Exhibitions - Whakakitenga
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Taranaki Fortunes

Fortune can be fickle. Taranaki Fortunes: lost and won traces the ups and downs of a region rich in opportunity but often challenged by circumstances and events. War, recession, topography and isolation meet robustness, resourcefulness, doggedness and ingenuity and the Taranaki spirit that makes this region unique.
Taranaki Fortunes: lost and won continues Puke Ariki's Common Ground series. Fresh ideas on the region's economy are organised into three parts: Producing the Goods, Paving the Way and Trade and Exchange. Artefacts from Puke Ariki's heritage collection are joined by items from other institutions and contemporary art works.
The aim of the Common Ground series has been to provoke thought and inspire discussion about Taranaki's significance in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. We hope you will take time to consider past and present events and issues by playing 'Who Wants To Win A Fortune?' We invite you to record your own thoughts on Taranaki's future in the discussion space provided.

Producing the Goods

Taranaki’s earliest industries capitalised on the natural resources that were available to both Maori and Pakeha settlers. The forest provided wood to build shelters, hew tools and construct towns. The abundant flax could be woven or lashed and, with the aid of plentiful supplies of water to drive the machinery, could be processed and sold as fibre.
Early introduction of wheat led to flour milling. The sowing and harvesting of cocksfoot grass not only introduced a brisk trade but produced the pasture on which Taranaki's significant dairy industry was founded. Each of these industries tells its own story of Taranaki's people and the land and the events that have shaped their fortunes both lost and won.

Paving the Way

Taranaki's topography and geographic isolation have presented many challenges to the region's social and economic viability. With no natural harbour and a rugged inland hill country, the tasks of providing the infrastructure needed for moving people and goods in to, out of and within Taranaki have sometimes seemed insurmountable.
Isolation, however, breeds ingenuity and there are stories here where Taranakians have 'paved the way' for Taranaki and for New Zealand. In many ways it was the oil and gas industry that swept aside the region's isolation and put it firmly in touch with the world. It was Taranaki's long-established newspapers that broke the news.

Trade and Exchange

Taranaki Maori were enterprising traders both before Pakeha arrived and as the new settlers struggled to establish their own gardens and other means of support. The Taranaki Wars and the confiscation of land for Pakeha occupation effectively put an end to Maori prosperity: subsequent World Wars, economic downturns and developments in technology have since challenged Maori and Pakeha alike.
The Taranaki spirit of enterprise, however, has always been strong. The renegade TSB Bank backed the region and won: the Taranaki Scenery Preservation Society fought hard for the place we all now enjoy.

Who Wants To Win A Fortune?

How well do you know Taranaki?
How much do you know about our economy?
Where in this exhibition are the answers?
Play the game and find out!

Play Who Wants To Win a Fortune? online


Answer questions about Taranaki's economic history, industry and success.


Don't know the answers? Try looking at our Taranaki Stories!