A Levin woman is sharing historical photographs of Manakau in hope that someone might know the people in them.

Lyn Ingram said the photographs originally belonged to her great-grandfather David Brown and hoped that by sharing them, the families of the descendants might recognise their forebears and could share the pictures.

"Can anyone recognise them?" she said. The pictures could mean as much to someone else as they did to her.

One photograph was taken at Manakau School in the early 1890s and featured students, one her grandmother Lillian Brown.

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Now the photographs had come to light, she wanted to pass them on to historians at Te Takere.

"That is where they belong," she said.

Interestingly, on the back of some of the photographs Mr Brown had written down the date every time he looked at them - which he did for more than 50 years - as a way of marking time since they were taken.

"It shows you what they must have meant to him," she said.

David Brown lived in Manakau for the best part of a decade before the turn of last century and his diary clearly credits his time there as the reason he converted to Christianity.

In his diary he was thankful to Manakau for introducing him to the faith, and also to te reo. He became a fluent Māori speaker.

Ms Ingram said he was a known drinker and a breeder of racehorses before he found faith. At one time he carried a whiskey canister.

He gave up both hobbies when he became Christian and she credits that as a reason he lived to be 100.

"As a child he said to me never bet. At the end of your life if you have saved a pound the bank would have given you sixpence," she said.

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She said her own investigations had shown her grandfather was registered as a mill owner between 1893 and 1896. Mills were also owned by Mr Bevan and Mr Gardiner.

Mills were established close to the forestry which was being felled, she said. One was near Waikawa Beach, while another was set up on Manakau South Road.

Recently she had found what she believed was the old family homestead on a farm at Manakau owned by Mario Moretto, who welcomed her into his home for a cup of tea to discuss what he knew of the house.

"It meant so much," she said.

The house was now abandoned. Pigeons roost in the chimney behind the old hearth, but it meant a lot to her to visit the house.

Mr Brown was originally from Upper Hutt before moving to Manakau in the early 1890s. The family eventually settled in Norsewood.