Tait Bros

John Tait
born 9 December 1836 Caithness, Scotland
died 8 November 1907 at his residence Weld Street, Hokitika
established 1865
succeeded by Tasma Photographic Co. November 1902

Street scene outside the Golden Age Hotel, Hokitika, photographed by Tait Brothers in 1867.
Reference Number: PA2-1765 Alexander Turnbull Library

John Tait was the son of George Tait and Anne Tait nee Mowatt. He emigrated to Victoria, Australia with his family on the ship "Priam" arriving in August 1852, he was then aged about 15 years. He came to New Zealand about 1864 and set up the photographic studio known as the Caledonian Portrait Rooms in Princess Street, Dunedin with his younger brother Alexander. The business was later known as Tait Bros.

Alexander Tait was born about 1839, he married Alice De Heaume or Du Heamue the daughter of the late Dr. Du Heamue M.D. of Jersey at the Manse in Greymouth on 6 March 1873 by the Rev. Mr. McIntosh
(refer BDM 1872/7370 and West Coast Times, Issue 2344, 4 April 1873, Page 2 )

Tait. — On the 8th inst., at the residence of his grandfather, Mr George Tait, Merino, Victoria, from injuries accidentally received whilst playing, John Leighton De Heaume, aged 12 years, only surviving son of Alexander Tait, late of Greymouth.
West Coast Times , Issue 6404, 31 January 1887, Page 2

Tait family refer here

Mr. John Tait, J. P., was Mayor of Hokitika in the year 1885–86. He was first elected as a member of the Borough Council in 1869, and served for a number of years. Mr. Tait is well known in Hokitika as the local photographer. He is a trustee of the Hokitika Benevolent Society, and of the Westland Hospital, and a member of the Licensing Committee.

Portrait of Gerhard Mueller & Kerei - Photograph taken by Tait Brothers
Reference Number: PA2-1764 Alexander Turnbull library


Mr Tait, of the well-known firm of Tait Bros., of Dunedin, has opened a photographic gallery in Revell street, opposite the Prince of Wales Opera House. The specimens he exhibits display the very perfection of photographic art. They are finely lined and delicately finished, and testify both to the excellence of his apparatus and his own skill as an artist. Mr Tait has already taken cartes of many of our residents and well known visitors, and the fidelity of the likeness will be at once recognised. 
West Coast Times, Issue 179, 16 April 1866, Page 2

Messrs Tait Brothers, the photographers, have succeeded in taking a panoramic view of the town of Greymouth and the scenery beyond, a copy of which has been sent us. The view is in the best style of photographic delineation, and makes a pretty picture. It is taken from the South Spit, and includes a full view of the town, river, and shipping, with a glimpse of Cobden. The hills behind the gorge stand out in good relief, and the summit of the snow-clad range beyond adds to the pictorial effect. This print cannot fail to be appreciated as a picturesque view of the town, and will, no doubt, find numerous purchasers. 

Grey River Argus, Issue 62, 5 June 1866, Page 2

above - Grey River Argus , Issue 82, 21 July 1866, Page 3

We have to acknowledge the receipt from Messrs Tait Brothers, of Hokitika, of a copy of a photograph of the Steam-tug Dispatch, as she now lies on the spit at Hokitika. The photograph is a good one, and it will probably be interesting to all who are concerned in the stranded vessel. Copies may be obtained from the photographers, and those who wish to inspect one can do so at this office. 
Grey River Argus, Volume III, Issue 141, 6 December 1866, Page 2Photography appears to be making considerable progress in Hokitika, and the productions of our photographic artists, Messrs Tait Brothers and Mr Perkins, would compare favorably with those of artists in the same line, not only in New Zealand, but in the other colonies. Both have beautifully executed photographic portraits, and capital collections of views. A short time since, Messrs Mundy and Co., Photographic Artists, of Christchurch, travelled from Lyttelton to Hokitika, taking photographs of the most remarkable points of view on the road. The views of Westland scenery - particularly those taken in the Otira gorge - were splendidly executed, and many copies of the whole series have lately been disposed of, on the Art Union principle. West Coast Times , Issue 845, 8 June 1868, Page 2

THIS DAY. FRIDAY, APRIL 8. At 2 o'clock. Absolute Sale by Auction of Valuable Freeholds. WILLIAM TODD INSTRUCTED by Messrs Tait Bros., will sell by public auction, on the premises —

First — Freehold section 229, Revell street, on which is erected those spacious premises known as Messrs Tait Bros., Photographic Studio, adjoining Mr Price's Butchery Establishment, and opposite the Duke of Edinburgh Theatre, showy plate-glass front and doors, lined with T and G boards, highly finished through-out.

Second — Section 38, Revell-street, on wbich is erected the buildings known as the Hokitika Hospital Reception Rooms.

