The First Sod
Curator Social History Megan Wells
Lake Māngamāhoe is a popular place for walking, mountain biking and outdoor activities, but it was not always there. The man-made lake has only existed since 1931. Taranaki MP, Sydney George Smith, turned the first sod of earth for the dam project when construction started in 1929. He was presented this shovel to commemorate the event.
The area was purchased by the New Plymouth Borough Council in the early 1920s and 79 acres of the valley flooded in 1931 after the dam was completed. The lake is fed from the Māngamāhoe Stream as well as the larger Waiwhakaiho River. It was originally designed to increase the water catchment area for the growing town and remains significant today in the district’s power generation.