In 1926, 16 year old Milan Babic Yozin came to New Zealand from the coastal village of Padgora in Dalmatia, a poverty-stricken area. An uncle with an orchard at Oratia paid his passage over; Milan worked for two years to repay him.
After this he went to work on a dairy farm in the Waikato, preferring to find work with an English speaking family to help improve his English.
By 1937 Milan put in a deposit on a property in Swanson, as well as leasing adjoining railway land.
Initially, he grazed cows to generate income from milk and cream production. After a couple of years he sold the cows and concentrated on planting more fruit trees and establishing a market garden. During the winter months he found work locally, including working in the building of Scenic Drive in 1939.
The first grape vines were planted in 1942 and in 1948 Milan obtained a winemaker’s license. With local help he erected a shop on Swanson Road and a packing shed with adjoining wine cellar. Materials after the war were hard to come by and he was very innovative, using whatever he could find. He made concrete blocks himself, wrapping corrugated sheeting around steel rods, and pouring concrete into them. Once the concrete was set, the sheeting created distinctive support columns.
IdentityCultural Heritage Identity (CHI): 3377Scheduled (UID): 65
Rugged Determination, p122
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