Topic: Gamman Sawmills (Tauranga)
In 1908 the Gamman brothers started constructing a mill at Oropi and in 1911 another at Omanawa Falls and later at Mamaku. Story researched and written by Debbie McCauley.
Samuel John Gamman was with the Royal Engineers. On 22 February 1859 he married Eliza Woodcock in Brompton in Kent, England. Samuel emigrated to New Zealand, arriving in Lyttleton on 11 July 1959 on board the 'Cameo' from London. In 1863 Eliza followed. They had ten children together:
- Henry Francis Gamman (1863-1958). Born on 8 June 1864 at Akaroa, Canterbury (reg. 1864/15474). He married Ada Neilsen on 16 October 1907 (reg. 1907/7128). Francis died in Hastings on 4 April 1958.
- George Albert Gamman (1866-1932). Born on 31 December 1866 at Akaroa, Canterbury (reg. 1866/8671). He married Jessie Mary Murphy (c1869-1919) in 1890. George died in Rotorua on 4 May 1932 (reg. 1932/12989). He was buried in Rotorua Cemetery.
- William Alfred Gamman (1867-1939). Born on 6 October 1867 at Akaroa, Canterbury (reg. 1867/25911). He married Annie Matilda Terry (1875-1958) in 1909 (reg. 1909/2074). William died in 1939 (reg. 1939/17539).
- Charles Walter Gamman (1870-1955). Born in 1870 in Akaroa, Canterbury. He married Flora Beatrice Broome (1878-1960) in 1902 (reg. 1902/1496). Charles died in Tauranga on 19 February 1955. He was buried in the Tauranga Methodist Cemetery.
- Rosina Gamman (1871-1958). Born on 29 June 1871 at Oxford, Canterbury (reg. 1871/27554). She married Samuel Sergeant in 1891. Rosina died in Dannevirke on 28 September 1958.
- Elizabeth Jane Gamman (1873-1874). Born on 6 April 1873 (reg. 1873/24793). She died at 10 months of age in February 1874 at Oxford in Canterbury.
- Thomas Gamman (1874-1874). Born on 18 August 1874 (reg. 1874/45019). He died in Oxford, Canterbury, aged 6 weeks on 9 October 1874.
- Ernest Edward Gamman (1875-1935). Born on 14 October 1875 at Oxford, Canterbury (reg. 1875/13942). He married Alice Turner in 1906 (reg. 1906/7498). Ernest died in Tauranga on 8 October 1935.
- Laura Gamman (1877-1966). Born on 4 July 1877 in Oxford, Canterbury. Laura married Arthur William Carmichael on 16 April 1906. She died in New Plymouth on 14 March 1966.
- Arthur Frederick Gamman (1881-1971). Born in 1881 in Feilding (reg. 1881/6722). He married Delilah May Cole (1883-1908) on 20 December 1906 (reg. 1906/6185). Arthur died in Tauranga on 4 January 1971. He was buried in Tauranga Anglican Cemetery on 7 January 1971, aged 89.
Samuel worked as a sawmiller in Dannevirke. At the time of his death at the Makotuku Hotel on 27 May 1901 he was contracting to the Hawke's Bay Timber Company.
In 1904 brothers George Albert Gamman and William Alfred Gamman, sawmillers of Dannevirke, were ordered to pay compensation for an employee who suffered crushed fingers when oiling an engine on 9 May 1903.
In February 1908 the Gamman’s were involved in a case about disputed timber leases in Ratihi.
Later in 1908 the Gamman brothers started construction of the Tauranga Sawmilling Company at Oropi bringing in machinery from Dannevirke. This mill would operate until 1915.
In 1911 G A Gamman and Co. purchased around 17,500 acres of bush near Omanawa. In June 1911 30 tons of machinery was delivered for Gamman’s Mill at Omanawa Falls by the SS Aupouri. Near to Omanawa Falls the Gamman’s built tramlines running into the bush to haul out logs for their newly built mill. The tramlines ran to the banks of the Wairoa River, near the area known today as Tauriko (Tauranga Rimu Company). Timber from the mill was transported by boat to the city of Auckland and other main centres. The company also ran a telephone line through to Tauranga. At the time Gamman’s Mill employed around 25 men, with an extra 15 working in the bush and axemen from the mill often won prizes in local competitions.
n 12 November 1913 a fire completely destroyed Gamman’s Mill, damage being estimated at £3,000. The 100 people employed at the mill had gone on strike the previous day. 1,000,000 feet of timber were saved but insurance only covered £1500. The mill was rebuilt.
Several men employed by Gamman’s Mill left to fight during World War I. Some of those were:
- Raymond John Baker (1890-1915) millhand at Omanawa Falls - Killed in Action: Gallipoli
- Charles Ebenezer Bannatyne (1882-1917) bushman at Omanawa Falls - Killed in Action: Belgium
- John Ellison (1881-1918) bushman at Omanawa Falls - Killed in Action: France
- Harry Dickson Rikihana (1894-1918) labourer at Omanawa Falls - Tuberculosis, Influenza Pandemic
- Charles Walter Allan Lilley (1896-1918) millhand at Omanawa Falls - Killed in Action: France
- George Puhi Nicholas (1895-1988) bushman at Omanawa Falls - Corporal in New Zealand Maori Pioneer Battalion
- William Simpson (1878-1916) bushman at Omanawa Falls - Killed in Action:France
- Sydney Elliott Skellern (1895-1915) millhand at Omanawa Falls - Died of Wounds:Gallipoli
In around 1922, and with the bush around the mill felled, the mill was moved from Omanawa Falls to Mamaku.
Births, Deaths and Marriages New Zealand (Online).
Cyclopedia of New Zeland (Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts (1908): Wood Trade - Gamman, G.A., and Company.
Stokes, Evelyn (1980). A History of Tauranga County (pp. 273-274).
Tauranga Historical Society Journal (1970, December, No. 41, pp. 36-27).