From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (2024)

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A Message from the Prime Minister

I CONGRATULATE Levin on its golden jubilee. Occasions such as this remind us of the historic associations of the past and are a kind of halting point at which we can try to look ahead into the future.

I know a little of the history of the Horowhenua district and have found it a fascinating story, one of which you can all be proud. I expect Levin's past to be surpassed by its future. We are in the midst of an era of expansion in New Zealand and in this I am sure Levin will participate.

The foundations for expansion are solid. Horo­whenua has fertile farms and fine farmers; Levin itself is a well-established and attractive town, the prosperity of which is based on genuine service to its district and its people. It is one of New Zealand's strengths that it has many town_s like Levin, and many districts like Horo­whenua.

I extend to Levin best wishes for a successful celebration of its golden jubilee and for a prosperous future.


THE attainment by the Levin Borough of its Golden Jubilee is an opportune time to gather and record some of its history over the years of its transition from a tiny bush settlement to a thriving town with a population of 6400.

Accepting the assignment of gathering the data and writing this booklet, Mr. Howard J. Jones, an old and well-known resident, had only a few short weeks for a very big task.

A span of 70 years in the life of any town provides a wealth of important events and interesting happenings—particularly when the years have brought remarkable progress. It is not possible in a booklet of this size to cover all the steps in a town's development, but Mr. Jones has brought many of them together in an interesting story.

Regrettably much valuable information has been lost with the passing of so many of the early day settlers. For much of what has been written it has been necessary to rely to a large extent on the memories of those who remain—memories that are now dimmed with the passage of time.

There may be disappointment that certain 3 vents are not.recorded or that the names of some people have not been given a place. That is inevitable because the his­torian finds that in the time available he cannot go fully into everything. Nevertheless, if this booklet adds a little to what has already been written then it will serve a very useful purpose.—D.P.T.

The Mayors of Levin

From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (1) From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (2)
B. R. Gardener, Esq., 1906-1915.

Chas. Blenkhorn, Esq., 1915-1919
and 1929-1932.

From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (3) From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (4)
D. W. Matheson, Esq., 1919-1923 Thos. Hobson, Esq., 1923-1929.
From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (5) From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (6)
W. Goldsmith, Esq., 1932-1941. H. A. Phillips, Esq., 1941-1945.
From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (7) From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (8)
B. Burdekin, Esq., O.B.E., 1945-1950. W. Parton, Esq., 1950-1953.
From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (9)

E. Herring, Esq. Elected 1953.


Chairman: Mr. D. P. Todd.

Mesdames A. H. Edwards and M. I. Powell; Dr. E. L. Gillies, Messrs. L. R. Salmons, W. J. Barrat, K. G. Wyness, W. Stewart, F. Hawkins, Nepia Winiata, H. L. Jenkins
and A. J. II. Allen.

Secretary-Treasurer: Mr. A. H. Edwards.
Marshal of the Procession: Mr. A. Taplin.



HAD helicopters been in existence 70 years ago and one had hovered over what is now Levin, the pilot would have seen a water-washed plain heavily timbered with matai and tawa, with occasional clearings where small Maori pas stood. The inhabi­tants, the Muaupoko tribe, were constantly engaged in warfare with neighbouring tribes till eventually the Ngati-toa, under Te Rauparaha, almost completely exterminated the Muaupoko and took possession of the land. This was the position when the first white settlers reached the coast early in the last century.

Major Kemp, a friend and supporter of the Muaupoko, how­ever, managed to obtain a fair acreage for the remaining members of the tribe and this land had for its centre what is now Levin. The Horowhenua Block—the Levin Township Block—of 4000 acres was sold by Major Kemp on behalf of the Muaupoko to the Government.

In connection with this sale it is interesting to note that two of the stipulations made by the Maoris were not carried out. These were that the newly-formed township should be called Taitoko and that a square of four acres in extent should be formed in the centre after the manner of The Square at Palmerston North. Other sections were to be for pleasure and hence Levin has its domain and gardens.

The Horowhenua Block was surveyed in December, 1888, by Messrs. A. E. Ashcroft and T. L. Humphries, assistant surveyors to the Crown Land Office. The block was one and a-quarter miles in width by five miles in length. The plan of the block comprised 257 township, 71 suburban and 28 rural sections, 356 in all.

Sections at £4/10/- Each

These were offered for sale or selection on and after Tuesday, March 19, 1889, at the Crown Lands Office, Wellington. Rumour has it that two valuers from the Wanganui district were appointed to assess the land values. One adjudged £4 an acre as a fair price, while - the other fixed his at £5. Eventually a compromise at £4/10/- per acre was reached.

The Government, before offering the township sections for sale, had felled the bush on Horowhenua Road (now known as Queen Street) from the lake to the foothills and stumped and levelled a road width in the centre. The County Council then formed Oxford Street from Weraroa up to the present library.

When it was ready to open, the first Village Settlement (Levin) was a block of solid native bush and a sawmill a mile or so north of the settlement had a bush tram line right through it.

The sections were balloted for and among the successful applicants were the Ostler family, one of whose sons afterwards became a judge of the Supreme Court in New Zealand. Their section was a suburban one and was on the right-hand side of MacArthur Street (Kawiu Road). The bush had been cleared there by a band of fugitive Muaupoko, who had fled from the wrath of Te Rauparaha.

First Controlling Body

The first constituent body to guide the destiny of what was later to become the Borough of Levin was the Road Board. This body received the finance for administrative and other functions from what was known as "thirds". The upset price for the majority of the sections was £5 an acre, though some that had superior quality bush realised £7/10/- per acre. One third of this amount was apportioned to the Road Board to finance its activities.

Some of the settlers pooled their share of this for improved roads adjoining their sections. Of the original owners under this scheme several members of the Prouse family are probably the only ones now remaining in the borough. Later the functions of the Road Board and the County Council were amalgamated, the council helping with the southern formation of Oxford Street among other activities.

Development Was Slow

The development of Levin began very slowly. The Manawatu railway had been in existence three years before the first sections had been acquired by the new settlers, and the directors of the Railway were evidently of the opinion that Manakau and Shan­non would be the two important centres of the district. Shannon was honoured with streets named after the company's directors and shareholders, and Manakau gloried in a licensed hotel.

At first only two houses were to be found in the township—one a two-storey house at the lower end of Bath Street West owned by Mr. P. J. Stuckey (it was later destroyed by fire) and the other on the rise in Kawiu Road, known as "Mt. Lofty" and belonging to Mr. A. Tantrum.

A cottage had been erected in 1890 for Mr. Rod McDonald on the site where the Avenue Butchery now stands. This was used as a combined store and dwelling.

There was one other store—where the Arcadia bakehouse now stands. These were the only buildings, except for various whares, in existence in 1890. The railway had been made some five years and at the corner where the Post Office now is two short roads running through standing bush crossed.

A number of sections on the edge of the township had been cleared but in the present shopping area only the sections on which McDonald's store stood (later known as the Bell Block) were cleared and built on. The site of the Levin Hotel was cleared of bush, but no building had been erected there.

On the rest of the land on both sides of Oxford Street the bush still stood. The original proposal that the new town should be called Taitoko was ignored and Levin—after one of the railway company's directors—was substituted.

It is not known if whoever was responsible for naming the streets was imbued with the idea of making the new township in the North Island as English-sounding as Christchurch, but, with a few exceptions, the streets are named, and new ones continue to be named, after English counties or towns, with a sprinkling of Royal designations among them.

One section of Levin—the area comprising the block con­taining Trafalgar Street and Nelson Street—is shown on the original map as the Bexley Township. Bexley, by the way, is in the neighbourhood of London.

Population Starts To Grow

The settlement of the township was growing steadily. Messrs. Prouse Bros. started a second sawmill almost opposite the present railway station and newcomers were arriving in increasing num­bers to obtain sections around Levin and to cut homes for them­selves out of the bush.

In 1892 Mr. McDonald sold his business to Mr. B. R. Gardener, who in 1906 was to become the first mayor of the newly-constituted borough.

The earlier stores and an hotel—the Weraroa—were in the vicinity of the railway station. Some of the old shops still remain. They were never very handsome and train travellers through Levin could not have had a particularly impressive opinion of the town, because only the backs of the premises in Oxford Street—and those were not very sightly—could be seen as the train thun­dered through, gaining extra speed to climb the rise to Heatherlea.

The largest store, owned by Messrs. Swainson and Bevan, and the Weraroa Hotel were both destroyed by fire just prior to World War I. The Weraroa Hotel was then established on a site at the corner of Durham Street, this being the farthest a licensed house could be moved from its original site. Here it received its present name of Grand Hotel.

The cost of sections 50 years ago would open the eyes of present-day buyers of quarter-acre lots in the town. The block on which the Arcadia Buildings and the furnishing department of Messrs. A. W. Allen, Ltd., now stand was bought by the original owner, Mr. W. H. Wilson, for £68. On this he erected a three-storey private hotel, using the rear premises as a bakehouse, for £1400. The top storey caught fire and the building was reduced to its present size. The name Arcadia still persists as a bread sign.

Good Firewood Was Cheap

More and more of the surrounding country was cleared of bush, though in many cases stumps, some 6 feet high, were left in the paddocks. Just imagine, you fire devotees, a drayload of good matai stumps for 6/6!

The Levin Dairy Factory came into being and the town rapidly increased in population and was soon recognised as the shopping centre for a very large area—from Paraparaumu in the south to Shannon and Foxton in the north.

Levin, with its wide streets, admirable lighting, gardens and parks, and with business premises equal if not superior to any town in the Dominion of comparable size, has come a long way in the comparatively short length of its existence.



With the rapidly diminishing bush and the soon to be closed down sawmills, a new industry which was to be the main-stay of the town came into existence. The clearing of the bush and the great fertility of the soil made the area a most prolific dairying district. This so increased the population that in 1905, 16 years after the town sections had been listed for selection, the number of residents had passed the 1000 mark. This entitled Levin to be constituted a borough. The required application was made and on April 1, 1906—not a very ominous date—the Borough of Levin came into being with a population of 1300 and an area of 1350 acres. Since that date Levin has never looked back.

First Mayor And Council

The first mayor was Mr. B. R. Gardener, a storekeeper, who had always taken a very active interest in. his adopted home.

Mr. P. W. Goldsmith, whose lively interest in all matters per­taining to the borough will be well remembered, was appointed town clerk. The first councillors were Messrs. C. H. Palmer, H. Hall, J. G. Hankins, T. A. Hudson, E. F. Levy, John Ryder, Jas. Prouse, Richard Prouse and Dr. Mackenzie.

Of all those whose job it was to manage the affairs of the borough at that time, not one survives. Mr. Palmer had a furni­ture shop in Oxford Street. Mr. Hall was a barber and his premises are now occupied by Mr. C. Wilkinson. Mr. Hankins was a partner in the firm of Hitchins & Hankins, general merchants, at Weraroa. The destruction of their premises was one of the most spectacular fires in Levin. Mr. John Ryder was a well-known farmer. Messrs. Jas. and Richard Prouse were sawmillers.

Dr. Mackenzie, a very live wire, propounded a scheme to light the town by electricity with power from the headwaters of the Ohau. He was even willing to install the system, run it for three years and then the council could take it over. One can see how profoundly he was assured in his own mind that the scheme would be successful. However, in those days electricity was frowned on in some quarters and the council decided not to accept the offer.

Mr. Gardener was mayor for nine years, the longest period of any mayor. He resigned in 1915. Mr. Goldsmith had accepted the position of clerk to the Horowhenua County Council and Mr. Gardener was then appointed town clerk. He was succeeded as mayor by Mr. Charles Blenkhorn, a well-known solicitor, who held office during the major portion of World War I. During the period he and Mts. Blenkhorn did much to stimulate interest in the well-being of departing and returning soldiers. Mr. Blenk­horn was himself a veteran of the South African War. He was mayor from 1915 to 1.919 and did not seek re-election.

Municipal Buildings Project

The next mayor was Mr. D. W. (Don) Matheson and during his tenure of the office Levin made an important and noteworthy step. Alongside and also behind the Public Library were un­sightly pits, rubbish laden and partly filled with water during winter months.

Under Mr. Matheson's energetic leadership, it was decided to erect offices, a theatre, a dance hall and shops on the site. Mr. Bennie, who had been architect for several such buildings in various parts of the country, was instructed to draw the necessary plans. Builders, however, were difficult to obtain. Eventually Mr. M. Bennie, a brother of the architect, was awarded the con­tract and completed the erection of the block.

The foundation stone, to be seen at the theatre entrance, was laid by the then Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. W. F. Massey. The theatre opened to a crowded house when an English touring company produced "The Farmer's Wife".

The municipal block was formally opened in 1924 with the Borough Council, the Horowhenua County Council and the Horo­whenua Electric Power Board in occupation of the main building. Levin thus became the county town of Horowhenua.

Nothing of special note occurred during the succeeding years except that the town's population continued to increase.

The mayors following Mr. Matheson were :—Mr. T. Hobson (1923-29); Mr. Charles Blenkhorn, who had returned to municipal duties (1929-32) ; Mr. P. W. Goldsmith (1932-40) ; Mr. H. A. Phillips (1941-45); Mr. H. B. Burdekin (1945-50); Mr, A. W. Parton (1950- 53), and Mr. H. E. Herring (1953-).

Providing House Sections

During Mr. Parton's term as mayor the rating system was changed to rating on the unimproved value. This system was considered to be of benefit to a town having a large area of land not built on, forcing the holders to cut it up for housing purposes. Whether this was correct or not, one large area at the north-west corner of the borough, which for many years had been a dairy farm, was roaded and the sections put on the market. Now that part of the town hardly has a section on which a house is not to be seen.

Our climate and our accessibility made it imperative that building sections were to be had by the multitude of people who desired to retire to this favourable spot—the fairest and most desirable portion of "God's Own Country".

There have been five town clerks—Messrs. P. W. Goldsmith, B. R. Gardener, T. Brown (pro tem acting on the death of Mr. B. R. Gardener), Mr. F. J. Ramsey and the present occupier of the position, Mr. H. L. Jenkins, who has held the office for nearly half the borough's existence. The total staff employed by the Borough Council is 63—six in the office and 57 on various projects.

Institutions Played Big Part

There were two institutions which played a not unimportant part in the early life of Levin—the Boys' Training Farm at Kim­berley Road and the Central Development Farm in thc Beach Road.

The training farm was originally not so much for delinquent children as for those unfortunate enough to have an unsatis­factory home life. Groups of children lived in cottages under the supervision of experienced married couples and thus were intro­duced to real home life. Three trades were taught to the older children—farming, boot repairing and carpentry. Many young fellows left to earn honourable livings as competent tradesmen so good was the tuition of Major Burlinson, who was in charge for many years.

There was a school for juniors under the capable manage­ment of Mr. Eggelton. Older residents can remember the boys marching on Sunday mornings to St. Mary's Anglican Church preceded by their drum and fife band, with Mr. J. W. Hayfield in charge.

War Brought Change of Site

On the outbreak of World War II the establishment was taken over by the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a ground training station and the training farm was transferred to the C.D. Farm Road. It has continued there ever since, with a smaller institution at Hokio Beach. When the R.N.Z.A.F. no longer re­quired the former training farm it became a home for mentally subnormal children which is known as the Levin Farm.

The Central Development Farm, known locally as the C.D. Farm; played a valuable part in the early farm culture advances of the first part of the century. Experts in grass, root crops and grain were employed and much good was accomplished by them for the improvement of crops. The farm became famous through­out New Zealand for its herd of Holsteins, and the bulls and cows sold at various times realised high prices.

Town's Four Great Assets

Levin is favoured with four great assets which make it a most desirable town in which to dwell. It has a climate second to none in the Dominion. It has a range of mountains—the Tararuas comparable in beauty to any in the country. It has two beaches —Hokio and Waitarere—within easy reach. They are firm and absolutely safe for bathing. Fourthly, it has a water supply not bettered by any other town.

Some may say in regard to the latter that the water is not too clear after a storm. This is conceded, but that is the sequel to a freak of Nature. Some readers will remember the great storm which raged on Sunday, February 3, 1936, and uprooted giant trees on the Tararuas so that their roots stood high in the air. The result was that each heavy rain washed more and more of the exposed soil into the Ohau River and its effects have not yet worn off after more than 20 years.

Trees Add Attraction

Motorists and others passing through the town often remark what a pleasing effect is given to the town by the line of plane trees on each side of the street from the library corner to Exeter Street. Though these are now somewhat depleted, either by accident or design, it would be a retrograde step if they were removed, as has been suggested at various times. That they are not the product of yesterday is evidenced by the size of their trunks. Shopkeepers sometimes grumble if there is delay in polling them each autumn because of the multitude of fallen leaves.

These trees have an older life than the borough. In 1897, permission was sought from the powers that be to plant trees at stated intervals from Bath Street to Exeter Street, and this was granted: The prime mover was Mr. D. Smart (Davie Smart to the inhabitants of that time). Mr. Smart was a well-known horti­culturist and lived for many years in Roslyn Road.

Some years prior to the planting of these trees the main object was to get rid of the bush which covered most of the town­ship. Only Queen and Oxford Streets were formed, if it could be called formed. Bath, Winchester, Salisbury and Cambridge Streets and others only existed in the mind's eye of the surveyors. The lie of these streets was shown by a piece of calico on which the name of the street was painted. This was nailed on a board fastened to a tree in the bush.

There were less than 30 buildings all told and they included a Road Board office near Wright Stephenson's present building, one store kept by a Mr. Watkins, a few yards away, the school on the section where the Memorial Hall now stands, and the school­house in Bath Street just below the Bandroom. The school sec­tion had been cleared of bush and Chamberlain Street had not been mooted. There was a rope works in those days operating in Kawiu Road.

The oldest house in the borough is the present schoolhouse, which was removed to its present site on the erection of the new school in Oxford Street in 1903.

There is one very pleasing thing with reference to Levin's water supply and it is that it has a plentiful supply of natural iodine in it. The absence of iodine is provocative of goitre, hence the use of iodised salt in New Zealand.

Some 20 years ago a medical survey of all school children was held by the Health Department to find out the prevalence or otherwise of goitre in the children. It was found there was less sign of goitre in the pupils at the Levin District High School than any other school in the Dominion. This was attributed to the fact already stated.

It is no wonder, with all the advantages our town possesses, that it has become the Mecca of many retired people from all parts of the country.

The establishment of one or more major industries would round off a period of prosperity which could last for very many generations. May Levin continue to flourish.


LEVIN had three eyesores—the gravel pits in parts of the town. One at the rear of the Public Library is now nearly closed by the Municipal Buildings, Regent Theatre and shops.

According to current gossip, the sections in this area were leased by a certain lady who fell out with the council. She found there was nothing in her lease to prevent her selling metal from the sections. This she proceeded to do to the county and the unsightly hole that resulted filled almost to the brim with water in the rainy season, to the danger of wandering children.

The huge gravel pit now being hidden by shops and other buildings which extends from Mako Mako Road almost to Bath Street East, was the work of the Manawatu Railway Company, which required ballast for the line, especially through the Koputaroa swamp.

Early Quest For Water

In connection with this, an interesting story was related by Mr. Jas. Aplin, who was surface overseer for the company. The nearest water was from the Ohau River so it was decided to sink a well in the pit to save the long haulage. After going down about 50 feet a rock pan was met. One of the men lunged at this with a crowbar. The rock broke through and water rushed in so quickly that the man was only extricated in the nick of time and saved from drowning.

Before the present water scheme was inaugurated there was a proposal that a water tower be erected and that artesian water should be sought to supply it. An expert was engaged to survey the district and his report was that artesian water was not in evidence.

The third gravel pit in Bath Street East is being slowly filled.

Visitors to Levin often remark on the two streams of water running down Bath Street and Queen Street. When the sur­rounding area was cleared for dairy farms, the great drawback was the absence of water. A scheme called the Levin water race system was propounded in 1902 by Mr. C. K. Wilson to divert water from the upper reaches of the Ohau and convey it by races to the lake, thus ensuring a water supply to the paddocks. This was later consummated.

Absence of Streams on Plain

In connection with the absence of any streams on the Levin plain it is evident that at one time intermittent springs did emerge from the ground and small streams ran at irregular inter­vals down to the lake. These did not appear every rainy season. Such a stream still shows itself at irregular periods. This emerges at the rear of the Levin Tennis Club's courts and runs down Trafalgar Street, sometimes a foot wide and two or more deep, with water as clear as crystal. This often floods the gardens on both sides of the road and forms a miniature lake at the corner of Queen Street and Tiro Tiro Road.

Streams such as these occur in England and are known there as "Woe Waters". Their appearance, according to tradition, be­tokens some great calamity and it is strange to note that several such streams did appear just prior to World War L

The Trafalgar Street stream ran last winter, but only for a short time.



IN the early days the people of Levin, owing to the absence of any streams, had to depend entirely on rain water collected in galvanised tanks. This was a most unsatisfactory arrangement and in the long period of dry weather the tanks were soon empty. The early school discovered difficulty because of this.

