Leather MakersLeather MakersLeather MakersLeather Makers
the Gittos family of tanners and leather merchants, 1841the Gittos family of tanners and leather merchants, 1841the Gittos family of tanners and leather merchants, 1841the Gittos family of tanners and leather merchants, 1841----1991199119911991
Lisa J TruttmanLisa J TruttmanLisa J TruttmanLisa J Truttman,,,, 2008200820082008
Early settlers to New Zealand came to a land stranger than their homelands of Scotland,England, Wales and Ireland, but fairly rapidly they began to study and experiment withour native trees and plants to work out how best to utilise them and either make life easierin the new colony, or to turn a profit. In the Hokianga in 1841, one Benjamin Gittoslooked at the native trees near where he and his family, newly arrived in the colony, lived– and pondered on how each different bark would do in order to provide the curing agentfor animal hides. From out of that curiosity would spring a business that lasted into theearly 20
century, and a landmark industry in the history of the Avondale district.Tanneries in early Avondale and Waterview were located near sources of running water.One was started by John Buchanan, near the head waters of the Whau Creek c.1878 ;others appeared for a time along the banks of the Whau on the Rosebank Peninsula;while two existed along the Oakley Creek, that of the Garrett Brothers at the site of Thomas’ Mill at the mouth of the Oakley later in the nineteenth century, and the earliertannery of Benjamin Gittos just south of what is now Avondale Heights. Only those of the Garretts and Gittos family were full-scale commercial set-ups, lasting longer than afew years. John Buchanan’s business, known as the Riversdale Tannery, was operated byBell & Gemmell, both of whom may have been former employees of the Gittos tanneryfrom the 1860s. An enduring tannery business, Elijah Astley’s (another former Gittosemployee) just across the boundary in New Lynn, was also located near the Whau River.