The article on this page was researched, developed and created by John C Waugh, for use on the MERRA website. It presents the author’s findings based on that research. Some of his conclusions are different from that presented in some historical texts, but unless otherwise stated, are supported by contemporary evidence sighted. Many of the photographs and documents presented in or accessible via this website version of the article were made available for this purpose by current or past residents of our community, and the public at large. Other images and media excerpts are taken from public data bases. In the final analysis, the article provides the author’s take on our past history.
An Introductory Note
Captain Charles Ludwig Kasper, and his wife Margaret, were among the early settlers on our peninsula. This vignette tells of some aspects of their life in our area, and their association with our community. It also touches briefly on the activity of some of their children … much of that activity being very much inter-related with the activities of Charles and Margaret.
In writing our tale, our work has been greatly facilitated by the publication, on 26 April 2014, of the monograph entitled ‘Pine Grove: The Kasper Family of Mahurangi’, compiled by Sharryn McLaughlin and Joanne Kasper. Sharryn very kindly has given us permission to copy freely from their work, and has provided us with a large number of interesting and useful photographs, and many items of information. She also has enthusiastically worked with us in resolving a number of historical uncertainties that have cropped up in the course of the research we ourselves have undertaken. We gratefully acknowledge these considerable contributions.
Their generosity not only has saved us from having to undertake some of the self-same in-depth research which Joanne and Sharryn had undertaken, but (because of the wider focus which they had in authoring the book) they have allowed us to get a ready appreciation of the context in which the family’s presence in the Mahurangi area took place. Some of the authors’ offerings also have allowed us to enhance the content of a few of the other vignettes in our series.
In this vignette, save where otherwise stated, all photos were supplied to us by Sharryn McLaughlin. Copyright in most of these remains with the applicable Kasper family members. However, a few of the images supplied by Sharryn, while in the ‘Pine Grove’ publication, were sourced from the Clifford Hawkins Collection. Where we are aware this is the case, we’ve acknowledged that source.
In the beginning
In 1863, the patriarch of the family, Captain Charles Ludwig Kasper, and his wife Margaret, established their home by the shores of the Mahurangi Harbour, on Scotts Peninsula. Their property was known as ‘Pine Grove’, an area which the Kasper families farmed for some 60 years.
Over the course of their marriage, Charles and Margaret had eight children, and with the succeeding generations, the size of the wider Kasper family multiplied considerably. Captain Kasper and three of his five sons were master mariners. The Kasper families’ fleet of cutters, scows and other vessels (including, for two ownership spells, the ‘Jane Gifford’) were a common sight on the Mahurangi Harbour. We understand that at one time, the collective fleet was the largest in the wider Auckland area.
At the time of writing this article (in mid-2014), sixteen members of the Kasper family (and the associated members of the Lawrie family) had been buried in the cemetery of the old Mahurangi Heads Presbyterian Church. This tally includes the patriarch of the Kasper family, Charles Ludwig Kasper, and his wife Margaret. The remembrance headstones for many of these deceased persons are placed within the Kasper family plot at the cemetery.
Charles & Margaret
Charles was the son of Friedrich and Juliane Kasper. He was born on 13 December 1832. He was christened ‘Cardel’ Ludwig Kasper.
His birthplace was the city of Memel, Prussia. Nowadays, Memel is known as Klaipeda, a coastal city in Lithuania.
Family documentation mentions that Charles (as he came to call himself) first joined a merchant ship at around 14 years of age.
There is no known record as to how Charles made his way to New Zealand, but quite possibly he worked his passage here. According his naturalisation papers, he arrived in New Zealand in 1859, then aged about 27.
As the authors of ‘Pine Grove’ point out, the young Charles was superbly equipped to handle life in New Zealand, both as an early settler and as a mariner. He became a ‘cutterman’.
“Charles based himself in Auckland and soon acquired the cutter ‘Clyde’. At the time, the land around Mahurangi belonged to the government and the right to settle or cut timber was obtained by paying the government five pounds a year for a licence. Charles was one of the first settlers in the area to do this. There was an abundance of wood around the banks of the Mahurangi River, so he began his trade between Auckland and Mahurangi, shipping firewood and other wood products such as shingles and fence posts.”
“Although the settlers were not far from Auckland, the journey was arduous by land but by water it was only 30 nautical miles to the Waitemata Harbour. From the 1850s to the 1930s, ships were [the settlers’] … lifelines. In the beginning it was cutters that provided the service. The cutters were the craft of the small nautical entrepreneur.”
The authors give this example of an early days shipping record for vessels from around the Mahurangi:
“Clyde 15 tons, Kasper. In with 19 tons firewood, 240000 shingles, out in ballast with one passenger. In with 5000 palings 5000 laths, 6000 shingles, 150 rails, 5 posts and 1 ton of firewood, out in ballast.”
Turning to Margaret Ann Johnston(e), she was born in Port Lincoln, South Australia, in 1839. Her parents migrated to New Zealand when Margaret was an infant. They arrived here around 1841.
In April 1863, Charles married Margaret Johnston. She was the elder sister of Elizabeth Jane Johnston(e), who later (on 12 October 1864) became the wife of early settler James Lawrie. Should you wish, you may download a .pdf file containing a copy of the Lawrie family chart which we created. It shows how the Lawrie family inter-relates with Margaret Kasper, her parents (including step-father) and sister (who became Elizabeth Jane Lawrie).
But, understanding where and when that Kasper marriage took place required us to undertake some mental gymnastics. The following two documents show the couple to have been wed in Auckland, with the Mahurangi Parish’s Rev Robert McKinney officiating. McKinney’s signature attests to this.
The marriage is also recorded as being a marriage in the Parish of Mahurnagi
We eventually surmised that Charles (who was then living in the Mahurangi area) was a Mahurangi parishioner, and that Rev McKinney (who was a minister of the Presbyterian Church, and based in the Mahurangi area) was cajoled into conducting the marriage in Auckland. The church registration of the marriage then was effected in the records of the Mahurangi Parish.
At the time of his marriage, the property on which Charles was living was land located on the shores of the Mahurangi Harbour. It had been acquired by Margaret’s step-father, John Parker. Parker had married Margaret’s mother, who earlier had been widowed while pregnant with Margaret’s younger sister, Elizabeth Jane.
Change of title was registered on 1 March 1863. from William Dyer, to whom the Crown had granted a large tract of land running right up to the main road [Mahurangi East Road]. We have not researched what acreage John Parker acquired, but the Kasper family have established that it was substantial.
We suspect that prior to change of title being registered, Parker already was renting or had secured occupation of the purchased land, and had constructed a dwelling of some kind on that land.
Charles and Margaret made their marital home on John Parker’s property. It seems very likely that they lived in the Parker house for a while until a separate dwelling was built for them on the Parker property.
At the time Parker acquired the land, the only practical access to it was by boat. We’ve been told that at some stage, there was a long wharf in front of the property. This statement is consistent with our knowledge that over the succeeding years, several members of the fast-expanding Kasper family had a fleet of boats. That fleet included cutters, scows, schooners and ketches. The waters of the upper Mahurangi Harbour provided a convenient anchorage for these vessels. From time to time, many of the ships would have ‘dropped off’ local passengers.
In 1874, John Parker sold a 12 acre portion of the farmland to Charles and Margaret. Charles and Margaret gave their acreage the name ‘Pine Grove’. The original name reflected the fact that Charles had planted different varieties of pines on the land, to remind him of his homeland, Prussia (as it then was). It was on this area of land that, at some stage between the mid-1860s and the mid-1870s, they had built a dwelling.
Many years later, from at least from 1980 to, perhaps, early 2014, part of this property was referred to as ‘Tide Farm’. Nowadays, the ‘Pine Grove’ land area has been re-consolidated as the original 12 acres. Its new owners (a Kasper family trust) have formally renamed the property ‘Pine Grove’.
A year after John Parker sold the 12 acres of land to Charles and Margaret, he sold a further 12 acres of farmland to James and Elizabeth Lawrie … here you’ll remember that Elizabeth was Margaret’s sister.
In later years, as John Parker became physically less able to manage his farmland, he transferred his remaining land to his two step-daughters (and their respective husbands).