There is plenty of water of excellent quality in the upper reaches of the Ohau River and the Borough Council resolved to tap the abundant supply for the town. This water is also avail­able for houses outside the borough.

The water supply is gravity fed. From the river intake the water goes into two twin holding tanks of 500,000 gallons capacity. A 12-inch pipeline carries it from these tanks to Gladstone Road, where there is a further storage tank of 500,000 gallons capacity, from which there is a direct draw off through the town reticu­lation network.

There are times when discoloration occurs through slips in the backcountry and to counter this a pumping unit was installed at the Gladstone Road works. This water comes from under the bed of the Ohau and replenishes the reservoir as required, operat­ing on an automatic switch which comes into play as soon as the water level drops. The pressure in the town mains is very high.

Plans are in hand to cater for future demand as it is realised that the present waterworks, although more than adequate for present normal draw-off, may not be sufficient for a population double that of today. The water is metered to industry at 1/- a thousand gallons—a particularly cheap rate.


THE new settlers soon found the necessity for some form of illumination in the settlement. Apologies for roads—stumps still remained--wandering cattle and wild horses and pigs in evidence made it dangerous venturing to the store after dark. There was no five o'clock closing in those days.

Those responsible for the control of the township decided to fill this want in some small degree. True, there was little danger on moonlit nights. It was resolved to call for the installation of six acetylene lamps. The successful tenderer was Mr. Peter Arcus and his price was £31/19/- per lamp. He was also allowed 9/- per month per lamp for maintenance. These and the hurricane lamps the settlers carried gave the only illumination after sunset.

The population increased very rapidly and streets began to look like proper thoroughfares. A borough had been constituted in 1906 and the councillors energetically began to improve the amenities of the town. One pressing need was adequate lighting, both for streets and homes. Thus the Municipal Gasworks began its usefulness in 1908 under the management of Mr. Burrell.

The third phase was the completion of the power station at Mangahao in 1924, when the town street lighting changed from gas to electricity, a change undertaken also by the great majority of householders. A relic of the gas lighting days remained until a few years ago. One lamp standard stood at the corner of Oxford Street, opposite the Weraroa Domain, where road crosses the railway. Gas, however, is still used by many house­wives for cooking.

Undertaking Inaugurated

The inauguration of the supply of gas in the Levin Borough occurred on Wednesday, July 21, 1909. The ceremony of "turning the key" was scheduled for 2 p.m., but the very inclement weather thwarted the gala proceedings which had been arranged at the gasworks. The mayor, Mr. B. R. Gardener, very wisely curtailed the speeches, and Mrs. Gardener formally opened the gasworks after a brief but appropriate speech thanking the council for the honour bestowed upon her. The assemblage then adjourned to the Century Hall, where a sumptuous feast had been prepared by Host Higgins of the Weraroa Hotel.

Mr. John Davies proposed the toast "The Prosperity of the Municipal Gasworks". As one of the oldest settlers in the district, he was pleased to congratulate the mayor and the council on the successful completion of the undertaking. The mayor had met with considerable opposition when the scheme was first proposed, but all the difficulties had been surmounted, and that day the district was in possession of gasworks equal to those of any similar-sized town in the Dominion. No place in New Zealand had grown and prospered like Levin had done, and credit had to be accorded its public men for their foresight.

Mr. Kebbell, another early settler, stated that he had never dreamt that the town would have made such outstanding progress in so short a period. From the rate at which the area was develop­ing he foresaw the era of electric trams and other up-to-date amenities in the near future.

"Battle of the Gasworks"

The mayor then outlined the history of the poll which had decided that Levin should have its own gas supply. Many of those present would recall the hard and almost bitter fight which took place on that occasion. There was an old saying that "the harder the fight the sweeter the victory". "The Battle of the Gasworks" had, however, been won, and the most satisfactory feature of it was that those who had so bitterly opposed it now most heartily supported the project, and on numerous occasions had given very valuable assistance.

The cost of the works was £9000, said the mayor. This repre­sented buildings, machinery, pipes, labour, wages, etc. Seven miles of wrought iron pipes had been placed in position. More than 40 street lights were ready for immediate use. The English contracts amounted to £3800 and the goods in connection with the works purchased within New Zealand totalled over £3000. For freight and Customs duties more than £900 had been expended, this sum representing £1350 worth of material.

Probably no town of equal size had started off with more encouragement for such an installation. Over a hundred con­sumers had already had gas installed, and it was almost certain that the number would reach 165 within the week. Mr. Gardener felt confident that no special rate would ever have to be levied to meet the interest on the gasworks loan. He paid a very high tribute to the engineer, Mr. Blackham.

The council had made it a rule always to obtain the best men available, and the highly capable manner in which the entire pro­ject had been carried out by Mr. Blackham and Mr. Shaw proved that the council had chosen wisely and well. Mr. Shaw had done admirable work in supervising the trenching and the erection of the machinery.

The council had always pursued a progressive policy in all its public works, and both in regard to the gasworks and the water scheme, councillors had looked to the future.

Enlargement Became Necessary

Since then the industry has been enlarged to meet the grow­ing demand, and a high standard product made. Under the careful management of Mr. A. C. Kennerley, a name well known in the gas industry, it was found possible, even during the most critical days of coal shortages, to avoid rationing and inconveni­ence to consumers.

Recently a new 50,000 cubic feet capacity storage tank was installed. There is another 30,000 cubic feet capacity tank, mak­ing the total amount of gas storage capacity 80,000 cubic feet. The gas is Government tested for quality and purity. The gas­works are operated for eight months of the year on three shifts and the balance of the year on two shifts. There is a staff of eight. By-products are co*ke and tar of excellent quality.


DISSATISFACTION at the state of the vast majority of the slaughterhouses operated by various butchers came to a head in 1930. Without very heavy expenditure, the butchers found it impossible to bring their killing places up to standard. The added difficulty was the inspection by Government officials to ensure only sound meat went out for consumption.

From these causes stemmed the Levin Abattoir. It has the distinction of being the fifth in size in the whole of the Dominion.

It is conducted on a non-profit-making basis, the profits going back into improving the works. Stock killed for clients comes from as far afield as Hawke's Bay and Taranaki.

All stock is killed under the supervision of two Government inspectors and a grader. There are six slaughtermen employed and eight general hands, and the management is in the hands of Mr. F. E. Larsen. The abattoir was established shortly after the first loan of £8160 was raised in 1930. From the start the industry flourished, being built up on the Wellington demand. Humane killing methods are employed.

The abattoir, plus holding paddocks, covers an area of 29 acres. A recent year's killing figures are:—Cattle: 8173; calves: 656; sheep: 51,250; lambs: 8365; pigs: 8035.


NEWCOMERS to Levin wondered why a town with the population it had was not serviced by a sewerage scheme. The absence of one for so many years is a long and interesting story.

Since 1908 the subject was debated, but nothing came of it. At that time and for many years after the major portion of the built on area was south of Queen Street. This area had a light shingle formation and water drained away very rapidly. A septic tank properly installed gave no trouble whatever and even after a quarter of a century or more worked effectively. North of Queen Street the soil is stiff and of a clay formation, and water drains away very slowly. Septic tanks are practically useless in many parts of this area.

With the major population in the well-drained area, one can see the reluctance of those householders to enter into a sewerage scheme when they were perfectly satisfied with the existing arrangements. They had a perfect answer to the Board of Health's queries.

Town's Growth Forced Issue

But the phenomenal increase in the population since 1949, especially in the area on the clay soil, made it plain that the Board of Health's insistence on a sewerage scheme could no longer be ignored and the council decided to proceed. This myth: hardly have been otherwise. The alternative was a possibl? epidemic in view of the fact that the septics which had been insta!,ea. in .the northern part of the town worked very ineffectively. Each year saw the cost rise higher.

In 1949 the estimated cost for the complete scheme to serve the borough was £102,000, but with rising costs and extensive sub­division which has taken place since it is probable that the ultimate cost will be in excess of £150,000.

As early as 1908 a scheme had been prepared, when a report was furnished by Messrs. W. S. Charlsworth and 3. A. Merrett. It was based on an estimated maximum population of 5000 over the next 25 years. The proposed site for the treatment works, and the area for them, agree with those adopted in the ultimate scheme.

Since 1943, determination of the most suitable lines for the main trunk and subsidiary sewers has entailed a vast amount of surveying and consequent collation. Finally Messrs. Vickerman and Lancaster, consulting engineers, of Wellington, were com­missioned to plan and direct the entire installation.

The main discharge sewer is over a distance of 62.25 chains, and is of 15in. diameter concrete pipes, with rubber rings. The treatment works includes three Imhoff tanks, four filters, four humus tanks and four soak pits.

Details of Treatment Works

Owing to the ample natural fall which the route provides, the treatment works has been kept high in terms of ground level at the site. The tanks are of two compartments, and the walls are 14ft. in height; they are approximately 5ft. below ground level and 9ft. above. (Wall thickness 8in. at base, 4in. at top.) The floor of each compartment is in the form of two inverted pyra­mids, the R.L. of the troughs or low points being 4ft. below the R.L. at the junction of the floor and wall (floor thickness 8in.).

Each Imhoff tank is served by two of the 54ft. diameter filters; two R.C. humus tanks, which are 17ft. at top and reduced down to 1ft. square at the bottom; and two soak pits approximately 11ft. deep, with gullet dimensions 30ft. x 9ft. and having to 1 batters.

Excavation yardages for the various items are: Imhoff tanks, each 320 cub. yds.; filters, each 110 cub. yds.; humus tanks, each 90 cub. yds.; soak -nits, each 215 cub. yds. Imhoff tanks account for most of the reinforcing steel, and there is 11 tons 14 cwt. to each.

These figures indicate that the job is no small one and should satisfy the borough's wants for many years.

An Unsightly Feature

An unsightly feature of all the operations in connection with the sewerage is the condition of all roads following the necessary excavations. These, added to the opening up of footpaths by Post Office workmen in order to plant cables to better the telephone system, have given Levin a most unkempt appearance.

Very little can be done to improve this until all properties are connected for drainage, and this untidy look must persist for several years. Perhaps when the town celebrates its diamond jubilee as a borough it will have resumed the spick and span aspect it formerly had.


LEVIN is fortunate in its recreation spots. Five are within the borough and two outside.

Of those outside the confines of the town, one, known as the Levin Domain, borders Lake Horowhenua and is 41 acres in extent. In past days it was a favourite spot for picnics. Later it was used as a golf course, but now the domain appears to be nobody's child and not many of the present citizens know of its existence.

The other is a bush-covered section, known as the Waopehu Reserve. Of 22 acres, it contains many fine specimens of native trees, notably a giant matai. It is an ideal place for a picnic in summertime.

Of the five recreation grounds in the town, the chief is the Levin Park Domain, situated a very short distance from the shop­ping area. It has an area of 11 acres and provides for rugby football in winter and cricket in summer.

At the south-east corner of this domain are the Coronation Swimming Baths. There are also swings, slides and other forms of recreation for small children.

A bitumen cycle track circles the ground and athletic and cycling sports are frequently held there.

When the present Post Office was erected, the townsfolk subscribed £200 towards it, but this was returned on the initiative of Sir Joseph Ward, then Postmaster-General, and the money was spent to improve the domain.

The Weraroa Recreation Ground is a Borough Council reserve. It is five acres in extent and caters for hockey and cricket.

Land Given For Parks

Playford Park of 20 acres, at the south-east extremity of the borough, was the gift of the late Mr. Henry Playford. Its chief use is as a motor camp.

At the end of Prouse Road is a section of native bush of 12 acres, recently given to the borough as a memorial to the Prouse family.

Off the southern end of Cambridge Street is Cambridge Park of 4.1 acres, recently bought by the borough and used for the newer form of recreation—softball.

On the east side of the town, bounded by Bath Street East and Kent Street and intersected by Cambridge Street, are the Public Gardens of 21 acres. In the gardens is the marble memorial to those who gave their lives during World War I. This obelisk in one piece came from Italy. Many important ceremonies take place here, especially on Anzac Day. One portion of the gardens is occupied by the Levin Women's Bowling Club. Small though this reserve is, the attractive manner in which it is kept is a credit to the town.

Thus Levin has 117¾ acres of open space to use for recreation in all its forms. Some of these reserves are Crown lands and are re-given every seven years.


HOUSING is the cry throughout New Zealand and Levin has responded well. During the five years 1950-55 no fewer than 505 houses were completed, an average of 101 per year. If each town in the Dominion had done likewise there would have been no shortage. The big majority of these dwellings were for private owners.

An astonishing fact concerning Levin is that the population has nearly doubled in the past 15 years.

Nor has the town's extensive building programme been con­fined to houses. Business premises, offices and all kinds of build­ings have sprung up almost like mushrooms—the extremely handsome Power Board offices in Queen Street West, a fine up-to-date hall for the St. John Ambulance Brigade in Queen Street East and a Memorial Hall in concrete in Queen Street West to commemorate the sacrifices in World War II. The foundation stone was laid by Sir Howard Kippenberger.

The R.S.A. has a recreation hall in Devon Street. A new butter factory for the Levin Co-operative Dairy Company in Queen Street East shows the faith the local dairy farmers have in the industry.

In Bristol Street the N.I.M.U. Insurance Company has erected a fine two-storey office block. North of Queen Street and south of Bath Street many shops have made their appearance. One of the most striking is W. Bull Ltd.'s handsome building.

In addition, two new schools have been provided—one on the east side and the other on the north, to relieve the acute con­gestion at the Levin School.

Further, a most modern maternity home in Bath Street East and additions to the Private Hospital in Queen Street have remedied the long lack of these necessities in such a rapidly growing district.

The Anglican community is to be congratulated on its fine new church. Situated in Cambridge Street, it takes the place of the old wooden edifice which has done duty for more than half a century. St. Andrew's Catholic Church is also building a modern church to cater for its needs.

The total value of all these additions, with their furnishings, to the town's buildings during the past five years must be in the vicinity of £500,000.



THE practical and official consummation of the Mangahao enterprise was signalled at Shannon on Monday, November 3, 1924, when the Prime Minister, in the presence of a notable assemblage of citizens, formally turned on the water of the dis­tant mountain torrent into the giant generators, and enabled power and light to speed throughout the length and breadth of Horowhenua. Thus, over four years of toil and endeavour came to their fore-ordained end. Mangahao, with its almost insuperable difficulties, its disappointments and its triumphs, had reached the stage of accomplishment.

The achievement occupied a very definite place in the story of New Zealand's material progress. Man, by the magic of his brain, and with the patient use of his hands and the material available, has here wrought a miracle. It was fitting then that the place of honour was given to those who were associated in the great endeavour—the engineers, Hay, Parry, Birks and Kissell, who discovered and planned; and Dinnie, Anderson, Johnston, Millar and Lindop, who brought into being the conception of their colleagues.

The whole scheme was a romance, seldom experienced by the average man. To imprison the waters of a mountain stream in the heart of the Tararua Range, miles back in the bush; to drive tunnels through two intervening mountain spurs, tunnels each over a mile in length; to do this, in the face of difficulties, which to the layman seem almost insuperable—difficulties from flood, difficulties of transport of the machinery and materials necessary for the work—and through these tunnels to carry the diverted waters of that river to the slope of the mountainside; from there to the dive, through a pipeline, it is true, but still to dive, in a 900 ft. fall to the plain below. This was a work to grip the imagination from the vastness of its conception and the utter boldness of its execution.

To whom the credit for the discovery of Mangahao and its possibilities should be given cannot be easily decided. From all the information that can be gleaned from files and from people interested it is apparent that the root of the matter was known to laymen long before the Government came upon the scene. Mr. W. H. Gunning, a member of the Horowhenua Power Board in 1924, took up residence in Shannon in 1900. There he made the acquaintance of Mr. James Wallace, the first manager of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway, who, even in those days, was en­thusiastic about the undeveloped power in the Shannon hills. "There is enough power there," he said, "to drive all the wheels between Wellington and New Plymouth, and our children will see the railways electrified from that source."

Government Asked To Act

Largely as the result of Mr. Wallace's insistence, Mr. Gunning initiated a movement for the recognition of Mangahao by the Government. As a result of his activities, a meeting was held in Shannon on February 3, 1911, at which the following resolution was carried: "That the Government be requested to make a
com­plete survey of the Mangahao and Tokomaru Streams with a view to ascertaining their suitability for obtaining electric energy for the flaxmilling and other industries."

A committee was set up, including among others Mr. B. R. Gardener (mayor of Levin), Mr. G. H. Stiles (mayor of Foxton), Councillors Venn and Stephenson (Horowhenua County Council), and Messrs. A. Seifert (later a member of the Horowhenua Power Board), L. Seifert, M. Moynihan, W. Murdoch (later the mayor of Shannon), and J. Liggins, and these gentlemen were instructed to further the interests of Mangahao vigorously. A visit to the back-country was planned for February 12, 1911, and the member for the district (Mr. W. H. Field) was invited to be present.

The meeting passed a vote of sincere thanks to Mr. Gunning for his action and the valuable information he had collected on the project.

Following upon the visit to Mangahao, the matter was taken up vigorously by Mr. Field in Parliament, and eventually the Government instructed Mr. P. D. Hay, at that time chief electrical engineer to the Public Works Department, to report upon its possibilities. Mr. Hay spent many weeks going over the ground, and found that there were seven or eight possible schemes. The matter rested there, however, and attention was directed to Lake Waikaremoana in the Poverty Bay district, and the Waikato River at Arapuni as the two power-generating centres for the North Island.

Both of these were so far distant from the Wellington end of the island that the transmission of power was recognised as a serious problem. It was obvious that a southern station was necessary to balance the scheme, and the credit of first fully realising the great potentialities of Mangahao for this purpose is due to Mr. F. T. M. Kissell, who shortly after this was appointed chief electrical engineer of the Dominion.

Survey Task Went Unheralded

It was then determined that the proposition was worthy of the most serious consideration, and in 1915 Mr. C. Sealy was dis­patched with a survey party to make a thorough investigation of the possibilities of the site. For six months they toiled in the ranges at the back of Shannon, unknown to the public, un­heralded, and almost unrecorded, but when they emerged the work had been done, and it demonstrated beyond the shadow of doubt that the great scheme was more than the dream of a theorist. They had measured the water in the river; taken levels; fixed on the site of dams and tunnels, and ascertained that, with the water available, there could be generated the power that was required. The scheme was practicable—it only remained to develop it.

It was not until 1918 that anything further was done. World War I demanded the whole of the country's energies, aad it was not until the conclusion of the conflict that the work could receive serious consideration. Mr. E. Parry (then the chief elec­trical engineer), in his report on the hydro-electrical potentiali­ties of the North Island, adopted the Mangahao proposal, with Waikaremoana and Arapuni, for the generation of the power.

When the first party arrived on the scene of operations—Mr. G. P. Anderson and another—the difficulties which confronted them were staggering.

Hardships And Disappointments

When they stepped out of the carriage at Shannon with the whole of the work before them, and surveyed the forbidding range of hills which confronted them, they, at least, recognised that the completion of the scheme would involve many hardships and dis­appointments. Lying seven miles back in the bush was a river, and between this and where they stood interposed two giant ridges of rock some 1500 feet in height. Their job was to build two dams holding between them 117 million cubic feet of water, drive tunnels through the intervening hills, and bring the stored-up water, tamed and shackled, to toil in the plains below. Many heartbreaking difficulties had to be overcome before the was an accomplished fact.

It was particularly fitting that the Horowhenua Power Board. should have been the first part of the area served by the Manga­hao scheme to receive power. Early in 1920, the first step towards forming a power board for the district was taken by the election of a provisional committee, the members of which were appointed by the various local bodies within the district. This committee consisted of Mr. G. A. Monk (chairman, representative of the Horowhenua County Council), Mr. J. Chrystall (mayor of Foxton), Mr. D. W. Matheson (mayor of Levin), Mr. A. Mackay (Hutt County Council), Mr. W. Murdoch (mayor of Shannon) and Mr. C. Kilsby (Otaki Town Council). This body met for the first time in the Levin Borough Council Chambers on December 21, 1920.

At this meeting a district suggested by the Public Works Department, and practically coinciding with the bounds of the present board, was formulated.

A petition to the Governor-General, as prescribed by the Act, asking that a power board district be set up, was agreed to, and arrangements were made to circulate a petition in the district, the Act laying down that 25 per cent of the ratepayers in any district must petition to have a power board formed. On Novem­ber 29, 1921, the district was proclaimed, and everything was ready for the real work of organisation that lay ahead.

The first meeting of the power board proper was held on February 20, 1922, Mr. G. A. Monk being elected the first chair­man, and Mr. P. W. Goldsmith, at that time clerk to the Horo­whenua County Council, was appointed clerk to the board. Levin was selected as the headquarters of the new board.

