Coatesville

History

Back in the day...

Coatesville has a long and varied history, from early Maori settlement to Kauri logging, gum digging and more ...

We actually have little knowledge of Maori occupation in the area prior to 1900. The farming settlement established by that time was originally known as Fernielea until 1926 when it was renamed Coatesville in honour of the Prime Minister, the Hon. J. Gordon Coates (who was born on the northern Kaipara) who kept his election promise to have the dangerous clay tracks metalled.

In books on the history of the region, references can be found to Gumfields™ in the area was a large settlement called Puketui where the forest lookout is now. Around 1900 there is a reference to land being sold beside the Rangitopuni River for one pound an acre it was covered in manuka, ake ake and pitted with deep holes left by the gum diggers. The family who purchased it cleared the land and sowed grass, but as it was unfenced the cows often strayed as far as Sunnyside Road.

There were no shops for miles around, so in 1922, the Moss family started selling groceries from a spare room in their house, and later from a store they built near their front gate. Bread and meat came from Albany twice a week. Several years later they built a store on the main road possibly now the dairy.

The Coatesville Settlers Hall was built in 1926, by local residents, of weatherboard with an iron roof. It was moved back from its original position with its frontage right on Mahoenui Valley Road, renovated and extended following the fire in 2001 which destroyed the rear kitchen area and caused smoke damage to the entire interior.

It is not known when the reserve was acquired by the local council; however it has been in existence throughout the memory of current residents. In 1994 the then Rodney District Council purchased the adjacent farm and considerably extended the footprint of the reserve.

In 2003 the District Council re-located the horse arena to its current location for the use of the Pony Club, enabling the establishment of the Village Green. 

Bumpy roads

Things haven't always gone smoothly...

Early roads were clay which bogged up in the winter months making transport difficult. Joseph Gordon Coates when he was Prime Minister in 1926 visited what was then Fernilea and promised to have the main road mettalled. It remained in this condition through the war years and it was not until the 1950s that the main road was sealed.

The side roads however contunued to be metal through until the late 1980s when some seal extensions appeared, often only for a few hundred metres off the main road. In the 1990s as "lifestyle blocks" became more popular there was a demand for sealing to be extended. Through the efforts of the local community supported by the Residents & Ratepayers Asspociation pressure was brought to bear on Council. Today, there are no roads in the are which are not sealed.