Third— Section 1,463, 33 x 166 North Revell-street, with five- roomed house erected thereon, lately in the occupation of Mr G. W. Binney.

Fourth — Two-roomed Cottage behind the Catholic Church, double frontage, let to a highly respectable tenant.

In consequence of the continued ill-health of one of the firm, the above choice properties will be sold Without Reserve — Terms at sale. Titles perfect.

Also, in the early part of the week, the whole of the expensive and rare Photographic Instruments and materials. Full particulars in Saturday's issue, the lots now being catalogued. - West Coast Times , Issue 1414, 8 April 1870, Page 3

We are glad to learn that Messrs Tait Brothers, photographers, are not going to leave the Coast. Owing to the illness of the partner residing here it had been decided by the firm to sell off their properly, but fortunately for the public, Mr Tait is improved in health, and has decided on remaining. The Messrs. Tait were the first photographers who visited the Coast, in fact arrived with the earliest settlers, and since then they have enjoyed a large share of the public, patronage. This has been deserved, for they have spared no expense in their establishment, and at all times have been the first to introduce improvements in the photographic art. Recently some excellent views have been taken of the magnificent scenery around Hokitika, which are always on view, and we would recommend those who wish to pass a pleasant half hour to visit the studio of these gentlemen. - West Coast Times, Issue 1415, 9 April 1870, Page 2

Messrs Tait Brothers are at present engaged in preparing for sale copies of a very handsome album, containing views both of town and up-country scenery. The majority of the views are well taken and artistically finished. It is the finest work of the kind yet offered to the Greymouth public, and will, no doubt, secure a large sale. - Grey River Argus, Volume IX, Issue 690, 21 June 1870, Page 2

We would recommend visitors to town during the Christmas week, if they wish, a treat, to spend an hour in the photographic studio of Messrs Tait Brothers, Mawhera Quay, where they will be able to inspect a series of the finest views that possibly could be executed of scenes throughout Westland and in the Nelson Province. They are thorough gems, and will well repay a visit. - Grey River Argus, Volume X, Issue 770, 24 December 1870, Page 2

We have been favored with a copy of a photograph of his Excellency the Governor (Sir James Ferguson), who, during his stay in Hokitika, favored Mr Tait with a sitting. The likeness is perfect, and whether considered as a work of art or a memento of the recent visit of Vice-Royalty, is well worthy of inspection, and should find a place in every album.
West Coast Times, Issue 2564, 9 December 1873, Page 2

We understand that Messrs Tait Brothers, of Hokitika and Greymouth, have received authority to announce themselves as photographers to His Excellency the Governor. While in Hokitika, His Excellency had some portraits taken by Messrs Tait Brothers, and, by the portrait which has been presented to us by the firm, the likeness is an excellent one, and a very perfect specimen of the photographic art. We notice that Mr Haigh also advertises himself as photographer to His Excellency, "by special authority." 

West Coast Times, Issue 1732, 20 April 1871, Page 2

One of the firm of Messrs Tait Brothers, of Hokitika and Greymouth, is on a short visit to Charleston, principally with the purpose of taking views of local scenery. 

West Coast Times, Issue 1793, 29 June 1871, Page 2

We have to acknowledge receipt from Messrs Tait Brothers, photographers, of Greymouth and Hokitika, of a card containing portraits of several hundreds, of well-known residents in Hokitika and Greymouth. Every person on the West Coast who wishes to possess one of the best souvenirs of the early times ought to obtain a copy of this wonderful collection of portraits. 

Grey River Argus, Volume XII, Issue 1147, 2 April 1872, Page 2

We learn that Sir James Fergusson was so pleased with, the specimen of Mr Alexander Tait's skill when he was in Greymouth, that he has conferred upon him the title of "Photographer to His Excellency the Governor."

 Grey River Argus, Volume XIV, Issue 1678, 19 December 1873, Page 2

above - Grey River Argus, Volume XIV, Issue 1691, 5 January 1874, Page 1

above - West Coast Times, Issue 2886, 24 December 1874, Page 2

above - West Coast Times, Issue 3043, 4 January 1879, Page 3

On Saturday evening, in the shop window of Messrs Tait Brothers, Photographers, the likeness of Butler, who was recently tried in Dunedin, and acquitted, together with the likenesses of Mr and Mrs Dewar who were murdered, were exhibited, and attracted a large number of spectators. 

West Coast Times , Issue 3452, 26 April 1880, Page 2

Mr Alexander Tait, the photographer, has arrived, and intends to open his studio in a day or two. His stay here will probably extend over the holidays, and as he is well-known as a first-class artist, the people of the district will have an opportunity afforded them of having a true, elegant, and well-finished portrait, taken by aid of the late improvements and innovations in the art. 