The Kasper children
Charles and Margaret parented 8 children:
Julianna (b.1864) Julia
John Parker (b.1865) Jack
Charles Ludwig II (b.1867) Charlie
Elizabeth Jane (b.1868) Lizzy
Margaret Ann Stewart (b.1870) Maggie
Friedrick (b.1872) Fred
Henry August (b.1876) Harry
Here are photographs of the children, as (relatively young adults):
About the Kasper Family
Here are some interesting (and in some cases, nostalgic) snippets about members of the Kasper family and their life in the early years:
With Charles sailing between Mahurangi waters and Auckland on a daily basis, it made sense for him to also have a house there. That house was in Ponsonby. Some of the children were born in Ponsonby, and the older boys went to a school there. It seems the general rule was that Charles would run his boating business from Auckland, and then would endeavour to be home at weekends. Margaret ran the farm.
The authors of ‘Pine Grove’ comment that, in the early days of the Parker / Kasper presence on the farm lands:
“Life on the farm would have been rather rustic and back-breaking in the early days until the bush was cleared and the land ploughed and the larger house built. The family would have been fairly self-sufficient.”
“Charles was well known in the district for his fine fields of maize, and prize-winning lemons. There was an abundant orchard, with many varieties of plums, such as Burbanks, greengages and yellowgages, Satsuma and damsons. The apples were Irish peach, Gravenstein, Northern Spy, and other varieties, There were many pears, mostly Paragon, peaches, sweet oranges, and quinces.”
Of course, Charles and Margaret needed to have cattle … and here’s a picture of one of their animals on the property!
An article in the New Zealand Herald on 3 February 1887 refers to their granary … albeit in a social context. The article reads:
“The annual soiree of the Mahurangi Heads Presbyterian Church took place on the 24th January at Captain Kasper’s granary. Tables were provided by Mrs Kasper and Mrs Algie. After full justice had been done to the good things provided, and the tables cleared, a concert was held.”
The authors of ‘Pine Grove’ report that, subsequently, in the 1920s, the orchard reportedly was struck by Fire Blight, and completely destroyed. To raise revenue, all the trees on the property were felled and used for firewood.
In the course of our research into Capt Kasper’s life in the Mahurangi area, we came across reports in three February 1868 issues of Daily Southern Cross newspaper, which had reported in some depth the proceeds of a court hearing on the wrecking, in Auckland Harbour, of Capt Kasper’s clipper, the Clyde. The hearing was held over three days; the reports are in the issues of the paper published on the 8th, 9th and 13th of February. The 3-part report may be accessed via the National Library’s papers past collection.
Collectively, the reportage of the court hearing makes for a wonderful read … it almost is as if one was viewing the screen takes for the 1954 film ‘On the waterfront’, starring Marlon Brando. You can sense the court room tension that would have prevailed. While you ponder the rights and wrongs of the way the parties acted through the course of the incident, you would be excused if you found yourself imagining yesteryear screen stars like Humphrey Bogart and Dirk Bogard in the lead roles of the opposing skippers … but back to our tale!
We noted, in the 30 October 1873 issue of the Southern Cross newspaper, a report by a columnist that reads:
“I hear it is the intention of Captain Kasper, of the PS Lady Bowen, to give a pleasure trip to the settlers from [Mahurangi] … to the Island of Kawau about Christmas. Captain Kasper has had command of vessels trading here for the last 15 years, and on no occasion has he allowed the holidays to pass without gratuitously placing his vessel at the disposal of the settlers.”
Jeremiah Casey was the owner of that paddle steamer. About 1873, Casey had needed a skipper for that vessel, to pioneer the steam service between Auckland and Warkworth. He had turned to Charles.
An article in the issue of the Auckland Star published on Thursday 12 February 1874 waxes lyrical about the Mahurangi Agricultural Show held the previous day [a Wednesday]. The article is instructive as it gives us a sense of ‘time taken’ for travel by paddle steamer from Warkworth to Auckland.
“This annual agricultural show, second only in its importance to that of Auckland, took place yesterday [Wednesday] at Warkworth. …
On Tuesday the p.s. Lady Bowen took down the judges, who were: For the livestock …
A dance, which continued up to an advanced hour this [Thursday] morning , appropriately concluded proceedings. The steamer Lady Bowen left at about 2am today, and arrived at the Queen Street wharf at half past eight.”