In April, 1922, Mr. T. R. Overton, at that time engineer to the Central Power Board, Waikato, was appointed engineer, and at the June meeting of the board presented an estimate of the work it was proposed to undertake, to cost approximately £260,000. Nearly a 1000 ratepayers voted for the proposal, with only 23 against. During the two years of negotiations the work of bringing Mangahao to completion had progressed remarkably, and the time had come for the board to implement its policy. That was carried out with commendable speed and efficiency, with the result that the district was endowed with electric power on November 3, 1924.


THE Horowhenua electric power district was gazetted on December 1, 1921, with the following constituent districts:— Boroughs of Foxton, Levin, Shannon and Otaki, County of Horowhenua, the Whareroa Riding of Hutt County and portion of the Awahou Riding of the Manawatu County, an area of 630 square miles.

There had been no electrical development whatever in the area, so there was a clear field for a comprehensive scheme. In the original survey of power requirements it was considered that the major load would be in the northern area, which was given over to flax growing and milling. For a time this proved to be the case, but with the fall in value of the processed flax the industry waned. Ever ready to face up to the difficulties that arose, and to overcome them, the settlers then drained the swamp areas and brought them into production as small dairy farms; the load increased again and has even exceeded anticipations.

In the southern area also, unpredictable developments have taken place, developments brought about by the changing of unoccupied coastal areas to popular seaside resorts with, in later years, many permanent homes of persons in the Paekakariki-Paraparaumu area who travel daily to and from Wellington.

The board takes supply from the State Hydro-Electric Department.

The head office of the board was originally situated in the Municipal Buildings. In 1950 the board erected its own premises in Queen Street at a cost of £27,000. This building was officially opened to the public on September 17, 1951, and is occupied by the board's administrative and technical staff.

Early in 1951 the board completed a modern pole factory for the manufacture of concrete poles. Hardwood poles have increased in price and deliveries from Australia have become uncertain. As a result of the board's enterprise, it is assured of a supply of poles for further reticulation.

Power Sold At Low Rate

Some idea of the board's growth in the post-war years is indicated by the increase in capital expenditure. At March 31,1945, the total capital outlay was £293,514 compared with £750,500 nine years later. There is still a largo programme of work to be carried out in order to reticulate subdivisions which have already been completed.

By its sound administration, the board progressively reduced electricity charges to consumers after the original schedule was prepared in 1924. Some slight variations were made over the years, but no great increases were necessary. In 1953 a rise in bulk supply charges and growing costs forced an increase in rates to consumers.

Some examples of the present rates are as follows:—

Domestic (solely for houses).—Ten units per month, 6d; 60 units per month, 1½d; balance at 1d; controlled water heating, ½d per unit.

Commercial (shops, offices, hotels, workshops, etc.)—Light: Fifty units per month, 6d; balance at 4d. Heating and cooking: 1¼ per unit; night, 6d.

Rural (power and light supply to farms for milking, shearing, etc.).—Power, 3d per unit; water heating, ½ per unit.

Industrial (power for factories).-600 units per month at 3d, 3000 per month at 2d, balance at 1½d.

These figures show the important part the board plays in the financial life of the town.—No. of consumers, 13,052; power pur­chased, £112,961; loans raised, £750,479; loan indebtedness, £481,075; revenue for year, £255,817; expenditure for year, £248,853.

The "Great White Way"

It is a far cry to the days when the first settlers had to provide their own illumination per medium of hurricane lamps if the necessity arose for a visit to the store after dark. What a boon when the acetylene lamps came into being. Utopia was reached when the gas lamps superseded these, but did any of those pioneers ever in their wildest dreams imagine the "Great White Way" Oxford Street presents in this era of electricity?

If one stands at the middle of the crossing opposite the Post Office and looks south at the blaze of light under the shop veran­dahs and the big lamps on the poles, one can understand the advice Mr. Macalister, mayor of Wellington, gave his council, that the city could well copy the example of Levin and brighten up the streets of Wellington at night. The new lighting is a big advance on the original bulb system, which was discontinued during the power shortage of a year or so ago.

The present chairman of the board is Mr. C. S. Keedwell, J.P. The managing-secretary is Mr. R. A. Frederikson, and the engi­neer Mr. J. F. Bryce. The staff numbers upwards of 70, including inside and outside employees.



THE Levin School has played quite an important part in the history of education in the town, first as the Levin School, then at its peak as the Levin District High School, with a roll surpassed by only three schools in the Dominion, and reverting once more to the title of Levin School with the advent of Horowhenua College.

Early on there were two schools, one on the block between Queen Street West and Bath Street West and one at Weraroa. Eventually the small school at Weraroa was closed and the build­ing brought to the main school in Oxford Street to be used as a science room. The old site of the main school had been aban­doned and the new school erected on its present site. Possibly the idea was that the new position would suit both Weraroa and Levin.

Not much thought could have been given to the comfort of the pupils on the new site because the building was so arranged that in the winter the children on the east side were nearly frozen while those on the west side were so warmed by the westerly sun that many could not keep awake during the afternoon session.

Their Only Chance of New School!

As the school greatly needed enlargement the committee of the day thought the opportunity had arrived to apply for an entirely new building. Accordingly strong representatives were made to the Wellington Education Board and the Government.

The Minister of Education, Sir James Parr, decided to review the situation for himself and met members of the committee at the school. After a close examination and noting how sound the timber was in every part—the school had been built when natur­ally dried heart wood was easy to obtain—Sir James turned to the committee and, holding a box of matches in his open hand, said: "Gentlemen, this is your only chance."

None of the committee took him at his word and though once or twice small outbreaks occurred under the floors, these fortun­ately were soon discovered and the box of matches remained unused for the purpose at least.

What a difference in the 65 years that have elapsed since Mr. R. J. Pope enrolled the first pupils at the Levin School on February 24, 1890, when three presented themselves—Emily, Charles and Bertram Staff. The same week saw William Macintosh, Dorothy, Arthur and Robert Stuckey, Thomas and Emma Smithson, and Bert Dukes added to the number. This then was the nucleus of what in later years was to become the largest district high school in the Dominion.

It is a far cry from the time when Mr. J. McIntyre commencea in 1892 with 60 pupils, resigned in 1922 with a roll of 680, and now in 1955 there are 1280 children enrolled in the State primary schools of the town. Levin has more children of school age than any other town with a similar population.

Many Staff Changes

Mr. McIntyre was succeeded in 1922 by Mr. R. J. Foss, who was headmaster until December, 1936. On the resignation of Mr. Foss, Mr. W. Thomas, head of the secondary department, was made temporary headmaster.

The departure of Mr. Foss preceded a number of staff changes. One year later Miss M. Hitchco*ck, who had been infant mistress since 1915, and Mr. H. J. Jones, who joined the staff the same year but two months later, both became superannuitants. By the time the Horowhenua College was opened in 1940 with Mr. W. Thomas as principal and Mr. H. F. McClune as headmaster of what was once more the Levin School, only several of the old staff remained.

The death of these two highly-esteemed members of the pro­fession was a great loss. Mr. Thomas, a most lovable character, died in harness, while Mr. McClune did not live long to enjoy his well-earned retirement. Such is the fate of many of mankind.

Additional Schools Built

After the end of World War II and the return home of so many men, the population of Levin rapidly increased. Although the secondary pupils had gone to the new college, the school roll grew near the 1000 mark and the new headmaster, Mr. C. H. Taylor, was at his wits' end to accommodate all the children.

The Wellington Education Board and the Government were aware of the fact and a decision was reached to erect two further schools, one on the east side in Bartholomew Road at the top of Bath Street, and the other in Weraroa Road at the York Street corner. These are known respectively as the East School and the North School.

The East School was completed first. It is built on the most modern lines, with every facility both for pupils and teachers. The school committee has worked energetically to add many amenities both inside and outside. The headmaster is Mr. T. E. Douds, formerly at Foxton District High School. There are 12 teachers on the staff and a roll of 380.

The main school has now reached manageable proportions with 580 pupils and Mr. Taylor finds himself with 17 teachers to aid him.

Unexpected Development

When the North School was authorised for construction building activities on the Read block, which for many years had been a dairy farm, had only begun and it was not foreseen how quickly houses would appear there—almost like mushrooms in the night. Consequently provision was made for only one modern building and that for infants only.

The new school appeared to be slow in taking shape and by the time it was ready for use it was found that no fewer than 249 pupils were available.

The classes had been for some time under their teachers at the Levin School in Oxford Street and only needed to change to the new school. Two long prefabs had to be hastily constructed and the roll now numbers 320 with a staff of seven and a head­master. Mr. D. T. Gardner, from Gracefield, Petone, was appointed to take charge.

Prefabricated buildings are very unsuitable for schools and Cabinet has already given sanction for a similar edifice to the one first erected and including an administrative block. Work is expected to begin shortly and when completed the North School will be well equipped.

Diamond Jubilee Celebrated

In 1950 the Levin School held its Diamond Jubilee. On Febru­ary 24 in brilliant sunshine past and present pupils met at the school. Old pupils were present from all parts of the North and South Islands and in addition several from overseas. The reader can understand the chatter, smiles, handshakes and even kisses that occurred.

The mayor, Mr. H. B. Burdekin, welcomed the assembled company. Mr. A. C. Kennerley, chairman of the school com­mittee, voiced his appreciation at being present and concluded by announcing that the following Monday would be a school holiday. This was received with loud applause, especially by the pupils of the time. On the Friday a most enjoyable ball was held in the Regent Hall and over 400 spent a happy evening.

Saturday saw the grand parade. Ex-pupils met at the school. Grouped in their decades and led by the Levin Municipal Band they marched to the Public Gardens. Wreaths were placed on the Cenotaph. After a roll call made by past and present teachers, the parade returned to the school, headed by the Highland Pipe Band.

That evening a banquet was held in the Regent Hall. The hall was packed with an enthusiastic crowd that did full justice to the viands placed before them.

After the loyal toast, had been duly honoured, Mr. H. Denton proposed the health of the "Early Settlers" and it was responded to by Mr. W. G. Clark. The "Levin Borough" was proposed by Mr. J. P. Bertram to which the mayor, Mr. H. B. Burdekin, made the response. The toast of "Early Pupils," entrusted to Mr. H. J. Jones was enthusiastically received. Mr. Jones told of several amusing incidents during his 24 years at the school and also spoke of the loss of old pupils in World War II. He made feeling remarks concerning the late Mr. J. McIntyre. Responding for ex-pupils, Mr. E. M. Ryder mentioned how Mr. McIntyre had endeared himself to the pupils of his day. Mr. Nepia Winiata, in a typically eloquent style, also paid tribute to "Mac" and also his fellow pupils.

Other toasts honoured included the "Headmaster and Teachers," proposed by Mr. V. J. Bateman and responded to by the headmaster, Mr. F. McClune; "Parliament," proposed by Mr. J. H. Allen and replied to by Mr. J. J. Maher, M.P. for Otaki, and Sir Matthew Oram, Speaker of the House; the "School Committee"; "Education Board"; "Absent Friends"; and the "Press and Artists".

On the Sunday (February 26) a united church thanksgiving service was held at 2.30 p.m. in the Regent Theatre. The con­gregation filled the building. The Rev. G. B. Stote-Blandy, vicar of St. Mary's, presided and was assisted by the Revs. H. S. Kings (St. John's Methodist Church) and A. Salmond (St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church).

Monday saw the many partings and promises of re-uniting when the next celebration took place in 1965.

Levin School Teachers

In a school as large as the Levin School before the erection of the new units there must of necessity have been, through the years, a great number of teachers on the staff, and truly their numbers are legion.

During the first quarter of a century the changes were beyond computation. Coming and going, going and coming, the log book page by page tells of the frequent changes. Levin, notwithstand­ing its growing size, was still to all intents and purposes a back-block school. Transport was not as it is today. The train service was not suitable, the roads were of very inferior quality and the motor-car was unknown. Teachers who had gone through their training course at the Wellington Training College had had a taste of city life and were not enamoured of life in the country. Accommodation was not easy to get for single men or women. Again, owing to the system, a teacher could not rise in the pro­fession if he or she stayed too long in one school. It was a case of if you want to get on you must move on!

After the termination of World War I, with the advent of the motor-car, the improved train service, the gradual improvement of the roads and the great strides Levin made as a centre for Horowhenua, there was a great change in the personnel of the school staff. From perpetual change, fixity of tenure became the rule and during the late thirties of this century the school had the distinction of possessing a greater number of teachers of long periods of service than any other school in the Dominion. There were two who had spent over 20 years at the school, two with over 15 years, one with 12, and nearly the whole of the remainder had seven years or more to their credit. It is significant, too, that in the 50 years of its existence, two headmasters shared 44 years.

Several of the men who at one time taught in the school later occupied responsible positions in the teaching world. Mr. J. C. Burns, the first male assistant the school had, was for many years headmaster of Petone West School. In addition Mr. Burns was a member of the Petone Borough Council. The older genera­tion will remember Jack Burns as a high-grade footballer.

Mr. C. F. Rockel—"Rock" to the pupils—was headmaster at Kaiwarra School, Mr. B. M. Kibblewhite, vice-principal of Auck­land Training School, Mr. J. Marsh, headmaster of a large Auckland school, and Mr. H. G. B. MacDonald, headmaster of Trentham School for several years. They have all retired now.


LEVIN now has its free kindergarten, situated alongside the Levin Plunket Society's new rooms off Cambridge Street.

The modern building, with all the latest in equipment needed for this branch of education, is the result of the energy and enter­prise of members of the Levin Junior Chamber of Commerce. In eight months during 1951 they raised just over £3000. This amount, carrying a Government subsidy of £2 for £1, gave the town its kindergarten, which was finally opened in 1954.

Some 40 tiny tots attend each morning and on two afternoons a week different children have the opportunity of using the facilities offered.

True to their belief that a sound education needs two aspects, the spiritual as well as solely intellectual, the Roman Catholics of the district built their own school, and conducted by the Sisters of St. Joseph the Levin Convent School has a roll of 206 pupils. The school was opened in 1920 and is doing excellent work in the educational sphere. The classes range from infants to Form II pupils. There is evidence of increasing growth in the school roll. The infant room has been extended and in a year or two another classroom will be necessary. This school, with a staff of five teachers, is situated in Weraroa Road, not far from the centre of the town.


ON February 6, 1905, secondary subjects were introduced into the Levin School curriculum. By the 1930's the secondary depart­ment had become too unwieldy for the available buildings. It was then the largest district high school in the Dominion and it was unfair that a headmaster should be expected to oversee sour classes in the infant department, 10 in the primary and six forms in the secondary. He aid not have the assistance of a secretary and was expected to take one secondary subject. Many parents were dissatisfied with this state of affairs and numbers of pupils, after passing standard six, were sent to colleges in various parts of the country.

There was general rejoicing when it became known that at last a separate college bad been decided upon by the Education 4,7 Department and so Horowhenua College came into existence.

Realisation of Dream

It was on February 6, 1940, that the college commenced its service to the community, although the official opening ceremony did not take place until February 24. The official opening marked the successful culmination of efforts extending over 15 years of negotiations.

In the unavoidable absence of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Fraser, the ceremony was performed by Mrs. Fraser. There was a large attendance of the public, the gathering including Welling­ton Education Board members, College Advisory Committee, representatives of local bodies throughout the district, residents associated with educational matters in former years, and many pupils and ex-pupils of the Levin School.

Pleasure at being present was expressed by Mr. Dyer, chair­man of the Wellington Education Board, who went on to say that the college was the realisation of a dream, the ultimate attain­ment of which had materialised only after strenuous efforts by the people of the district had been made. Mr. Fraser was the man who had the handling of the negotiations but unfortunately he could not be present, but Mrs. Fraser was there in his place.

In referring to the growth of education in New Zealand, Mr. Dyer stated that it had played a most important part in the development of the country, and the people of the present owed a massive debt of gratitude to the early pioneers. There had been a time in the history of education when buildings had been poorly constructed, lighting was incorrect, little attention was paid to ventilation, and little or no attention had been paid to the physi­cal side of the children's development. At that time the system was wholly academic, while only a few parents could afford secondary education for their children. What a change had occurred! Fine primary schools were now situated in close prox­imity throughout the various districts, and furthermore there were conveyances to transport the country children to the secon­dary centres. There were correspondence schools, technical schools, and colleges with highly trained staffs to teach a wide range of subjects. Play areas were larger, brighter and more attractive.

Mr. Dyer stated that the district was to be congratulated, and Shannon and Otaki were to be commended on joining forces for such a splendid modern college to be established. The district now had a worthwhile institution and one much better than would have been the case without the wonderful assistance of those two towns. The board had estimated the initial roll num­ber, but on opening day that estimate had been greatly exceeded.

Prefacing his remarks by commenting that Levin had always possessed good educational ideals, the mayor, Mr. P. W. Gold­smith, said the town had started with a district high school in 1905. It had been an excellent institution and had done grand work. On February 23, 1925, an important meeting was held, at which representations were made to the Minister of Education, Sir James Parr, to have the district high school converted into a high school proper. From that time representations had been made to successive Governments for better facilities but nothing of a practical nature eventuated until Mr. Fraser became the Minister of Education. His idea was that there should be a central school, serving the entire district, and combining secondary, tech­nical and cultural education. The result of this was Horowhenua College.

Mr. Fraser could not be present because he was fully occupied with the celebrations in connection with the wonderful effort of H.M.S. Achilles in upholding the grand traditions of the British Navy. The mayor went on to state that the contractors and the architect were to be highly commended upon the completion of such a fine building. The boys and girls of the Horowhenua dis­trict were about to embark on a new enterprise. They were the first pupils of the new college, and a wonderful opportunity, not open to only one, but to all who entered the college portals, had been brought to all of them.

They would be the founders of the college traditions, and the hope was that they would build up one which others would be proud to endeavour to emulate.

Mr. F. H. Hudson, chairman of the College Advisory Com­mittee, voiced his appreciation to the Wellington Education Board, the Education Department, and all who had helped in the estab­lishment of the college. Continuing, Mr. Hudson said that the College was being opened under very special circ*mstances, in that the Dominion was celebrating its centennial. It was also of interest to note that the new building was occupied on February 6, which was the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Wai­tangi. The name Horowhenua was Maori and he hoped that in the future the native and pakeha pupils would stand side by side in building up fine traditions for the college.

Pleasure at representing the department at the function wa. expressed by Dr. C. E. Beeby, Acting Director of Education. He did not think that there was a better college building in the Dominion. The exterior was bright and cheerful, yet dignified and permanent. He was extremely gratified with the interior, particularly the very fine engineering and domestic science sections.

Mrs. Fraser then performed the official opening of the building.

Fine Modern Building

The very latest in educational architecture, and with every­thing possible in appointments, the elaborately constructed and commodious college provides unexcelled opportunities for students to pursue their studies, and at the same time makes a very hand­some addition to the buildings of the town.

The main building is rectangular in design, giving a maxi­mum of light and ventilation to all the rooms. An imposing facade in the centre on the second floor accommodates a roomy library, with shelves lining three walls, a librarian's desk, and facilities for book repair work. Below this, and on either side of the main doors, are the principal's office, the secretary's office, a teachers' cloakroom and two laboratories.

Along the northern wing are six classrooms, and also com­mercial, geography and drafting rooms. The rear portion of the building is comprised of rooms for woodwork and engineering, the former having an upstairs storeroom. Also here is a teachers' common-room. On the southern side are three classrooms, to­gether with rooms for dressmaking, art and cookery. Attached to the domestic science section is a model flat, consisting of a bedroom and sitting room, and equipped with all the modern conveniences for the fullest possible training in all branches of domestic work.

Central heating is installed, and it is interesting to note that the hot pipes run the full length of the students' cloakrooms, thus making it possible for all damp clothes to be dried while the pupils are in school. To the north of the main building is the assembly hall, which plays an important part in college life. Surrounding the entire building are ample playing fields, provid­ing excellent facilities for the recreational and Physical develop­ment of the scholars.

The first principal was Mr. W. Thomas. On his death in 1946 he was succeeded by Mr. N. A. Byrne. In 1955 Mr. Byrne resigned for health reasons. The present principal is Mr. A. Haley.

Mr. F. H. Hudson, the first chairman of the College Advisory Committee, is the present chairman of the Board of Managers.



THE people of Levin have been ever ready to provide for their spiritual needs and the Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Church of Christ, Salvation Army and Plymouth Brethren faiths are established in the town. Each has its own place of worship.

Town's First Church

The Methodists were the first to erect a church. Mr. Richard Prouse gave the section where the church of St. John and the parsonage now stand. Mr. Peter Arcus was the successful ten­derer at £230. The church stood on the site of the present par­sonage. It accommodated 120 people. The opening ceremony took place on July 14, 1895, the Rev. G. S. Harper being the celebrant. The Rev. J. R. Clark, Otaki, was in charge of the circuit. A choir of men and women from Rongotea and Sanson accompanied the Rev. G. S. Harper.

Later the Century Hall was built to house the increasing congregations. The old church was taken to the rear of the Century Hall and is now used as a Sunday school for the infants.

By the energy of the Rev. Dr. W. G. Slade, who was in charge from 1931-36, a new church of solid material was erected and dedicated on November 17, 1936. Recently a fine pipe organ has been installed.

