herald, 26 February 1916, Page 5
  •   Ohinemuri Gazette   3 December 1917  Page 2
  •  New Zealand Herald  22 June 1922  Page 8 
  • New Zealand Herald   6 September 1926   Page 16