Heritage Trail of Mangonui | A fine walk around the Heritage Precinct of Mangonui township in Far North New Zealand | Site 5


  • At dusk on September 3, 1864, three young sailors lost their lives in an accident while crossing Mangonui Harbour. Four others survived. The drowned men were Alexander Rait, 22 years old, a seaman from England; Edmund Moody, 24 years old, a Black American slave who had arrived aboard the Plover in May, 1864; and John Rose, 24 years old, an American seaman on the Cherokee. The reason for the choice of their burial site remains a mystery. The actual grave site is thought to be 3 meters behind the trail marker.

    Looking out to Mill Bay and Mangonui Harbour, the photo below was taken from near this Site in the early 20th Century.

    Originally called Hudson Bay (1839), it was renamed Mill Bay after the large timber mill built in 1883 and operated by the Auckland Timber Company. The mill was later known as the Kauri Timber Company. The mill was fully operational until 1901 when trade began to decrease. It was a two-storeyed building occupying four hectares and it could turn out 90,000 meters of timber a month. Logs were floated down the Taipa and Oruati rivers for distances up to 50 kilometers to be milled at Mangonui then sent on to Whangarei and Auckland. The Mill closed in 1915 as it was uneconomic to continue. This picture shows the timber mill – now the site of the Mangonui Cruising Club.

    The large building right of the shingle roof in the foreground is in the position of the “All Nations Hotel” built at Mill Bay in 1842 by Thomas Flavell during the height of the whaling industry. It was known as a blood house and was dubbed the Donnybrook. Men of all nations drank and fought there. Neva Clarke McKenna said this building was either demolished or burnt down the year Flavell died – in 1869.

    In 1861 John McIntosh built the first Mangonui Hotel at the southern end of the village. A substantial and handsome edifice. In 1873 the Settlers Hotel was built close to the Donnybrook in Mill Bay but on slightly higher ground. Thomas Berghan ran the Settlers until his death in 1902. His wife Mary Jane, daughter of Joseph Evans of the Waipapakauri Hotel and successful gum trader, carried on until the Settlers was demolished on July 3, 1906. She later ran the Old Oak and also the new Mangonui Hotel. This building with a single brick chimney is the Settlers Hotel. This is confirmed by a photograph in Neva Clarke McKenna’s book “Mangonui” on page 71 – front view of the building at Mill Bay supplied by the Far North Regional Museum – Museum @ Te Ahu in Kaitaia.

    [Courtesy of local Historian, Kaye Dragecevich]

Next: Return along Colonel Mould Drive to Mangonui School and turn right before the school field onto Tasman Street. This is a steep road downhill without any sidewalk. Early Colonial Villa Site 10 is on your right.

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