Methodists in Levin have been fortunate in their ministers, of whom the Revs. J. H. Haslam, J. D. McArthur, H. S. Kings and Dr. Slade will perhaps be best remembered. Now in charge of the circuit is the Rev. C. P. Lucas.

Anglicans Build Church

The second church to be built was St. Mary's Anglican Church, also in Cambridge Street. The members of the Church of England had met for worship in private houses with ministra­tons from clergy in older settled districts. By 1897 their numbers had increased to such an extent that a building became a neces­sity. A bush-covered site was purchased at the corner of Cam­bridge and Stanley Street East (now known as Manchester Street) and a church in wood erected. The bishop of the Diocese of Wellington at the time was Bishop Wallis.

The church was opened for divine service in 1898, three years after the Methodist Church. The new church was given the name of St. Mary's and had accommodation for about 150 worshippers.

The original church had a short steeple, but about 25 years ago this became unsafe and the bell tower was cut down to its present height.

In 1954, having secured sufficient funds, it was resolved to call for tenders for the erection of a church in reinforced concrete to take the place of the old building on the same site. Witnessed by many sightseers, the wooden church was safely moved across the road to a section opposite. With the new church in use, the old building will be occupied as a Sunday school.

Ten clergy have held the position of vicar. One of those about the beginning of the century was the Rev. J. S. McNickle. During the middle period the Revs. W. Grove and G. B. Stephen­son will be best remembered. Mr. Grove resigned to return to England. Tennis players will remember what a fillip Mrs. Grove gave to the game.

Canon J. C. Davies held the position of vicar for the longest period. During his term the substantial brick vicarage was built. The old wooden vicarage over the rise in Cambridge Street was often surrounded by flood waters.

The new church will be opened for worship this jubilee year of the town and will be a fine addition to Levin. It will have a peal of bells and a first-class pipe organ. The total cost will be in the vicinity of £35,000.

The present vicar is the Rev. E. K. Norman, D.S.O., M.C., B.A., who, as Lieut.-Colonel Norman, had a distinguished career in World War II, leaving his studies to join the army and resuming them at the cessation of hostilities.

One cannot close this brief history of St. Mary's without men­tioning the late Mr. J. W. Hayfield, one of the most versatile musicians Levin has had. For nearly 50 years, with a short inter­mission, he was organist at the parish church.

Presbyterian History

Presbyterian activity also dates back to the early days of the town and when the decision was made to build a church a site in Oxford Street, between what was expected to become the centre of population and Weraroa, was chosen.

The present century had not arrived when the Rev. J. McCaw took the first service in the new church. The best known of all those who succeeded him was probably the Rev. Bawden Harris. He held the cure longer than any other. Not only was Mr. Harris the father of his flock, but he also distinguished himself on the cricket field, being a keen follower of the game. Later he was a prominent member of the Levin Bowling Club.

Other well-known men of the cloth were the Rev. Dr. I. W. Fraser and Rev. A. Salmond. The present minister is the Rev. W. H. D. Warin, LL.B.

Plans are under way to build a new church in the near future.

Roman Catholic Progress

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Andrew was erected just prior to the building of the Presbyterian Church. Its present situation is in Mako Mako Road, but a substantial new edifice is planned in Weraroa Road. The foundation stone of the new church will be laid during the period of the present celebrations.

When the two last-mentioned churches are completed, Levin will then have four edifices which will show to all the thinness and strength of the faith in our town.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army Hall in Bath Street West was commenced the same year as the borough was incorporated and opened for service in 1907. Previously the Army had the use of a small hall at the corner of Salisbury and Queen Streets, sharing it with a spiritualist society, which at the time held services. The hall was afterwards turned into a dwelling.

The Salvation Army has always played an active part in the religious life of the town and the band, sometimes large in num­bers, sometimes not so large, can still be heard in the highways and byways, reminding people of the Christian faith.

Brethren Have Two Churches

The Plymouth Brethren have two places of worship. The older one in Oxford Street has been in existence for over 40 years. The church in Queen Street East is of recent construction.

The Church of Christ in Seddon Street was erected much later. For many years the adherents of the faith had to depend on "supply" for their services. Now, however, there is a resident minister, the Rev. B. Kirby, who is an acquisition not only to those good people who attend the Seddon Street Church but also to the Levin Swimming Club as he is a keen swimmer.

Only in the last few years has the Baptist persuasion become active in the town. Previously, its members were found visiting the other Protestant churches. A start was eventually made and services were held in the Oddfellows' Hall. In 1954 a church was completed in Rugby Street and the Baptists have a resident min­ister, the Rev. H. Nees. In 1955 the Welsh revivalist, the Rev. Ivor Powell, held a mission in connection with the church.



PICTURE the district around Levin in the year 1880—a country of scattered farms hewn out of dense bush, acres of burnt and blackened stumps where the forest had been put to the flame and small areas of tilled land. Roads were little more than tracks by modern standards, communication and transport were difficult. Each little community a self-centred and self-reliant village almost.

Life was hard in those days and men toiled from dawn to dark clearing land, ploughing, harvesting and milking—preparing the way for what they could only visualise as lying in the future. It would have been easy for a continued exploitation of land to have gone on almost indefinitely until the district was as barren as a desert. Dairying was making a beginning.

At first a few cows were imported for home use only. Then in the natural process of reproduction, herds began to grow and the dairy products found a ready sale at sawmilling camps and town­ships.

In the late 1880s pre-factory dairying had taken on large proportions and the disposal of the home-made product became an ever-increasing problem. Local markets were glutted and trial shipments overseas were not encouraging. Storekeepers and others who bought and bartered for supplies with the farmers were at their wits' end to know how to dispose of a perishable article which did not always comply with first quality standards.

For some time there had been a movement afoot among farmers for an organised group to handle the dairying products. Men could see that the difficulties which lay ahead would require the services of a competent and reliable organisation.

Farmers Form Company

Co-operative dairy companies were being formed in other parts of New Zealand as the fairest basis on which the business of selling the products could be found. In April, 1890, the National Dairy Association of New Zealand had been formed and this gave an indication of the trend which the smaller districts could follow.

On May 3, 1899, several local farmers gathered in the Road Board's Office in Levin, their purpose was to discuss the forming of a co-operative dairy company, and on May 6 in the same year at a meeting of the provisional directors the name of the company was decided. The actual date of the inception of the company was May 3, 1899.

The name of the Levin Co-operative Dairy Company Limited is a name that conjures up memories of the past among the farming community and the older settlers of Levin, bringing back to their minds the prosperous days of sawmilling and the almost mushroom growth of the district.

Pessimists predicted that Levin would suffer the fate of the West Coast gold mining towns when the bush was cut out. In­deed, such might have been its fate if the prolific growth of grass had not been noted among the thousands of stumps which strewed the landscape. It was quickly seen that the district's eminent suitability for dairy farming was the answer to the pessimists and instead of a slump, dairying gave the town an extra fillip when this company was formed towards the end of last century.

The company has been very fortunate in its managers. The first was the late Mr. James Aim, who left to manage the newly-formed Shannon Dairy Company. Two men followed in quick succession—Messrs. Rockel and Dempster.

Then arrived the golden age of the Levin Dairy Company when the late Mr. James Smellie became factory manager. When he was appointed the yearly turnover was 300 tons and at his retirement 35 years later it had risen to several thousand.

Mr. Smellie won Dominion-wide fame and under his managership "Lake" brand butter annexed championships throughout New Zealand. The value of the cups and other trophies annexed by the company through Mr. Smellie's skill in butter making amounts to several thousand pounds. These are now on view at the company's office, being a gift to the company by him on his retirement.

One fact which may not be remembered by local residents showed the high opinion held by the Government of the day on the quality of "Lake" brand. It was decided as a gesture of friendship towards Japan after that country had allied herself to the Empire in World War I, and also with the idea of a possible trade in butter, to send to the Emperor a box of New Zealand butter. It was "Lake" brand that had the honour.

Solid Progress Continues

Since Mr. Smellie retired the company has continued to pro­gress. In order to keep the memory of the late manager green, the company instituted an annual bursary at Horowhenua College, to be known as the James Smellie Bursary.

The present output of the factory is restricted somewhat by the operation of the town milk supply, many farmers in the district contributing to this.

During the season 1954-55 the company manufactured 1847 tons 10 cwt. 1 qr. 18 lb. of butter compared with 1855 tons 13 cwt. 1 qr. 3 lb., a decrease of about eight tons on the previous year's output. The season's average payment to the producers was slightly under 3/21 per lb. of butterfat.

The suppliers produced a better quality cream and as a consequence the average grade of the butter had improved. This brought a fair share of prizes at the Waikato Winter Show.

The number of suppliers was 375, a decrease of 13 on the previous year. Of the output, 1,673,224 lb. of butter were sold for export and 2,458,703 lb. locally consumed.

Increasing Local Demand

With the export quantity—less than 750 tons last year—falling and the locally-consumed continually rising—nearly 1200 tons last year—the chairman, Mr. D. K. Guy, said at the last annual meeting that with the continued big increases in the population he could foresee that the time was not far distant when there would be no butter for export.

Until a few short years ago the company had a reputation for its piggeries and the quality of its porkers and baconers. Many prizes were won at various shows. However, the directors decided to eliminate pigs as a sideline.

The company believes in progressing with the times and has recently occupied an entirely new concrete building—the old premises were proving totally inadequate—at a cost of about £45,000. The machinery inside is all up-to-date and cost about the same figure.

The company, besides the secretary, employs 25 hands en­gaged in butter making and lorry driving 260 miles daily to collect cream from the many suppliers.

The present secretary is general Mr. J. M. Parsons and the manager Mr. B. S. ("Bunny") Parsons, both of whom grew up with the company.

Levin owes much of its prosperity to the existence of the company.



THE earliest resident doctor in Levin was Dr. Mackenzie. He also took a very active part in the life of the town, always looking for some improvement. Dr. Davies was next to appear to watch over the health of the inhabitants. He lived in what is now Wistaria [Wisteria] Lodge. Dr. Kennedy at this time had his surgery in Queen Street East. Dr. Davies left Levin to join the Medical Corps in World War I and on the cessation of hostilities returned to Levin for only a few short months.

During the war years Levin was well served by Dr. R. Bryson and later assisted by his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Bryson, whose fame spread from one end of the Dominion to the other. Dr. Bryson was succeeded by Dr. Gow. Then Dr. S. J. Thompson and the late Dr. L. J. Hunter came to attend to the sick.

Now Levin has five medical men to look after its sick. This does not mean that the health of the public has deteriorated, but the population has increased so greatly.

In the late Mr. D. S. Mackenzie, Levin had a dentist who was alive to the need for the teeth of children to be attended to at a very early age. His vision led to the inauguration of the school dental clinic system. In October, 1919, some years before the Health Department started the, first dental clinic, Mr. Mackenzie started a scheme under which he paid regular visits to the Levin School to care for the teeth of the children. Today there are three dental surgeries in Levin.

New Maternity Home Built

For many years the only hospital for the sick and maternity cases was a privately-owned one in Queen Street known as Amara. Emergency treatment was also given here before a patient was taken, if this was necessary, to the Palmerston North Hospital.

In 1953 the Palmerston North Hospital Board, which controls health services in Levin, built a 16-bed maternity home in Bath Street East. It stands on a spacious section and presents an attractive appearance.

The time is not far distant when provision will require to be made for a general purposes annexe or hospital. Meanwhile the more serious cases continue to be catered for in Palmerston North.

An excellent public service is given by the district nurses who have their headquarters in Levin. The first district nurse stationed in Levin was Sister McSmall, who was appointed by the board in 1936. Early in 1941 it was found necessary to appoint a second district nurse to the Levin area, and two nurses have been serving Levin and district since that date. They operated from small rooms in Oxford Street, but the growth of the service made this building inadequate. As a result flats and a consulting room were recently built on the corner of Queen and Chamberlain Streets.

Since September 24, 1951, the Palmerston North Hospital Board has stationed an ambulance at Levin and employs one full time driver to operate this vehicle.

In the meantime the vehicle operates on a restricted basis only—Mondays to Fridays inclusive between the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. In cases of emergency, however, the ambulance is immediately available. Outside the above hours an ambulance service is maintained from the Palmerston North Hospital.

Strong St. John Brigade

Also in the town is a strong unit of the St. John Ambulance Brigade under Superintendent A. J. H. Allen. It has a strong membership, all of whom are keen and efficient volunteers. The local division operates from Levin to as far afield as Foxton and Shannon in the north and Waikanae in the south.

This band of men do excellent service, seeking no reward. They attend and help at all football matches and sports meetings, and the cry of "Zambuk" from the crowd when a man is injured on the field really shows how people appreciate the services of the St. John men.

A fine building of recent construction in Queen Street East is now the headquarters of the brigade. There the training opera­tions are carried out. The building also brings in some revenue to the brigade. Being handy to the centre of the town, it is eminently suitable for public meetings and, with its first-rate Boor and kitchen, is ideal for dances.


IN those days of long ago when Levin's streets were only two mud or dust tracks, according to the weather, the new settle­ment was a subsidiary of Shannon. Any recourse to the law went through that place, where the policeman resided.

In 1897 the first resident policeman appeared, Constable Nor­man Dow Abbott. He was succeeded by Constable A. Gray, who will be remembered by many of the older residents. His family lived for many years in Levin after his retirement.

Had Long Reign in Levin

Next was Constable J. Bagrie. He had a long reign in Levin. While he was in charge an assistant was provided, the best known being Constable W. Greggan, who later became constable-in­charge at Te Karaka, near Gisborne. Constable Greggan, who came from Liverpool, had the honour of acting as escort to the Prince of Wales (Duke of Windsor) when the Prince visited New Zealand.

After Constable Bagrie there was a quick succession of changes to the time of World War II. Then the town had grown in importance and there was a rise in status as far as the police service was concerned. Sergeant W. Grainger was first to be placed in the position in Levin. He is assisted by three constables.

Visiting Magistrates

A stipendiary magistrate visited Levin to take court cases. The first of these was Mr. A. Greenfield, who presided over the proceedings from 1897 to 1903. There were very few serious cases, the business being mainly judgment summonses. He was suc­ceeded by Mr. Andrew Thompson, who held office to 1912. Then followed Messrs. Poynton, Kenrick and J. L. Stout. Mr. Stout was a son of the one time Chief Justice, Sir Robert Stout. He presided at the Levin Courthouse from 1919 for over 20 years. Since then there have been many, of whom Messrs. A. M. Goulding and J. H. Luxford stand out.

The present magistrate is Mr. L. M. Inglis and the court sits twice monthly.

The present courthouse was erected in 1907. The Police Station is of recent construction. A house for the sergeant-in­charge was completed in 1954. It adjoins the Police Station.

There was no clerk of the court prior to the appointment of Mr. C. R. J. Inder, who was first to hold the office. On Mr. Inder's transfer to Riverton in 1938, the present clerk, Mr. H. J. Hender­son, was appointed. In earlier times the work was done by the constable-in-charge.

One of the earliest coroners was Mr. W. C. Nation. Mr. J. S. Moir was coroner until recently, being succeeded by Mr. J. P. Bertram.



THE progress of Levin is very closely linked with the railway system. In early times access to the new township was most hazardous either from the north or the south. The roads were badly metalled and most tortuous, and a journey to Wellington or Palmerston North was quite an adventure.

The year 1886 was an important one, therefore, because it brought the completion of the railway between Wellington and Longburn. It was built by a joint stock company registered in 1881 after Messrs. John Plimmer and James Wallace had made a successful canvass for shareholders. The work of construction was vigorously pursued from both ends, and on November 3, 1886, at Otaihanga (Waikanae), the last spike was driven by the Governor, Lord Jervois.

Historic Ceremony

We quote from "Old Manawatu," Mr. T. Lindsay Buick: "On the third of that month (November), there was performed, at Otaihanga, the historic ceremony of driving the last spike at the spot where the northern and southern sections connected. Over this finishing point a triumphal arch, built of nikau palms and fern fronds, was stretched, underneath which a train from Well­ington, bearing some 700 excursionists, steamed, just as a sister train from Palmerston came in sight, with over 300 passengers. The day was beautifully fine and scarcely could a more pic­turesque spot have been chosen, or one in which the richness of its historic associations so completely marked the parting of the old order from the new. Under the shade of the hill the people gathered in a motley group while the Governor, Lord Jervois, Sir Robert Stout, the Premier, and several of his Cabinet Ministers were conducted by Mr. J. E. Nathan, the chairman oi directors, to the spot where the last spike was to be driven."

The old order referred to no doubt is the coach service along the west coast. "The journey from the City of Wellington to the west coast is made by Cobb's coaches, which run twice a week to Patea, a distance of 160 miles." (From a handbook published in 1875.) Besides these coaches there was, of course, a boat service between Wellington and Foxton.

On November 29, the first through train, consisting of 10 carriages, ran from Wellington to the Manawatu. It might be noted here that Linton, Shannon, Levin and Plimmerton derived their names from directors of the company.

The first station in Levin, just a wooden shed, was in the vicinity of the Tyne Street crossing; this was called Levin, and a station known as Weraroa occupied a lower site. In 1894 the company built a new station nearer Mako Mako Road, called it Levin and closed the original, which was only a flag station.

The second station was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1909 and the present building was erected on a site about 10 chains further south. Extensive renovations are taking place and the premises will look more in keeping with the dignity of the town.

Big Increase in Staff

In 1910 the station staff at Levin numbered four men. Today there are 13 men on the traffic branch and eight on the main­tenance branch.

It was in 1909 that the Government took over operation of the railway. The following years brought big increases in both goods and passenger traffic. However, during the past five years, with the advent of buses both Government and privately-owned, for travellers to all parts of the North Island and more private motor-cars, the traffic by rail has declined from 45,369 per annum to 23,986 as at March 31, 1955. It is expected that the railways will recover some of the lost traffic when the up-to-date railcars are all in full running order.

There are seven passenger trains each day, two between Well­ington and Auckland, two between Napier and Wellington, two between Palmerston North and Wellington and one between New Plymouth and Wellington. In addition Levin is served daily by railcars.

A new goods shed (100 ft. x 41 ft.) has recently been built to cope with present day traffic. The volume of goods also shows a decline. Levin is so splendidly served by motor transport firms, which bring the goods from Wellington and Palmerston North to the door of the receiving agent. The railways also operate motor lorries from Wellington.

The inward and outward goods for the last financial year amounted to 7137 tons. Timber accounted for 4765 tons. Sheep and pigs numbered 35,877 and cattle and calves 7436. All these are a decrease on previous years. There are 16 goods trains daily.

Other facilities provided at Levin railway station are cattle and sheep yards, a loading bank, and a four-ton derrick crane.

The station yard consists of a main crossing loop, five other loops, a delivery siding and two back-shunts, with accommodation for 327 four-wheeled wagons. There are also two private sidings, leased to oil companies.

Railway Road Services

In addition to its passenger-trains, the Railways Department operates comfortable motor coaches which pass through Levin en route between Wellington and Rotorua, Taumarunui, New Plymouth and Wanganui.



IN the early part of this century there appeared to be rivalry between what is now the main centre of Levin and Weraroa. The railway station was at Weraroa though called Levin. Weraroa had its own hotel, the largest store (Swainson & Bevan's) was there, and it had its own reserve. At the conclusion of World War I a separate memorial arch and gates were erected at this reserve and trees planted along the main road boundary, each with plaques inscribed with the names of early settlers. There was a school opened in Beach Road and in 1906 a separate post office.

There was, however, no land available for building on the east side of the railway, whereas at Levin proper sections were on offer on both sides of the main street.

The Weraroa Hotel ceased to exist as a result of fire and the licence was transferred to the present site and a new hotel came into existence—the Grand Hotel. Swainson & Bevan's store was destroyed by fire and not re-erected. The feeling thus grew that the main township must be where it now exists.

First Post Office Was Small

The first post office was a. small wooden building in Queen Street West a short way from what is now Montgomery's furniture establishment. It was opened on May 21, 1888. The late Mr. F. G. Roe was appointed postmaster and he was succeeded by Miss H, E. Bowen. When the new post office was erected in 1906, Miss Bowen became its first postmistress.

The growth of the township made the erection of a new post office necessary, but the question of its site caused considerable agitation in Levin from 1900 to 1903, when the matter was finally settled. It was agreed that the Post and Telegraph Department would purchase the present site, Hamilton's Corner, from the Manawatu Railway Company, Limited, for the sum of £700. This land was bought on the undertaking that the citizens of Levin who advocated this site would contribute £200 towards the cost of the sections.

At an enthusiastic meeting the required amount was con­tributed, and the cheque sent to the Postmaster-General, Sir J. G. Ward. He returned the cheque, with the proviso that this money was to be spent on improving the recreation reserve.

Thus, with this sum of money, the Levin Park Domain, not to be confused with the Levin Domain, which is situated near Horo­whenua Lake, at the end of Queen Street West, was put into a presentable condition.

