Learning & Research - Akoranga me Rangahau
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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.



Mountaineers Edmund Hillary and Peter Mullgrew with the newly named Mountain Goat.

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Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes, and the need in Taranaki has seen some amazing innovations. The farming industry has called for many labour-saving devices and that call has been answered by generations of Kiwis tinkering in their sheds. Milking machines, the world’s first rotating milking platform, vehicles and even brassieres have all had their birth in region. Marvel at the skill and ingenuity and perhaps wonder – what could I do with a piece of No 8 wire and the will to succeed?

An uplifting experience – Max Rutherford

If you're a woman into martial arts, fencing or paintball - chances are you'll be abreast of Max Rutherford's designs. The New Plymouth man's chest protectors have been safeguarding the world's sportswomen for the past 20 years.   But just how does a former international motor racing mechanic end up designing women's protective underwear?   From bolts to breasts Max Rutherford's calling was... more

Heaven could be shaped no other way – the story of Roy Brewster and the Beehive house

Norian thoughts from the Bee Man Nature has: No corners No errors No ends No fractures No self-starters No self-control Nothing independent The circle is spiritual. The square is material. Love is curved.  Hate is a straight line. A halo contains no right angles. The Cross has 12.  The swastika has 20.   The house of Norian – No Right Angles In Edgar Roy Brewster's house, even the... more

Inventor A.W Reid Leads The Way

A little more than 100 years ago, the people of Stratford faced a great debate – whether to opt for electric lights or go with watergas lamps.   It looked like the watergas option was a fait accompli with the Stratford Town Board, until a forward-thinking man stepped into the fray.   That man was Alexander Walker Reid, affectionately known as AWR (no relation to the... more

Johnny Callender and the Mountain Goat

"For Sale – mountain goat, two years old, fitted with lights and tow bar, $200." The advertisement in a Taranaki newspaper had some readers up in arms.  "In this enlightened age, it made me sick to read this advertisement. Does the RSPCA know about this?" wrote one animal lover. But she'd got the wrong end of the stick.   It was 1963 and New Plymouth man Johnny Callender had invented the first... more

Life with Roy – the realities of living with a driven man

It's as if Rex Brewster needs to balance truth against legend. When you ask about his father, Edgar Roy Brewster, you inadvertently tap into a small seam of pain.  Rex is softly spoken and candid, and you quickly come to appreciate his gentle honesty.    It's a way of telling the true story of a man who was not a hero but a real person with real failings. And it doesn't take long to understand... more

Lou Butler’s Boxthorn Battle

When inventor Lou Butler had an idea, he used to sketch it with chalk on the concrete floor of his Inglewood workshop. And when he was thinking, the Swiss-born farmer would sit in the sepia gloom of his enormous engineering shed and smoke cigar after cigar. Then he would swallow the butts, the same way he would shrug off doubts. His sons, Owen (77) and Lou junior (69), say their late father... more

Smart Drive Success - EcoInnovation

One man's trash is another's treasure - so the saying goes. Michael Lawley's EcoInnovation business started, literally, on rubbish. The Taranaki-based renewable energy business began when a friend asked Englishman Michael to build him a water wheel to generate electricity. The first place he began the search for a generator was the local dump. While fossicking he stumbled across a Fisher and... more