The history mystery
Last month I wrote about how Evie the dog and I meandered down a truly lovely local road: Monument Rd at Mangatangi. It’s about an hour’s drive south-east of Auckland, and you drive past it on the way to the area’s gorgeous hot pools at Miranda.
A few days later, I got a letter from local Murray Reid (see( see page 9) who suggested checking out the local history group’s website: www.mangatangi.org.nz
I love learning about local history and I’d always had a few questions that I couldn’t answer, like who my road was named for. I assumed it was for a local farmer, and sure enough, this site has a story about a local farming family with the same surname.
But I found out so much more. When I first bought my block it was bare land and I lived 20 minutes away on my parent’s farm, so every morning I would drive down to check my animals, and every day I would wonder why there were two enormous concrete culvert pipes, perhaps 20m long and 2m high, sitting in the paddock of a local farm. One is part of a drain but the other sits above ground and no water can ever flows through it. To move them you’d need some pretty serious hardware, like a crane. Or probably cranes.
There was another odd thing, a laneway now used by the dairy cows cut through a nearby rocky outcrop about 200m away. Why would someone go to the huge expense of cutting through it when the cows could walk around it, or over it?
The Mangatangi Historical Group had that mystery covered: the pipes and the laneway were going to be a railway from Pokeno to Paeroa. It was first proposed in the 1900s as a way to cut the long trip to Paeroa (and eventually Tauranga) which in those days went via Hamilton, but it wasn’t started until 1938. Teams worked until the outbreak of WW2 but when the war was over, roads were seen to be more important and the project was abandoned.
But there’s a little bit of it left if you know where to look.