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Taranaki Stories

These stories capture the very essence of Taranaki – the people and the landscape.
They record the achievements of those who live here, the struggles of the first settlers, the determination to overcome challenges, those who have made their mark on not only their own, but also future generations.
But the stories are not just about hardship – they are also inspiring, thrilling, mystifying, enlightening and entertaining.
 
 

 

Conflict and Protest

A depiction of the storming of Kaipopo Pa

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The rich Taranaki soil has run red in times past, such was the bloodshed on the land. Colonial suppression, land confiscation and historical battles were fought here, with divisions between Maori and Pakeha, between tribes and between families. Taranaki people stood to fight for what they believed in countries far away. Yet in the midst of these tales of conflict comes messages of peace, of tolerance, of understanding. Taranaki has both a troubled and tranquil past – lest we forget.

A Convoluted History - The Whiteley Land

The Whiteley land has always been in dispute, from the earliest times when it was bought from Maori without full iwi permission, right through to a tricky Crown grant that has been questioned at least four times.   It's been cut up, leased and the boundaries changed until the original purpose for acquiring it seems lost in the paperwork.   Asking the questions Trying to grasp the historic... more
 

A Family’s Support

The support of his family was the only thing that kept Malcolm Belcher sane during his three years in a psychiatric institution.   When Malcolm was committed to Porirua in May 1954 his family stuck by him. "We visited him at least once a week," says Ray, Malcolm's brother. Over the three years that the Warea farmer was in the institution his family travelled the equivalent of twice around the... more
 

Account of von Tempsky’s death by Takiora

Lucy Takiora Lord worked for von Tempsky as a guide and interpreter.  This is her account of his death from Puke Ariki archives. Ref: 2002-530   'They took the pa from the left. Von Tempsky and the others killed two chiefs and stepped over them and went straight into the pa and drove the Maoris out, set fire to the pa and looted everything and got a pet kaka.  They burnt the Wharekuri, still... more
 

Best Laid Plans - The Grey Institute Trust

In 1839, two Christian teachers, Wiremu Nera Te Awatua and Hohaia were posted to Ngamotu by the Welseyan Mission at Kawhia.   Charles Creed and his wife arrived here in January 1941 and by September a chapel was operating.    After the Creeds left in 1843, Henry Turton and his wife Susanna carried on the good work. They planned a mission school for Maori pupils, with an agricultural bent.... more
 

Boyhood Lost in Birmingham Blitz

World War II stole Jack Elphick's childhood. But he was one of the lucky ones - that's all he lost in the Birmingham Blitz. Despite spending many dark nights listening to the dreaded drone of German bomber planes, the young lad and his parents came through the bombardment of England's industrial Midlands relatively unscathed. Jack, who has spent more years living in New Zealand than in... more
 

Coming Home

The Royal Mail Steamer Andes was built for luxury cruising, destined to one day carry Argentine beef barons, Bolivian tin magnates, Brazilian coffee kings and all their beautiful wives. Instead, the trip in October 1945 brought weary New Zealand servicemen home from WWII.   With her decks open to the North Atlantic sun and air, and her panelled apartments and rich fittings stripped and bare, she... more
 

Don Tunes into World War II

Retired school principal Don Taylor will never forget the night he heard New Plymouth take a direct verbal hit from Tokyo Rose. It was near the end of World War II, and members of his Eltham family were huddled around a high-gloss wooden Phillips valve radio. Don's grandfather, Harry ‘Jock’ Anderson, was a shortwave radio expert and was able to find the different stations, including the Japanese... more
 

General Chute's March

Chute had all the coolness of an experienced British officer.  He waited with quiet anticipation as the steamer pulled alongside the Wanganui wharf.  He knew the quality of the men on board would determine the end result of his new campaign, carried out under Government orders. Chute had been given the task of leading the troops into battle to quell the Hauhau rebels.   Chute liked what he saw.... more
 

Interesting Scene at Oakura

This is the full and fascinating account of the disposing of the mine that ran as front page news on Saturday, 21 June, 1919 in the Taranaki Herald.   BLOWING UP OF NAVAL MINE - INTERESTING SCENE AT OAKURA The German naval mine which was secured by the mouth of the Oakura River on Wednesday morning was blown up at 25 minutes to eight o'clock this morning in the presence of about 25... more
 

Kimble Bent and the Strange Part He Played in the South Taranaki Wars

Was Kimble Bent a man of great courage or simply a rebel and army deserter who deserved all the trials and tribulations he lived through?  You decide.    In 1865, an odd fellow called Kimble Bent deserted from the 57th Regiment, 'took to the blanket' and began living with Maori in the backblocks of Hawera.  Little did he know he'd end up isolated from the white man for 16 long years!   Not... more
 

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