Te Kinga & Lake Brunner – West Coast, New Zealand
The little village of Te Kinga, shown here in a 1928 photo, has an interesting history. The West Coast is a unique region, rugged and wild, and has been inhabited by stone-age Maori people for almost a thousand years. Modern-day visitors to the region will see few traces of the activities of the “olden-days,” and Lake Brunner history.
Te Kinga, Lake Brunner is one of many West Coast villages that lived and died in the same century. Established in the early 1900’s, it nestled on the north-western shores of the lake known to the Maori as Kotuku Moana or “Waters of the White Heron.” The lakes present-day name is in memory of that of the early explorer, Thomas Brunner, first European to set eyes on Lake Brunner, long before the establishment of Te Kinga.
Te Kinga was a saw-milling village – the majority of the village men either worked in the sawmills, or on the logging gangs engaged in felling trees and delivering them to the mills. My great-grandfather, Joe Abbott, moved to Te Kinga with his wife Emma and family around 1906. He managed a team of horses, hauling logs to one of the sawmills. The first post office opened in 1895.
|Joe Abbott, circa 1920’s. Sharpening the scythe, preparing to cut grass.||Joe Abbott and Jim Davidson, circa 1920’s. Standing on the railway tracks above the village of Te Kinga.|
As a boy, growing up in the village, fishing and hunting were the key pastimes. Some of the following old scenes of the village give an appreciation of the daily activities of nearly 50 years ago at Te Kinga.
Te Kinga, our little town, did not quite die, but it certainly went into an extended coma. The hotel burned down when I was a small boy, and was not replaced. The village fell into ruin after the saw-mills closed, late 1960’s. The shop closed, and the school. Most of the houses were removed, taken by transporter to Stillwater. My grandmother closed the Post Office in 1975, and moved to Greymouth to live with my mother.
The land has changed hands, and an enormous amount of work was been done by a real estate developer. The subdivision, along what was once quite a busy street, has services including power, telephone, gas, water and sewer. The weeds and scrub have been banished, all 28 lots cleaned and leveled.
From Stone’s 1938 Directory:
Westland Province & Electoral District: Grey County
A post and telegraph office 26 miles S.E. by rail from Greymouth.
Mails – cleared Greymouth Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 6:40am; arrives here Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 9:30am; cleared here Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 2:00pm, Saturday 3:00pm.
- Abbott Joseph Henry, mill hand;
- Beams Stanley, bushman,
- Becker Wilfred, farmer;
- Bentley William, engine driver;
- Burns James, surfaceman;
- Cashmere Bay Hotel: J.A.Dowell, prop.
- Davison Robert, surfaceman;
- Dawson George, bushman;
- Dickson Ralph, engine driver;
- Dow James Stuart, bushman;
- Dowell Jas Avery, (Cashmere Bay Hotel);
- Egerton John Edward, mill hand;
- Farrelly Anthony, mill hand;
- Gibbs John Thomas, sawyer;
- Gordon John, bushman;
- Gray William, farmer;
- Hayes George, mill hand;
- Hibbs Thomas Royal C., sawyer;
- Hill Albert Victor, mill hand;
- Hines James, saw doctor;
- Kerr James, yardman;
- Lowe Wiliam, storekeeper;
- McAllister Archibald Douglas, engine driver;
- McDermid William, bushman;
- Manzoni Joseph Martin, bushman;
- Mayo James, sawmill manager;
- Potter William Henry, mill hand;
- Robinson Arthur (J.P.), farm manager;
- Robinson James, Patrick, farmer;
- Southam Herbert, yardman;
- Williams John Thomas, master mariner.