• History

    Started by William Fraser McCallum and his three brothers as a partnership in 1904, McCallum Bros Ltd has continued to be a family-run operation with all ownership remaining in New Zealand.

  • "Bee" under full sail

  • Scow Pahiki sunk off Pakihi Island.

    The steam tug Purau and scows Kitty Fraser and Kapua are in the process of refloating it.

  • Early Dredging

    The steam powered grab dredge Rover working off Karamuramu Island

  • Early Quarrying



The scow Pahiki under sail (CW Hawkins Collection)

McCallum Bros Limited History

Started by William Fraser McCallum and his three brothers as a partnership in 1904, McCallum Bros Ltd has continued to be a family-run operation with all ownership remaining in New Zealand.

The partnership began with a small 40 tonne wooden scow "Pahiki" used for coastal trading.

More scows were bought for the increased trade in red shingle which was delivered from Pakihi Island to customers within the Auckland Region and Hauraki Plains.

At first the shingle was loaded onto the scows by shovelling it into wheel barrows and then pushing these up planks to the hold.

This labour intensive method was eventually replaced as quarries were established.


Quarrying of red chert started on Pakihi Island in 1906 and continued until 1927 after a quarry which had been established on adjacent Karamuramu Island in 1908 took over production. A lone wharf pile off the south-western side of Pakihi Island was the only remnant of the Pakihi quarry still visible from the sea in 2006 (subsequently claimed by the sea).


A series of bucket and then grab dredgers extracted alluvial shingle deposits from around Pakihi and Karamuramu Islands from before the First World War until the 1950s. The remains of these structures are located on the southern tip of Pakihi Island.

Several million cubic metres of material was supplied in this way for regional construction projects.

The first pre-cast concrete piles in Australasia built for the Auckland Harbour Board in 1904 were made with McCallum Bros Ltd shingle.

A significant portion of construction within the region as far north as Wellsford and south to the Hauraki Plains utilised aggregate produced by McCallum Bros Ltd. This was distributed by water on scows and barges, especially as roads were poorly developed and trucks limited in how much they could carry.

Early projects include Grafton Bridge, many of the buildings in the central city prior to the Second World War, the Whenuapai, Hobsonville and Ardmore aerodromes, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland Central Rail Station, Power Board building, Newmarket viaduct, Mangere airport control tower and the Huia dam.

Recent projects using McCallum's aggregate include the Sky Tower, motorway infrastructure, port wharves and residential housing.

McCallum's chip can be seen as the sealing for the shoulders of Auckland's regional motorways.

Many heritage areas continue to use McCallum aggregate for footpaths and paving in order to preserve the unique character they have and many residents throughout Auckland choose red aggregate for their driveways and paving for that special look.

Quarrying continues today on Karamuramu Island with reserves of rock in excess of several million cubic metres.


McCallum Bros Ltd started sand extraction prior to the First World War in the Waihou River (Hauraki Plains) using the proven techniques of shovels, planks and wheel barrows.

This sand consisted of pumice material derived from the Taupo area and mine tailings washed down from the Karangahake goldfields. Sand was also sourced from Waipu, Pakiri and Mangawhai.


Scows were replaced by wooden tugs and barges and then steel vessels. The machinery progressed from barrows to winches, grabs and cranes, then on to dredge pumps and hydraulic excavators.

Sand extraction in the Waihou River ceased by 1970 as the construction industry demanded higher quality product from the East Coast beaches.

East Coast sand has been extracted from the nearshore at similar volumes to current levels since the 1920's with effects recently ruled by the Environment Court as being so minor they could not be measured.

At present, the family-owned Company is involved in the extraction of sand from Pakiri, the quarrying of Karamuramu Island, beach replenishment of some of Auckland city's beaches, and the supply and distribution of sand, cement and aggregates throughout the Auckland Region. We currently employ over 60 people and supply sand to a number of the region's concrete plants.