Story: Whanganui places

Page 9. Taihape district

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Taihape

Town 84 km north of Bulls and 29 km south-east of Waiōuru, sited above the Hautapu River (a tributary of the Rangitīkei) Taihape had a 2013 population of 1,509.

Settlers first took up sections of land at Taihape in 1894. The main trunk railway reached the town in 1904, and through the 20th century the town housed rail workers, as well as catering to local farms and passing rail and road travellers. St Mary’s Catholic Church, designed in 1954 by Ernst Plischke, is a modern historic building.

The loss of railway jobs has seen the population fall, from 2,586 in 1981. In an attempt to revitalise the town, an annual ‘Gumboot Day’ festival has run since 1985; new businesses include outdoor clothing stores and adventure tourism.

Winiata, 3 km south of Taihape, has a marae linked to Ngāti Hinemanu, Ngāti Paki and Ngāti Hauiti.

Utiku

Settlement 8 km south of Taihape and slightly east of State Highway 1, named after the baptismal name of Utiku Pōtaka, a Ngāti Hauiti chief. The dairy factory closed in the 1960s, and the school in the mid-1990s. The only store sells wool products and yarn.

Mangaweka

Township on State Highway 1, 21 km south of Taihape and 63 km north-east of Bulls, with a 2013 population of 150. First called Three Log Whare, it was established in the mid-1890s in anticipation of the arrival of the main trunk railway, which reached it in 1902. A local horse, Wotan, won the Melbourne Cup in 1936. State Highway 1 bypassed the main street from the late 1970s. Many buildings stand empty, but Mangaweka still has a school, library, hotel, and business enterprises catering for adventure tourists. A DC3 plane operates as a tearoom.

Ōhingaiti

Locality 55 km north-east of Bulls, the centre of Ngāti Hauiti until the mid-1800s. Dense bush and difficult terrain slowed construction of the main trunk line, which was 7 km away in 1892 but only reached Ōhingaiti when the Makōhine viaduct was completed in 1902. The settlement flourished until the 1960s. Since then the bank, post office and school have closed, but the hotel still operates.

Hunterville

Township on the Pōrewa Stream 38 km north-east of Bulls, with a 2013 population of 429. Founded in 1884, it is said to be named after the member of Parliament George Hunter, who placed a survey peg on the site where the settlement was to grow. The railway arrived in 1887, and by 1896 the population was 546, larger than it would be a century later. Pastoral farming has always been important in the district, and the town has sculptures of sheep and a huntaway dog.

The post office and maternity hospital closed in 1989, as did three banks in the 1990s. Many services are now provided by or from Marton; tourism has provided some new business.

Go north young man

The first settlers in Taihape came from Canterbury, where there was little affordable land for aspiring farmers. Settlers from the southern province took up 5- to 7-hectare sections in 1894. They found work building roads and in sawmills while they developed their land for farming.

Rātā and district

Rātā is a settlement in the tribal area of Ngāti Hauiti, who have two marae nearby. Pākehā settlement began in the 1870s. A dairy factory operated from 1902 to 1964, and for many years a row of 21 houses housed its employees. Today Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative has a depot at Rātā.

Near Rātā are a number of historic homes – Merchiston (designed by Joseph Maddison in 1905), Overton (designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere in 1884), and, between Rātā and Marton, Maungaraupi (designed by Charles Tilleard Natusch in 1906).

At Pūtōrino, returned soldiers were settled on land for farming after both world wars. A sheep stud business operated at Leedstown in the 1950s and 1960s.

Pōrewa

Locality on the banks of the Pōrewa Stream 23 km north of Bulls, the site of the historic Tutu Tōtara property, owned by the Marshall family since 1853. St John Evangelist church was built in 1924 in memory of a family member who died in the First World War.

Turakina River

105 km-long river, rising in the hill country west of Waiōuru and coursing south-west to enter the Tasman Sea at Turakina Beach. The back-country Turakina valley road follows the river, west of State Highway 1. The river flooded in February 2004, causing damage along its valley and coastal plain.

How to cite this page:

Diana Beaglehole, 'Whanganui places - Taihape district', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/whanganui-places/page-9 (accessed 25 May 2019)

Story by Diana Beaglehole, published 16 Jun 2008, updated 15 Jun 2015