The Ten Wonders of ‘Wilkie’
Father of Eltham: Charles Anderson Wilkinson. Image: Alexander Turnbull Library
In 1884, Chew Chong opened a new store at Eltham and gave 16-year-old Charles Anderson Wilkinson the job as manager.
Two years later, at age 18, he became Eltham's Post Master. He is believed to be the youngest person in New Zealand to have ever held that role.
Wilkinson was the force behind Eltham getting New Zealand's first macadam (tar-seal) road in 1906.
In 1918, as MP for Egmont, Wilkinson fought and won the battle for the controversial law that forced the 6 o'clock closing of hotels.
He commissioned architect J.W. Chapman-Taylor to design an English-style stone and timber beam house at Pukearuhe in North Taranaki. This is known as ‘Wilkinson's Castle’ and still stands today.
He was responsible for New Zealand minting its own coinage in 1933.
In 1936, he narrowly missed out on being the first leader of the New Zealand National Party, a role that would have seen him become Prime Minister.
Wilkinson was the Mayor of Eltham from 1941 to 1947.
He became a mercantile giant, with the franchise for Portland Cement, which came through New Plymouth's Port Taranaki.
In 1951, Wilkinson was made a Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition of his long years of public service.
First published 24 April 2003
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Eltham & Districts Historical Society
Cnr Bridge and York Streets, Eltham (open Thursday - Friday 1pm - 3.30pm or ring for an appointment)
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Resources include: Early copies of Eltham Argus newspaper; Valuation rolls; Land titles; Local district resources and considerable local research material.
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