The following figures from the Department of statistics’ Censuses of Population and dwellings reveal the growth of Pleasant Point over the years.

Prior to the formation of the Town Board in 1908, the boundaries defining Pleasant Point were much greater than those of the present township, hence the greater population numbers for that period.

Census Year Population Inhabited Dwellings
1888 490
1881 509
1901 749
1906 691 122
(1908)
1916 482 141
1926 570 136
1936 575 141
1945 483 142
1956 755
1966 858 220
(1964)
1976 1019 337
1986 1100 397

Pupils from Form II of Pleasant Point High School have undertaken a comprehensive survey of the township on four occasions — 1974, 1978, 1982 and 1987. The outcome of these surveys is interesting but the real significance of the studies becomes apparent when each is compared with the others.

The growth of the township is above that of the national average.

In 1978, the population of 1051 showed an average rise of four percent whereas the national average for the same period was 0.87 per cent.

The decline in the farming economy resulted in a drift of farm workers and their families to the township, e.g. seven in 1978 and eighteen in 1987.

Fewer people now living in the township are employed there: 173 in 1978, 222 in 1982 and 164 in 1987.

Changes in occupation were also evident in the survey:

Tradesmen: 49 in 1978, 29 in 1982, 20 in 1987, brought about by a decline in the building trade.

Stock Agents and Agricultural Representatives: 11 in 1978, 17 in 1982 and 6 in 1987, caused by amalgamation of mercantile firms and closure of saleyards.

Motor Trade and Transport Workers: 18 in 1978, 17 in 1982 and 29 in 1987.

Shop Owners and Assistants: 42 in 1978, 43 in 1982, 33 in 1987.

Factory Workers: 24 in 1978, 12 in 1982, and 21 in 1987. The cycle factory was responsible for the increase.

School Teachers: 28 in 1978, 37 in 1982, 39 in 1987. More teachers have chosen to live in the township rather than commute from Timaru.

Retired: 86 in 1978, 124 in 1982, 161 in 1987. Pleasant Point is becoming increasingly popular as a retirement centre.

The most common reason given in the questionnaire for living in Pleasant Point was the quiet, co-operative, friendly community. Another positive reason quoted was the proximity to Timaru and easy access to Christchurch, Dunedin and the Southern Lakes.

Epilogue

I hope this book has given readers an outline of Pleasant Point’s development from its small beginnings as a stop-over point for up-country waggoners to the township we know today.

Each generation has accepted the responsibility of maintaining and improving on what has been established by their predecessors and, whatever has been undertaken, has been done with the full support of the entire district.

Whenever a worthwhile project has been mooted, be it Town Hall, Swimming Baths or School amenities, most of the money has been raised from endless fund raising activities in the form of sales tables, fairs, stock drives, etc. involving a great deal of hard work by dedicated people.

Over the last two decades, we have seen the effects of centralisation and amalgamation bringing about the loss of services we have hitherto taken for granted or regarded as our civic rights — saleyards, the railway, public transport and, now, the Post Office.

What, we may ask, is the future of this attractive township? Will the congenial life-style of a small community prevail or shall we become a satellite town for the city of Timaru? Will this age of technology with the wonders of the silicon chip give rise to further changes and even more redundancies in the district?

An article in the Temuka Leader of 8 November, 1879 suggests that it is merely a case of history repeating itself:

The Point township is in danger of being dealt with as were often told of inland town settlers, they would be in danger of being swallowed up by its ferocious neighbour, Timaru. We can again warn the Point settlers that they should be more watchful, or their little properties will go for nothing if our powerful enemy is not kept in check.

Watchful, they must have been. Our township has grown and flourished for over a hundred years since those words were written.

Let us hope that succeeding generations will display the same qualities of resilience and resourcefulness whilst acknowledging that, although the city and the country are interdependent, they still need to maintain their separate entities.

Acknowledgements

My thanks are due to the following for information on the topics listed:

Mrs I. Rogerson — Gospel Hall Brethren; Mr M. Denne — Railways; Mr G. Howey — Fire Brigade; Miss G. Henderson — Tennis and Miniature Rifle Clubs; Mr G. Davison — Golf Club: Mrs Jean Clarke — Plunket Society; Mr M. Blakemore — Saleyards: Mr L. Blakemore — R.S.A.; Mr R. Blakemore — Farm School; Mr P. Scannell — Tug 0‘ War; Mr G. Frame — Transport Business; Mr F. Bartrum — Honey Production.

My personal thanks also to the staff of Timaru Public Library, Timaru Herald and Pioneer Museum. Mrs S. Ottley, Secretary of Strathallan County Council for help and co-operation with my research; to Mr Wm. Wells and Mr Wm. Crawford for help in answering so many questions for me and to the people interviewed and recorded on tape by the students; to Mrs D. James for typing my manuscripts; to Mr E. Feasey, Tim Hawkins and Keith Mitchell for cover photos.

A tribute must be paid to both the late Beattie Smith and Amy Neilson without whose work this book might never have been started. Beattie’s contribution of written material and her work in compiling a photographic record from Amy Neilson’s outstanding collection of photographs which she had bequeathed to the Railway and Historical Society have formed the nucleus of this history.

The Committee gratefully acknowledges the financial backing given by Trust Bank South Canterbury towards the cost of publication, also the 1990 Special Grant and Mr Newsome’s substantial donation.

References

Timaru Herald past issues; Temuka Leader; Jubilee History of South Canterbury by Johannes Anderson; South Canterbury v A Record of Settlement by CA. Gillespie; High Country by Wm. Vance; Encyclopedia of Canterbury; Early South Canterbury Runs by A. Woodhouse; Jubilee Publications of P.P.D.H.S.; St Joseph‘s School; St Mary’s Church; St. Alban‘s Church; St John’s Church; St. Martin‘s Lodge; True Grit; N.Z. Police.

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