Issue 42

The 2021 Otaki Historical Journal is available now. Once again this edition of the Journal reflects the diversity of Otaki, and how people of different backgrounds and ethnicities have shaped our community.

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Forty Two Years of History

Kia ora

The big event since our last journal has been the global pandemic, Covid-19. Although we have learnt more about the virus itself and how to manage its effects, it rages in many countries and has changed life for us all in New Zealand. But we can look back to the ways our community managed a similar epidemic a century ago for ideas on managing this one. Covid interrupted everything in 2020 and it meant the Otaki Historical Society committee decided not to publish our annual journal. In August last year the Otaki Growers Trust gave generous donations to many organisations in our community and the Otaki Historical Society was surprised and delighted to be a beneficiary. We would like to thank the growers for their generosity. This donation assists us in producing the journal. Our area’s history has been handed down orally for centuries and documented in writing for almost 200 years. This journal, like the previous 41 volumes, contributes to these resources. There are tributes to local identities who have died, reminiscences of people who knew Otaki as it was long ago, and stories about our community organisations. You can also read the results of detailed research about the land and river that support us all. The Otaki Historical Society is proud to be part of the Otaki district and community. Our thanks go to all the people who have contributed stories, research, photographs and proofreading – your work makes this unique journal what it is. We also appreciate everybody who supports us as we continue to record the history of this fascinating area. We hope you enjoy this year’s journal.

Kia haumaru, mauri ora Sarah Maclean, Editor

The 2021 journal is $20 (+ $5 (each) post and packing for mail orders) available by ordering and paying via the link below; by sending payment details to Otaki Historical Society, 49 Main St, Otaki 5542; or from Otaki Museum, RiverStone Café, Otaki Postshop, Railway Bookshop and Books & Co, Otaki Railway

Price List for earlier issues

Vol 1 - 38        $10     (1978 -2016)

Vol  39 -41      $20     (2017 -2021)

Digitised 1-38  $10


Overseas post and packing $10     

Contact us or see the journal to purchase past issues of journals or digitised copies of articles


An issue of the Historical Journal has been published by the Otaki Historical Society each year from 1978, with the exception of 2001, when it was substituted by Rex Kerr's book Otaki Railway and 2021 due to the impact of theCovid 19 related lockdowns.

Gordon Dempsey wrote in his editorial of the first issue of the Historical Journal that the idea of publishing a journal was believed to be one of the most suitable ways of fulfilling the aim of the Otaki Historical Society "to collect, record and preserve items of historical interest pertaining to Otaki and to sponsor … publications in order to preserve the heritage of the past".

The primary area of interest of the society is the Otaki region. However the journal has also published material relating to the rich history of the broader region, stretching from the mouth of the Rangitikei River in the north, to Paekakariki in the south, and to the Tararua Range in the east.

The Maori heritage of the region has, throughout, been a key feature of the content of the journal. The broad scope of topics covered has created a resource that is of interest and value for example to current and former residents of the region, to local history researchers, to those involved with local, organisations and societies, as well as to students at all levels of the educational sector, and to family historians.


The society commissioned freelance indexer Elaine Hall to prepare an in-depth index to all published volumes in the belief that such an index would enhance access to the impressive wealth of material that had been published in the journal over the years. The index is now approaching 500 pages, which is an indication of how much information it contains. 

Vols 1-40 Vols 41-42


          You can download a copy by clicking on the PDF icons at left. If you find any discrepancies in the                        Index, or  you believe you can correct or update any part of it, please contact the Journal editor, Sarah                Maclean at 

The index presents, in one alphabetical sequence, entries for:
– names of, for example:

o people, including the authors of contributions to the journal – Meyer, Daphne

o clubs and societies – Otaki Players Society

o churches – Rangiatea Church

o iwi and hapu – Muaupoko

o ships and other vessels – City of Auckland (ship)

o schools – Te Horo School

o businesses – Penray Gardens

o places – Kapiti Island

– subjects, for example:

o flooding

o influenza epidemic, 1918-1919

o market gardening

o rope-makers and rope-making

o whaler/Maori partnerships


Each entry is followed, on the line below, by one or more subentries (in alphabetical order of first significant word), giving information on the particular aspect of the name or subject covered, for example:

Brown, Byron Paul

planted marram grass on sand dunes

Otaki Maori Brass Band

performances on opening of Cottage Hospital


The location of the information relating to the entry follows each subentry, in the style of the volume number, and then the page number. For example, the article by Hugh T. Jones is on page 55 of volume 27.

