Alistair McMechan1

In nineteenth-century New Zealand, clearing the landscape was widely considered to be ‘virtuous and proper’.[2] Settler mentality generally regarded forests as inexhaustible and an impediment to progress.

While their destruction represented land clearance and was demanded by the growth of settlements, indigenous forests were often also exploited for the housing and commodity markets. Until the 1880s the industry was primarily local, supplying settler needs, but wider regional and provincial industries developed, including trading with the Australian colonies. Initially, kauri forests in the northern North Island were the most exploited for commercial ends, but with the decline of the kauri industry through exhaustion of supply, less valuable natives such as rimu became the mainstay of the industry, particularly in areas once considered inaccessible but which had opened up through improved technology and transportation.[3]

The First World War brought a boom to New Zealand, but it ended with the 1921 depression, the first in a series leading up to the Great Depression. In this period, exports of milled indigenous timber ‘ceased to be an important export’.[4] Increasingly protectionist through its new policies, the New Zealand timber industry had the ‘doubtful distinction’ of producing the world’s most expensive timber.[5] Against the background of a ‘fluctuating economy’ and a timber industry in transition, an attempt was made to establish a large timber sawmilling enterprise at Mussel Beach in a remote part of Southland.


Mussel Beach, or Port Craig as it became known, is situated on the south-western corner of Te Wae Wae Bay, on the south coast of South Island. Rising from the coast on marine terraces, the podocarp forest extends from Te Wae Wae Bay around the coast to the Wairaurahiri and Waitutu River valleys and beyond into Fiordland National Park.[6] Although other species such as rata (Metrosideros), totara (Podocarpus totara) and silver beech (Nothofagus menziesii) are present, it was primarily to log rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) that the Marlborough Timber Company (MTC) built Port Craig sawmill.

Archeological evidence at Sandhill Point has revealed a history of Maori activity in the area, but the food and timber resources of the area were never significantly exploited, primarily due to the small number of Maori travelling around the coast.[7] The nineteenth century, however, marked the beginnings of extensive European exploitation. The seal and whale trades were followed by the growth of permanent European settlements.[8] Some were isolated and short-lived, such as the gold mining settlements of Cromarty and Te Oneroa in Preservation Inlet later in the century.[9] The forests of the Port Craig region remained virtually untouched except for the government-initiated construction of a track out of Preservation Inlet in the 1890s (due to the unreliability of shipping routes) and in 1908 the laying of a telegraph wire linking Puysegur Point lighthouse and Orepuki.[10]

The transformation of Mussel Beach began during the First World War. The MTC, as the name suggests, began operations in the Marlborough Sounds. The dominant figure in the Company was Daniel Reese, well known as a New Zealand cricketer as well as an entrepreneur.[11] Reese’s first substantial sawmilling venture, in partnership with Westland miller John Craig, was in the Opouri Valley of Marlborough Sounds. The large amount of capital needed led to eight business people joining together to form the Marlborough Timber Company. Intensive competition with another sawmiller, William Brownlee, saw the forest rapidly depleted, and by 1914 it was clear that the MTC had a limited future in Pelorus Sound.[12]

The site, operation and scale of Port Craig were influenced by the Company’s experiences in the Marlborough Sounds. The MTC had invested vast amounts of capital and successfully competed against a prominent sawmiller, which made them optimists in the sawmilling industry. Brownlee’s use of imported American technology had a significant influence on Reese and Craig, who visited the United States and were impressed by the Lidger Wood overhead hauling system. The two men resolved to establish a logging and sawmilling operation using American methods and technology in New Zealand.[13] But competition had also made them wary. The Crown held most available forest and licences issued were small, so logging conditions on Crown lands were not conducive to the establishment of a large-capacity mill.[14]

Of several sites they considered, the forests to the west of Te Wae Wae Bay were the most impressive. One contemporary described them as a ‘never to be forgotten sight … the row on row of stately rimus straight and tall like the vast pillars of some huge cathedral’,[15] but Reese and Craig simply saw timber. Their initial reconnaissance estimated more than 500 million feet of available timber, a ‘staggering figure’ which fired their imaginations. Problems of inaccessibility and the capital required because of this, were overshadowed by confidence that ‘here was a place that our sons would be able to carry on for many a day’.[16]

By establishing a port at Mussel Beach (the only suitable site), they would in effect ‘lock up’ the timber to the west, so the chances of a competitor undermining their long-term interests were slim. Moreover, negotiating rights to log Maori as well as Crown land diminished the uncertainty inherent in long-term sawmilling due to small licences.

The South Island Landless Natives Act of 1906 granted Maori land to ‘provide for their support and maintenance’. A twenty-kilometre stretch of Waitutu Forest west of Mussel Beach was allocated to Maori, supporting the suggestion since made that the government only gave land of limited accessibility and of dubious worth as a means of livelihood.[17] It is not surprising that the Waitutu owners gave rights to log in return for royalties. By the time the MTC began operations it had secured rights to 4,000 acres.[18]

While awaiting the delivery of a complete milling plant from Sumner Iron Works, Everitt, United States, construction began at Mussel Beach in late 1916. The MTC relocated one of its two conventional mills, complete with many mill hands, from Pelorus Sound to Mussel Beach. This had a capacity to produce 10,000 superficial feet per day, and was used to produce timber for the construction of the new American mill and for dwellings and buildings. The forty men employed were housed on the foreshore, but as development progressed a settlement for 200-300 people was constructed on the terrace above the beach.[19]

Success depended on creating port facilities capable of loading and sheltering ships. Rock for a breakwater was quarried out of a nearby cliff. Completion of the wharf took some time, as it succumbed to the forces of nature and had to be rebuilt.[20]

Tram-lines were constructed on the terrace above the beach. These differed from most tram-lines both in extent and quality, since logging was expected to last more than a generation and this dictated a more permanent line. It followed a legal road reserve that passed through Maori land, and may have been subsidised by the government. The tram-line had to be capable of supporting large locomotives with considerable loads and the Lidger Wood hauler (a large and heavy piece of equipment).[21]

Development came at a price. Tram-line construction was a continuous cost for the MTC throughout its history, with estimates varying from £2,000 to £4,000 per mile.[22] This was an enormous cost, given that track development was ongoing throughout the 1920s, and had to be met by the quality and amount of the timber anticipated.

John Craig oversaw the early development stages with much ‘zeal and enthusiasm’. However, tragedy struck in November 1917 when the operation was still in its infancy. Craig had become impatient when a boiler-part failed to arrive as scheduled. In attempting to land at the beach near the Waikoau River, and collect the part where it had been left, he and the head launch-man drowned.[23] Craig’s value to the venture was demonstrated by it taking two years and several managers to find an adequate replacement.