So too is an article which appeared in the Auckland Star that was published a few days earlier, on 3 February 1874:
“Owing to the stiff south-wester blowing outside yesterday, the p.s Lady Bowen from the Mahurangi and the Hot Springs [Waiwera] did not arrive until nearly midnight instead of 6pm.”
Another incident which captures the era when Charles was skippering boats to and from the Mahurangi area is captured in an article in the NZ Herald of 28 January 1879:
This article posed a number of questions for us. For example: Was Captain Kasper perhaps no longer at the helm of the Lady Bowen? Was there another paddle steamer (the ps Anne Milbank) traversing the Mahurangi waters?
Sharryn McLaughlin found for us, in the Auckland Star of 14 April 1881, a report that helped us resolve the issue. That report relates to the wreck of the paddle steamer Anne Milbank. The writer of the report made the following comments (we have re-sequenced the sentences for enhanced readability):
“In 1875 Capt Casey had many improvements effected and changed the name. … The steamer Anne Milbank, it will be remembered, was employed in the Auckland … trade, a few years ago, then under the name of the Lady Bowen.’ … She was a vessel of 63 tons gross and with engines of 24hp.”
“… information has been received from Whangarei that the Anne Milbank struck a rock amidships, is broken in two and expected to become a total wreck.”
From the rest of the report we gathered that a Capt Aubrey was the skipper of the Anne Milbank at the time of the wreck … or, more importantly for our tale, Capt. Kasper was not in charge of the paddle steamer at the time of the accident.
After a spell skippering the Lady Bowen / Anne Milbank, Charles became the skipper of the SS Rose Casey.
In 1905, long after Charles had ceased to be the master of the Rose Casey (indeed, after Charles’ death), the Rose Casey found itself sailing in the waters off Southland. There, on 19 September 1905, it got stranded on a sandbar off Riverton.
Charles came to skipper other boats owned by Jeremiah Casey. In this way Charles was increasingly well known to the Mahurangi River community.
Charles died in 1888, as a result of Erysipilas (an acute streptococcus bacterial infection), which he contracted through a cut on his leg. He left it too late to seek medical help.
After Charles’ death, Margaret rented out part of the property. In the New Zealand Herald of 14 January 1893, there appears an advertisement that reads:
“Seaside residence, Pine Grove Farm, Te Kapa, Mahurangi heads. Mrs C L Kasper receives boarders by the day, week or month. Terms moderate. Sea bathing, boating, fishing.”
We’ve previously noted there were 8 children born to Charles and Margaret. Here are a few snippets of information about them.
With respect to Julia, Maggie, and Lizzie, we know relatively little about them (other than the usual information one can gather about who they married, and when, and who their offspring were). But as we’ll be talking about their siblings, we thought it reasonable to at least include a few photographs depicting them!
As it happens, that photograph also introduces you to the second born of the Kasper sons. As was the custom in the era when Charles and Margaret lived on the shores of the Mahurangi, the couple had named one of their sons after Charles. He was named for his father, as Charles Ludwig II. He always was referred to as Charlie.
Among the images we sourced when creating this article are these interesting photographs relating to Lizzie Kasper’ first marriage, at age 34, on 26 November 1902, to to Finnish migrant Karl Oscar Niuman, aged 40. The wedding certificate records that Karl was a master mariner.
The Five Sons
The authors of Pine Grove record that Charlie was a publican by trade.
‘He held the licences for the Criterion Hotel in Otahuhu, the Railway and Royal Hotel in Drury, the Cornwall Arms in Thames.’
Later, they record that when he moved to Taranaki, he held the licence for four hotels in that province. A racing enthusiast, he owned and raced trotters.
We learned from the authors of that ‘Pine Grove’ publication that Fred Kasper and fellow Mahurangi resident Fred Dawson used to row their respective Mahurangi punts up the Mahurangi River to Warkworth, to shop. They would row up-river on the incoming tide, and boast about who used the fewest strokes of the oars to get there. Shopping done, they’d then sit on the wharf and ‘yak’ until the tide turned and, and repeat the rowing challenge on their way home. The Dawson’s Creek entrance was the starting / finishing point for their challenges.
