Topic: Caesar Roose

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Caesar Roose (1886 - 1967) was born on Tuoro Island (now part of Pukekawa), a 67-acre block of land in the middle of the Waikato River at Mercer. The son of a German father and an English-born mother, Roose spent his life working on and along the Waikato River.

At age 16, Roose bought his first boat, four years later he purchased a flax mill and in 1909 he earned a river steamer master's certificate.

Over the next few years, Roose built up a fleet of boats and a thriving business on the Waikato River. In 1916 he sold his enterprise to the newly established Waikato Shipping Company and went off to war, but six years later the company collapsed and Roose seized the opportunity to buy back the shipping licence and assets to form the Roose Shipping Company.

In addition to trading, hauling and ferrying along the Waikato River, the Roose Shipping Company also opened an early New Zealand open cast mine in 1945, built Hamilton's Fairfield Bridge in the 1930s, helped build the Ngaruawahia traffic bridge in the 1950s and even established its own trucking fleet.

The Roose-Atkins grab, a tool for loading barges, salvage work and coaling ships, was patented by Roose and manufactured by his company. Over the years Roose's boating activities included competitive canoeing, ferrying, day charters, trading, transport and barge-work.

Roose was also a philanthropist: his many contributions to the community included gifting land to the Mercer rowing club for a pavilion, working with Hilda Ross and W H Paul to set up the children's health camp at Port Waikato, and gifting maps and charts to the Auckland Museum.

Roose's hometown, Mercer, benefitted greatly from the Roose Shipping Company, with many locals employed by him and the township thriving as his business expanded. Roose advocated strongly for a bridge to link Mercer, Tuoro Island and Pukekawa. Although the National Roads Board refused his application in 1965, his dream was realised after his death when his daughter Jeanette Thomas, opened the Caesar Roose Bridge in 1972.

HCLWarwick Johnson owned a trucking company and worked with Roose Shipping. In this extract he talks about the work he did for Roose Shipping and mentions the 1956 flood. Click here (Hamilton City Libraries OH0287) to listen to his recollection of that time.


Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Grand old man of the river by Margaret Stuart and Jeanette Thomas

Draft manuscript "Caesar Roose of the Waikato" 1848-1998 [manuscript] [based on Roose's notes with additional chapters by W. Gordon and A. Reynolds]

Hamilton City Libraries Vertical Files

Archival material

Waikato Times Articles

Historic Photograph collection

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Caesar Roose

First Names:Caesar
Last Name:Roose