Sir J. G. Ward opened the present building, which had been erected by Messrs. Adams and Cooper, of Levin, for the sum of £1700, on August 17, 1903. At that time there was a staff of two, but by 1939 it had grown to 32. By 1946 it was 39 and in 1952 stood at 46. By March, 1955, there was a big increase. The clerical staff was 18, with five postmen and six assistants. The telephone exchange employed 26 and the lines department 35, a grand total of 90.

Growth of Telephone Work

A telephone exchange was opened on August 7, 1907, with 46 subscribers. The following figures Illustrate the growth of telephone business since 1930.

Year Subscribers

1930 ..............................................


1935 ..............................................


1940 ...............................................


1945 ...............................................


1950 ...............................................


1952 ...............................................


1955 ...............................................


Extensive alterations are going on and new lines being in­stalled. Party lines are not much in favour and to remedy this the department is undertaking this work. The number of sub­scribers stood at 2148 on March 31, 1955, an increase of 406 in three years or nearly 25 per cent.

In 1888 mails were dispatched daily to Levin from Wellington at 6 a.m., reaching Levin at 10.15 a.m., and they were dispatched to the capital at 9 a.m. daily, reaching Wellington at 12.45 p.m.

On September 1, 1892, a money-order and savings-bank branch was opened. The office was converted to telegraph work­ing on August 17, 1903, and a teleprinter was installed on April 4, 1950. The money-order and savings-bank work expanded to such a degree that a ledger office was opened at Levin on October 17, 1932.

To show the growth of business, the number al. articles handled for one week only—August 1 to 7, 1955—was 22,10. Tele­grams for one month of the year were 2736 outward and 2400 inward, a total of 5224.

The following figures show the expansion of postal business handled by the Post Office staff at Levin over the years:—

Letters and Lettercards posted—

Mail matter delivered—













By 1955 these figures had risen to over 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 respectively. The number of savings-bank depositors is 7417 and school bank depositors 645, a total of 8062. On an average every single resident of the borough has a savings-bank account and some more than one.

Extensive Renovations Promised

So great has the pressure of business become since the present building was erected 53 years ago, when the population was less than 1000 compared with its 6125 today, that a strong agitation has come for a large new building.

Land has been obtained in Devon Street for the erection of an automatic telephone exchange and this is to be carried out in due course.



LEVIN'S first passenger bus service was inaugurated in the 1920's by Mr. W. A. Hotchen. He purchased a bus—it had a fabric hood and side curtains—and ran a daily return service between Levin and Palmerston North.

Mr. Hotchen, who was well-known for his cheery and obliging disposition, was later joined by Mr. P. F. Watts and two buses were placed on the road. Subsequently Mr. Hotchen sold out his interest and the firm became Messrs. Watts Motors. It is now controlled by Messrs. Newman Bros., Ltd., who, in addition to running an excellent service between Levin and Palmerston North and cater­ing for local needs, maintain a service between Wellington and Napier, via Levin. Fine modern conveyances are used.

Had Floods To Contend With

Murphy Motors have for many years plied between Foxton and Levin, providing the former town's link with the rail and transporting its mail. The service was begun by Mr. Rout, and was later taken over by Mr. E. J. Murphy. It was Mr. Murphy's proud boast that during the many years he operated the service that if anyone could get through the floodwaters near the Whiro­kino Bridge well he could. And there were floods, too. One winter to reach Levin passengers had to travel through Palmerston North, on to Sanson and so back to Foxton - 60 miles instead of 14. Mr. Murphy frequently used a boat over the floodwaters to ensure the mail getting through. His son, Mr. E. Murphy, now runs the service.

Newest service is the Waitarere-Levin one conducted by Swan Motors, the principal being Mr. W. J. Swan.

Newman Bros. undertake the bulk of the transportation of children to the primary schools and Horowhenua College. Some 1200 are carried five days of the week and the buses cover an average distance of 550 miles daily.

Railway Road Service buses pass through Levin en route to Rotorua and Taranaki, as also do the huge landliners running daily between Wellington and Auckland.

Sixty Buses Daily

It is estimated that approximately 60 buses pass through Levin daily, with a seating capacity of 30 persons each, as they journey north or south.


LEVIN is particularly well served with the transport of goods from the town to Wellington and Palmerston North. Perishable goods such as meat and vegetables need rapid dispatch from point of origin if they are to reach the market in the freshest condition.

Monday and Thursday are the busiest two days for the carriers, who must have the produce in Wellington by 6 a.m. to catch the morning market. On these two mornings the loading of flowers and vegetables—collected the previous evening from nurseries and market gardens—begins at 2 a.m. The lorries set out shortly after, collecting more goods on the way to Wellington.

On the other days of the week, when a smaller quantity of perishable goods is available, the vehicles do not leave Levin till 5 a.m.—"Quite early enough for me," says the average townsman. It says much for those who carry out these arduous duties that they labour to ensure others receive food and pleasure without stint.

Helped Out During Strike

The lorries do not return to Levin empty. There are always goods, such as builders' hardware, cement, fertiliser, grocery and drapery sundries and other articles too numerous to mention being loaded in Wellington for various customers in Levin.

During the deplorable strike in 1951 Levin's transport vehicles played a big part in keeping the North Island transport system in good working order, carrying a tremendous amount of goods to many destinations, even as far as Auckland.

Prior to the advent of motor transport, the majority of Levin's heavy goods arrived at Foxton in small cargo vessels, being car­ried the 14 miles to Levin by horse-drawn vehicles. The roads in those days were poor to say the least. The Manawatu River was not always in a kindly mood and the trip from Foxton took nearly twice the time, even under the most favourable conditions, as the journey does to Wellington today.

Levin and its surrounding district are admirably suited for the growth of vegetables and flowers. With its equable climate, good rainfall and few of the biting southerly winds that most parts of New Zealand have to endure, it is little wonder that this side of the agricultural industry flourishes. But what use would this be to gardeners and nurserymen if their produce had a long and tedious journey to the market? The new transport system provided the answer. But flowers and vegetables are not the only items. Eggs and meat in great quantities are carried to the waiting markets.

Big Annual Haulage

Nearly 40,000 tons of goods are now carried annually between Wellington and Levin and return. On the busiest days 12 to 14 trucks ply between Levin and Wellington. They are operated by Macfarlane Transport, Ltd., and Capper's Transport.

Not only is transport carried out between Levin and Welling­ton, but there is also a daily service, operated by Gurney's Trans­port, between Levin and Palmerston North. At the present time nearly 3000 tons of general merchandise are carried between the two towns, while goods are also collected and put down at intermediate centres of population.

Other firms operate only within the town and immediate district, and it may be claimed that few centres in the Dominion of the size of Levin are better catered for or more faithfully served.

It was in 1914 that the first solid-tyred trucks owned by Mr. E. Blacklaws and the Bayliss family commenced to oust the drays. How great has been the development of motor transport since that date less than 50 years ago.


ELECTORALLY Levin has been the shuttleco*ck between the Manawatu and Otaki electorates. At first it was in Otaki, when that electorate took in Karori and there were less than 3000 on the roll. The Field brothers shared the honour of representing the area.

Next Levin was placed in Manawatu and Mr. J. Linklater, of the Reform Party, held the seat for many years.

Labour held Otaki when Levin was again part of it, Mr. J. Robertson being successful under the second ballot system which prevailed for a short while. Mr. Linklater was beaten in a three-cornered contest by Mr. C. L. Hunter (Labour), his other oppon­ent being Mr. (now Sir Matthew) M. H. Oram (Democratic Liberal).

In Otaki again and Mr. L. G. Lowry (Labour) held the seat for many years. In 1949 it was won by Mr. J. J. Maher (National) and he has held it since:

Otaki underwent another transformation at the last election. The districts over the ranges—Upper Hutt and others—were made a new electorate, and Shannon and the places in between were returned to Otaki after having been in Manawatu for a period.

The chief electoral office was moved froin Otaki to Levin in 1939.


THE history of the Press in Levin goes back to the times before the borough was constituted. The town has been fortunate in that it has been served with a daily newspaper for more than half a century. Prior to that there was a tri-weekly, which was established in 1893. Only one major newspaper has operated over the years but its name and ownership have undergone several changes with the passage of time.

It is understood the front offices of the present newspaper, "The Chronicle," were brought from Shannon as The Manawatu Farmer and Horowhenua County Chronicle. This newspaper was published thrice weekly for the proprietors by William Charles Nation, probably the best known of all the early day editors. Besides being an ardent member of the Press, he was also a lead­ing exponent of spiritualism. Mr. Tom Brown, who sometimes deputised for Mr. Nation, was a well-known old identity.

The Farmer was absorbed by the Horowhenua Daily Chronicle, published in the early 1900's by James Knight for the Horowhenua Publishing Company, and later by George Powick Brown.

These newspapers were four pages, nine 24-inch columns per page. They were written in a friendly style and contained many little personal anecdotes. Besides local news they contained sum­maries of world news. The Horowhenua Daily Chronicle later changed its name to The Levin Chronicle.

Paper Was Greatly Improved

October 2, 1917, saw a change of ownership to Messrs. Kers­lake and Billens, the publisher being Herbert George Kerslake. They set to work to improve the paper and incorporated several new features. Later Mr. Billens returned to Palmerston North to take over the editorship of the Manawatu Times. Mr. Kerslake remained as editor at Levin and also found time to take a prominent part in community affairs.

In 1921 the Otaki Mail, a tri-weekly, was purchased and a bi-weekly printed for Shannon. In March, 1936, these papers disappeared and were incorporated in "The Chronicle," each town being given its own page. Branch offices are maintained in these towns and the paper circulates over the whole district between Shannon and Paraparaumu.

In 1944 Mr. L. A. Humphrey, who had joined the staff in 1920 as a newsboy and remained to fill other positions, was admitted to the partnership. He is the present manager, and the editor is Mr. George H. Kerslake, son of the early editor, who began work with the company in 1930. Another son, Mr. T. A, Kerslake, is also an executive.

"The Chronicle" has always kept abreast of the times and has been regarded as one of the foremost of the smaller provincial dailies. In 1951 it led the small papers by installing teleprinters in its office for the reception of overseas and New Zealand news. This move gave the paper the same volume and standard of news as the metropolitan dailies.

Modern Machines Installed

Last year a modern Cossar double-unit press was installed and this is now used for the printing of the paper. More recently still the company has purchased an electronic engraving machine which enables it to present to its readers the latest in pictures. A staff photographer and local studios provide photographs of many local functions and people for this purpose.

From a staff of two in the early days, the company now employs 38 exclusive of part-time workers and newsboys.

Under the name of Kerslake, Billens & Humphrey, Ltd., it carries on an extensive job printing business. Through its print­ing of a number of national publications—among them the National Party's weekly, Freedom, the New Zealand Methodist Times and the N.Z. Country Women's Institute magazine, Home and Country—it has become nationally known and it undertakes a great deal of printing for outside towns. The firm is proud to have been entrusted with the production of this jubilee booklet.


LEVIN now has a weekly paper for its people to peruse. An eight-page tabloid size it circulates in Levin, Ohau and Manakau, and is delivered free to householders.

Mr. A. T. Fletcher, who was for some years on tie staff of "The Chronicle," founded the business in 1946 soon after his return from overseas service in World War IL It is known as the Levin Printing Works Ltd. In the following years he undertook job printing work. In 1952 he was joined by Mr. R. W. Stewart and the partnership began producing the Weekly News in addition to their printing work.

Last year--in June—a further venture was undertaken—the production of a weekly publication for the Otaki-Waikanae area. Both weekly papers contain local news and articles and general interest.

The firm's present staff, exclusive of the principals and news­boys, numbers six.


THERE was a time when Levin's existence depended almost solely on the Levin Co-operative Dairy Company and the saleyards. If by some freak of Nature the grass in the Horo­whenua area had refused to grow, Levin would soon have been just a ghost town. That is not so today.

The banks of the Dominion soon recognised the growing importance of the borough and instead of two only, the Bank of New Zealand and the Bank of Australasia (now the Australia and New Zealand Bank), every bank has a branch in the town.

No longer does the youth of the town, if not interested in farming, have to go to the Capital, as was the case some 20 years ago, to find congenial employment. Banks, Government and private offices, shops, light industries and trades of many vari­eties offer adequate opportunities. Both boys and girls are catered for.

Many Avenues of Employment

Building firms no longer tender for single units, but undertake contracts worth well over £30,000. Several buildings in this cate­gory have been completed recently. Garages, engineers' factories, concrete products, fibrous plaster products, electrical contractors, industrial woodworking, ironcasting foundry, timber yards, joinery and plumbing offer a wide choice for youths.

For the girls there are the numerous large stores with big staffs, clothing factories, knitting factories and dry cleaning establishments. The town now has a factory for the making of nylon goods. No longer does Levin depend on Wellington or Palmerston North for its ice cream—three different firms produce the delicacy.

There are other avenues of employment for all ages, not the least being the printing trade. One firm in the town prints for many businesses outside its own area.

Each year sees further additions to Levin's industries and who knows how large the town will be 50 years hence.



ONE has to go back a long way—to 1890—to the formation of the town's first fire fighting unit, though it was not until November 3, 1902, that the Levin Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed as such. The intervening years have brought vast changes in equipment and conditions. At the same time the brigade has built a proud record of voluntary service which has won the admiration of all citizens.

All Men Were Firemen

The first fire engine—a manual unit—was housed in a wooden building opposite "The Chronicle" Office and the clanging of a bell, which hung on a tower nearby, was the fire alarm. All the men in the neighbourhood were volunteer firemen, helping to haul the engine and hasten to the scene of the outbreak.

Levin's two most serious fires in the early days razed the Weraroa Hotel and Swainson & Bevan's Building. A big blaze in the middle years, and one which could have reached wide pro­portions, occurred in Mr. J. Ince's drapery store, situated in the heart of the business area where the premises of John Corry and the B.B.C. Grocery are now situated. The building was gutted, but fine work by the brigadesmen prevented the fire from spread­ing to other premises.

Fortunately, the town has always had a very good pressure of water and provided the alarm has been given early enough, the brigadesmen have kept the damage to a minimum.

Captain J. H. Leonard signed the brigade's rolls from its inception to and including 1904. Passing through the years the following signed the rolls:—H. Anstice, 1905-7; R. J. Jones, 1908-­10; J. McTaggart, 1911-17; J. C. Milnes, 1918; W. B. Macintosh, 1919; A. P. Jones, 1920; J. E. Connor, 1921; C. E. Shaw, 1922; J. E. Connor, 1923-27; F. C. Booth, 1928-30; M. Sutherland, 1931-36; R. H. Johnson, 1937-38; and W. S. Salmons from 1939 onwards.

It was not until about 1919 that the Levin Fire Board was established and then came the first motor fire engine, a Ford with solid tyres. From those days there has been steady progress. A fire station, which will service Levin for many years to come, was built by a board which had a progressive outlook. When a second engine was added in 1953 the forethought shown in plan­ning such a large station was appreciated. This engine is of the very latest design, streamlined and with a built-in compartment for the firemen.

Area of Service Extended

With the arrival of this engine and the purchasing of a trailer pumping unit, the brigade has undertaken to serve a mach larger area and now gives protection to the rural area within a five mile radius of the station. Several institutions in which large numbers of children and adults are housed are in the brigade's district, adding a big responsibility.

The present strength of the brigade is 17 men and two runners. Only one man is permanently at the fire station and alarms are given through the telephone exchange. At the sound of the siren men from all walks of life drop whatever they are doing and hasten to the station, where uniforms are hastily donned. Those who miss the engine are taken to the scene by a taxi which reports to the station whenever the alarm is sounded.

The brigade has a fine record of attendance at practices and fires, and little time is lost in getting to the scene of an outbreak. Its records of saves is a credit to the brigade.

Many Levin families have excellent records of service with the brigade. There are several sets of brothers. The superin­tendent, Mr. W. S. Salmons, and his brother, Mr. L. R. Salmons, the secretary, are a case in point. Both have served 27 years.

Six members have received gold stars as follows:--Messrs. R. H. Johnson (1937), A. F. Mudgway (1944), W. S. Salmons (1950), L. V. Trass (1952), L. R. Salmons (1953) and R. Cole (1954).

Fire Police Corps Formed

A few years ago the wartime fire police corps was revived in Levin. The men in this organisation do excellent work in keeping back crowds, salvaging and assisting the firemen, the police and traffic department. The formation of this group came about quite spontaneously from the men themselves. Difficulties arose as to their equipment for the task so they bought their own uniforms. Apart from a small subsidy from the 'fire board, they find their own finance.

With the rapid growth of industry more responsibility will be placed on these volunteer firemen, but there will be no lack of additional men if required and even if, in the future, necessity demands that a full-time brigade be established in Levin, the volunteers will still have a useful part to play.



WITH a membership spread over the whole of the district from Foxton and Tokomaru to Paekakariki, the Horowhenua A. and P. Association is a particularly virile organisation. Its annual show, mirror of the district's agricultural wealth, is a big event of the year.

For many years the association and the Levin Racing Club shared a ground in Mako Mako Road and the shows were held there, but in the postwar years the association obtained its own property off Victoria Street and now has exceedingly well appointed showgrounds.

The shows prove highly successful each year and attract large entries from many parts of the North Island. One feature which is always appreciated by the younger generation is sideshows. Makers of all types of agricultural machinery and implements take the opportunity to present their goods to the many farmers who make the show one of the special occasions of the year. Nor are the agents for motor-cars behind in their endeavours to show all and sundry the latest in mechanical transport.

Shows Started 50 Years Ago

The first show was held in 1907 and entries have risen each year until it is now regarded as one of the most important cattle displays in the Dominion. In 1948, with an entry of 810, the asso­ciation claimed a New Zealand record in the cattle section. This is still the strongest section and the quality is so high that it is generally regarded as a big achievement to be on the top of the prize list.

It is also the only show in the past 25 years to have two eigh-horse wagon teams in competition, and the horse section generally is strong.

Entries of sheep, pigs and horses are very extensive. The home industries section has also become a very popular one. The Horowhenua Kennel Club has a big section at the show, entries coming from all over New Zealand.

The association was formed in 1906 and the opening show was held on Wednesday, April 10, 1907. The first president was the late Major Liddle and the first secretary the late Mr. B. R. Gar­dener. The initial membership totalled 80. Today it is 1150.

These early shows were real gala days for the local farmers and people from the towns, and this spirit still prevails today.

The various classes were wider then, there being poultry, vegetables, fodder and harness horse classes. At the first show there was an exhibition by the Weraroa Experimental Stud Farm of stud bulls, cows, horses and pigs. In the first shows there were no special pedigree sections, these beasts being included in the open sections.

Here are the entrance figures for the first show in 1907:—Competitions 86, ponies 45, saddle horses 45, harness horses 54, draughts 22, fat cattle 33, sheep 51, pigs eight.

Entries Increase Annually

Entries at last year's fixture were:—Cattle 602, sheep 311, pigs 130, home industries 430, and horses and competitions 815.

During World War I the proceeds of the shows went for patriotic purposes. In 1921 the first two-day shows were held. In 1936 came night shows and in 1937 a ram fair was added. This is held on the Monday after the show and last year there were 351 entries.

The years from 1928 to 1938 were restrictive ones for the association due to the economic situation in the country. Finances were in a poor state and to save expense a women's committee took over the catering. Other savings were also made.

In 1942 during World War II the land was taken over by the military authorities and after the cessation of hostilities the asso­ciation was faced with a big task of restoration. Indicative of this was the fact that out of the jumping oval alone 2000 tons of concrete and gravel had to be removed, and the ground resown again. The buildings had also to be restored. Liberal compen­sation was paid, however, and after the war the association made rapid strides.

Big Step Forward

A big step forward was the acquisition of the new property of 23 acres (larger than most showgrounds). In 1953 members set to work to get the grounds in order. Countless hours of voluntary labour were put in shifting buildings from the old property, erect­ing new ones and providing all the other amenities required for the smooth and successful running of a large show.

The association has been fortunate in its presidents of whom the following are a few:—Messrs. J. Kebbell, J. Davies, J. Mc­Leavey, A. McLeavey, Harold J. Lancaster and J. A. Kilsby.

Energetic secretaries have included the following:—Messrs. R. D. Wallace, J. A. Goodwin and J. E. Fullarton.

The present president is Mr. J. S. Blenkhorn and the secretary Mr. G. G. Rae.

Today the association faces a bright future. Its valuable new property close to the centre of the town has access from four streets. There is adequate space for many years to come and the grounds are becoming a centre for sport and other activities which will boost the finances and provide other amenities



WHEREVER men from Great Britain have gone to settle new lands they have taken with them their love for cricket, football, the garden and, last but not least, horses. Therefore, it was not long before the new settlers in the township of Levin wanted their racecourse and one soon came into being.

The Levin Racing Club, as it is now known, has faced its ups and downs over the years. Now, after a period of difficulty and misfortune, the future has an exceedingly bright outlook again.