Fred Kasper had always lived at Mahurangi Heads. In 1909, Fred married. His wife Annie went to live with him at the Heads. Annie started a Sunday School at the Heads, which she ran each Sunday, walking the long trail to(and from) the school, in all weather conditions. She was focused on winning the children ‘to Christ’s Kingdom’. Later in life she went to live in Warkworth, and went on to buy Bridge House Lodge in Elizabeth Street, Warkworth. Annie became a JP, and involved herself in many local causes, including Woman’s Christian temperance Union, and the Presbyterian Church. Hugh Kasper’s wife Amy similarly involved herself in the Temperance Union.
The Second Generation Master Mariners Jack, Hugh & Harry Kasper
Aside from Charles Kasper (snr), the three other master mariners in the Kasper family were John [Jack] , Hugh, and Henry [Harry]. Between them, they had a considerable fleet of vessels, but they didn’t necessarily retain any particular vessel for any length of time. The authors of the ‘Pine Grove’ monograph fairly comment that:
“[Charles’] male progeny amounted to a dynasty of scow men. Scows passed round the family like currency. It is not surprising that the Kasper name was very well known along the river and the Auckland waterfront.”
Briefly commenting in turn on each of these mariners:
The authors of ‘Pine Grove’ note that Jack:
“ … was a familiar figure in the coastal trade in charge of scows and cutters plying out of Auckland for nearly 50 years. He learned his trade from his father … on the cutter ‘Clyde’. He owned eight ships, including five scows.”
The authors include a quote (attributed to Tudor Collins) that:
“He’d made his money out of boats … I never remember him going to sea in my time; he just superintended everything to the finest detail, about whither, whence and what cargoes were to be carried.”
One of Jack’s vessels was a scow named Maggie, which was built in 1902. Jack owned and traded using the vessel until 1905 (at which stage he sold it to his brother Hugh). The vessel had dimensions of 62ft 5in, x 17ft 5in by 3ft 2in. Later, in discussing Hugh Kasper, we provide some images of this boat.
Jack, like his younger brother Harry, had a bach at Schoolhouse Bay. This probably explains why we have found old photographs depicting scows at anchor in the waters of that bay. Here’s one of them … unfortunately, a rather ‘fragile’ image … which illustrates that scene:
Another such Schoolhouse Bay image (taken from a different vantage point) can be found in our Burton Wells vignette.
Among the various boats owned by Hugh Kasper, were Thistle (in 1922, and in 1926-1927), and the Maggie (scow, 1905-1920).
Thistle was built in 1894, by Davey Darroch at Omaha; its dimensions were 61ft 1in by 16ft 7in by 3ft 2in.
In the period 1927-1937, Hugh Kasper’s sons Carl and Ron became subsequent owners of Thistle.
As noted earlier, Hugh’s brother Jack had been the first owner of the vessel Maggie, which had been built in 1902. Hugh acquired the boat in 1905.
The photograph below shows the vessel being loaded with firewood.
On one occasion, the ship took on water, and was far lower in the water, as evidenced by the image below:
It isn’t clear when Hugh ceased to own Maggie. However, we know that in 1943, Maggie went to Sydney. By 1945 she was in New Guinea, where she was condemned.
Harry had the largest fleet of boats among all the Kasper families. Between 1901 and 1936, he owned (in the aggregate) 14 ships, including eight scows.
Among the boats in his oft-changing fleet was Lena, which was built in 1905. It had a length of 45ft 7in. He first owned this during the period 1917-1919, and again later, between 1928-1934. The picture below shows some crew members aboard the craft.
Through the period 1907-1913, Harry owned the scow Edith. A vessel with a length of 58ft 5in.
For a short while, in 1921, Harry owned the scow Vesper, which had been built in 1902, and had a length of 76ft 8in.
From 1916-1918, Harry owned the renowned scow ‘Jane Gifford’.
