Topic: Charles Edmund Kusabs 1872-1948

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Early Rotorua Settler, a brief biography

Charles was born in Ohaupo in 1872 to Henry and Emily Kusabs. Brother of Andrew Ernest Kusabs and George Arthur Kusabs. Charles married to Cora  Amelia Penn in 1896, their son Prentice A Kusabs was born in Rotorua in 1897, sadly Cora died in 1928 and Charles remarried in 1934 to Dorothea Mae Nairn, they had two daughters Elaine and Loma.

At the age of 21 he ran the Kusab's Bro's sawmill at Mamaku. Together they built the bridge over the Ohau Channel. He started a sawmill on the site at NE corner of Fenton and Amohau Streets, and it was his steam engine which used to drive pumps to lower the water in the drains to enable Rotorua's first sewerage and drainage scheme to be laid.

In 1908 he envisioned the possibilities of motor travel and entered into competition with the horse-drawn vehicles by opening 'K' Motors on the corner of Whaka and Meade Streets. The Four Lakes trip was originated by him and the other 2 lakes being added in as the roads improved. A one day trip to Taupo was also started by Charles also and he drove the first car to negotiate Mount Ngongotaha.  He lived in style on Whaka Road (Fenton Street) where he had built his beautiful big home which became the Landmark Restaurant in 1980, and listed on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in 1994.

Charles was a keen sportsman and was a financial benefactor to the Rotorua Golf Club. In 1908 he with other enthusiasts made an agreement with David Sherriff to form a golf course on his Malfroy Road to near Old Taupo Road. The lease ran out in 1911 and they next attempted a temporary course on rough scrubland known as Robertson's Paddocks in Fenton Street.  He won club's championship on many occasions and in 1947 won the veteran's tournament in Whangarei.    As a bowler also, he with Mr J. MacFarlane, won the Rotorua pairs annual tournament. He was a first class shot and in the early days took part in many open clay competitions. He was a charter member of both the Rotorua Masonic Lodge and Chapter.

He owned the land stretching from Victoria Street along Whaka Road (Fenton Street) up to Malfroy Road, and had a built a lovely home by the Utuhina River at the end of Devon Street, unfortunately while absent for a few days, a couple of young relatives accidentally caused it to be burnt down with all his family documents, photos and his many sporting trophies. Later he had a property on Sunset Road and Edmund Street along with Kusabs Street are named after him.

With thanks to the Don Stafford reference collection and Peggy Allens 'Rotorua people 1840s to 1940's' held in Rotorua District Library.

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