In 1882 Ngāti Maniapoto agreed to a survey for the main trunk railway line through Te Rohe Pōtae (the King Country). This was a major turning point in relations between the tribe and the government, and was the key to opening the region to Pākehā settlement. This photograph captures the ceremonial turning of the first sod on 15 April 1885. This took place on the southern bank of the Pūniu River – the ancient northern boundary of Ngāti Maniapoto territory and thus a meaningful choice of location. The man in the top hat to the right in front of the umbrella is Ngāti Maniapoto leader Rewi Maniapoto. The tall man in the top hat in the middle of the front row between the two drooping flags is another leader of the tribe, Wahanui Huatare. Prime Minister Robert Stout stands on the end of the plank, to the right of the man in the light-coloured coat.
The wheelbarrow in the foreground is on display at the Otorohanga Historical Society Court House Museum.
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Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.