Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mid-Rangitikei History

Maori tribal land in this area has been lived on for over 500 years.
To the ancestors whose names still ring loud and clear over these mountain ranges from Kaimanawa to Tararua, Rest in the name of the lord not forgotten. Salutation to our sacred mountains, our rivers, and Mother Earth.
(Robertson 1995:15)
Pakeha history in the mid Rangitikei dates from 1839 when the first missionaries entered the area. The Rangitikei Block was purchased in 1849 for the Provincial Government, though a farming community was established only at the turn of the century.

There is reference in Robertson’s (1995:25) centennial history of Taihape to unemployment problems in the area as early as the 1890s.
‘Townships’ such as Mataroa, Ohingaiti and Mangaweka were once centres of activity, because of poor roads, and horse-drawn transport, sawmilling, building of the railway line and farming. In 1911 Mangaweka had a population of 600. There were once two grocers, two clothing shops, a tailor, a stationery shop, 2 garages, a Chinese fruit shop and many more shops and businesses. Today it has a population bordering on 200 and four shops or businesses: an adventure garage, a pub, an electrician and a secondhand furniture shop. Hunterville Primary had over 400 children attending in the early 1950s.
In 1960 the Railways Department was the biggest employer of boys and men in Taihape. For boys it was often work on the railways, or roads. One woman suggested that a choice of career for girls growing up in the area meant either "the telephone exchange or the post office". In rural areas farming was the favoured way of life; boys followed their dads onto the farm. Sport was crucial important, then and now. Football "was never played in Pohunui as we never had a piece of level ground large enough".

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