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The Roskill

Newsletter for the Mt Roskill (Puketapapa) Heritage Group Vol 1 No.1 January 2019

Klondyke: an abattoir near Waikowhai

by Lisa J Truttman

Far away from Auckland, in the Yukon area of north-western Canada, a gold rush started up in 1896 that was to associate
the place name Klondike with “sudden riches” in the popular imagination for decades beyond the actual phase of the rush,
which lasted only three years. The name Klondike itself came from a river, originally known in one of the native Athabas-
kan languages as “throndiuk” or “hammer- water”.
A businessman named Robert Salmon in 1898, viewing with pride the latest, and arguably greatest entrepreneurial acquisi-
tion of his career, a large sloping section in Waikowhai covered in buildings and stock pens, decided that the name
Klondyke – spelled with a y – would suit this source for years to come of his own personal wealth.
Salmon was born in 1853 in Willesden, now part of north-west London. Sometime around 1870 he took off from England
and made his way to Australasia – I’ve found him as an able seaman in the crew for the V elocidade in September 1870,
sailing from Lyttelton to Sydney, then he served on the Memento, before transferring to the Mary Francis and sailing back
to New Zealand in September 1871. He worked for a time on the Waikato Steam Navigation Company paddle steamer
Bluenose between Hamilton and Mercer, then appeared in Auckland by 1874, working with butcher Samuel Gooseman in a
Wyndham Street shop before taking over Gooseman’s business.
Four years later, by then in business on Hobson Street, Salmon shut things up in Auckland and shifted back to Hamilton.
There, he took over an existing business, and set up his own abattoir in a reserve beside the Waikato River (present day site
of the Hamilton Gardens). In that city, he “opened up a new luxury in the shape of German and other sausages, having im-
ported a first-class sausage machine from Auckland.” But in 1879, Salmon was reported as being about to leave the district,
headed for bankruptcy. He managed to work his way through, however, satisfying his creditors. Back in Auckland, he
obtained a spot on Wakefield Street by 1882, then announced his retirement in 1886, when he moved again, this time to a
farm in Tamahere.
The restless Mr Salmon uplifted his family in 1887, returning to Auckland that year. He was, though, secretary of the
Waikato Farmer’s Association in 1888, so apparently went back. But, by June 1889, he had the Wakefield Street shop
again, taking over from the Auckland Frozen Meat Company. By October, he also had premises on Karanghape Road,
where he hosted a meeting of the Associated Butchers. By June 1891, he had another site, in lower Queen Street, to add to
his Wakefield and Karangahape Road businesses, clearly setting up something of a chain, and was dealing in the retail sup-
ply of ice, as well as meat, in a deal with the Auckland Freezing Company. Salmon opened a slaughter house in Richmond,
and extended out to Fiji with shops and a processed canned meat enterprise (similar to Hellaby’s) over the course of the
Later that decade, with increasing public concerns over the effects of operations such as night soil depots, tanneries and ab-
attoirs on the health of surrounding communities, there was real encouragement for such businesses to be shifted out to the
more rural and less populated parts of the isthmus. So, when Salmon felt the pressure to shift his abattoir from Richmond,
he purchased 60 acres from land agent William Aitken in February 1898, then an adjoining 8.5 acres from John and Joseph
2 Roskill Chronicle Vol 1 No 1

(Above) Location of Robert Salmon’s land, from Auckland Council Geomaps. (Right) Robert Salmon, detail from a NZ Graphic
image, NZG-19031024-28-2, Auckland Libraries Heritage Images

May (executors for the late Joseph May who died in finally approved purchase of Salmon’s land – only to
1890), all fronting Richardson Road to the east of White have the Government intercede, refusing to sanction the
Swan Road, and set up his Klondyke abattoir. transaction. The Department of Agriculture had pre-
pared a report, detailing “its many disadvantages”:
The ground was mainly rough, broken, deeply water-
scoured ground which no one else seemed to want. The “It is situated on a bleak plateau overlooking the
stream flowing through it was one of the tributaries to Manukau Harbour, about five miles from the Auckland
the Whau Stream, which in turn flows into the river of Post Office. The road is all uphill and bad in places. The
the same name, and thus empties ultimately out into the paddocks are void of grass, and any stock taken there
head waters of the western Waitemata Harbour. Salmon has to be fed, and, should the abattoir be built there,
blocked part of the stream with a 10 feet high dam to sheds must be erected for the stock during the winter
bring water by hydraulic ram up to his factory, 356 gal- months, otherwise it would be impossible to keep them.
lons every 24 hours. The buildings, on the high ground All fodder would in that case have to be carted from
nearest Richardson Road, comprises the main slaughter beyond Otahuhu, the latter being, say, seven miles as the
house, a boiling down house, stables and cottage, with crow flies, but much further by road. The water supply
other outbuildings. The remainder of the land was is very deficient.
fenced off for pens to hold cattle, sheep and pigs. The
“At present Messrs Salmon and Co use water from a
waste washed down the hill to the rest of the watershed.
dam in a gully, which is quite unsuitable. There is also a
At the time of the grand opening at 4pm on 18 May well, but at its present depth the supply is limited. There
1898, Salmon claimed that his plant would process is another aspect of the question which should not be
around 30 head of cattle and 250 sheep per week, plus lost sight of. At present the two saleyards are situated at
pigs, lambs and calves. The buildings cost Salmon Newmarket and Remuera respectively, but within a very
£1500 to have constructed. short time these will have to be removed, and Otahuhu
is the only suitable place where they can be located. In-
Salmon made efforts in 1901 to convince the Auckland
deed, the owners of the Newmarket yards have already
City Council, then starting to look for another location
erected yards at Otahuhu, where they hold sales periodi-
for their municipal abattoir at Western Springs, to take
cally. From Newmarket and Remuera to Salmon's is
over his Mt Roskill premises for £2500. After months of
four to five miles, and from Otahuhu over seven miles.
visiting various sites and deliberations, the Council
Roskill Chronicle Vol 1 No 1 3

It will, therefore, be seen that driving stock such a financial situation became evident to the shareholders,
distance will be most injurious, more especially after and it went into liquidation later that year. Salmon snr
standing in the trucks and yards for 24 hours or more." filed a petition for bankruptcy in November 1905, but
mainly to avoid paying any debt owed due to his shares
From that point on, the Council’s focus shifted toward
in the new company he created. He issued a public no-
Otahuhu, and Salmon’s opportunity faded away.
tice at the end of the year severing any ties between his
By this time, Salmon’s son Robert Henry Montgomery family and the company that was now in financial
Salmon (born 1876) was living on May Road with his trouble. Salmon Snr. was discharged from bankruptcy in
family; his wife Zoe and two young sons Robert John February 1906, and proceeded from that year to
(1898) and Philip Percy (1899). Another son, Claud continue trading as a butcher, now from a single shop in
Klondyke, was born in 1902, followed by Myrtle Zoe in Symonds Street.
1904 and Hazel May in 1910. Robert jnr was described
In May 1906, Murdoch McLean purchased 8.5 acres of
in electoral rolls of the time as a butcher – he may have
the Klondyke abattoir closest to Richardson Road (along
been his father’s appointed manager at the Klondyke
with R Salmon Ltd’s eight shops), entered into partner-
works. It is interesting that he gave that as a middle
ship with Mt Eden butcher Jabez Marks and formed the
name to this third son.
Auckland Meat Company, and then obtained the rest of
In 1903, R Salmon & Co opened up another shop, some- the Roskill site as that company in August.
where on Mt Roskill Road (now Dominion Road), but
In the midst of these dry corporate comings and goings
probably in Mt Eden rather than Mt Roskill. Around the
– are very human stories, and in the end a tragic one.
same time, Salmon snr started up a new company,
“R Salmon Limited” and had it take over his old firm. Robert Salmon jnr’s family, as has been said, lived
He remained as managing director, for the term of ten somewhere along May Road, through to at most early
years, with a board of directors, among whom was 1911. In the same neighbourhood, Chinese market gar-
Murdoch McLean, who would have much to do with the deners worked, quite possibly on land on the western
company’s destiny. The new company raised capital in side of May Road. Young Robert John Salmon (born
order to construct a refrigerating plant at Wakefield 1898), Robert Salmon jnr’s son and a grandson of the
Street and a bonecrushing plant, along with other im- founder of the Klondyke abattoir, often popped in to the
provements, at the Klondyke abattoir. In October 1904, home of the man he knew as “Ah Jing” (Fong Mong
the business expanded again, with the firm taking over Chee). On 5 August 1908, he called in as usual to have a
the business of Verran & Co, butchers, in Devonport. chat, and found Fong lying in a pool of blood on the
floor of the dining room. Alarmed, the boy ran to home
Once again, in 1905, the Roskill abattoir site was offered
to Auckland City Council, who still declined. Two (Below) NZ Graphic, 18 October 1902, NZG-19021018-988-
months later, in July 1905, the company’s precarious 1, Auckland Libraries Heritage Images
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The opening of Waikowhai Park in 1914. The beach below may have been where the Salmon boys and the others gathered their
pipis. Auckland Weekly News, AWNS-19140305-39-1, Auckland Libraries Heritage Images