Inangahua Times, Volume II, Issue II, 17 November 1880, Page 2

We have to acknowledge having received from the hands of Messrs Tait Brothers, photographers, an exceedingly well executed photograph of the scene at the christening of the Ross Goldmining Company's water engine, taken immediately previous to the christening. The view comprises the whole of the buildings, the workshop, engine shed, water shed, poppet head and fluming, belonging to the company. From the engine shed to the water wheel, a large display of bunting of all nations is shown, and the water appears in full play at the end of race. In front of the whole, stand a large assemblage of people amongst whom can be easily distinguished each of the directors of the company, tho secretary, and mining manager, together with the various members of the Hokitika and Ross public bodies, and a number of ladies and gentlemen who were present at the ceremony. As a picture, it is one of the best Messrs Tait have ever taken by their instantaneous process. An excellent conception of the over-ground operations of the company is rendered, and many of the likenesses are at once striking and unmistakable. 

West Coast Times , Issue 4253, 6 December 1882, Page 2

We call attention to Mr A. Tait's advertisement, which appears in our advertising columns. Mr Tait during a residence of fifteen or sixteen years on the West Coast has established a high reputation for the fidelity and finish of his photographs. He has at considerable expense erected a permanent studio in Reefton, and fitted it with all the appliances requisite for producing really artistic pictures, and he has thus established a good claim to public patronage. 

Inangahua Times, Volume VII, Issue 1207, 13 December 1882, Page 2

The photographic art has of late year taken such strides that the older and more laborious processes have become extinct, and are now succeeded by others which have completely revolutionised the art. Mr John Tait, photographer, has recently added largely to his store of these improvements, and is now in a position to not only produce photographs of high artistic merits, but these at the lowest price. All other kinds of art work, such as coloring in oils, water colors and crayons are also undertaken and executed at the studio. 

West Coast Times , Issue 7679, 23 April 1890, Page 2

Mr John Tait, the well-known photographer, has admitted into partnership Mr A. (Alexander) Ward, of Nelson, a recent arrival from the Old Country, who is said to be a most expert photographer, artist and retoucher. The new firm have our best wishes for their future success. 

West Coast Times , Issue 9914, 12 October 1894, Page 2
Shows Royal George Hotel and surrounding businesses - To the left is a Dispensary with the name Griffiths ACI Family dispensing chemist over the door.
Reference Number: PA2-1756 Alexander Turnbull Library

West Coast Times, Issue 14264, 11 November 1907, Page 3
Another link in the chain of worthy citizens connecting Hokitika's part and present who bore the brunt of the pioneer labours of the Coast, has been removed by the passing away of Mr John Tait, which occurred at his residence, Weld Street, last Friday morning. Some six months ago he retired from active management of his long-established photographic business in Revell Street, since when he has been in failing health, and his death was not unexpected.

The late Mr Tait was born in Caithness, Scotland, in 1836, and on the 9th of next month would have reached the age of 71 years. With his parents, he came to Victoria while still very young, and received his education un Melbourne. He adopted the profession of chemist and druggist, and when fully qualified started in business in Portland, Victoria. Like so many others of the Coast's adventurous pioneers, he caught the gold fever, and came to Dunedin, where, seeing a business opportunity, he gave up thoughts of mining and started a photographic business there.

Shortly afterwards, when the West Coast opened, Mr Tait came to Hokitika, 1865, and started business with his brother, under the style of Tait Bros., and he has resided here constantly ever since. The deceased gentleman always closely identified himself with the progress of the town, and took a very active part in public affairs. He was a member of the majority of our local bodies, serving at various times on the Borough Council, the Hospital Trustees, the School Commissioners, the Hospitals and Charitable Aid Board, and the Benevolent Society. He was elected to the Borough Council in 1869, and after serving for 17 years as Councillor, he was elected Mayor in 1886. In that year Sir William Jervois, the then Governor visited Hokitika and the citizens subsequently presented Mr Tait with a public testimonial in recognition of his service during his term of office.

For many years he held the Commission of the Peace and he was also a very old member of the Masonic order, having been initiated in the Westland Kilwinning Lodge in September, 1867. The foregoing record of public service speaks for itself, though it does not tell of zealous discharge of the office held by Mr Tait, which he filled with the most faithful attention to the duties that were imposed on him. In both his public and private life the late Mr Tait's kindly, unaffected, sincere disposition endeared him to many friends and it is no mere conventionality to say that genuine regret for his demise will be widespread. He leaves a widow and niece (Mrs A. D. Macfarlane) to mourn their loss to whom we tender sincere sympathy in their bereavement.

The funeral of the late Mr Tait took place a 8:00 (or 8:30) yesterday morning when there was a large attendance, a number of country residents being present. The Rev. H. S. Leach conducted the last sad rites at the church and the graveside. Messrs G. Perry, C. Malfr(ey) junr, Newman and Lamps acted as pallbearers. A large number of wreaths and floral emblems covered the coffin. At the conclusion of the service at the church the "Dead March in Saul” was played.


No comments: