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.


Tangata Whenua

Te Ua Haumene: Leader of the Pai Marire religion. Image: PHO2007-258

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The powerful story of Parihaka, told by the descendents of those who were there, is one that will horrify, amaze and inspire you. Learn what life was like under the leadership of Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi on that terrible day. Read too the stories of the great Maori leaders – those who fought to keep their traditions and those who fought for change. Understand both sides of the argument that started the bloody Land Wars and sing a waiata for the dead.

A Woman of Mana – Kahe Te Rau-o-te-Rangi

On the shores of Port Nicholson (now Wellington) a group of men stand in a marquee discussing a sheath of papers - the Treaty of Waitangi.  Among those 34 men is just one woman. Kahe Te Rau-o-te-Rangi strides forward, dips a quill in a bottle of black ink and signs her name ‘Kahe’ on New Zealand's founding document. The date is 29 April 1840.   Kahe, of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Mutunga (North... more

Ancient journey names a town: the story of Whaitara

The Short Story whai (to follow) tara (the dart) – Whaitara The name of Whaitara (commonly spelled as Waitara) town is said to come from the story of Whare Matangi, the estranged son of local Ariki (chief) Ngārue, and his quest to be reunited with his father.  Whare Matangi was given a  dart (tara) imbued with magic that his mother foretold would lead him to his father. His... more

Land Wars Start over Pekapeka Block

A death-bed request led Te Ātiawa chief Wiremu Kīngi Te Rangitaake to protect a controversial piece of Taranaki land, known as the Pekapeka Block.   As his father, Te Rere-ta-whangawhanga, lay dying, he reached out to his son and made him promise never to sell Te Ātiawa's tribal land in Taranaki. His final wish and Te Rangitaake's fighting efforts were in vain. The land, where the... more

Lucy of Lucy’s Gully

Among the towering redwoods rise clumps of native trees. They seem to have scant regard for the work done by Sir Victor Davies in the 1920s when he cleared the land and planted 150 back-breaking hectares of exotics.  It seems more a tribute to Lucy Stevens, who grew up in Lucy's Gully, that the bush is trying so hard to return to the way it used to be.   A Local Personality Lucy's connection... more

Lucy Takiora Lord – Maori Guide to the Imperial Forces

For someone who emerges from Taranaki history as a defiant, capable woman, there are not a lot of details to be found on Takiora, yet what there are seem fascinating.    She was a woman of many names.  Baptised Lucy Elizabeth Lord on 9 October 1842, she was also known as Takiora, Takiora Grey (or Gray), Bloody Mary and Mrs Richard Blake.  Under the name of Louisa Grey, she married surveyor... more

Otherwise Known as William Fox

If a picture paints a thousand words Look at the photo; he's a small, unwilling impostor. Just five or six, he's formally dressed in an Eton suit and new pair of shiny boots. You can see by his stance he's been precisely posed, one hand on a polished table and the other in a pocket. You can tell from his hurt expression he doesn't want to be there. Someone has combed his hair and pasted him into... more

Pacifist of Parihaka – Te Whiti o Rongomai

Imagine a leader so inspiring he is able to encourage men with warrior hearts to stand up for their rights, while laying down their weapons. Picture this same man convincing 2000 people to welcome battle-thirsty soldiers into their village, and even offer them food and drink. Even more surprising is how this peaceful leader allows himself and his people to be arrested without showing the... more

Picture Provides Insight Into Pa’s Past

The first ever Maori gun fighter pa excavated in New Zealand has revealed a telling clue about its past. As archaeologists sieved through soil of a major site at Bell Block in Taranaki, they found a shard of drawing slate. On it was a side-view sketch of a cloak-clad Maori warrior looking down the barrel of a musket. A slate pencil was also uncovered on site.    Auckland University... more

Project Pride: Francis Douglas students’ presentation to Puke Ariki

Stone, flax, a broom handle and plenty of balsa wood came in handy when a Francis Douglas Memorial College year nine Social Studies class were asked to build objects from Pre-European history.   The school group presented their projects at Puke Ariki, under the guidance of teacher and deputy principal Chris Moller. "It was a study of local pre European history," he said. "How people live within... more

Te Rangi Hīroa – The Life of Sir Peter Buck

The prow of a giant canoe thrusts from a wild tumble of New Zealand bush high on a hillside above Urenui. For Taranaki people heading home from the north, this is a sign they have made it safely through the winding, gear-grinding gorges and can swoosh south on easier roads. Some see the landmark as a farewell sign and a more difficult journey northwards. Others see the prow for what... more

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