nearby and alerted his father, who returned with him. them warm soda and water to drink. Local doctors were
Father and son found that by then Fong had managed to visited for restoratives, and one, Dr Tewsley, arrived at
crawl to his bed in the interim. He did make it to hospital the house at 2.30 am to see the three boys. However,
but later died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Claude died at 7 am that morning, following by his
Louie Yuy, aka Louie Shue Hock, was found guilty of brother Philip later that afternoon.
manslaughter in November that year and sentenced to
The inquest stated that the cause was ptomaine poison-
two years in prison.
ing which, in those days, basically meant they suspected
In 1910, though, came a much more personal tragedy for it was some kind of food poisoning, but they weren’t
the Salmon family of May Road, Mt Roskill. sure of the cause. These days, though, we are aware of
naturally occurring shellfish toxins, and that seasonally
Robert, aged 12, with his two younger brothers Philip
it is unsafe to eat shellfish gathered at the harbours, es-
(11) and Claude (8), accompanied their cousin John
pecially the Manukau and West Coast. Two out of four
Hastie (around 19) and a friend George Hamsworth (also
identified bacterial toxins in pipis and other species are
around 19) on an excursion to the Manukau Harbour’s
foreshore at Waikowhai, heading for what they knew at
that time as “Arkell’s Beach” (possibly the main bay at Robert John, the only one of the three Salmon brothers
today’s Waikowhai Reserve.) The area since the 1850s to survive the poisoning, went on to serve, briefly, dur-
had been used by Maori students of the Wesleyan school ing the First World War, from his job as a slaughterman
at Three Kings as a place to gather sea food, and the at Whangarei Heads. In 1926 however, working in a
Salmon boys with the two older young men had in mind timber mill at Moerewa, he came into contact with a
a fun Sunday afternoon on 25 September 1910 doing goose saw, was very badly injured, and died at Bay of
much the same – gathering pipis, cooking them, and Islands hospital on 27 June. His plot at Kawakawa
eating them beside the waters. Cemetery was purchased by the Kawakawa Internation-
After gathering the pipis, the boys found an old oil drum al Order of Oddfellows.
half buried in the sand, excavated it, and after lighting a Around the same period as the poisoning in 1910, the
fire on the beach used the cleaned out drum to cook their Auckland Meat Company made the decision to close the
seafood harvest. At around 6pm, the water in the drum Klondyke abattoir. The days of the Salmon family in Mt
boiling, they proceeded to eat the shellfish. John and Roskill were over. They moved away from the district,
George immediately felt sick, and vomited at the beach. and most of the abattoir buildings were demolished and
The three Salmon boys didn’t vomit at that point, but all removed in 1911. Some remnant still stayed on the
agreed it was time to head back home. The Salmons and property for a time, though; an election meeting was
the others arrived back at May Road between 7 and 8 held in “Salmon’s slaughterhouse” in November 1911,
pm, all saying they felt quite ill. The Salmon brothers and in 1923 a report of a Pakuranga Hunt event in the
vomited once they were home, and their parents gave area referred to the horsemen passing by “the old
Roskill Chronicle Vol 1 No 1 5

slaughter house”. was a “store” marked at the corner of that road (what
would become Dominion Road extension) and Richard-
The Maungakiekie Golf Club purchased the Klondyke son Road on a survey plan dating from November 1904,
abattoir site, along with land below it fronting onto the only documented clue we have to its true location.
Hillsborough Road in 1943, and subdivided part of it At the time it began in 1900, it was on land owned by
closest to Richardson Road for housing. land agent William Aitken. By the time it faded away,
A footnote: The Klondyke Store Daniel Arkell owned the site. It was only ever leased
out, proprietor by proprietor. In 1901, a William Hunter
Arguably, a small building set up as a store in 1900 was seemed to be connected with the store, advertising stud
the first retail premises in Mt Roskill. It existed, perhaps, opportunities with his thoroughbred stallion, but he may
in the hopes that Robert Salmon’s abattoir (doubtless its simply have just been a local farmer nearby. Between 1
namesake) would attract workers and settlement, and April 1901 and 31 March 1902, Waikowhai did gain a
also that the excursion trend for travellers having picnics telephone office, and from a description from an ad for
on Cape Horn would continue and prove to be its own the lease in January 1903, the Klondyke Store was that
goldmine for the store owners. In truth, though, the office.
Klondyke Store lasted only around three or four years,
and was kept in memory only by the likes of Andrew D And then, it was gone, with no more references to the
Griffin, in his Early Days in Roskill South articles. store. The shops on the site today are later, and possibly
nothing of the old store exists. The mural on the side of
Notices for forming “Arkell’s Road” stated that specifi- the present business there, ironically, depicts the 1920s
cations could be viewed at the Klondyke Store. There Waikowhai Tea Kiosk, over at the park of the same

(Left) part of DP 3535 (1904), LINZ records; (below) image

from Google street view; (bottom) portion of advertisement,
NZ Herald, 30 January 1903.
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‘Kate’ Katherine Robins (1886-1971):

a special Mount Roskill resident,
Women’s League or
Women’s Auxiliary Corps from
WWI, and Red Cross worker
by John P Adam

The New Zealand Red Cross celebrated their centennial

in 2015 and the following story comes from their web
site which provided some of the context for the later ca-
reer of Kate Robins. She had a brother who lived in
Queensland. The key document discovered about
Katherine Robins comes from the Roskill and Onehunga
News for 14 May 1964. The story included a picture of
her (right). But first a short history of the New Zealand
Red Cross.

Red Cross Foundation

In 1915, people began asking Lord Liverpool, New assist sick and wounded soldiers in hospitals in Europe
Zealand’s first Governor-General, about the Red Cross and Africa. It was their own choice and it was a danger-
in New Zealand as it was already well established in ous role.
Women could also volunteer as nurses with the British
To answer these questions Lord Liverpool called for a Red Cross Society.
meeting of Red Cross representatives from the four
military districts: Otago, Canterbury, Wellington and This is the interview of Katherine Robins published in
Auckland. Representatives from the Order of St John the Roskill and Onehunga News 14 May, 1964. The im-
were also invited. age with this article comes from that report.

The New Zealand branch of the British Red Cross “Rides in cattle trucks, trench fighting and many other
Society and the Order of St John was established as a facets of war life can be told to you by 79-year-old Miss
result of the meeting, with the two organisations work- K Robins, a resident in the ex-servicemen’s block at the
ing together throughout the war. Following the war they Ranfurly Home, Mount Albert Road.
continued under this name initiating first aid in certain
districts such as Taranaki and Wellington and carrying “Miss Robins is probably the only women in New
out vocational training for returned servicemen. Zealand who served with the Women’s Legion during
World War I.
New Zealand Red Cross and St John continued to work
together after the war as they sorted out how each of the “The Legion consisted of 100 British women who
organisations functioned in New Zealand. On 22 worked side by side with fighting men in France from
December 1931, New Zealand Red Cross became a 1915 to 1918. Many of the women were the first to
society in its own right when it became incorporated. leave Folkestone for France.
New Zealand Red Cross Society was officially recog-
nised by the government on 3 June 1932. “After a visit from Queen Mary the legion’s name was
changed to the Queen Mary Army Auxiliary Corps and
Women in World War I later to the Women’s Auxiliary Corps.

During the war, many New Zealand nurses and “Miss Robins said the men treated the women “tough”
Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) went overseas to because they thought they should not be in fighting are-
Roskill Chronicle Vol 1 No 1 7

as. “We had it pretty tough sometimes,” said Miss Rob- References
in’s, “but we survived”.
Spencer, William. 2008. First W orld W ar Army Service
“In 1920 she went to Australia, and three years later Records. A Guide for Family Historians.
came to New Zealand.
Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps 1914-1920.
“Today [1964] her interests are in helping the Red Regiment No 80. Rank: Worker. Source: WO
Cross. 372/23/35475, The National Archives Kew, Great
“The ex-servicewoman is highly proficient at making
dolls and tea caddies, and some of her articles raffled by Biographical background
the Mount Roskill Red Cross have brought in more than
£1 10s, which goes towards a building fund, according The probate of Katherine Robins is held at Archives NZ,
to Red Cross secretary Mrs J Forrester.” Auckland, and is to be found at R13109203.