Hugh Kasper’s sons, Carl and Ron Kasper, subsequently owned and sailed the Jane Gifford during the period from 1937 to 1958. Ownership then changed hands a few times, and the condition of the vessel deteriorated dramatically. Eventually, in 2001, the Jane Gifford Restoration Trust acquired the scow’s residual hull. With considerable community involvement (including fund-raising), the Trust restored the scow to its present pristine condition. We’ve been told that the vessel is the last remaining fully rigged scow in New Zealand.
The Changing of the Guard
John Parker (Margaret Kasper’s step-father) died, aged nearly 92 years, in 1897. In an obituary in the New Zealand Herald of 8 July 1897, it is recorded that:
“For many years he worked in farming operations. When he became too feeble, he gave the farm over to his step daughter Mrs [Margaret] Kasper with whom he and his wife had resided for many years.”
His body was interred at the Mahurangi Heads Presbyterian Church cemetery. The ubiquitous Reverend McKinney officiated. Our vignette on Mahurangi Heads Presbyterian Church includes a photograph of John Parker’s gravestone.
Charles Ludwig Kasper died on 12 September 1888. He is buried in the Mahurangi Heads Presbyterian Church Cemetery. His original grave and headstone is depicted in this photograph:
Charles’ wife, Margaret Ann, survived for many more years, dying on 12 May 1922. She too is buried at that cemetery. Here is the collective remembrance headstone that is in place for Charles and Margaret:
You’ll find another Kasper family burial plot scene on our web page relating to the Mahurangi Heads Presbyterian Church.
The Kasper Property
We now move on to discuss the subsequent dwellings.
It seems that at the time the third dwelling (ie: the Kasper homestead) was built, there was an existing cottage on the Pine Grove site. Kasper historians told us that this subsequently was demolished. We confess we’ve learned very little about this second dwelling. However, it seems logical that after the 1878 fire, the Kasper family would have had to fairly promptly establish some alternative accommodation. It may well be (but we can’t confirm) that the cottage was the interim accommodation they built and used as a prelude to the homestead being built and available for occupation. We have many unanswered questions about this dwelling … but they will have to await further research on our part.
The third dwelling, the homestead, was a substantial structure, and we imagine it was more substantial than either of its predecessors. That would be logical given the increasing size of Charles and Margaret’s family. Family records indicate that this building was built ‘to the left of the location of the first house, facing the sea’. That observation begs the question as to whether that ‘left of’ is when viewing the property from the land, or from the sea.
The original homestead consisted of the kitchen, lounge and two bedrooms. Even today there is a staircase in the kitchen that is made of kauri, and leads up to the attic rooms on top … the ones with the dormer windows. Within a very short space of time, Charles added a hallway, two bedrooms and a front entrance along the side facing the sea. In the context of the present day building, this is the extended part of the building, that juts out at the front … the portion with the nice-shaped windows.
Set out below is a small selection of images which give an idea of the appearance of this homestead. The first two images show the property at a relatively early stage of its existence. However, once Fred Kasper had sold the property in 1927, as shown in the third and fourth photograph, the structure of the dwelling progressively became somewhat weathered and jaded-looking.
At first glance it may seem to you that this fourth photograph surely can’t have been the building pictured in the previous three photographs. However, if you look carefully, you’ll see clear similarities between aspects of the building (rear view, fourth image, above), and that in the earlier photograph of the homestead (front view, second image, above).
Then, looking further at this fourth image, you might wonder why we can’t see indicia of the dormer windows. The consensus of opinion between the Kasper historians and ourselves is that those windows would have been present (on the front side of the house, which is out of view), but they are located very slightly below the roofline (as seen from the angle from which the fourth photograph was taken).
The essential structure and lines of the homestead building (as best depicted in the third of our photographs of the homestead) has subsequently remained the core of the present house that today still exists by the Mahurangi Harbour shoreline. Of course, over time, the building has been extensively modified, extended, and its underlying structure improved. Some of the windows still contain original Victorian glass which is very thin and uneven, and the ceiling in the lounge is hand adzed.
