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Jade River: A History of the Mahurangi

Ronald H Locker
First published 2001. Published online 2014–. This online edition is a work in progress…


Kauri logger to back aboard

Kopowai River kauri-driving dam

Forest War Photographer: Narrowly missing the need to serve in the First World War, while working for his well-known brother Bert, Tudor Collins magnificently documented the last concerted assault on New Zealand’s kauri forests. Lacking a Tudor Collins image of a Kauaeranga Valley kauri-driving dam, this is his of that constructed across the Kopowai River, on the opposing side of the Coromandel Range. photographer Tudor Collins

Tudor Collin’s apprenticeship on the Kasper scows came to an end during the First World War.

He went into camp at Trentham and had sailed for the front when the troopship was turned around by the armistice. Tudor went back to the family home in Warkworth. In 1921 he began a new adventure by joining his brother Bert, who had undertaken one of the last great kauri logging contracts, in the formidable Kauaeranga Valley. Here Tudor shared the hard and adventurous life of the loggers, and in spare moments laid the foundation of his fame as a photographer.

After a year or so he returned to Warkworth. About 1924 he started a photographic shop and married. But before this settling down, Tudor worked with his brother Reginald Eaton Collins on his scow. After marriage he continued in this work on a share basis.

Bert Collins kauri-logging gang tea break

Smiling Bert Collins: Whether his brother Tudor would have got a smile out of him or not is unknown, but another photographer recorded Bert Collins, centre, and his kauri-logging gang on a tea break at Woodland Road, Katikati. photographer Doug Baker | Western Bay of Plenty Community Archives

The famous scow Jane Gifford had been well built by Davey Darroch at Omaha in 1905, two years before he built the Lena Gladys. Reginald—‘Reg’—bought her in 1916, and ran her for many years from Warkworth, before selling her to Ron and Carl Kasper. She became the last scow to work out of Auckland. When Captain Bert Subritzky retired her in 1985 after 77 years of service, she was presented to a group at Waiuku for restoration. In 1993 she was relaunched, ostensiblyoriginally published sans ‘ostensibly’ made new.

Reg was as well-known in the Hauraki Gulf as his brother Bert was in the kauri forest. Ted Ashby wrote:

Jane Gifford was owned and run for many years in the stock trade by Reg Collins. He was a good man with stock, a strong man on a wheelbarrow and a very experienced and capable bushman. Working a cattle scow was a specialised job, and first the Biddicks, then Reg Collins and Bert Wells, then Ron and Carl Kasper, and finally Jock McKinnon in Rahiri, did most of the stock freighting.

The continuation of Tudor’s story that follows, shows with humour why it was a specialist’s job.