Topic: Mount Misery Farm (Tauranga)

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Mount Misery was a farm of 101 acres belonging to William Henry James Poole at Pyes Pa in Tauranga. The farm was affected by cobalt deficiency, hence the name 'Mount Misery,' until William came up with a solution. The original Maori name for the Mount Misery Peak from old military maps is Tutaiwhata, however Ngai Te Rangi's abbreviated term 'Tutu' is commonly used. Story by Debbie McCauley.

William Henry James Poole was born in Foxton on 6 August 1879. He trained as a dentist and the family moved to Tauranga in 1908. William served during World War I (Service Number: 40684), as a Lieutenant with the Royal New Zealand Dental Corps.

He returned to Tauranga in May 1919. William had to give up his dental practice due to ill health and was advised to lead an outdoor life.

William purchased 101 acres of fern and gorse on Pyes Pa Road from Mr W Lowe. The farm stretched towards Oropi. He started breaking in the land in 1922 when he faced sickness in his animals, generally known as 'bush sickness'. William's favourite Jersey cow died suddenly and he carried out a post-mortum during which he found a greatly enlarged heart and very little blood in the animal. 

Visiting his chemist friend, Mr Mirrielees, they worked out a dosage plan to treat anemia in animals with Citrate of Iron and Ammonia. Eventually all the animals on Mount Misery were treated with this mixture with increased health. Eventually a Mr Grimmett heard of William's work and visited and a friendship developed. B C Aston, chief chemist with the Department of Agriculture, also visited and used the mixture on their farm.

Tauranga MP Charles Edward Duncan Angus Evan Ewan Macmillan (1872-1941) became Minister of Agriculture and took a great interest in bush sickness, authorising the chemical to be sold through the Stock Department and later through the Dairy Company.

This painting of Mount Misery is by Charles's wife, Ethel Macmillan, and dates from c1925. It shows William's daughter, Evelyn Gwynne Poole (1919-2016) as well as his farm at Pyes Pa. The artwork is held by the Tauranga Heritage Collection:

Mount Misery by Ethel Macmillan (c1925)

In around 1930 William sold Mount Misery and moved to Katikati where they bought a farm at Waitakohe on which the old butter factory stood. Although there was no bush sickness on the land at Katikati, it was of a lesser fertility than Tauranga so that brought it's own problems.

By 1935 it was discovered that 6 parts per million of cobalt was necessary to control bush sickness. All the iron compounds used earlier were found to have contained cobalt. 

William died at Grace Road in Tauranga on 12 April 1961 (reg. 1961/28326) at the age of 82. 



Bay of Plenty Times (5 February 1929). Converting Gorse Covered Waste Land (p. 3).

Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Centaph Database (Auckland War Memorial Museum).

Matthews, Cliff (July/September 1965). District Place Names: Mount Misery. In Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society (No. 25).

Military Personnel File (Archives New Zealand).

Poole, Winton (August 1971). Colbal Deficiency in the Tauranga District. Journal of the Tauranga Historical Society (Inc.), No. 43, pp.20-22.


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Mount Misery Farm (Tauranga)

First Names:William Henry James
Last Name:Poole
Date of Birth:6 August 1879
Place of Birth:Foxton
Country of birth:Tauranga
Date of death:12 April 1961
Place of death:Grace Road, Tauranga, New Zealand
Spouses name:May Hardwicke Webber
Spouses date of birth:1879
Spouses place of birth:New Zealand
Spouses date of death:1965
Spouses place of death:New Zealand
Date of marriage:13 April 1907
Place of marriage:Marrackville, Sydney, Australia
Fathers name:Duncan Alfred Poole
Fathers date of birth:7 February 1843
Fathers place of birth:St Margaret, Westminster, Middlesex, England
Fathers date of death:7 December 1925
Fathers place of death:Argyll Street, Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand
Mothers name:Eliza Maria Symons
Mothers date of birth: 3 March 1856
Mothers date of death: 22 June 1948
Mothers place of death:Douglas Street, Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand