Taumarunui’s First Motor Vehicle.

Over the years there have been many interesting articles written about early motoring/motorcycling in New Zealand. The problem is that most have disappeared into the dusty archives of historical libraries or into skip bins full of old waste paper to be recycled for more newer interesting articles on motoring. They call it the full circle.

Well, the article below escaped from that cycle and first appeared in an interesting monthly publication called Roll Back the Years that covered the early days of Taumarunui and its surrounding areas. That was 35 years ago now and even though the first volume has gathered a little bit of dust sitting on my bookcase it still provides an interesting insight into how things were and how far we have come.

It is reproduced here with full acknowledgement to the efforts of Ron Cooke who was the editor and publisher of Roll Back the Years. Read on —

How about that! The very first vehicle registered in Taumarunui was a motorcycle. Notice the number plate, which our sources tell us stands for Taumarunui 1. Apparently all vehicles in the early days were registered with the local authority.

The postcard reproduced above has been loaned by one of our subscribers, Don Sanders, of Hamilton, whose father Dolf is shown proudly standing with his brand new Bradbury bike. On the back of the postcard, postmarked 29/6/1910, was a newspaper clipping which reads :

The first sale of a motor-bicycle in the King Country was recently reported by the Taumarunui Press. The buyer was Mr Sanders, builder, of Manunui. The machine is at present being tested about Taumarunui. It is a ‘Bradbury, 3 ½ hp, free engine and is a remarkable hill-climber. The Press says that it ran up the Rangaroa hill as easily as on the level ground. Mr D. Brown is the Masterton agent for the “Bradbury”.

Mr Sanders tells us that he purchased his fathers old bike after it was found under a house where it had lain for many years. He intends to restore it, with the aid of the photograph, to its former glory.


Footnote 2016 – Don Sanders is no longer with us however he did complete the restoration and used it on a few rallies.