John Craig’s contribution was marked in perpetuity by an official name change from Mussel Beach to Port Craig.[24] Less than a year after his death, his brother James was caught in an explosion while making a cutting in the tram-line and died three days later.[25] Reese referred to the ‘hand of fate’ when the development claimed a fourth fatality in 1920, a teenager who drowned at the Blue Cliff landing stage. The death of these men was a huge blow to the MTC.

Development continued despite these setbacks, particularly after the appointment of Peter Daly as manager in 1919. Of Irish descent, ‘big, strong, forceful and brainy’, Daly managed to restore ‘order out of chaos’. Sumner Iron Works oversaw the design of the new mill, installation of new machinery, and the training of men to use it. Straddling a gully and stream, the mill had a permanent water-supply for creating steam and removing waste, and was built on the edge of a terrace, providing a natural slope from the log skids to the benches.[26] Some adaptation to the New Zealand industry was required: Pieces of the expensive machinery deemed unsuitable for cutting rimu were replaced with conventional New Zealand saws.[27]

By about 1920, the foreshore and terrace above it had been completely transformed into an artificial harbour and thriving community. The settlement had a store, cookhouse, social hall, billiard room, school, library and numerous houses and huts to accommodate the growing number of employees and, for a significant number, their families.[28]

The new mill, the most modern in New Zealand, was officially opened on September 22, 1921. With a capacity of 40,000 feet of sawn timber per eight-hour day it was four times larger than a conventional New Zealand mill of the era. The report of its opening reflected both the optimism of the MTC and pioneering victory over the landscape, where until now the forests had been ‘securely protected’ from ‘the hand of man’ by mountains and an inaccessible coast. The scale of construction at Port Craig was an accomplishment in itself, but it is even more remarkable when the only local resources were timber and rock, and even these required processing before use. Every nail, brick and railway iron had to be transported by sea, the alternative being a difficult pack-track along the Preservation track.[29]

‘Everything at Port Craig set new records for being big’.[30] Development did not cease in 1921: Construction continued when needed in the township, the tram-line was an ongoing investment, and new methods were constantly sought to improve efficiency. By 1921 capital expenditure had exceeded £100,000.[31]

There were financial concerns throughout the 1920s, as capital expenditure on the enterprise continued. The two greatest investments after 1921 were the construction of viaducts and the cable loading system. Four deep gullies running perpendicular to the encroaching tram-line resulted in four viaducts over the Sandhill Point, Percy, Edwin and Francis Burns. They epitomised the extent and permanency of the development, and their survival is symbolic of one of the boldest sawmilling ventures in New Zealand’s history.

The viaducts had to take heavy loads and were expected to last for some decades. They were extremely well made. A Canadian company, Chester Construction, won the tender to build the first two viaducts and went bankrupt in the process.[32] The 125 metre long, 36 metre high Percy Burn viaduct, built at a cost of £5,000, was completed in 1925. Any qualms about excessive expenditure on viaducts were mitigated by the perceived value of the timber in the trees.[33]

Unfortunately for MTC, the wharf never met expectations of becoming a loading base for ships. Rather, ships moored offshore and were loaded using flat-bottomed punts towed by the Company’s launches. The system was labour-intensive, slow, and unreliable in bad weather. Reese then managed to obtain plans for a cable loading system. It was another ‘first’ for New Zealand and again exemplified the lengths to which the MTC was willing to go to increase productivity. The wharf was extended and an 84-foot tower erected at its end. Ships were moored to concrete blocks raised from the seabed by rail-irons. A stream-driven carriage ran on a cable from the tower through a derrick over the ship’s hatch to a permanent mooring, thus keeping the cable straight. The return journey took three minutes, resulting in a loading rate of 10,000 feet per hour.[34] Reese claimed it was a ‘grave indictment’ of the wharf labourers of Greymouth, who could only manage 3,500 feet per hour. However, the MTC did not enjoy the benefits of the system for long. In operation in May 1928, the Port Craig mill and logging operation was to close in October that year.[35]


The working day began early at Port Craig. Before eight o’clock in the morning the navvies and bush-men made their way up the line in a carriage dubbed the ‘piecart’. Work continued for eight hours, with a half-hour break for midday dinner, six days a week.[36]

The focal point of the logging operation was the Lidger Wood. Capable of 128 horsepower, its main wire cable was anchored to the ground and ran through blocks on a spar over 100 feet tall to another anchorage half a mile into the bush. A carriage powered by the boiler ran up and down the cable. Smaller cables ran off blocks on the carriage and were attached to logs within 130 feet of the main cable, and were hauled back down the main cable line on an angle clear of the ground. Using the aerial system, logs were carried to the Lidger Wood which sat on a base adjacent to the main or a branch line, and with little effort loaded onto trolleys.[37]

Unique in New Zealand, the Lidger Wood kept logs free of mud and gravel which could impede or damage a mill’s saws. Once in position the Lidger Wood could remain there for months moving only the spar and cable until it had cut a circular swath of a half-mile radius. However, its size and weight (80 tonnes) made moving it difficult. It also lacked the flexibility and selective logging ability of more conventional ground haulers, two of which operated at Port Craig at the same time. When the Lidger Wood broke down and was not repaired in 1926, the MTC’s ground haulers were supplemented by four more, which fed the mill until its closure.[38]

Work in the bush was very labour intensive. The navvies on the tram-line used pick axes and shovels.[39] The bush-men felled trees using crosscut saws and axes. Winter working conditions were at times ‘very cold and unpleasant’ and summer brought sandflies. While the tram-line was well maintained, the bush degenerated into a bog. Occasionally the weather was so bad that the men did not work, but such days were few, nor was unjustified absenteeism tolerated. Minty Hughes, who grew up at Port Craig, recalled five men being sacked upon refusing to work, but it was an isolated incident.

Once hauled to the line, logs were loaded on bogies, which were four-wheeled trolleys coupled by a chain which could be spaced out to suit the length of the logs. The large Price ‘Ar’, purchased in the mid-1920s, operated the main line, while smaller engines supplied it from the branches before bringing in a load themselves at the end of the day. These logs would keep the mill operating the next morning until the logging produced more.[40]

Upon being dumped outside the mill, logs were picked up on steam-driven rollers. Minutes later, sawn boards travelled from the mill on a moving chain with kinks and hooks to prevent the timber sliding, down the steep grade to the timber yard. Employees used their own sign language due to the noise of the saws. With the exception of the physical act of logging, the process from tree to timber yard was conducted with minimum handling.[41]

The mill was powered by steam generated from two (later three) boilers fuelled by sawdust. Once operating, sawdust was carried from the benches to the boilers on conveyors. The supply was supplemented by waste-wood ground up by a machine called a ‘hogger’. Other waste was carried by conveyor across the cliff tops and dumped on a waste-fire, which smouldered continuously.[42]

When ships came for timber, loading them took priority. The smaller ships, such as Kotare and Oreti, took 60-70,000 super-feet. When the larger Union Steam Ship Company vessels came, they could be loaded in about 35 hours using the cable system. Two crews of twenty stacked each board end on end until the hold was solid with timber. Men worked around the clock, the wharf lit with electricity for the purpose. Hughes recalled the men having to work double shifts, an eight-hour day in the bush followed by a shift loading.[43]

Port Craig had three distinct categories of workers: bush hands, tram construction men, and mill hands, plus other skilled workers such as carpenters and blacksmiths.[44] This reflected sawmilling’s interdependent nature. In the kauri industry, sawmilling and logging were separated, with transitory bush camps and sawmilling settlements, but Port Craig had no such division of labour and difference in lifestyle.[45 ] Nydia Bay and some West Coast mills were similar in structure, but Port Craig’s anticipated longevity was uncommon and helped foster a unique working environment.