You might care to compare that third image of the homestead with the front-on image of the building as it appears today:
One of the items of information we had available to us was from a tape recording which Kasper historians have of a senior Kasper family member, Letitia Scotts, talking of a cottage to the left (perhaps, looking from the harbour side of the property, to the right) of the existing house. She referred to Lizzie having held her wedding reception there and that photos had been taken on the flat in front of it. She said the cottage facing the sea, and was later demolished. Greg Kasper (who currently occupies Pine Grove) has made available to us a wedding photo that appears to show part of the ceiling within the Kasper homestead (as still preserved within the lounge of the presently existing house).
Fred Kasper sold the property in 1927 … with it only returning to Kasper family ownership in April 2014. During that interregnum, the homestead was extensively modified by some of the people who became subsequent owners of that property.
One of those subsequent owners was Rob Harvey, who, in the 1970s, initiated extensive additions to the back wing of the ‘main house’. Those extensions included the adding of another bedroom, a bathroom, a dressing room, and laundry. About this time, the original verandah (which had been ‘curved’) was replaced by the ‘straight’ verandah evident in the earlier photograph showing a current view of the Pine Grove homestead.
In 2000, the house was completely renovated by Pam Martin.
Below is a photograph of the house and its immediate surrounds, as they appear today.
During the period Rob Harvey had owned the property, he had built oyster processing sheds on the foreshore, and commenced a business cleaning and preparing fresh Mahurangi oysters for export.
The oyster business closed down in 2004, during the period Pam Martin owned the property. Apart from the old factory canteen and the oyster depuration shed (where, in line with MAF requirements, the oysters were ‘cleansed of impurities’), all the remaining factory buildings on the site were demolished.
It seems clear, from the information we’ve learned and copies of documentation we’ve seen, that Charles and Margaret, together with their offspring, collectively became substantial owners of land in the area between the upper reaches of the peninsula and the Algies Bay shoreline. For example, one undated survey map we’ve seen shows 85 acres of Kasper land on the Mahurangi shoreline, and 188 acres of land on the Algies bay shoreline.
The authors of ‘Pine Grove’ explain that after Charles Kasper’s death, Fred, with his wife Annie, their children (a daughter, Letitia … known as Lettie, and a son, Malcolm) together with Fred’s sister Maggie, lived at Pine Grove until the property was sold in 1927. It seems that at that time, the overall land area was about 160 acres. The property then passed through a succession of successive owners.
In 1977 the acre of waterfront land upon which the presently existing homestead stands was sold by the Brown family to Rob Harvey. In the early 1980s, the Harvey property and business passed to the Martin family, at which time the name of the property was changed to ‘Tide Farm’.
In 1985, the Martins augmented this acreage by buying c.12 acres from the Brown family.
In April 2014, the wheel of ownership came full circle when the ‘Pine Grove Trust’ (under the guidance of Kasper family descendants Greg and Geraldine Kasper ) purchased the property.
The Kasper family summary of the sequence of ownership changes is reproduced below:
We have not verified any of the information disclosed on this table.
The last two legal owners are family trusts, though (by common perceptions) the effective ‘owner / occupier’ is as stated
We were given to understand that the original Pine Grove land area amounted to 12 acres. Given that, in 1995, Kasper interests already held one acre, we wondered whether the 1995 land area acquired was perhaps only 11 acres.
Other Things we have Learned Along the Way
Among the other things we learned while researching and compiling this vignette was the fact that the Rural Delivery mail service to Mahurangi Heads commenced about 1945. That is when (what is now known as) Ridge Road first was opened … a relatively narrow (clayey) dirt road. An mid-20th century map we saw showed the road, and depicted it as the continuation of Mahurangi East Road, and labelled it as Mahurangi East Road. We’re not sure when the name change to ‘Ridge Road’ occurred. Or perhaps the maps depiction of the road, and its name as shown on it, was a cartographical error: we just don’t know.
Local resident Denis Willers commented that:
“Until very recently … (a utility company supplying services to our area) … had the address of our property as … ‘Mahurangi Heads Road’. I believe some other old properties may have had the same physical address until recent years. … I think you might well find that in the late 1950s, when our property was first built on, that that may have been the name, and Ridge Road followed later. However I think the old subdivision maps say Ridge Road. Maybe there was confusion when the legal road in the subdivision met up with the actual road from Algies Bay.”