Our Patch - Snells Beach: Past tense

Our Patch - Snells Beach: Past tense

Naming rights

Cornish miner James Snell arrived in NZ in 1853, via Canada and Australia. He worked at mines on Great Barrier and Kawau, before moving his wife and six children to Long Beach, which eventually became Snells Beach.

Records show that in January 1854, he purchased 105 acres for £47.5 shillings. James continued to work at the copper mine on Kawau for a further two years, leaving near the end of 1855 to live on his farm until his death. Source, Ancestry.com
 

Early settlers

Among the early settlers at Snells Beach were Dalmatian immigrants who lived in tents on the beach and dug for kauri gum when the tide was out. Maori called the neighbouring bay (Algies Bay) Horahora wai, meaning encroaching waters. Scottish immigrant Alexander Algie and wife Mina, nee Deerness, bought the land further south near Martins Bay, where his brother Samuel had settled in 1867. The family had a boarding house on the beach during the late 1890s but it was closed by 1941. A metal road was built along the eastern peninsular in the 1930s. Source, Snells Beach Residents & Ratepayers Assn.
 

Gum rush

In 1904, a substantial deposit of kauri gum was discovered on the low tide mark at Snells Beach. For three weeks, Messrs Clayden and Parkinson managed to keep it to themselves, enabling them to extract some seven tons of gum. Once the word was out another 40 diggers descended on the beach, working furiously between tides and achieving good results. Three years later, a section of the beach was thrown open and a rush of 250 diggers descended on the beach. Most were new immigrants and it was reported that about 300 pounds of gum was harvested each week. During the 1930s, when unemployment was high and every means of earning needed to be explored, the area was dug over again and sacks of gum were removed.

Source, Warkworth & Districts Museum.


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