Despite the stability afforded by Port Craig, the workforce was not static. Many came and went, fulfilling the transient stereotype of the industry.[46] However, there was a ‘solid core’ of workers who stayed for years, and many men and families made Port Craig home. Port Craig’s permanent nature, its quality of construction and community spirit meant that those engaged in the industry could bring their families with them.

Les Carroll remembered his father, a reputable saw doctor, working at Port Craig. He initially took his family with him, but when expecting another child, the mother and family returned home to Colac Bay. However, he returned to Port Craig in 1926 when Daly offered him better wages and accommodation. Everyone at Port Craig worked for the MTC, with the exception of the teacher. It was therefore essential that the Company satisfied the needs of the community and provided the amenities to attract the likes of the Carroll family.

Pay was ‘not great but good for the times’ according to Minty Hughes. He recalled leading bush-men getting 25 shillings per day while his father, the head bush-man, earned 30. At the bottom of the hauling crew’s hierarchy, the whistle boy got eight shillings per day. J.E. Bremer was hired as a youth at eleven shillings per day in 1925 working in the mill, on the wharf, and even gardening at Daly’s house.[47]

Historian Paul Mahoney has observed that accidents were alarmingly frequent in the sawmilling industry.[48] However, few of those interviewed about their days at Port Craig mentioned accidents and the dangers of the bush. Once an employee put his hand on a rope on the loading tower and was pulled through a block, losing four fingers, but generally such occurrences were considered all ‘part and parcel’ of the job.[49] Hughes remembered a ‘funny’ incident where a hauling cable snapped, wrapped itself around a man’s neck and lifted him ten feet clear of the ground. He said that cables broke about every eight months, shot into the bush like a coiled spring and were ‘liable to take someone’s head off’.


The establishment of Port Craig was a late embodiment of the settler mentality, involving ‘progress’ on the ‘frontier’. The bush at Mussel Beach was cleared and a town constructed, its residents carving a living out of the rugged terrain. Pride was taken in the extent of development, the township, the tram-line, the viaducts, all symbolic of the ‘man over nature’ ethic. The vast majority of photographs of the Port Craig era are of settlement, of tidy houses surrounded by forest, and of men at or taking a break from work.[50] They emphasise man-made constructions and supremacy over the ‘hostile’ environment.

Built for a single purpose yet permanent in nature, small in population yet diverse in character, Port Craig was a distinctive, idiosyncratic ‘timber town’. Its raison d’etre determined the settlement’s topography. With no vehicles except rail carts and engines and no roads save for rail tracks, the tram-line ran through the heart of the settlement. Residents built board-walks to combat the mud of winter on the settlement’s well-worn paths.[51] The main-line, from Daly’s house to its end some miles in the bush, was the ‘main street’, and ran directly in front of the new school, cook-house, store and social room.

Numerous box-like structures stood in rows adjacent to the line, with clusters in between the old and new mill and on the cliffs overlooking the wharf. These were the single men’s huts, mostly of one room shared by two men, the only comforts a basic stove and bunks. Furniture was made as required, there being no shortage of available timber for the job. Sawmillers expected accommodation provision, but its quality often reflected the transient nature of the industry. Bremer recalled helping his travelling companion rebuild his bunk on arrival, as not all the huts were in good condition. In the only union activity he could recall, complaints related to living quarters.[52]

There were 25-30 houses at Port Craig, most in the settlement but a few scattered along the beach. A row of five almost identical houses was built on a cliff overlooking the bay, serviced by a wooden tramway for hauling firewood and bulky objects.[53] Five more were built in a line above the schoolhouse on a small rise. The Fluteys identified some of the occupants as the families Sangster, Carroll, West and McKay, the breadwinners being a blacksmith, saw doctor, carpenter and engineer respectively.

Further along the rise were two more, with the manager’s house, on the far side of the mill overlooking the bay. While there are few remains of the once numerous huts, chimney bases and brick mounds reflect the permanency of construction and the superior quality of the houses. The remains of Daly’s house, the largest at Port Craig, show two chimney-bases, one of them double-sided.[54]

As well as reflecting the non-transient nature of the settlement, the position and construction variation of the dwellings reveals a basic social structure. While huts were situated adjacent to the ‘main street’, most homes were away from it, and the manager’s home was ‘in a sheltered corner overlooking the bay’. The position of houses was based on seniority of position. Daly’s house was superior in size and construction to the rest, and the only one painted, a visible ‘social symbol’.[55]

Despite the differences in accommodation, all endured the same hardships of isolation. Even here some elements in the standard of living at Port Craig allow speculation on its social nature. Single men were provided with food by the cookhouse, sitting at designated places at three long tables for breakfast and tea, with a less formal midday dinner. The seating arrangement may have reflected seniority as it did in the kauri industry. Several aides supported a head cook, waitresses serving the prepared food. Myrtle Sangster was a waitress there between school and marriage to Fred Flutey. Several of the waitresses were members of sawmilling families, while others came into Port Craig and boarded with families. These were the only independent women in the settlement, receiving wages significantly less than men’s.[56]

Breakfast consisted of porridge, meat and as much bread as was desired. Lunch was mainly bread and jam, although occasionally hot meals were prepared. Tea proceeded in two sittings, the mill-crew dining while the bush-men journeyed back and washed. The menu was set, soup followed by meat, potatoes and vegetables, and pudding. Meat was imported but the inefficient refrigerator made storing significant amounts and keeping it fresh a problem. The only fresh vegetables available were potatoes, onions and carrots. Dried peas and beans were used extensively. In 1925 dining at the cookhouse cost 30 shillings a week, half the wages of those at the lower end of the income scale.[57]

Fred Flutey recalled the constant moaning of ‘stew, stew, stew’ by the working men, but the monotony of the diet was broken occasionally by the rich resources of the area. Groper and flounder were welcome treats on the cookhouse menu. The foreshore was often thick with crayfish, a kerosene tin full of them a regular sight, and pigeon stew was common when imported beef and mutton were short. For some, the rich food resources amounted to virtual self-sufficiency. The West family, of Maori origin, used the coastal and forest resources habitually.[58]

Families dined at home but suffered from the same constraints in food supply as the cookhouse. Families overcame the scarcity of fresh fruit and vegetables by maintaining gardens. Port Craig was fertile and productive enough even to grow luxuries like strawberries. Some products were virtually non-existent. Milk was seldom seen in the cookhouse or most family homes, tinned condensed milk being used instead. The two most senior employees of the company had cows. Daly had five, with excess milk distributed to the families of other senior employees.[59]

In most cases, regular shipping from Invercargill meant that the supply of goods was sufficient to meet needs, though some considered the prices high. Desired products could be purchased or ordered from the store in the ‘main street’, which opened twice daily. Goods were imported in bulk and sold by weight. Residents were not left wanting for anything, one family even purchasing a piano. Work clothes were sold on site and a tailor made regular visits taking orders for other needs.[60]

Port Craig’s ‘main street’ hardly compared to that of towns, but it could boast one-stop shopping and a financial institution in the street, since the store also acted as post office and pay- and time-keeper. Such an arrangement abrogated the need for money. Men were paid monthly by cheque. All transactions made during that time, including cooking-house dues, were deducted. The system was flexible, and men could even order alcohol as long as it was consumed in accordance with Company rules.

The primary source of energy at Port Craig was, not surprisingly, wood. Off-cuts were plentiful and used extensively, or one chopped one’s own from the surrounding forest. For lighting, everyone bought candles and kerosene for lamps at the store. Daly had a small private generator at his house, the only dwelling to have electricity.[61]

With few luxuries in the immediate vicinity, life was simple. Bremer noted the healthy physiques of men living a ‘clean outdoor life’ away from the towns.[62] Illness was rare, apart from the common cold and occasional stomach aches. Several cases of diphtheria in 1921 warranted a visit from the Tuatapere district nurse,[63] but doctors’ visits were few and the closest hospital was at Riverton. There was an effective sanitation system and the water supply was ample. Houses had tanks, huts barrels, and extra water for the mill and community was piped from a stream immediately north of the settlement. Water was generally heated in a copper on the stove.[64]

In some ways men benefited from the simplicity of their accommodation. The central ablutions block was a comfort. The old mill, which was retired from sawmilling upon completion of the new one, was still used to generate power for the winch to the wharf, the MTC refrigerator, and hot water. The water was used by men returning from work, and one bathroom, complete with wooden bath, was available.[65]

The ablutions were like a ‘race stable … about twenty jokers could have gone in at the same time’. A nine-hole toilet had wooden seats over a six metre long concrete ‘trough like structure’ with a constant flow of water flushing it into a septic tank. Toilets were also situated below the level of the wharf for yardmen and schoolchildren, the sea providing a natural flush. At high tide the toilet could act like a blowhole. Family homes had out-houses, while ceramic pipes found at Daly’s could be consistent with a more advanced sewage system.[66]

Waste of all sorts, whether biodegradable or not, was simply dumped. A waste wood fire disposed of excess wood and a stream got rid of ashes. Archeological findings show a considerable degree of rubbish dumping, with enamel plates, crockery and old shoes among the lasting rubbish of a previous generation.[67]


A micro society was built at Port Craig, transporting the town environment, including social structure, to the wilderness. The transformation was not all one way, however. Port Craig was on the periphery of ‘civilisation’, and its isolation and relationship with the forest influenced its development as a community. Invercargill in the 1920s was a thriving city with broad streets, electric trams, running water, motorcars, stone buildings, shops and theatres. Port Craig was simple by comparison. Whereas Invercargill prided itself on its modernity and manicured gardens, Port Craig was a settlement carved out of an untamed wilderness.

Reliant on the sea for survival, Port Craig seemed primitive in a time when rail and then road construction were linking most coastal communities. Many made the journey to Port Craig by steamer from Invercargill. This was a straightforward trip, although the weather dictated its frequency and duration.[68] Tuatapere was the closest town to Port Craig. From there a metalled road followed the Waiau River to the coast, where the last point of civilisation was the Erskine family farm at the river mouth, eight miles from Tuatapere and still twenty miles from Port Craig.

The beach or a cart track was followed to Blue Cliff, subject to the tides. If the weather was too rough the remaining eight miles had to be tramped, following the Puysegur Point telegraph line. The difficulty in reaching Port Craig was augmented by rain as rising rivers inhibited passage along the beach. Carts were often unable to cross rivers.[69]

The difficulties in travel did not stop a regular flow of single workingmen. For families, however, Port Craig was home and trips out infrequent, the one day off each week not providing enough time for an excursion into town. Port Craig, due to its isolation, did not observe most public holidays, instead closing down for several weeks over Christmas and Easter. For a fortnight many residents left but some families stayed on. Passage on the Oreti or similar vessel was not cheap, and many had nowhere else to go.[70]

Myrtle Flutey commented that Port Craig was ‘like one big family’ where everyone knew everyone else. Hughes agreed, but conceded that he did not know the Irishmen as well as the others, since ‘they kept to themselves a bit’. The absence of reminiscences of working men is a limitation, but the evidence available exemplifies that Port Craig was more than just a ‘timber town’: It was also a community forged in isolation.

In 1925 Port Craig was ‘a bigger concern than many Southlanders realise’, with a population of about 180.[71] This was a sizeable contribution to Wallace County’s overall population of about 10,000.[72] The operation necessitated a workforce of up to 140, and in addition there were about 30 women, mostly wives, excluding young school girls.[73] The number of school children on the school roll varied between 35 in 1921 and 22 in 1922.[74]

The settlement had a telegraph facility, but when the weekly steamer came in from Invercargill perhaps its most valued cargo was mail. The proliferation of mail was indicative of the extent of isolation. During the week, work and life centred on the mill: ‘The outside world was forgotten, we were a community of our own …’[75]

Sometimes the outside world came to Port Craig. The Labour Party was weak in the South, but its candidate got a good reception at Port Craig in the 1925 election campaign, despite passing out at the end of his talk due to the heat of the lanterns. The Liberal candidate, from a whitecollar background, was received politely but ‘seemed out of place’ in a settlement where almost everyone had a working class background. Many residents of Port Craig were not on the electoral role. In a society that seemed to be excluded from the outside world, many were oblivious to politics and economics, which made the closure in 1928 all the more surprising and distressing to them.[76]

The social focal point for the ‘jokers’ was the social and billiards room by the cookhouse on the ‘main street’. A large fire, billiard tables, card tables, and a piano provided a homely atmosphere. Billiards competitions and music recitals whiled away the long winter hours. There was also a gymnasium and a library.[77]

Management, including Daly and Reese, rarely interacted socially with the men except on special occasions. Families, too, tended to stay at home. However, everybody was invited to dances held about once a month, when the shortage of adult females was alleviated by girls as young as eight becoming dance partners.[78]

Reese considered the presence of women to have had a ‘refining influence’ even amongst rugged men in isolated places. Drinking, however, was a ubiquitous social activity in the industry and on Saturdays men often had parties, sometimes in the ‘blood-house’, a bunkroom for recent arrivals completed in 1925. The presence of some single women and daughters of workers meant that relationships, often leading to marriage, invariably took place. Fred and Myrtle Flutey were a case in point.[79]

‘There was always something you could do’ socially. Most did not ‘budge far’ except for the occasional excursion to the beach and coastline. At the beginning of each year the MTC had a picnic, when all employees and families journeyed to ‘back beach’ (near Sand Hill Point), spending the day relaxing and playing sports. Wood-chopping competitions were held twice a year and were always keenly contested. Probably because of the physical nature of the work, organised sport was rare. One-off sports days were organised, the year’s highlight being a clash of mill-hands and bush-men on back beach, incoming tides and soft sands simply adding an extra dimension to the game.[80]

In their spare time, many stayed within the settlement, making the most of imported comforts like billiards and books. Others took advantage of the natural environment. Verdon Sheehy spent long summer evenings exploring and deer-stalking. Prospectors passed through on their way to Preservation Inlet in search of minerals, including gold, inspiring some men to spend their days ‘prospecting’ along the coast. Others produced more tangible results fishing and hunting for pigeons.[81]

The nearest police constable was at Tuatapere. Daly, a Justice of the Peace, was the only semblance of law at Port Craig. He became manager after several had failed, not in their competence to manage the operation but in their ability to control the settlement. Bremer recalled meeting Daly for the first time: a solid man in a slouch hat and smoking a cigar, with a gruff voice that ‘put the fear of death in me’. Reese believed few man could have done what Daly did, praising him for his ‘great responsibility’, not only at the mill but in his ‘control of a small town’.[82]

Daly asserted his authority on the settlement early. He made a rule that alcohol was not to be consumed before Saturday night. Anyone caught drinking illicitly would be sacked on the spot but, to avoid smuggling, alcohol could be ordered and kept at the store until Saturday night. Men could drink as much as they liked, and with Sunday off the Company ensured a productive, reliable workforce the remaining six days a week.[83]

The community rarely had serious problems, and in other spheres of life men had a free hand to resolve their own disputes. Relations between the men were generally good, ‘although there was a lot of friendly barracking’. Disputes were often solved by fisticuffs. Seniority was respected, the older men diffusing tensions or breaking up fights between younger men, allowing the argument to be solved on the beach when they were sober.[84]

Standards of behaviour were maintained despite the lack of religious influences in the lives of most men in the bush. Port Craig had no church or chapel and visits from ministers were rare. Many felt no need for faith. However, the settlement was not devoid of religion. Myrtle Flutey took young children in basic Sunday school lessons and some services were held in the social room.[85]

Whereas bush-camps of the kauri industry were a ‘male world’, sawmilling settlements were more conducive to settled life and included women and children.[86] On arrival at Port Craig with her husband in September 1919, a teacher was shocked to find children running around the beach. She gathered them together in her house, taking elementary lessons and playing games. Upon making enquiries at the Education Board she was made the first teacher, and a building near the wharf became the school. Unfortunately, noise from the mill and poor lighting inhibited teaching, and most children went bare-footed and were vulnerable to sandflies.[87]

An acre of State Forest was revoked and a new school (not completed until 1926) built by the MTC under contract for the Education Department. Ages ranged from five to fourteen, few progressing as far as standard six. After school most children filled their time doing chores, watching others work, or playing on the beach. The wife of the MTC’s clerk taught piano and one of the teachers gave singing lessons.[88]

For women, domesticity was a full-time job. No women worked for wages at Port Craig except for a handful of waitresses. Although it was a tough life, those who had been in the industry expected nothing else. Life was certainly hard, even ‘a bit primitive’, but it was expected, endured and even enjoyed.[89]

The sense of community in Port Craig is best exemplified by the rallying of the community around a family whose breadwinner lost four fingers. In days before substantial accident compensation the community contributed out of their own pay cheques to support his family.[90] Such generosity epitomised the sense of mateship between working men and community in settlements throughout the industry.


In May 1928 Port Craig produced an astounding 769,000 feet of timber, the largest output of any mill in New Zealand.[91] It seemed the capital investment was beginning to pay dividends. But, in October, residents were given notice that the mill was to close. This came ‘out of the blue’ for them, initial disbelief giving way to disappointment and sadness. Many had expected they would be at Port Craig for the rest, or most, of their lives: ‘They had their little slice of heaven and that’s where they were staying’. Now some did not know what to do and had nowhere to go. Sheehy was saddened to see families effectively homeless, since ‘This was where they belonged’.[92]

The tug Southland was chartered to ferry people (mostly families, as many single men walked out) to Bluff, and arrived just two days after the mill closed. This was the only assistance the former employees of the MTC received. Some struggled to find work and became statistics of the unemployed in the early 1930s. Others were fortunate enough to have homes to return to.[93]

The Otago Witness reported that ‘the cause of the closure is unknown here’. Subsequently, many residents and others have blamed the closure on the Great Depression, but while it prevented reopening from being viable in the 1930s, the closure in 1928 resulted from more complex factors.

Historical geographer Michael Roche asserts that the Depression overshadowed the problems in the timber industry throughout 1920-1935, the period of Port Craig’s production. The industry had ‘inherent structural limitations’ that were exacerbated by economic depression.[94] The depressed state of the industry can be measured by the number of bankruptcies and reorganisations of companies, and Port Craig is but one of the statistics.

In 1935, there was an excess of supply over demand, causing prices to plummet, which had disastrous consequences for mills with high financial overheads. In addition, the State Forest Service imposed regulatory policies as the industry underwent a transformation towards scientific forestry and exotic afforestation. There were restrictions on the export of indigenous timber, and it became ‘comparatively costly’ on the local market as increasingly remote areas were logged. With economies of scale and less rigorous regulations overseas, imports from the United States were often the cheaper alternative.[95]

The biggest cause of the depressed state of the timber industry was the decline in building after the post-World War One boom. Stagnation in other sectors had a corresponding effect as demand diminished and capital became shorter in supply. Although there was a slight recovery in 1929-1930, when Port Craig reopened briefly, the Depression set in with catastrophic effect.[96] By 1931 Port Craig had closed again, this time for good.

