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Dick Kibblewhite

Posted by SCe Comments Off on Dick Kibblewhite

Dick and Celia Kibblewhite

Richard (Dick) Kibblewhite was an Auckland architect who tried to subdivide Piha in the 1920s, starting as early as 1923. Advertising in his Auckland CBD office street frontage was his infant daughter Betty making sandcastles with black West Coast sand to attract the attention of passers-by.

Called West Coast Estates, Kibblewhites subdivisions were very large, at Piha incorporating Piha itself with “water laid on” and “fine rambles”; the Kauri Park, between Piha beach and the bush-clad Auckland City Council water catchment area, with “stony bottom creeks” and “good shooting”; the Ocean Glades, essentially the Garden Road area, with a mile long avenue of pohutukawa, leading to the Nikau Glade; and finally the Waitakere Park, a huge tableland high above the sea with wonderful views and “front rank in the health resports of the Dominions”.

1000 sections were offered from £35 to £195 each, but Dick was taking a gamble. He did not own the land outright. It was heavily mortgaged to the Rayners and Dick needed to sell sections to make it all work.

The family went to live at Piha in the villa built for the Railways Clerk while the Piha Mill was running. Dick earnestly pursued his enterprise, but it was doomed to failure as there was no real road down from the top of Piha Hill to the valley and the country was in a slump.

In May 1929 he filed for bankruptcy. The eventual failure of the scheme went back to 1922 when Kibblewhite acquired the Beachlands estate as an exchange. This he subdivided and sales went very well. Kibblewhite decided to expand his development interests. At the end of 1923 Kibblewhite formed a small syndicate and the Piha estate was purchased in his name for £12,090.

A deposit of £1500 pounds was made with a £10,590 mortgage taken by Kibblewhite. The syndicate spent several thousand pounds developing the subdivision. In 1925, Kibblewhite bought out his partners and went it alone.

However, sales at the Beachlands subdivision tailed off and Piha was not going well. The whole £8000 profit he made at Beachlands was sunk into Piha, and the sections there had simply not sold. .

In 1927 Kibblewhite tried to sell Piha to the Auckland City Council as a reserve so he could continue to finance the Beachlands subdivision. Nothing eventuated with the Council, and repayments on the Piha land slipped behind. In 1928 he had to hand Piha back to the Rayners and he also sold his remaining interest in the Beachlands subdivision. But this was not enough to save him and bankruptcy ensued.

It was not until the Rayner Estate began marketing sections in the 1930s  after the road had been built by Relief Workers in the Depression that purchases began in ernest.

But Dick Kibblewhite did not come out of the whole thing empty handed. He bought his own section on top of the dunes in Beach Valley Road and built a bach which the family enjoyed for years.

Betty Kibblewhite playing Snap, with Rupert Morton, brother of author Elsie Morton, at the Railway Clerk’s house, where the Kibblewhites lived during the 1920s.

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