Melody sales@mangawhaifocus.co.nz 021454814
Nadia n.lewis@xtra.co.nz 021677978
Reporting: Julia news@mangawhaifocus.co.nz 0274641673
 Accounts: Richard info@mangawhaifocus.co.nz 021678358



End of the road for bus icon


Brooks bus early days-737An icon of local business recently reached the end of the road when, at the end of January, Brooks Motors of Mangaturoto was purchased by Lyndon Leabourn, their 14 buses now becoming part of Leabourn Passenger Services.

Few businesses last for 85 years and even fewer remain under the management of the same family.

In 1931 Bert and Jura Brooks, living on a farm in Maungaturoto, started taking children to school in a 1926 Chevrolet van – itself an American icon. It had wooden seats running lengthwise with a roll-up canvas flap on the back and carried cream cans and school children, with the children being dropped off at school after the cream was unloaded. It’s doubtful commuters of today could even imagine such a sight.

From 1936 schools were becoming more established in the area, the Brooks’ moved into Maungaturoto and added a taxi service and mail delivery to their fleet. One may think a small country settlement was hardly the place for a passenger service but it was, in fact, an essential part of life for country folk and school children living in comparative isolation compared to today.

Family Matriarch Joyce Brooks (nee Dunn) married Dudley Brooks in 1947. Dudley then joined the family company after serving his time as a mechanic in the late 40’s – pretty much standard practice for such a business in those days.

In one of the unusual turns of life, both the Dunn and Leabourn families had been friends at Kaiwaka where both ran trucking businesses. Life moves on and new generations do things differently with Leabourns creating and running the Kaiwaka Passenger Services and Joyce Dunn marrying into Brooks Motors.

Though aged 85, Joyce is still as sharp as a tack and recalls clearly many events, trials and tribulations of the 50s, 60s and 70s when she piloted buses herself for many years and also ran the taxi service. Things were not easy though, and movement was restricted in the area they were allowed to cover.

“We couldn’t go west any further than Matakohe Bridge or east to the Brynderwyns, a five mile radius,” says Joyce, the whip hand being held by Government run New Zealand Railway Road Services. “So kids were picked up from there and brought back to that spot in the afternoon.”

Rules and regulations were stringent back then and, though bus runs were put up for tender it was almost impossible to compete with the Government subsidised service.

“We fought hard,” says Joyce “and finally with a lot of help we began to break down the barriers.”

She pays tribute to Brethren folk from Wellsford and Whangarei for their efforts in this regard and, along with their many stand-in drivers especially mentions Bob McCarroll, mechanic and driver for over 65 years. By now the fleet was predominantly Bedfords, easier to maintain and cheaper to run than their American predecessors.

“And we had no such thing as strikes,” adds Joyce. “The job had to be done. In case of any breakdowns men worked all hours and in any weather to get buses running again and the trips continued, most people understanding that things didn’t run smoothly all the time.”

Ten years ago daughter Debbie and husband Wayne Owens moved back from Auckland to run the business which carries a wealth of childhood memories for Debbie.

With the youngest generation taking other career paths the decision was made to sell the business. Joyce is philosophical about the sale of the business which has been central to her life but it was a family decision and “we are all getting older” she says.

The changeover however will mean most drivers retain their jobs and Lyndon Leabourn says he’s impressed by the drivers he has inherited.

“They know the area. They know their buses and are familiar to a number of regular travellers.”

The Brooks’ have had a long business relationship with Leabourns and are confident the business is in good hands.

SCHOOL RUN: Brooks buses have been a part of Maungaturoto history since the 1930s.

The Mangawhai Focus is the only 'Mangawhai' community Newspaper and is the paper of choice within the local area.

For more information on distribution and circulation please 
click here



Contact Us





facebook   twitter   174855-378


Sales: 021 454814
Editorial: 027 4641673
Office: 021 678357