But the nature of the industry and economy was only half the reason for Port Craig’s closure. The second reason is, ironically, one that contributed to its high reputation: its size. The amount of capital invested meant it could not afford to run at a loss.[97]

Several interdependent factors undermined the MTC’s intentions. In 1916 the quality of the forest had impressed the Company, but the estimates of millable timber failed to materialise. The MTC had projected a profitable 20,000 super feet of timber to the acre through to the Wairaurahiri and Waitutu River Valleys, but as early as 1921 there were indications that the initial survey had not been thorough enough. Surveys in 1921 and 1926 concluded that the average timber volume was only half the original estimate. Sheehy’s own records revealed an alarming 6,000-7,000 feet per acre.[98]

This huge problem had a flow-on effect. The rate of logs determined the productivity of the mill. The lower projected rate meant more tram-line and the logging of smaller trees to keep the mill supplied. Because suitable timber was sparse the Lidger Wood had to be moved regularly at great expense. At the opening ceremony a representative of Sumner Iron in fact noted that it was one thing to have the technology but another to make it reach its potential.[99]

In an effort to keep up the log supply, loads on the log-trains were increased. This took its toll on the engines and bogies, causing ‘mechanical nightmares’. Proximity to the coast also limited opportunities for logging, undermining the flexibility of branch lines into productive areas. In the long run the value the MTC obtained from the forest did not sustain the investment made in it.[100]

A further factor was the amount of each log that was consigned to the waste fire. The percentage of log converted to saleable timber was low. The recovery rate was 60%, the rest simply burned. Mills close to towns could sell their inferior timber cheaply in the local market, but Port Craig did not have this option.[101]

The depressed market made it difficult to sell timber that cost so much to produce. Between May and August 1928 productivity was high, an average of 628,000 feet per month, but, although these figures were probably the highest in Port Craig’s history, sales realised only 74% of production costs. Sheehy remembered the timber stockpiling on the wharf and no ships or buyers.[102]

Dependence on shipping also inhibited the MTC’s ability to be competitive. The Union Steam Ship Company at this time was an effective oligopoly. By 1917, ‘no ship of any consequence could cross the Tasman or sail the New Zealand coast without its consent’.[103] Reese Brothers, whose ships took Port Craig’s timber to markets in Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch, was comparatively modest. Substantial profits depended on larger shipments to bigger markets in North Island and Australia, but the first export to Australia by a Union Steam Ship Company vessel did not occur until 1927. During these later years the MTC had difficulty paying its shipping dues. The MTC only managed to reduce the problem in June of that year, through a share-holding agreement with the larger company.[104]

The MTC faced financial problems from the beginning, constantly seeking fresh injections of capital to sustain the operation. It courted the involvement of other sawmillers, and came close to partnership with H.A. Massey prior to his sudden death in 1923. In 1925 fresh wind was at last blown into the flagging sails of the MTC, according to Reese, with the purchase of interests by Sims, Cooper and Co., and Sir Robert Anderson. Money was also invested in McCallum and Co., a timber merchant with yards in Dunedin, Oamaru and Christchurch, to increase Port Craig’s markets.[105]

Sims’ involvement resulted in the purchase of the Price ‘Ar’, the largest steam locomotive to operate a bush tram-line in New Zealand.[106] Some old hands thought the old mill was already operating efficiently and that change was unnecessary.[107] To those who lived there, oblivious to the world around them, Port Craig was a thriving prosperous community. This contrasted with the realities facing the men who funded the operation: the need for investment, and for innovation to generate a profit worthy of investments made. Attempts failed, and Port Craig ran out of steam.

After its closure, Reese Brothers focussed its attention on sawmilling ventures on the West Coast, and following the Depression it had some success. The Port Craig mill was re-opened in January 1930, and many old hands were glad to return. A slight recovery in 1929-1930 had been caused in part by the government’s ad hoc lifting of export restrictions on indigenous timber. All of the external and internal factors that had caused Port Craig’s closure in 1928 remained, however, and it was shut down permanently in November 1930.[108]

Even then, caretaker families were left at Port Craig for much of the 1930s to maintain and protect the equipment.[109] When Bert Craig examined the mill in 1937, to assess its future prospects, he was immensely disappointed to find that the mill and tram-line were in a ‘sad state’, with timbers rotting and winches rusting. Any chance of reopening the mill was shattered. To ensure some return on investment, the mill and its equipment were sold to salvage firms.[110] Thus the mill that had been developed at immense cost and had enjoyed fewer than ten years of full production was dismantled. Four years of salvaging by two crews of eight or nine men reflected the extent of Port Craig’s development.[111] Mill machinery, tools, steam engines, haulers (including the defunct Lidger Wood), bogies and 24 kilometres of railway iron were all removed. Every house and building was demolished except for the schoolhouse, since it belonged to the Southland Education Board.[112]

Deprived even of ghost town status, all that remained of a once thriving community were brick chimneys and walls and scrap wood. A swath cut through the forest, the route of the tram-line and four viaducts were stark reminders of what once was. In all, about 1,400 hectares of prime podocarp forest was logged around Port Craig.[113] A scar on the landscape, the clearance was but a small portion of the Waitutu forest. Abandoned, nature began the lengthy but inevitable process of reclaiming the land.


Port Craig’s history coincided with a transition in New Zealand forest history between two extremes, nineteenth century ‘progress’ and late twentieth century ‘preservation’. The mill’s operation is a reflection of the former. What was valued by the MTC for its timber, however, is now valued by most for its environmental qualities. In a reversal of the values attributed to bush, largely urban-based environmentalists argue for preservation in perpetuity for the few remaining areas of indigenous forests, assigning to nature the ‘civilising’ and benevolent attitudes once attributed to its clearance.

Waitutu Forest is now ‘the largest remaining relatively unchanged lowland podocarp forest in New Zealand’,[114] providing a link in the continuity of a series of ecosystems from alpine Fiordland, down Waitutu’s terrace river valleys to the sea. In the 1980s, environmentalists saw it as a natural addition to Fiordland National Park. Amid much controversy, Waitutu State Forest was allocated to the Department of Conservation in 1987. Though still not officially part of the National Park, this ensured its protection from further logging.

The Maori-owned coastal strip of the forest was not protected in the 1987 allocation. Agreement was eventually reached in 1996 whereby Maori retained ownership, but the Crown was given a perpetual right to manage it as a national park. In return, Waitutu Incorporation gained compensation and forestry rights to specified Crown indigenous forests elsewhere.[115]

Rather than detract from the surrounding, comparatively pristine environment, the remnants of Port Craig now add to it. It is unusual, if not unique, for a former major industrial area to be accessible only by foot through virgin country. With the decline of forestry, tourism is regarded as essential for Tuatapere’s future. The main attraction is the forest west of the Waiau River. The South Coast Track, beginning at Blue Cliff Beach and finishing at Big River, is an increasingly popular tramp.[116]

The remnants of Port Craig are one reason for this. The viaducts are particularly stark reminders of what once was. In 1994 the Armstrong Rigging Company of Wellington repaired and treated the Percy Burn viaduct, ensuring the longevity of the largest remaining wooden viaduct in the world.[117]

A comprehensive archeological survey of Port Craig was conducted in late 1996 by the Department of Conservation.[118] Port Craig has been extensively fossicked over the years, but many sites remain in excellent condition. Both the Department and the local community take pride in the area. There are now plans to establish a round trip from Blue Cliff over the Hump Ridge, then down to the Edwin Burn to link up with the South Coast Track. Such a route would take in coastal, forest, alpine and historical points of interest.[119] The remains of Port Craig mill, wharf and settlement would complement the extensive tram-line and viaduct system, making it a unique walk in New Zealand and testament to a small piece of Southland’s history.[120]

[1] Alistair McMechan is general counsel of Landcorp Farming Ltd in Wellington. This article is an abridged version of the history long essay he submitted in 1997 in partial fulfillment for the degree of BA (Hons) at the University of Otago, Dunedin.

[2] M.M Roche, History of New Zealand Forestry (Wellington: GP Books, 1990), 10.

[3] Roche, History of New Zealand Forestry, 439-440, 85.

[4] Tom Brooking, “Economic Transformation”, in The Oxford History of New Zealand, 2nd edn., ed. Geoffrey W. Rice (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1992), 231-232.

[5] Otago Witness, September 7, 1926: 14.

[6] Chris Ward, “Waitutu Forest: Fiordland’s Other Half”, Forest and Bird 226 (1982), Supplement: 2-3.

[7] P.J.F. Coutts, “The Port Craig-Sandhill Point Regions of Southland: A Preliminary Archaeological Report’, Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania 5.1 (1970): 53-59.

[8] P.J.F. Coutts, “Merger or Takeover: A Survey of the Effects of Contact Between European and Maori in the Foveaux Strait Region”, Journal of the Polynesian Society 78.4 (1969): 513-514.

[9] F.W.G. Miller, West to the Fiords: The History of Western Southland (Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1954), 70-74.

[10] Ward, “Waitutu Forest”: 4; New Zealand Forest Service, Waitutu Forest: Information and Track Guide (Wellington: New Zealand Forest Service), 6.

[11] Daniel Reese, Was It All Cricket? (London: Allen and Unwin, 1948), 454-455.

[12] John Orchard, “A Short History of Sawmilling in the Nydia Bay Area”, Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies 2.1 (1987): 29-33.

[13] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 509-511.

[14] Paul Mahoney, “Tall Timber, Tall Stories”, videorecording of lecture, 1994.

[15] H. McFeely (1916) in Miller, West to the Fiords, 119.

[16] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 510-511.

[17] Harry C. Evison, Te Wai Pounamu: The Greenstone Island: A History of the Southern Maori During the European Colonisation of New Zealand (Wellington and Christchurch: Aoraki Press, 1993), 472-482.

[18] Mark Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”, unpublished New Zealand Forest Service report, 1981, Vol 2, Section 6: Port Craig; Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 412, Otago Daily Times September 29, 1921: 8.

[19] Fred Flutey, Interview with author, Bluff, June 10, 1997.

[20] J.E Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest 1925 and 1938 (Invercargill: published by the author, 1983), 4; Fred Flutey interview.

[21] P.J. Mahoney, “Bush Tramways in New Zealand: An Unrecognized Historic Reserve”, Australian Journal of Historical Archaeology 9 (1991): 79.

[22] Minty Hughes, Interview with author, Invercargill, June 9, 1997.

[23] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 512-513.

[24] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 517-520; Warren Bird, personal correspondence, 1997; Otago Daily Times September 29, 1921: 8.

[25] Western Star October 22, 1918: 3.

[26] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 516-518; Camille M. Malfroy, Small Sawmills: Their Erection and Management (Wellington: New Zealand State Forest Service, 1923), 6-7.

[27] Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”.

[28] Verdon Sheehy, “Port Craig”, unpublished reminiscences (c. 1976), Wallace Early Settlers’ Museum, Riverton, 83; Orchard, “A Short History”: 33.

[29] Otago Daily Times September 29, 1921: 8; Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 515.

[30] Mahoney, ‘Tall timber”.

[31] Otago Daily Times September 29, 1921: 8.

[32] Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”; Hughes interview.

[33] Otago Witness, June 30, 1925: 39.

[34] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 522-524.

[35] Bird, personal correspondence.

[36] Hughes interview; Sheehy, “Port Craig”, 82.

[37] Mahoney, “Tall Timber”; Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”; Hughes interview.

[38] Hughes interview; Fred Flutey interview; Les Carroll, Interview with author, Dunedin, June 16, 1997; Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”.

[39] P.J. Gibbons, “Some New Zealand Navvies: Co-operative Workers, 1891-1912”, New Zealand Journal of History 11.1 (1977): 60.

[40] Mahoney, “Tall Timber”; Hughes interview.

[41] Southland Times, September 26, 1921: 6; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 20.

[42] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 7-8; Hughes interview.

[43] Hughes interview; Bert McKay, Interview with Bill Howden, Tuatapere, c. 1992; Minty Hughes, Transcript of interview with DOC staff member, Southland Conservancy, c. 1986, 2.

[44] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 5.

[45] Duncan Mackay, “The Orderly Frontier: The World of the Kauri Bushmen, 1860-1925”, New Zealand Journal of History 25.2 (1991): 153; Duncan Mackay, Working the Kauri: A Social and Photographic History of New Zealand’s Pioneer Kauri Bushmen (Auckland: Random Century, 1991), 1, 153-154, 89, 94.

[46] A.H. Reed, The New Story of Kauri, (Wellington: A.H. and A.W. Reed, 1964), 82-87; Mackay, Working the Kauri, 81.

[47] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 5.

[48] Mahoney, ‘Tall Timber”.

[49] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 17, 23; Sheehy, “Port Craig”, 84.

[50] Bill Howden, Photographic Collection, Tuatapere; “Port Craig Photographs”, Peter Chandler Collection, MS 1270 6-1-5, Hocken Library, Dunedin; E.A. Phillips, Photo Collection, E 2037/31, Hocken Library, Dunedin.

[51] Myrtle Flutey, Interview with author, Bluff, June 10, 1997.

[52] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 10-13; Hughes interview.

[53] Hughes interview; McKay interview; Jackie Breen, “An Archeological Site Survey of Port Craig, Waitutu State Forest”, Historic Resources Section, Department of Conservation, Southland, 63.

[54] Breen, “An Archeological Site Survey”, 54.

[55] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 10; Hughes interview.

[56] Breen, “An Archeological Site Survey”, 65; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 6; Mackay, ‘The Orderly Frontier’: 154-155; Myrtle Flutey interview.

[57] Hughes interview; Fred and Myrtle Flutey interview; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 5-7.

[58] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 27-28; Ruth West, Interview with author, Invercargill, June 11, 1997; Carroll interview.

[59] Fred and Myrtle Flutey interview; Carroll interview.

[60] Hughes interview; Fred and Myrtle Flutey interview.

[61] Hughes interview.

[62] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 6.

[63] Western Star, September 27, 1921: 2.

[64] Hughes interview; Otago Daily Times September 29, 1921: 8; Myrtle Flutey interview.

[65] Hughes interview.

[66] Hughes interview; Breen, “An Archeological Site Survey”, 35; Minty Hughes, videorecording of Television 3 News interview, April, 1994.

[67] Breen, “An Archeological Site Survey”, 63.

[68] Carroll interview; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 3-4.

[69] Otago Daily Times, 29 Sep 1921, p 8; Carroll interview; Sheehy, “Port Craig”, 81.

[70] Hughes interview; Myrtle Flutey interview; Sheehy, “Port Craig”, 95, 88; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 28.

[71] Otago Witness, March 17, 1925: 31.

[72] Census of New Zealand, Vol 2 (Wellington: Government Printer, 1921), 27-30.

[73] Hughes interview; McKay interview.

[74] New Zealand Education Department, “Classification Returns, Port Craig”, 1921, 1922.

[75] Myrtle Flutey interview; Hughes interview; Carroll interview; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 22.

[76] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 29-30; Fred Flutey interview.

[77] Hughes interview; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 25.

[78] Hughes interview; Fred and Myrtle Flutey interview; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 26-27; Otago Daily Times September 29, 1921: 8.

[79] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 517; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 26-27, Fred Flutey interview.

[80] Fred and Myrtle Flutey interview; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 14, 27; Hughes interview.

[81] Sheehy, “Port Craig”, 88, 93, 94; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 28.

[82] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 4; Daniel Reese to Henry Drewe, 6 Sep 1928, Miscellaneous Letters 1924-1930, Wallace Early Settlers’ Museum, Riverton.

[83] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 516-517; Hughes interview.

[84] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 22-23; Hughes interview.

[85] Hughes interview; Myrtle Flutey interview; Carroll interview.

[86] Reed, The New Story of Kauri, 88; Mackay, Working the Kauri, 63, 79.

[87] Elsie Scobie, personal correspondence, 1997; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 10; Hughes interview; Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”; Myrtle Flutey interview.

[88] New Zealand Gazette 81 (1924): 2915; Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”; New Zealand Education Department, “Classification Returns”; Hughes interview; Myrtle Flutey interview; West interview.

[89] Myrtle Flutey interview; Hughes interview.

[90] Hughes interview.

[91] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 524.

[92] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 33-34, 119; Hughes interview; Fred and Myrtle Flutey interview; Carroll interview; McKay interview; Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”; West interview.

[93] Carroll interview; Bird, personal correspondence; Hughes interview; McKay interview.

[94] M.M. Roche and A. Sewell, “The Impact of the Depression on the Timber Industry and Afforestation in New Zealand, 1920-1935”, New Zealand Forest Service Working Paper 3/86, (Wellington, 1986): 3, 29, 7.

[95] W.P. Morrell, New Zealand (London, 1935), 159-160; Roche and Sewell, “The Impact of the Depression”, 4-8.

[96] Roche and Sewell, “The Impact of the Depression”, 9-10.

[97] Paul Mahoney, “A Report on the Port Craig Sawmill Wooden Viaducts”, New Zealand Historic Places Trust, 1990, 4; Mahoney, “Tall Timber”.

[98] Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”; Sheehy, “Port Craig”, 117-118; Fred Flutey interview.

[99] Bird, personal correspondence; Otago Daily Times September 29, 1921: 8.

[100] Sheehy “Port Craig”, 97, 118; Hugh Erskine, interview with author, Tuatapere, June 11, 1997.

[101] Mahoney, “ A Report”, 3; Mahoney, “Tall timber”; Hughes interview.

[102] Bird, personal correspondence; Sheehy, “Port Craig”, 118-119.

[103] Gavin McLean, ‘The Southern Octopus: The Rise of the Union Steam Ship Company, 1876-1917’, PhD thesis, Otago, 1983, 413.

[104] Bird, personal correspondence.

[105] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 520-522, 525; Otago Witness December 23, 1924: 31; Alan Mitchell, 84 Not Out: The Story of Arthur Sims, Kt. (London: Hennel Locke, 1962), 121; Bird, personal correspondence; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 33.

[106] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 525; Mitchell, 84 Not Out, 121; Bird, personal correspondence.

[107] Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 33.

[108] Reese, Was It All Cricket?, 526, 531-547; Bird, personal correspondence; Bremer, Port Craig and Waitutu Forest, 34; Hughes interview; Roche and Sewell, “The Impact of the Depression”, 9-10.

[109] Conservator of Forests, Invercargill, to Director of State Forestry, April 12, 1931. ‘Port Craig Holdings Ltd., 1931’, Miscellaneous Letters, National Archives, Dunedin.

[110] Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”; V.R. Craig, interview with the author, Invercargill, June 11, 1997.

[111] Erskine.interview.

[112] Erskine interview; Hanger, “Sawmilling in the Southern Forests”; Hughes interview; Bill Howden Photograph Collection; Mahoney, “A Report”.

[113] Joint Campaign on Native Forests, “Waitutu: The Track to Preservation”, Public submission under the National Parks Act, Invercargill, 1984.

[114] Sabine Schmidt and Keith Swensen, “Waitutu: The Ultimate Forest Protected At Last’, Forest and Bird 280 (1996): 27-28.

[115] Waitutu Block Settlement Bill, as reported from the Maori Affairs Committee, Sep 1997, Sections 5, %A, 6; Schmidt and Swensen, “Waitutu”: 28.

[116] Ward, “Waitutu Forest”: 5-6; Tim Higham, ‘Bridgework’, North and South (August 1993): 15; Joint Campaign on Native Forests, “Waitutu”, E17-E18.

[117] Port Craig Viaducts Trust, ‘Percy Burn Restoration’, videorecording of restoration, February-March 1994, Collection of John Munro, Tuatapere.

[118] Breen, “An Archeological Site Survey”.

[119] Department of Conservation, “Audit of Environmental Impact Assessment of the Proposed Hump Ridge Track”, Southland Conservancy, 1995, 1.

[120] The privately-operated Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track opened in 2001 – for details, see Further information on Port Craig can be found in Warren Bird, Viaducts Against the Sky: The Story of Port Craig (Invercargill: Craig Printing, 1998) and in Rachael E. Egerton, “Heritage Management at the Port Craig Sawmill Complex: Successes and Challenges”, paper presented at the Third Australasian Engineering Heritage Conference, Dunedin, 2009, conference/papers/Egerton_R.pdf .