Jones, Hugh T.

'V.J. Day – Far from Otaki' 27:55


When the index entry is for a photograph, map, drawing, or other type of illustration, this is indicated by the appropriate term following the page number, as shown below:

Tararua Range

adze found by Vosseler in Tararua, 1932 19:16drawing

Otaki Forks: sketch map detail 20:42map

Tararua Peaks 19:17photo

See references alert the user to look under a different entry. For example,

Colenso, Frances see Simcox, Frances Mary (Fanny) (née Colenso)


See also references alert the user to other entries that may be of interest. For example:


see also aircraft accidents

Battle Hill, Horokiwi

see also Horokiri engagement

Otaki Theatre

see also Cosy Theatre


The index is an Adobe Reader PDF (portable document format) file. There are three ways in which you can search
the index.

1. Find

Either: right click on your mouse and choose 'Find' from the menu

or click Ctrl + F

or choose 'Find' from the drop down 'Edit' menu at the top.


Type the text you want to search in the text box where the curser is blinking. The first occurrence of the text that you have searched will be highlighted in the index. To see any further occurrences of the text, click on the right-pointing arrow. The left pointing arrow will take you back through a sequence of occurrences. Searches are not case sensitive.

A search for a word such as 'garden' will find all occurrences of words that begin with 'garden', including: gardens, gardening, and gardeners, and whether they are the first word of a heading, or a word within a heading or subheading.

2. Full Acrobat Search

Either: click on the down arrow adjacent to the text box for the 'Find' search

or click Shift + Ctrl + F

or choose 'Advanced Search' from the drop down 'Edit' menu at the top.

A new window opens at the side of the index. As well as a box for typing in the text of your search query, there are options to limit the search to whole works only, and to words with upper- and/or lower-case. The outcome of a search is a summary of all occurrences of your search word or phrase.

For example, a search on 'Dunstan' as a whole word with an initial upper-case letter, retrieves 54 results. Clicking on those results in sequence will take you through the index to show the full entry.

Open the bookmark panel by clicking on the bookmark icon on the left of the screen (the second of the four icons).
Clicking on a letter takes you to the beginning of the alphabetic sequence for entries beginning with that letter in the index.
You can then browse the index, using either the scroll bar on the right of the screen, or the scroll bar on your mouse.
Using bookmarks is the most effective way for browsing such a large file.


To discover the contents of our previously published journals click on one of the covers below:

Volume 42
Volume 42
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Volume 41
Volume 41
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Volume 40
Volume 40
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Volume 39
Volume 39
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Volume 38
Volume 38
press to zoom
Volume 37
Volume 37
press to zoom
Volume 36
Volume 36
press to zoom
Volume 35
Volume 35
press to zoom
Volume 34
Volume 34
press to zoom


To purchase a Journal online please fill out the form below. We will post it out as soon as your funds have been received. Journals cost $20, plus postage of $5 per journal for NZ customers and $10 for Australian customers.

To pay for a journal:


• Transfer $25 by internet banking to the Otaki Historical Society, account number 38 9004 0987739 00


Please ensure you include your name and itemise "2021 Journal" and/or "Donation" etc for our file purposes.


Journals are also available for purchase at the Otaki Museum (Thursday - Saturday), PostShop, Railway Bookshop (in the village),  RiverStone Cafe.

Note: Past issues are available at varying prices from $10. Please contact or see above for pricing.

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