There have been several occasions when the club has had to go elsewhere to hold its meetings and by no stretch of imagination can one call a meeting held at Otaki or Foxton a Levin Racing Club meeting.

Again the club had to suffer the suspension of its licence when a Royal Commission decided there were too many race days in the Dominion. The licence was restored before World War I but was taken away again during the war years.

Club's Severe Setback

Throughout World War II racing was rationed and as a fur­ther blow to the race-loving public of Levin the course was taken over by the army authorities. Just as the club was getting on its feet once more, a staggering setback was received. The racing authorities declared the course unsafe and it seemed as though racing at Levin would come to an end.

The property was held jointly by the club and the Horo­whenua A. and P. Association. The club could not see what the prospects of success would be if it undertook the necessary improvements to bring the course up to standard.

Under the energetic president, Mr. E. M. Ryder, backed by an enthusiastic committee, negotiations between the two bodies took place and by agreement the land became the sole property of the racing club. The association then obtained its present ideal show-grounds. During this period the club was again forced to race on the Foxton and Otaki courses.

Further land was obtained so the necessary improvements could be carried out. The newly-formed course includes a start­ing capacity for 22 horses. This reduces considerably the number of division races. Special starting chutes off the main course are provided. The old course was moved two chains west and this has given a course of 1 mile 6 chains.

First-class Track Now

The racing track and the training tracks will serve the club for many more years and it will be a first-class all-weather course of which Levin can be proud. With a track of this excellent standard, the sport of racing should have a new lease of life in the town.

When the course was condemned, Levin lost some of its trainers but it is expected that these and others will resume locally. The course is handy to the sea and not far from several big racing centres. With its ideal climate, the district should commend itself to trainers.

In what is hoped will be the near future, a grandstand worthy of the course will be erected.

The first meeting held in 1955 on the newly-constructed course was an unqualified success.

Racing in Levin, from a fully organised viewpoint, dates back over 60 years to a meeting which was held in the commercial room of the Levin Hotel. It was the result of a suggestion by the Wellington Racing Club that the growing district of Horowhenua should, as it wanted a licence, combine with the already formed and licensed Manakau club and conduct meetings to suit the needs of both, using a blanket licence. The meeting was com­pletely successful and the desired amalgamation took place. From it was born the Horowhenua Racing Club, parent of the present Levin club.

Prior to this, unofficial meetings were held at Hokio Beach and the McDonald family also ran meetings about half a mile north of Lake Horowhenua. The Wellington club, however, issued an order prohibiting the holding of meetings without a permit, which entailed complying with the rules of racing as laid down by it. About seven years later a permit was obtained to run the meetings at Manakau. As the course was adjacent to the main railway line arrangements were made for trains to stop there and the meetings became very popular.

Levin Gets Its Own Club

Later, when the people of Levin decided they wanted a race­course negotiations with the Wellington club brought about the suggested amalgamation. The Manakau club was paid £250 as compensation for its licence when the Horowhenua club was formed. The club's name was later changed to the Horowhenua Hack Racing Club and in 1923 to the Levin Racing Club. It was then decided to find a new site. The choice was the present site and the price paid was in the neighbourhood of £4000 but con­structional costs and improvements brought the total figure nearer £8000 for the whole project.

Levin has always attracted racegoers from many parts of New Zealand and it has been rated as an important and well con­ducted meeting, with very attractive stakes offered.

Some interesting facts in connection with the club are set out as follows:—

1916: President, Mr. R. A. McDonald; secretary, Mr. R. D. Wallace; stakes, £1090; turnover, £13,474.

1956: President, Mr. E. M. Ryder; secretary, Mr. J. R. Goodwin; stakes, £6500; turnover, £115,133.

Throughout the long existence of the club there have been only six presidents—Messrs. R. A. Mcnonald (1916), J. McLeavey (1917), Thomas Bevan (1924), W. G. Vickers (1930), Walter Ryder (1935) and E. M. Ryder (1946).

Mr. E. M. Ryder is a son of Mr. Walter Ryder. Thus father and son have held the presidency for 21 years. Membership today stands at just over 400.


SPORT in all its forms plays an integral part with British people and wherever they wandered to the many parts of the globe they carried these sports with them. Football, cricket, hockey and tennis were taken to all of what are now Dominions and these countries equal and in some cases excel the Motherland in them.

These games were not confined to the white races, but caught on in other lands into which the British penetrated. Cricket started in India, and one of her sons, Ranjitsinghi, was among the greatest exponents the game has seen. In football the Maoris and Fijians are not far behind their teachers. At hockey India practically leads the world and our recent Chinese visitors showed that as far as association football is concerned they have little to learn from their Caucasian brothers.


RUGBY football was the first game to make its appearance in Levin. It is not known for certain whether the paddock in which the first contest took place was perfectly clear of stumps. The Maoris took eagerly to the game as it gave them an outlet for their energies. The stalwarts among the new settlers were Ostler (afterwards Judge Sir H. H. Ostler), Bert Denton, Billy Wilson, Budge Fitzherbert and Bill Aldridge.

A story is told of one of the games between the club and another mainly composed of Maoris. At the time the rugby code with the forwards was first up first down. When the scrum met it was the practice of a certain hefty Maori forward to bring his fist up with the thumb extended into the face of the opposing forward. Ostler decided to deal with this and when the thumb appeared before his downheld face, he grabbed it between his teeth and bit hard. The story says that the thumb did not again perform similar operations.

With the formation of the Levin Park Domain and the reserve at Weraroa, football really blossomed and the golden age of the grand old game came to Levin with the Winiata and McDonald families as its chief exponents. The Ryders and Hannans were not far behind. Martin and Nenia Winiata were the outstanding members of the family. Leslie and Hector (cousins) upheld the McDonald clan. Later Harry Jacob showed himself the equal of any player in the Dominion. Reg Ford, a member of a well-known South Island family of footballers, was about the fastest off the mark of any player in this town.

Two Stern Tussles

Two of the highlights in the history of the game were the matches between Wairarapa for the Ranfurly Shield at Masterton and the encounter with the touring South Africans.

The Ranfurly Shield game took place in 1927 between Mana­whenua (Horowhenua and Manawatu combined) and Wairarapa. There were nine players from Horowhenua in the side captained by Harry Jacob. The visiting captain completely bottled up the famous A. E. Cooke, who, among his many peregrinations, then played for Wairarapa. There were disparaging cries of "Come on Cookie" from the home supporters. These compelled the writer, who was a spectator, to ask a local supporter if the Waira­rapa team had any players except Cooke.

At Palmerston North the home side, again with a preponder­ance of Horowhenua men, put up a sterling fight against their formidable South African opponents. Jacob was again captain and the grand forward, Rangi Broughton, played an outstanding game.

There have been several clubs in Levin at different intervals —Weraroa and an all-Maori team, but Levin Wanderers appear to be the only one that can boast a continual existence.

The game has had its ups and downs, now on the crest of a wave and again the deepest trough. The two world wars had a depressing influence, but now, 10 years after World War II, an upward trend appears. This was exemplified in last season's successful northern tour and the recent victories over Manawatu, North Otago and Marlborough.

It is to be hoped that rugby will long flourish because it brings out the best a man is capable of.

Association football showed its head for a brief period in Levin. The matches were played on the Wednesday half-day, but the paucity of opponents and the fact that none was played in the schools caused the game to speedily languish and eventually cease to exist.


CRICKET, many terms from which have come to denote what is right conduct and what is not, has always figured prominently in the lives of our younger people.

The game did not figure so early in the life of the town as football because the necessary grounds were not so easily obtained. This, however, was overcome and the Levin Cricket Club came into existence.

The town now has three flourishing clubs—Levin, Weraroa and College Old Boys. The two spacious enclosures—the Levin Park Domain and Weraroa Reserve—provide ample space for this attractive sport. There is space for another ground at Horo­whenua College.

"King Willow" has had some excellent exponents in past days. The late Stuart Mackenzie was one of these. He could bowl a very good ball, was an excellent field and his batting, especially on the leg side, was pretty to watch.

Arthur Rose Was Fine Player

Arthur Rose, of the Bank of New Zealand, was probably the finest cricketer Levin ever saw. He played strokes on both sides of the wicket and was a powerful hitter. One hit of his became almost legendary. Batting at the stand end of the wicket, he hit a ball straight over the hedge into Bath Street West and it landed in a garden on the opposite side of the road.

Then the cousins, Hartland Bull and Filmer Phillips, added lustre to the game. It was common for a batsman who had lifted a stroke to immediately commence his walk to the pavilion if he saw Filmer going for the ball. Jack O'Connor was another stalwart, a fine slow bowler and great in the slips.

Older followers of the game will remember the duels between Sloan and Auckram. Ernie Field took many wickets.

One of Levin's most dashing players was Harry Baumber, who had many centuries to his credit. He featured in a fixture with Manawatu for the Hawke Cup and his batting performance was mainly responsible for the cup coming to Palmerston North. Horry also performed creditably for Manawatu in an encounter with a touring English eleven.

The players who helped to make the game so interesting are too numerous to mention. One is compelled, however, to add two who apparently almost lived for cricket—George France and Billy Walker.

The younger generation of today are worthily upholding this sport, which, above all, teaches and brings out so many admirable qualities in the youth of our nation.


SWIMMING as a sport owes its origin to the provision of swim­ming baths at the corner of Salisbury and Bath Streets by the Borough Council. This project was undertaken to mark the crown­ing of our present Queen's grandfather, King George V, in 1911 and the baths were designated the Coronation Baths.

Present day users must not think that the amenities now provided are the original structure. In 1911 the present concrete pool, which is 25 yards long and 15 yards wide with an 18-inch edge, was built. Paths round it were built with clinkers from the gasworks. A few corrugated iron sheds were built and also an iron surrounding fence.

When the school began swimming instruction in 1916, amenities of a better nature were gradually added till by 1936 the baths had assumed their present appearance—sheds built of concrete each side of the pool, with stand accommodation for sightseers above the sheds. Later electric light was installed and except for one thing—the length of the pool—Levin could boast a bath as well equipped as any provincial town in the Dominion. Because it is not 33 1/3 yards long Levin has lost the oppor­tunity of more major swimming carnivals,

Agitation for a 33 1/3-yard pool has gone on among enthusiasts for more than a quarter of a century. Money towards it was supplied by the school and the swimming club. In 1936 only £200 more was needed for the lengthening. The Hon. Peter Fraser, who visited the town at that time, promised that the Government would provide the deficit. This, however, did not eventuate. The alterations will now costs thousands where hundreds would have been enough in 1936.

Fortunes Have Fluctuated

Like other sports, the swimming club in Levin has had its ups and downs. In the early days two of the main workers, supporters and exponents were Lord Freyberg—then known as "Tiny"—and Mr. W. H. Plaster. Mr. Plaster, a native of Birming­ham, had been the Midland Counties long-distance champion.

World War I was a setback to the club, but perhaps one of the brightest periods in its history was during World War II when airmen and soldiers were stationed in the neighbourhood. There were several swimmers of New Zealand renown in the two camps and the people of Levin had the opportunity of seeing top men in action.

In earlier days the Levin School had potential New Zealand champions if coaching and training had been available. Filmer Phillips, good at all sports, Clive Hobson and Johnny McFarlane, to mention a few, were in that category.

Caretakers come and caretakers go, but one of the best known to earlier swimmers was Mr. Daniels. Of him one Maori boy, writing an essay on the baths, said inter alia: "The baths belong to a bloke what the boys call Dreamy."

The club which controls the swimming has a most active management. Its activities include classes for learners, week­night competition for club members and carnivals which are attended by swimmers from all the surrounding towns from Dannevirke in the north to Wellington in the south.

The formation of a life-saving club to patrol Waitarere Beach is to be commended and deserves the support of all citizens.


THE game of hockey was first introduced into the town in or about the year 1904 when enthusiasts led by Messrs. Allen, Burnes, Farrington, Potts and D. S. Mackenzie formed the Levin Hockey Club. This club joined up with the Palmerston North Association and travelled by train weekly to that town to play in competitions. The club had many successes in tournaments and its members were justly proud when Stuart Mackenzie was appointed captain of the North Island team.

In later years the game lapsed and it was not until Horo­whenua College took it up actively that hockey again came into its own. The number playing must now be approximate to those indulging in football. Many of the exponents of the game are girls and young women.


GOLF has become fairly fixed among many of the community.

The Levin Golf Club took some time to settle in permanent quarters. Links were first formed at Heatherlea and later at the bottom of Queen Street West in the Lake Domain. These were not very satisfactory as in winter a rise in the lake did not improve the greens or the fairways. A move was later made to the opposite end of Queen Street, near to Gladstone Road, but that did not prove ideal.

Eventually the club decided on a course to the seaward side of Lake Horowhenua and it has been designed after the style of the Paraparaumu links. The course at Paraparaumu has been styled one of the best in the Dominion.

The distance to the course along Butch Road is just under six miles. The sandy nature of the country makes it a golf course with a future. Hard work by members has already got it in splendid condition.


ATHLETICS and cycling, under the control of the Levin Ama­teur Athletic and Cycling Club, are held weekly during the summer besides sports meetings open to all.

Women's and men's basketball have gained in popularity, there being excellent courts on the college grounds.

With the lovely Tararua Ranges so handy, it is no wonder that tramping is a much patronised sport. The Levin-Walopehu Tramping Club is a strong body and its members have done their share of rescue work when trampers have been lost in the Tararuas.

Girls' marching has brought much fame to Levin. The Uale­donians were at one time one of the best teams in the Dominion.


BOWLS was played in Levin as early as 1908, a green being obtained in Weraroa Road facing Durham Street in February of that year. In those days there were not many retired men and shopkeepers worked all day Saturday, so that the number playing was small.

Thanks to the efforts of the enthusiasts, among whom were the late Mr. W. S. Park, the Levin Bowling-Club was able to keep its head above water. With the influx of so many retired men in the last 20 years the club has flourished. The membership now has a limit of 120 and one rule which aims to keep the game from becoming too strenuous states that nominees for mem­bership must be over 35 years •of age unless the applicant has some disability which prevents participation in cricket or tennis.

Thanks to a succession of active greenkeepers during the 48 years the green has been 'down, no green in the Dominion can surpass it. That is the opinion of visitors from all parts of New Zealand.

The number wishing to participate in the game became so great that to satisfy the demand, another club was formed. The Levin Central Club acquired a section in Bristol Street and soon had a large number of members. The club has two greens and an up-to-date pavilion.

At the conclusion of World War II the R.S.A. decided to form a club. Through the generosity of Mrs. W. Lett, whose son, Bill Clark, was an enthusiastic bowler and also a returned soldier of World War I, a section was obtained off Salisbury Street. With the years that are needed to consolidate a green the R.S.A. green should give good service.

Women do not lag behind in their desire to play the ancient game. They have a green at the Public Gardens, in Bath Street East, and a large number of members to make the club a great success.

Indoor bowls has swept the district like a whirlwind and the number of clubs is large. Women as well as men have taken up this pastime.


TENNIS has many exponents in Levin. The Levin Tennis Club occupies courts at the north-west corner of the Levin Park Domain. Clubs have also been formed by adherents of the Presby­terian, Methodist and Roman Catholic faiths, as well as people in the East School district. The Anglican court has been put out of existence by the new church of St. Mary's.

Badminton has its following and of recent years softball has gained in popularity.

For those who like man's old companion there is the hunt club and for younger equestrians the pony club, each of which has its fair share of followers.

The Levin Rifle Club can hold its own with almost any similar body in the country and its members, both men and women, are never far from the "bullseye" when the bullet goes forward.

An ancient pastime—archery--has lately been revived and from the number who have taken it up it bids fair to become a most popular pastime.

Croquet Gains in Strength

When womenfolk took on bowls, many thought it would sound the death knell of croquet, but strangely enough this appears to have had the opposite effect. The Levin Croquet Club is more active and alive and has more members than for a long period. It was a hard struggle for the few faithful ones to keep the club going, but now they have had their reward.

For a large playing membership croquet requires much more space than bowls. If the present croquet lawn were a bowling green, 64 members could play simultaneously. For croquet, two dozen makes the lawn look crowded.

The members have such faith in the future of the club that they have undertaken the erection of an up-to-date clubhouse in place of the old building which has done duty for so many years. So, despite all the predictions, croquet will continue and with added zest.


LEVIN has many clubs and societies to cater for all avenues of community interest. A film society gives much pleasure both to the owners of the cameras and those who are privileged to view the films. Many social evenings held by various institutions have been enhanced by these displays.

As is natural in a town comparatively young in its history, the Early Settlers' Association has a strong following. Any man or woman who has lived in the district 30 years or more is entitled to membership. This society will make a brave showing at the jubilee.

Apparently people from the Wairarapa are in large numbers in and around our town. They are strong enough in numbers to have evenings for old Wairarapa residents.

The League of Mothers has a strong following and meetings are held on the second Wednesday in every month.

The various churches have clubs or societies for young folk. Here they not only meet for social enjoyment but are also kept in touch with the religious side of their lives.

Service Organisations

The Rotary movement, which now encircles the world, came to Levin in 1945 when a club was formed. It has grown to be a very strong unit and renders a great deal of worthwhile service to the community.

Another postwar organisation is the Levin Junior Chamber of Commerce, formed in 1946. It has contributed a great deal to­wards improving the town's amenities, two of its most notable projects being the Waitarere surf pavilion and the free kinder­garten. Rotarians and Jaycees also undertake a great deal of humanitarian work.

Other organisations include the Country Women's Institute, Women's Division of Federated Farmers, Women's Christian Tem­perance Union, Plunket Society, Levin Arts Society, United Nations Association, Nursery Play Centre, Red Cross and Corso Committee.

The town has three social clubs—Levin Club, R.S.A. Club and Cosmopolitan Club.

The Horticultural Society

The Levin Horticultural Society endeavours to keep up the high reputation the district has for the beauty of its flowers and the quality of its fruit and vegetables.

This society has one of the longest if not the longest con­tinued existence of any organisation in the district. It came into being in 1903. In a schedule for 1907-8 it is termed Levin Horti­cultural, Produce and Industrial Society. Mrs. W. Lett (then Mrs. W. M. Clark) is listed as a vice-president. Mrs. Lett continues to take as much interest in the society as she did in those early days.

Admission at the show—held twice yearly, in November and April—was 1/- for adults and 6d for children under 15 years. Refreshments were procurable at moderate prices and exciting guessing competitions for good prizes were promised.

Of all those who were then members, only Mesdames Lett, Aim and Gibson, Miss Bowen and Messrs. W. Ryder, H. Sorensen and H. C. Gapper appear to be still in the district.

St. Mary's Guild Shows

In the spring a bulb show has been held for very many years. This is run by the St. Mary's Ladies' Guild and the annual dis­plays are most attractive. Very few if any towns could better these exhibitions.

The year 1955 produced a particularly colourful display and would equal any similar show in the whole of the Dominion.

Levin and the surrounding district appear to be eminently suitable for the growth of spring flowers—jonquils, narcissi and daffodils among the bulb family seem to rejoice in the soil and the mild end of winter weather.

Thus it can be seen that the townsfolk are catered for in every possible way. It speaks well for a town of the size of Levin that its people take an active interest in so many various pursuits. A town must progress if so many are alive to those things which make life pleasurable when the toil of the day is over. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is as true today as it was in the centuries long, long ago when this trite saying was first uttered.

Our gratitude should go out to those active people, who by their enthusiasm keep these organisations alive for the good of all.


THE Masonic Lodge, which has its temple at the corner of Stanley and Bristol Streets, was formed in 1904 mainly by the efforts of Messrs. F. G. Roe, C. V. Swabey, of Otaki, B. R. Gardener and Jas. McIntyre, who were also active in launching a branch of the Druids' Lodge.

At first the Masonic Lodge shared a building with another society, but as it gained in membership it was able to erect the present building in substantial materials.

The first master was Mr. C. V. Swabey and since his day many highly respected citizens of Levin have held the honoured position. During the 52 years of its existence the lodge has had the privilege of entertaining several of New Zealand's most dis­tinguished Governors-General, among whom were Viscount Galway and the high-ranking airman, Sir Cyril Newall.

The friendly societies have fallen on lean times since the increase in recent years of age and sick benefits by the State. During the first 25 years of this century the Druids, Oddfellows and other kindred bodies had a large following and the members, by their contributions, helped each other in many social ways.

Owned Their Own Halls

Both the Druids and the Oddfellows had their own halls. The Druids' Hall in Bristol Street was one of the most pretentious in the town. A decline in membership, however, forced the society to sell the building and it is now occupied for industrial purposes.

The small Oddfellows' Hall in Oxford Street is still retained as a clubroom by the society. The Levin Play Centre uses it during the day and the League of Mothers holds monthly meetings there.

It says much for the independent spirit of many of our citizens that besides the Druids and Oddfellows, the Rechabites, Buffaloes, Hibernians and a strong women's section of the Odd-fellows' society still exist and are again making good headway.


IN the first quarter of a century of Levin's existence as a borough the town won quite a reputation as a home of music in all its forms, especially singing.