Background to Women’s Legion Death Notice: New Zealand Herald 1 July, 1971 P14
C4; and Auckland Star, 1 July, 1971 P31, C8. 1971.
Instruction No 1068 of July 1917 established the Wom-
en’s Army Auxiliary Corp (WAAC) upon the recom- Died 30 June, 1971 aged 85 years. Lived at 5 Richmond
mendations of Lieutenant General H.M. Lawson, who Ave, North Shore in the 1950s. No professional qual.
suggested that women [be] employed in France. Death cert No is 1971/33341.

Organised into four sections: Cookery, Mechanical, Roskill & Onehunga News, 14 May, 1964 p9
Clerical and Miscellaneous, the women in the corps
were split into ‘Officials’ (the officers) and
‘Members’ (the other ranks). Renamed the Queen
Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps (QMAAC) in April 1918,
the corps would eventually employ some 57,000 women
at home and overseas.

The Tramcar House on Parau Street

by Lisa J Truttman

Poor Mr William Hawthorne (1870-1942), who was an elderly war pensioner, William Hawthorne, who ap-
Irish-born elderly war pensioner from County Cavan. peared before him in the Onehunga Police Court yester-
All he wanted to do, to help ease his asthma, was live day on a charge of infringing the by-laws of the Mount
quietly in an old tramcar on his section at 20 Parau Roskill Road Board. He pleaded not guilty.
Road, Mt Roskill, in the early 1930s. The trouble was,
"Mr Milliken, for the Road Board, stated that defendant
his tramcar accommodation had no permit, no running
was living in an old tramcar on a section in Parau Street,
water, and certainly no sewer connection.
near Royal Oak. The board had refused to issue a build-
The Mt Roskill Road Board's building inspector first ing permit and defendant had refused to put in drainage
reported the tramcar to the board at their August 1932 and water supply. Local bodies, he pointed out, were
meeting, describing it as a dwelling without a permit. compelled to see that the health of the community was
The A uckland Star went out to grab their photo (next not threatened by insanitary dwellings. Mr Sexton, for
page) the day after the meeting, 31 August. defendant, said his client was a war pensioner in receipt
of £1 a week. He had adopted this mode of life in order
The Road Board decided to take Hawthorne to court.
to seek relief from bronchial asthma and had greatly
"You'll either have to tow your tramcar out of the district improved in health since he had lived in the old tramcar.
or make it like a house," said Mr F K Hunt, SM, to an
"An inspector of the Health Department said the car was
8 Roskill Chronicle Vol 1 No 1

on a quarter-acre section in a congested area. There was

(Above) from Auckland Star, 31 A ugust 1932.
no sanitation, no water and no drainage. His department
upheld the Road Board in its desire to prevent slum
areas. Asked by Mr Hunt why he had not complied with
the by-laws, defendant said he had no money. "Money
or no money," said the magistrate, "the country is not tramcar he used as a dwelling, has undertaken to erect as
going to risk an epidemic of typhoid fever. I shall ad- soon as possible a one-roomed building provided with a
journ the case until January 23 to give you time to have water supply and sewerage at an estimated cost of £40.
the necessary work done, and if not rectified by that A permit has been issued. The chairman said the tramcar
date, it will cost you more in fines than the job is could be used as an outbuilding, so long as it was not
worth." (NZ Herald, 13 December 1932) slept in, until the proposed new building was put up. Mr
Hawthorne would have to live elsewhere after March
For a while, the Road Board softened their stance, 31." (Auckland Star, 29 March 1933)
conceding that the area wasn't a congested one, and the
tramcar was well ventilated -- but in March 1933 served A William Hawthorne, blacksmith, was in the electoral
an order on Hawthorne to vacate the premises. "You'll rolls for Roskill at 20 Parau Street in 1935 and 1938.
have to carry me out!" Hawthorne replied. He appeared When he died in November 1942, he left his house and
in court again that month, and was ordered to remove the section to his nephew. He was buried at Waikumete, in
tramcar within a month if it was still used as a dwelling. the military part of the cemetery.

The Road Board's meeting later that month heard:

"Mr W Hawthorne, who has been ordered to vacate the

The Roskill Chronicle is published via email by the Mt Roskill (Puketapapa) Heritage Group (formerly historical
society). We welcome article contributions for future issues, or even some memories to share of the way things were
in the greater Mt Roskill area.

Edited by: Lisa J Truttman

Phone: 027 4040 804 or (09) 8288494

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The next issue is due April 2019.