Each of the churches had good choirs, both in numbers and the quality of the singing. Anthems occupied a place at the services and the rendering of sacred cantatas was not neglected.

Some of the Dominion's best singers, both male and female, were to be heard and in Mr. A. Mottershead the town had a tenor who for purity of tone could hold his own with New Zealand's leading artists.

In those days, too, families gathered round the piano in the evening and held impromptu concerts.

But with the advent of canned music and wireless, all these have fallen on poorer days.

The Horowhenua College Adult Choral Group strives man­fully to keep the love of choral music alive, but the numbers are few and men are lacking.

Some years ago the Levin Band rose to quite a nigh level and then sank again, but it is pleasing to note that it is again rising in numbers and quality.

Male Choir Was Active

The earliest of the societies to flourish was the male choir, which, under the baton of Mr. Gilbert, the Y.M.C.A. resident secretary, became very popular in the district and gave enjoyable concerts not only in Levin but at Shannon, Foxton and Otaki. Older residents will remember some of its members—Bert Denton, Harry Taylor, Tom Vincent, Bob McAllister, Jim Gardner, Alf Mottershead, H. Keys, Bill Plaster—who have passed on. Still on deck are Fred Lemmon, Howard Jones, Howard Hunter and Howard Andrew.

Unfortunately, after four successful seasons, Mr. Gilbert was transferred. There was not enough interest in the Y.M.C.A. in the district to warrant a permanent secretary. After his depar­ture the choir struggled on for another season but, like every other body, there must be a virile head, and as this was lacking the choir went into recess and has remained so.

The Levin Choral and Operatic Society was then formed. Mr. Edwin Dennis, an Australian tenor of some fame, then resident in Wellington, was appointed a salaried conductor from several applicants. Mr. Gilbert's position with the male choir was an honorary one, but from the profits of the concerts the choir, had presented their conductor with a motor-cycle to enable him to cover his territory from Shannon to Paekakariki.

Under Mr. Dennis's able tuition the new society reached the golden age of choral music in the history of Levin. Oratorio and opera were given by the society. Many of the Dominion's fore­most singers were engaged. Chief among these were Theresa Mclnroe, Naomi Whalley (golden-voiced soprano from Palmerston North) and Mina Caldow.

Of the men beside Teddy Dennis himself, Len Barnes (bass) and Hubert Carter came to delight Levin listeners.

A pleasant feature of the oratorio performances was that about 40 men and women of the Wellington Royal Choral Society came to our town to augment the choir and Levin reciprocated by going to help at the Wellington performances.

One should not close this short account of Levin's choral days without mentioning how fortunate the society was in its accom­panist, Miss Thelma Shaw, daughter of the gasworks manager. Miss Shaw was a most able musician. It was a loss to the musical world of the town when the family left.

A music club has been functioning over recent years and programmes of vocal and instrumental items are presented in members' homes on one evening each month. These functions give much pleasure to members.

As Shakespeare has it, all the world's a stage, the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. And it has been the same with Levin's musical societies. They have had their entrances and then their exits.

Popular Comedies Presented

Besides the musical features presented by the operatic society, the members gave much pleasure to the townspeople by present­ing several well-known comedies, two of the most popular being "Charley's Aunt" and "The Middle Watch".

One notable occasion was the performance at the Regent Theatre by an all-Levin cast of the musical comedy "The Belle of New York". This company did not long survive.

A laudable effort is being made to revive the taste for flesh and blood musical plays and a new organisation is busily prac­tising. There is already a large membership, although more men would be welcomed. We wish them every success.

Little Theatre Society

On the 28th of February, 1956, the Levin Little Theatre Society will come of age. It was on that date in 1935 that a meeting held in the Whakatane Room resulted in the passing of a resolution that a play-reading and play-producing circle be formed under the name of "The Levin Repertory and Playreading Society". The activities of the Society in those early years were limited to readings and the production of one-act plays. Con­siderable success was achieved in British Drama League Festivals. "B" certificates were won in 1937 and 1939 for productions of "Tickless Time" and "We Got Rhythm" respectively. In 1938 Dr. Fraser won the coveted "A" certificate for his production of "Theatre Of The Soul," and in 1940 Miss M. Parton was awarded 3rd place in the B.D.L. Area Festival for her production of Susan Glaspell's "Woman's Honour".

The first major production took place in 1938 when Mr. Claude Bennett presented "Accent On Youth" for two evenings with marked success. During the war it became increasingly difficult to carry on the affairs of the Society and towards the end of 1940 it went into recess.

In April, 1943, it was revived under the presidency of Mr. G. Sorenson and under his energetic guidance steady progress was made. In addition to the monthly readings, there were evenings of one-act plays and at least one three-act play was produced each year, Mr. Austin Savell acting as producer from 1945 to 1948. When the N.Z. Drama Council introduced its scheme for assisting member societies to obtain the services of a professional pro­ducer, the society was able to engage Mr. Arnold Goodwin whose productions of "Fools Rush In" (1949) and "Arms And The Man" (1950) aroused great interest. Another outside producer, Miss Mavis Mortland, was engaged to produce "Ladies In Retirement" (1950) and "See How They Run" (1951). Since then productions have been in the hands of members of the society, Mr. Norman Byrne (1951-1953), Mr. Peter Graham (1954-1955), and Mr. Ron Frost (1955).

In May, 1949, the name of the Society was changed to "The Levin Little Theatre Society" and the main object of its executives has been to make that name a reality. This objective has been achieved and the society now has its own Little Theatre in Weraroa Road adjacent to the college. The theatre was opened with the play "Arsenic and Old Lace" which was most success­fully produced by Mr. Ron Frost.


PRIOR to the South African War of 1899-1902 the people of the colonies took very little interest in the British Isles, as they were called, although Canada had risen to the status of a Dominion. It was left to the Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, M.P. for Central Birmingham, a leading statesman of those days, to put the colonies on the map. He accepted what was then the lowly position in the Cabinet of Minister of State for the Colonies. This not only awoke interest in the Homeland, but also brought to the colonials a feeling that they were really an integral part of the Empire.

With this incentive, when the South African War broke out in 1899 the colonials, as one man, hastened to join in this the first war in which the whole British race joined forces to take an active part. New Zealand was not behind and although in terms of the two world wars the number of New Zealanders who were chosen to go was small, the country made a fine contribution and the exploits of its men on the veldt have an honoured place in history.

With the passing of just over half a century, not many are now with us in Levin. Those still surviving include Messrs.' E. Hogg, I. D. Parsons, W. de Malmanche, D. Morgan, N. Inder and W. Nicholls.

World War I Days Recalled

World War I was a much more serious affair, but New Zealand, by then a Dominion, did not hesitate. Nor was Levin behind, to which the Cenotaph in the Public Gardens bears mute testimony.

One famous exploit had a special interest for citizens of Levin. A young man who had formerly resided in the town, and who was prominent in sport, especially swimming, distinguished himself at Gallipoli by swimming ashore at night on a dangerous mission. That young man is now Lord Freyberg, who was later to have the honour of being Governor-General to the land of his adoption.

Many of those who left Levin did not return. Some lie asleep in the Middle East, some in France and some in England. Those who went are remembered by the various rolls of honour to be seen in the town's churches and other buildings, a star showing those who made the supreme sacrifice.

No man left the town to go overseas without a rousing send­off by way of presents and a concert. Levin's women knitted for the boys in the trenches. The Levin and District Patiotic Society did magnificent work collecting and distributing funds where needed. The society was formed in September, 1915, and dis­banded in June, 1918, at which date all money was merged in a national fund. Mr. C. S. Keedwell was its secretary.

A women's Red Cross committee also functioned, working hard at knitting, sewing, packing parcels, helping at shop days and raising money. Mrs. Keedwell is the only known surviving member of that committee.

The rejoicings of Armistice Day (November 11, 1918) were sadly marred by the influenza epidemic which swept the world. Levin, like most other towns in the Dominion, was like a city of the dead for weeks. The town lost nearly as many lives in this epidemic as in the war.

Marched Side By Side

When Hitler threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the civilised world in 1939, New Zealand was quick to join the Mother­land in taking up the challenge. On behalf of the Government and people the then Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. M. J. Savage, in a national broadcast, announced: "Where Britain Goes We Go." The call was taken up wholeheartedly.

And who should be given command of the New Zealand forces but its adopted son, General Freyberg, and nobly he carried out his duties. Regulars, airmen and sailors, many of them from Levin, answered the call. Local young men were in the Western Desert campaign and later the fierce battles in Italy. They also played their part against the Japanese in the Pacific. Others joined the air force and went to Britain. Gallantly they all fought. On sea our merchant sailors and naval men, some of them Levin boys, defied the danger from the air and under the water.

The hearts of Levin people were thrilled with pride on hear­ing the news of the sinking of the German ship Graf Spee by three smaller British ships, one of which, the Achilles, was New Zealand manned with several men from Levin included in her complement.

Again there was a big task for the women of Levin and the men who were unable to join fellow-citizens in the forces. Knit­ting for the airmen and soldiers was done on a vast scale. Count­less scarves, balaclavas and mittens went to the R.N.Z.A.F. station at Weraroa and the men overseas. Many hours were devoted to the packing of food parcels and raising funds for patriotic purposes.

The entry of the Japanese into the conflict and their steady march southwards brought a real threat to New Zealand's shores and for the first time in its history men in all towns were banded together ready to range themselves alongside the home defence forces had the need arisen. The force was known as the Home Guard and members of it, many of them veterans of the earlier wars, spent much time in training.

Lives were lost in this war—precious lives that would have been valuable to our town. But great honours were gained and the Memorial Hall in Queen Street will perpetuate for all time the memory of the many who we remember but see no more.


REFLECTION over the years since those first pioneers arrived to carve their homes out of the virgin bush brings to mind many people who have played a part in Levin's development and growth. But it is inevitable in a task of this nature that a narrator will inadvertently overlook some whose service would entitle them to a place.

Those responsible for the cutting down of the bush are the first to come to mind—the Prouse brothers and Mr. Peter Bartholomew, not forgetting their respective wives, who had the hardest end of the stick in those early days. When bush felling had ended these gentlemen did not forsake Levin for pastures new. They remained to assist build up the town they had helped to create, first by farming and then by taking an active interest in the newly-formed borough.

Played Leading Part

Mr. F. J. Stuckey played a leading part in the town's progress. He was one of the prime movers in the establishment of the first school and chairman of the first school committee. In the interim between the departure of Mr. Pope and the arrival of Mr. Mc­Intyre he even acted the part of schoolmaster. Everything con­nected with the life of the new town found Mr. Stuckey a staunch supporter. His was the first two-storey dwelling to be erected in Levin and stood at the south-west corner of Bath Street West. His nroperty was afterwards subdivided into what is now Bath, Durham, Stuckey and Saxton Streets area. The banner now in the possession of the Horowhenua Rugby Union was donated by Mr. Stuckey. He died four years prior to the borough's existence at the early age or 57.

Mr. Marco Fosella

One of the town's outstanding figures, he kept a general store and became one of the early councillors. His chief other interest was as captain of the boating club, which was a live body then. Mr. Fosella, a native of Italy, owned the building in which the first pictures were shown in Levin. Known as the Cosmos Theatre, it was adjacent to "The Chronicle" Office and now is an auc­tioneer's mart. The lessee was the late Mr. W. Farland, the first man to operate films in New Zealand at Short's Theatre, Welling­ton, and the music was provided by Mr. J. W. Hayfield.

Prominent Citizens

Two names are linked together in the early history of Levin, Messrs. B. R. Gardener and Jas. McIntyre. Both were born in the same year-1867—the former in England and the latter in New Zealand. Mr. Gardener came to Levin in 1891 and established a business as general storekeeper, and Mr. McIntyre in 1892 took charge of the school of 58 pupils. Mr. Gardener was prominent in accomplish­ment of it became the first mayor in May, 1906, a position he held for 10 years. On resigning he became town clerk. Every policy for the advantage of the borough had Mr. Gardener's support—better streets, lighting and high pressure water supply. He was a most likeable person, abounding in energy and always at the call of anyone in trouble. He died in harness after suffering a seizure in his office while engaged in his duties as town clerk.

Mr. McIntyre—Mac to all—what can we say of him? He was an ideal schoolmaster and the idol of every child who came in contact with him. Headmaster from 1892 to 1922, he saw the roll increase from 58 to 690 and the staff from two to 26.

Mr. McIntyre started football, cricket, hockey and tennis clubs in Levin, and in later years became a keen bowler. One story he loved to relate was of his football days while a pupil teacher in Wellington. He was chosen to play half-back for a Wellington rep. team having its first game with Marlborough. In the pub­lished sides in the Blenheim paper his weight was given as 18 stone instead of eight stone, an obvious printer's error. When the small steamer pulled in at the town wharf, the crowd met the visitors and called loudly for the giant half-back. Loud was the laughter when little Jim McIntyre was hoisted on the shoulders of the stalwart captain of the team. His retirement in 1922 was received with great regret on all sides. Just three months after retiring, amid universal regret, he passed away.

In building operations in the earlier days two men were active. They were Messrs. Peter Arcus and Ken Douglas. Mr. Douglas was a Scot and Mr. Arcus a Shetlander. Mr. Arcus, who lived to a ripe old age, will be remembered also as the contractor for the first public lighting system. Mr. Douglas was the builder of the Arcadia Private Hotel, then the most pretentious edifice in the town. The contract price, under £1500, would not build a three-room cottage these days, let alone a three-storey hotel.

Was a Familiar Figure

A very old identity and once a familiar figure in the town was Mr. F. G. Roe. After the bush felling days were ended, Mr. Roe took on farming. For many years he was a most enthusiastic member of the Levin School Committee. He devoted his energies to advocating two projects, neither of which came into being. One was the formation of the main railway line from Levin to Greatford. Since Mr. Roe's death this seems to have been forgotten. The other was the founding of Massey College at the C.D. Farm, on the Beach Road. Here, as in the case of the Manawatu rail­way, the pull of Palmerston North prevailed. Although suc­cessive Governments had intimated that the college would be established in Levin, all these promises came to naught.

There were two lawyers who loomed largely in the early life of the town, Messrs. C. Blenkhorn and W. S. Park. Mr. Blenkhorn was active as mayor and Mr. Park as solicitor to the borough. Mr. Blenkhorn, a veteran of the South African War, had the interest of the town always at heart. His son, Jack, has inherited it as far as the County Council and the Horowhenua A. and P. Association are concerned. Mr. Park appears as an auditor for the Levin Horticultural Society the year the borough was constituted.

Mayor Who Toiled Hard

Of the mayors of the middle years none perhaps put more work into the improvement of the town than Mr. D. W. (Don) Matheson. He was a partner in the drapery firm of Styles & Matheson, at that time the largest of its kind in the town. Not­withstanding the work entailed in his business, he threw himself wholeheartedly into the affairs of the borough. He prevailed on his fellow-councillors to cover the unsightly pit with the present Municipal Buildings and shops, a monument alone to any man. While he was in office the town became illuminated with electricity.

Mr. D. S. Mackenzie was for long a familiar figure in Levin. Quiet, unobtrusive and kindliness itself, Stuart was a fine all-round sport, excelling as a hockey player. He served for some years as a councillor and will be remembered for introducing the first regular attention to school children's teeth.

A councillor who served the town well and had longer con­tinuous service than any other man was Mr. F. E. Parker. He was of a combative nature, but this was merely because he desired the best for the town. A council requires a Frank Parker to see that matters are not rushed. Too often he was in a minority of one.

Known Like Town Clock

If one was asked who were as well-known as the town clock, one would have to say at once the Bradley brothers. Bob and Jim Bradley have always seemed an integral part of the town. Long before the motor-car age the trains would be met by their cabs and passengers conveyed to their homes for a very modest fee. Both Bob and Jim were courtesy itself and no town in New Zea­land could have had more obliging servants. Their stables were for many years in the centre of Oxford Street, near what is now Shaw's Building. The change in transport saw them quickly adopt the new system.

Women Play Their Part

Women, being confined on the whole to the management of the home and the rearing of children, do not loom large in the history of a town. In those days, when maternity hospitals were unknown and a doctor not always available, Mesdames Smithson and Parsons worked valiantly, going out in all weathers over so called roads to carry out the duties which heralded the arrival of another soul into the world. Too much praise cannot be accorded them. The arduous duties they performed would fill a volume.

Mrs. Richard Prouse knew all the difficulties of pioneering days when accidents happened at the sawmill and no doctor was available. The stories she could tell of attending to serious cuts and broken limbs are legion. Yes, Granny Prouse was a grand character.

To most of us the name of Miss H. E. Bowen and Levin are synonymous. She was postmistress at Levin and Weraroa for many years. Miss Bowen is the only woman ever to have been a member of the Borough Council. She was ever ready to help in any cause for the betterment of the town or humanity. For many years she was the champion of the needs of Weraroa. Just as Mrs. Ross figures in the national life, so has Miss Bowen figured in the life of the town of her adoption. One can see her almost any day trotting briskly along on some errand of goodwill. She will have her reward in the sincere regard of all who know her.

Of those women who have figured largely in the town during . the past 50 years, none is more widely known than Mrs. W. Lett, who will be better remembered by earlier settlers as Mrs. W. M. Clark. As Mrs. Clark she appears as a vice-president of the Levin Horticultural Society as long ago as 1906. Mrs. Lett has always taken a most active part in the affairs of the society. The R.S.A. is indebted to her for its splendid bowling green off Salisbury Street, the section for which she presented in gratitude for members' services to the Empire.

Early Painter And Bootmaker

Returning to the men who have played an active part in the community, the number is too great for all to be recorded. Mr. J. W. Procter—Jack Procter to all who knew him—was one of the earliest if not the earliest painter in the town and later turned farmer at Hokio. The racing club, rugby football and especially the Levin District High School had his active support.

Mr. W. G. Vickers was closely associated with the racing club, school committee and St. Mary's Anglican Church. Everything for the good of the town found a supporter in Mr. Vickers.

Everybody knew Mr. F. W. Pink, our first bootmaker and repairer. He was always the first to help the brigade at fires and he sometimes did not even wait to get fully dressed before reaching the fire station.

Mr. W. H. Wilson, provider of bread for the town even before it became a town, was a member of the original Levin football team and proprietor of the largest private hotel in the province. He lived for many years in Hastings, but ended his days in the town of his first love.

Mr. Remington, a well-known chemist with a most talented musical family; Mr. J. W. Rimmer, a real live business man, who for many years took charge of the finances of the Horowhenua Rugby Union to the great advantage of that body; Mr. T. G. Vincent, farmer, chairman of the Power Board and Levin Co-op. Dairy Company, and also a keen bowler. All these have passed through the portal which divides this life from the next.

Others to help in some measure with the betterment of the town include Mr. C. S. Keedwell, for many years a councillor and now chairman of the Power Board; Messrs. J. Harvey and H. Walker, both of whom served terms as borough councillors; and Messrs. T. Hobson, H. A. Phillips and H. B. Burdekin, each of whom filled the office of mayor with distinction. Of the post­masters who have served Levin, Mr. Cork acted longest.

Mr. P. W. Goldsmith's Fine Record

For very many years Levin and the late Mr. P. W. Goldsmith could hardly be separated., Almost every position in the public life of the community was held by him at some time or other—town clerk, county clerk, Power Board secretaryship and even­tually the mayoralty. These show the versatility of Mr. Gold­smith. Nor were his activities confined to these. His pet hobby outside business was the beautifying society and he was ever on the alert to add something which would make the town more attractive. He was instrumental in having trees planted along the railway line to hide the unsightly back view of the shops in Oxford Street. Now, however, these have been uprooted and the land used for a car park. Levin has much to thank Philip Wharton Goldsmith for.

The Ryder brothers figure as butchers as long ago as 1894. Later they both turned their attention to farming. Outside work their hobby was the racing club.

Writing of these early men and women who loom large in the annals of the town it is interesting to record that the first women's bicycle to appear in the town was ridden by the late Mrs. H. G. Gapper and the first motor-car was the property of the late Dr. Mackenzie. The first white child to be born was the late Mr. J. R. McDonald.

Of all the other firsts most of them have been mentioned elsewhere, except that the first recorded athletic sports were held in 1894 on January 22 (Anniversary Day) and the starter was the well-known resident, the late Mr. Jas. Rose.


THERE are always many items of interest to the people of a which cannot be classified under any particular heading —happenings humorous and otherwise the older settlers love to remember.

In these days of intense rugby competition it is worth record­ing that as far back as 1898 the Levin Football Club, now non­existent, was the champion team of the year and annexed the cup. Among the players there will be many known to old Levinites-- Messrs. H. Ostler, Powles, W. H. Wilson, C. H. Wilson and H. Denton. Genial Bert Denton was the team's half-back.

Rather more than 50 years ago an oddity could be seen roaming around the new township. He was an African pigmy, known as Abu, who had been jettisoned at Levin by a travelling circus. With a bow and arrow, he lived mainly on rabbits, which he ate raw, and supplemented these with roots and berries. At length he became so much of a nuisance that the constable of the day, Constable Gray, decided to transport him elsewhere. He was duly arrested and locked up in the lavatory at the railway station. But when the door was unlocked next morning the bird had flown. At the rear of the building was a small door that only a very small creature could escape through. Where Abu went to is not known.

Shotgun Was Not Used

Every motorist in the district knows the hazards that exist in the part of Oxford Street south of the library, where the width of the road suddenly narrows. Even after the road had been made there were suggestions that the corner now occupied by the Cen­tral Buildings should be splayed back. Just prior to the erection of the building the project came into prominence again, but nothing was done. But to return to the story. A small whare was at the corner, the occupant a well-known lady. When she heard that the corner was likely to be cut and with it her whare re­moved, the report says she kept a loaded shotgun in her domicile and vowed she would shoot the first man who attempted to move her dwelling. No one was shot.

Levin has not been forgotten by those high up in the world. Several Governors-General have honoured the town with visits—Viscount Galway, Sir Chas. Newall in 1941, Sir Chas. and Lady Fergtisson in 1926, Lord and Lady Jellicoe in 1921, Lord and Lady Bledisloe in 1932 and Lord Freyberg during his term of office.

Lord Jellicoe was a trifle mixed in his geography. When addressing the assembly he spoke of his welcome from "the people of Foxton," for his wife to whisper, "Levin, dear, not Foxton". The present Governor-General, Sir Willoughby Norrie, was here in 1954.

Prime Ministers have also been our visitors. The first was the Rt. Hon. R. J. Seddon, who came to ouen the Boys' Training Farm on March 14, 1906. Three months later his sudden death occurred at sea. In August, 1924, the Rt. Hon. Wm. Massey laid the foun­dation stone of the Municipal Buildings, and in 1938 the Rt. Hon. M. J. Savage paid a visit. The present Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. S. G. Holland, has paid frequent though not official visits to this town.

Helped in Big Strike

During the regrettable strike of 1913 many young men—farmers and others—journeyed to Wellington to act as special constables in maintaining order. Of the many experiences that befell them, two will show their determination. One very well-known character from Levin, who afterwards reached the highest office possible in the Dominion, when riding along Lambton Quay, was greeted with a most offensive epithet by one of the strikers. The offender then dodged quickly into the bar of a nearby hotel only to be followed instantly, still on horseback, right into the bar. What followed after that is not recorded.

The other happening refers to a young farmer from the Levin area who, while serving as a special constable, heard that firemen were required to stoke the steamers leaving for England. He wrote to his father asking his leave to make the trip, but was careful to post the letter the morning the steamer left. He made the voyage.

Two War Stories

Two stories of war periods will illustrate the spirit of always looking on the bright side no matter how dark the clouds. One refers to an Englishman and the other to one of Scottish extraction.

While World War I was being fought a well-known Levin barber was desperately anxious to be a combatant. Owing to his small stature he was at first turned down. This riled the gentleman somewhat as he was a first-rate shot and considered he was admirably suitable to be a sniper. Eventually, when the standard was lowered, he was accepted. On his first leave he visited his parents in London. One evening he went to the "local" with his father. Just before leaving he suggested he get a bottle of whisky to take home. Going up to the bar he duly asked the barmaid for a bottle. She vigorously shook her head in denial of his request. Father went up to the bar and asked why. "I'm not allowed to serve a boy scout," was the answer. No one enjoyed the joke more than "Shorty".

The second story was the outcome of World War II. The son of one of Levin's most respected citizens was a prisoner-of-war in Germany and everyone knows how their letters home were cen­sored. This young soldier was able to circumvent the Germans by a clever sentence with regard to the quality of the food.

Once his family had owned a pony called Spot. Spot had been lent to some people, who returned him as thin as a rake. In this particular letter our friend said he could not grumble at the food, but he often felt as Spot must once have felt.

Fifty-four years have passed since the cessation of hostilities between Boer and Britain, but to show how virile and what stamina those men had who left this district to take part in the war, no fewer than 36 are still living in the town. South Africa at the time was the home of malaria. Scientists had not then discovered the carrier of the germs and it needed strong men to withstand the ravages of the disease. It has been said that more men died during the campaign from malaria than from wounds. It speaks volumes for the bodily strength of so many of those men who are still with us and all well over the three score years and 10. They have their reunion every year.

Still Only Two Hotels

Many years ago in the Old Country it was only necessary to apply for an hotel licence and it was granted, no matter how many hotels there might be. To some degree that must have applied to New Zealand for one has only to see how many hotels a town possesses for the calculation to be made whether it be an old settled town or one of recent origin. In our own district there are eight hotels for Otaki and Foxton. Levin, with a population 50 per cent more than the other two towns combined, has only two. But as all know, the origin of both Otaki and Foxton is earlier than Levin.

At present the townspeople have only one cinema and there is no choice unless travel is undertaken to nearby towns. This was not always so. Prior to the erection of the municipal theatre there were three cinemas. That was in the silent picture days. One building still exists but as a second-hand furniture store. One of the others was situated next to Bonner's Garage. It was destroyed by fire some 30 years ago. The third was in an old building known as the Town Hall. It occupied the site in Queen Street West which now has on it the district nurses' quarters. The Town Hall was the first public place of entertainment in the borough.

Big Rugby Matches

Levin has had two visits in recent years from a New Zealand rep. rugby fifteen, the second being on August 17, 1955. The Domain held one of the largest crowds that has ever assembled there. The Horowhenua team did not disgrace itself and the score of 28-41 rather flattered the New Zealand side. One strik­ing feature of the day was the multitude, yes multitude is the word, of cars that were to be seen in the town. Traffic jams were the order of the day, especially at the Oxford Street-Bath Street corner. It was fully 45 minutes before the last cars could get away.

Praise is due to the Levin Municipal Band for its generous gesture towards the jubilee celebrations. The band had entered for the competitions at Dunedin in March of this year, but after being approached by the jubilee committee the members gra­ciously agreed to forfeit their trip and remain in Levin to aid in the celebrations. A contest was held in Levin on October 2, 1955, at which bands from Marton, Upper Hutt, Feilding and Levin competed. Unfortunately the day was anything but pleasant, with a cold north-easterly wind blowing. Only a few hundred were at the domain in the afternoon and even less at the hymn test in the Regent Theatre that evening. Levin took the major honours, being first in the selection and quickstep and second to Marton in the hymn.

Big Bomber Overhead

In September, 1955, Levin saw circling round the town in the blue of the sky one of the largest and fastest bombers this world has yet seen—a Valiant. At its tail was a tiny jet which looked like a small fly endeavouring to overtake a large bird. Although only at a little over half speed, it flashed across the town with a quickness hardly imaginable. The following week a Valiant

passea over on its way to circle Wellington, while shortly afterwards a passenger plane bound for Paraparaumu came into sight. Then one could appreciate the speed of the Valiant because the passenger plane apeared like an old carthorse lumbering after a racehorse. Fifty years ago and it would have taken nearly three weeks from Levin to Adelaide, and yet these Valiants flew from Adelaide to Christchurch (1600 miles) in a little over three hours. Did, we at the formation of the borough of Levin ever Imagine such a happening at such a speed!

And so with the thought of air transport we end this story. The hundreds of air passengers who fly over this area daily see a compact and well laid out town surrounded by trim farms re­placing that forest which comprised the entire landscape only 75 years ago. But the same background is there and always will be—the unchangeable and majestic Tararuas.

As Levin passes the milestone of its first 50 years as a Borough, its citizens can look forward with confi­dence to the future. The vision of the pioneers—far beyond the horizon they knew—and sound administra­tion of the town's affairs in succeeding years have brought remarkable progress and have helped to build one of the grandest little towns in New Zealand.

Its fine amenities, equable climate and close proximity to the Capital City and other centres will continue to attract new residents. As the population continues to grow the business area will further expand. Only one thing is required—more rapid industrial development—and that will surely come. Levin's citizens need have no concern for the future of their town.

Borough of Levin, New Zealand

Constituted 1st April, 1906

Statistics for Year ended 31st March, 1955

Area 1332 acres
Population (estimated) 6050
Number of Ratepayers 2032
Number of Rateable Properties 2231
Number of Dwellings 1918
Unimproved Value of Borough £908,700
Value of Improvements £3,542,900
Capital Value £4,451,600
Public Debt
Less Sinking Funds Other Liabilities
Cash Assets £63,157
Estimated Assets 387,663
------------ £450,790
Ordinary Revenue £111,852
Other Receipts (including Loan) 60,514
Total Payments Streets:—
Sealed 25.6 miles
Metalled 0.2 miles
Footpaths—Sealed 26.7 miles
Street Lights:—
Number 257
Annual Cost £930
Building Permits Issued 334
Value of Building Permits Issued £454,931
Gasworks :-
Gas Manufactured 20,812,200 c. ft.
Gas Sold and Used at Works 16,988,700 c. ft.
co*ke Sold 511 tons
Tar Sold 12,700 galls.
Coal Carbonised 1273 tons
Average Make per Ton of Coal Carbonised 16,350 c. ft.
Abattoir—Stock Slaughtered:-
Cattle 8,289
Calves 725
Sheep and Lambs 60,248
Pigs 8,782
Rates Levied—on Unimproved Value:—
General 7.82d in the £
Hospital 1.30d in the £
Manawatu Catchment Bd 0.40d in the £
Special 3.14d in the £
Water (Full) 0.40d in the £
Total Levied 13.06d in the £


SATURDAY, 3rd March, 1956:

11.00 a.m.—Jubilee Procession to Showgrounds via Oxford Street, Bath Street and Weraroa Road.

1.45 p.m.—Maori Challenge and Welcome.

2.00 p.m.—Official Opening at Showgrounds.

Fair at Showgrounds.

SUNDAY, 4th March, 1956:

11.00 a.m.—Special Church Services at individual Churches.

2.30 p.m.—Laying of Foundation Stone of new Roman Catholic Church in Weraroa Road by Most Rev. P. McKeefry, D.D., Archbishop of Wellington, and Metropolitan.

2.00 p.m.—Motor Drive for Visitors and Old Identities and Afternoon Tea.

West Coast Surf Life-Saving Championships at Waitarere Beach, commencing 10 a.m.

MONDAY, 5th March, 1956:

2.15 p.m.—Function arranged by Levin Country Women's

Institute at St. John Hall, Queen Street.

7.00 p.m.—Athletic and Cycling Meeting at Levin Domain

for Hunter Shield.

TUESDAY, 6th March, 1956:

1.30 p.m.—Levin Horticultural Society's Special Jubilee Show, Regent Hall-1.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

2.15 p.m.—Function arranged by Levin Branch of the League of Mothers and Levin Music Club at St. John Hall, Queen Street.

7.15 p.m.—Jubilee Dinner, Memorial Hall, Queen Street.

8.00 p.m.—Swimming Carnival arranged by Levin Swimming
Club, Coronation Baths, Bath Street.

WEDNESDAY, 7th March, 1956:

11.00 a.m.—Opening of Diamond Jubilee Gates at Levin School.

2.15 p.m.—Function arranged by Levin Branch of the Women's Division of the Federated Farmers at St. John Hall, Queen Street.

8.00 p.m.—Variety Concert, Regent Theatre, Oxford Street.

THURSDAY, 8th March, 1956:

10.00 a.m.—Levin Ladies' Bowling Club Jubilee Tournament, Bath Street East.

2.15 p.m..—Function arranged by Levin Plunket Society at St. John Hall, Queen Street.

8.00 p.m.—Open air Concert and Entertainment, Levin Domain.

FRIDAY, 9th March, 1956:

2.15 p.m.—Function arranged by the Nga Tokowaru and the Horowhenua Maori Women's Welfare Leagues at St. John Hall, Queen Street.

7.15 p.m.—Announcement of winners of McMinn 'Motors Limited Jubilee Painting Competition and presen­tation of trophies at showrooms, Queen Street.

9.00 p.m.—jubilee Ball, Memorial Hall, Queen Street.

SATURDAY, 10th March, 1956:

10.30 a.m.—Gala Day at Showgrounds.

1.30 p.m.—Presentation of Trophies, Jubilee Baby Photographic Competition.

2.00 p.m.—Passing Out Parade of Military Trainees from Linton Military Camp before the Honourable the Minister of Defence.

8.00 p.m.—Jubilee Fireworks Display, Marching Competitions, etc.

10.00 p.m.—Closing of Jubilee.

9.30 a.m.—Mixed and Men's Bowling Tournaments. Men—Levin Club, Weraroa Road. Mixed—Central Club (Bristol Street) & R.S.A. Club (Salisbury Street).

McMinn Motors Limited Levin Borough Jubilee Painting Com­petition on show during period of Jubilee at the Company's showrooms, Queen Street.

(Programme Subject to Alteration)

The facilities of the following clubs have been made available to visitors to the town during Jubilee Week:—Levin Golf Club; Levin Central, Levin R.S.A. and Levin Bowling Clubs; Levin Tennis Club; Levin Club; Levin R.S.A. Club.

Regent Theatre

Programmes for Jubilee Week

Saturday 3rd — Monday 5th — Tuesday 6th — at 8 p.m.
Matinee Saturday and Tuesday at 2 p.m.
A J. Arthur Rank production:


(Approved for universal exhibition.)

Thursday 8th and Friday 9th at 8 p.m.
Matinee Friday at 2 p.m.
A Double Feature Programme for Your Pleasure!

Colour by Technicolor.
— Second Attraction —
A J. Arthur Rank production:


(Both approved for universal exhibition.)

Saturday 10th and Monday 12th at 8 p.m.
Matinee Saturday at 2 p.m.
Warner Bros.' Technicolor Musical:


(Approved for universal exhibition.)


The compiler of the Jubilee book desires to thank those numerous folk who so willingly helped with vital information. While it is not possible to remember all who gave verbal help, the majority of assistance came from Messrs. F. H. Hudson, H. L. Jenkins, R. Mcllraith, H. Gapper, G. Davidson and C. S. Keedwell, to whom thanks are due. Much help was derived from the com­pilers of the school Golden and Diamond Jubilee books and the "Your Future's in Levin" publication. Items of interest were also received from the Horowhenua A. & P. Association and the Levin Racing Club. If any have been missed will they please take the will for the deed.


The Jubilee Committee gratefully acknowledges the support of the following business houses, whose contributions have made the publication of the booklet possible:—

Alpine Ice Cream Co.

Arcus, .J. L.. & Sons. Accountants.

Armstrong, N. B.. Accountant.

Avenue Cash Butchery.

Army Clothing Store.

Allen, A. W., Lid.

Australia & New Zealand Bank.

Avenue Cash Stores,

Auckram, A. IL, Welder.

Albrecht, A., Grocer.

Bank of New South Wales.

Belmont Furnishers Ltd.

Bevan, Miss M., Floriste.

Bolderson & Critchley Ltd.

Bonner's Garage.

Bertram, J. P., Land Agent.

Barry & Freeman. Opticians.

Blenkhorn & Todd, Barristers & Solicitors.

Boyd, E. R, Optician.

Black, Kathleen, Floriste.

Bettina Beauty Salon.

Bull, W., & Co. Ltd., Wholesale Wine & Spirit Merchants.

Butt, B. T.. Concrete Block Manufacturer.

Bird's Garage.

Central Cash Store (J. Bowden).

Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd.

Chainey Bros.

Collis. R.. Coal Merchant.

Chapman's, Booksellers.

Clark. W. M.. Ltd., Drapers.

Cooper's Hairdressing Saloon.

Capper's Transport (1918) Ltd.

Craighead D. S., Ltd., Woodwork Mrs.

Creighton, W. A., Ltd., Plumbers,

Dear Distributing Co, Ltd.

Dempsey, G. A., Joinery.

Davies Bros.. Painters & Panerhnngers.

Davies, Harry, Grocer.

Dianne Gowns (Mrs. J. M. Hopkins).

Douglas, K., Ltd., Engineers.

Electric Refrigeration (N.Z.) Ltd.

Farm Services.

Findlay, Jean, Florists.

Foster & Foster. Surveyors.

Forster & Co. Ltd.

Florence Salon.

Fitzgerald Print.

Fritehley's Store.

Grand Hotel.

General Sales (Levin) Ltd., Painters & Paperhangers.

Gray's East End Store.

Hewitt, L. A., Upholsterer.

Harvey, Howard. & Sons.

H.M.V. Sales & Service.

Hallenstein Bros. Ltd.

Henderson's Cycle & Toy Depot.

Horowhenua Joinery Ltd.

Howard & Bleakley. Produce Merchants.

Iremonger, B. E., Signwriter.

Ideal Cash Stores Ltd.

Jacobs' Butcheries.

Jackson, H., Dentist.

Jean Nielson, Children's Wear.

Jenkins & Parker, "Home of J.P. Recaps".

Jensen, W., & Co.. Plumbers.

Jenness Music Store.

Jennings' Store, Weraroa.

Kerslake, Billens & Humphrey Ltd., Printers.

Keedwell's Pharmacy Lid.

Lane's Hosiery Ltd.

Levin Meat Co. Ltd.,

"The Better Butchers".

Levin Motor Bodies.

Lumsden, S.L., 4 Square Store.

Levin Sports Depot Ltd.

Levin Car Sales Ltd.

Levin Auctioneering Co. Ltd.

Langtry's Pharmacy Ltd.

Levin Printing Works Ltd.

Levin Knitting Mills Ltd.

Levin Fruit Mart.

Levin Pie Shop.

Lee & Lee, Coal Merchants.

Levin Delicatessen.

Lynch, J. W., Ltd.

Levin Auction Mart.

Levin Dyers & Dry Cleaners Ltd.

Landers & Pegden, Dentists.

Lester's Cordials Ltd.

Levin Hotel.

Levin Fibrous Plasterers.

Marina Gowns.

McLeod, R. D., Bookseller.

Monterey Bag Shop I Mrs. Elleray.)

Mooney, J. K., & Co., Wool & Sheep Skin Exporters.

McGavin., Ian, Grocer.

McMinn Motors Ltd.

Mackenzie, P: S., Dentist.

Montgomery's Ltd.

National Mutual Life Assn.

(A. H. Edwards, 25 Quinns Rd.).

Neville Portraits (W. J. Neville).

Nairn, Bryce, Ltd.

National Bank of N.Z. Ltd.

N.Z.I.M.U. Insurance Co. Ltd.

N.Z. Belting Co. Ltd.

Ohau Stores Ltd.

O'Connor's Cordials Ltd.

Olympic Fish Shop.

Oxford Dairy (Mrs. E. Roger).

Palmer's Milk Supply.

Parkin, Morris, Shoe Store.

Permac Concrete Products Ltd.

Petite Gown Salon (Mrs. A. A. Rolfe).

Professional Uniform Co.

Power Farming Ltd.

Parker, Vincent & Co. Ltd., Grain, Seed & Produce.

Philip, S., Barrister & Solicitor.

Park & Cullinane,

Barristers & Solicitors.

Pirovano, J. A., Concrete Contractor.

Parrington's, Jewellers.

Parrington, E. I., Dentist.

Premier Laundry Ltd.

Premier Dry Cleaning Co. Ltd.

Quinn's Store, Oxford St.

Romans, Jan, Ltd.

Rankin Bros., Butchers.

Rankin, Tack, Hairdresser.

Rankine, F. V., Ltd.

Reliance Tyre & Rubber Co.

Robbie, H., Building Contractor.

Rombaut, P. J., Bookbinder.

Rae, C. G. & G. G., Public Accountants.

Renkin, J. D., Jeweller.

Salmons & Mabey,

Painters & Paperhangers.

Sharon Ladies' Hairdresslng Salon.

Shirley Floriste.

Speedy Dental Repairs (J, E. Elleray).

Sports Centre (A. A. Rolfe).

Smith. S., Engineer.

Sagar's Dairy.

Sinero Engineering Co. Lid.

Sorenson, G. H., Public Accountant.

Sexton, M. C., Public Accountant.

Studio Design.

Stedman & Brockelsby Co. Ltd.,


Taylor, Colin, Ltd.

Thornley, Norman, Ltd.

Tararua Grocery.

Tremewan, L. R., Ltd.

The Friendly Service Store. Weraroa.

Trass. L. V., Builder.

Trethewey, F. C. Electrician.

Walkley & Norton, Cabinetmakers.

Warren Motors (Levin) Ltd.

Weaver's Garage.

Webb, Barry, Hairdresser.

Wilkinson's Beauty Parlour.

Winchester Store.

Ward, P. J. Ltd.

Wilkinson, C., Hairdresser.

Weraroa Cash Drapery Ltd.

Woollett, H. J. Ltd., Builders.

Woolworths Ltd.

Worsfold, S., Jeweller.

Weraroa Dairy.

Wright, Stephenson & Co. Ltd.

Walker, H. W. S.. Public Accountant

Wallace's, Fashion Leaders.

'Young, G. C.. Fruiterer.


Object type
Multi-Page Document

March 1956
From Bush to Borough Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1906-1956 (2024)


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