Issue 40

The 2018 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.

Forty Years of History

Kia ora

In 1978, the editor of the first journal, Gordon Dempsey, wrote 'The Otaki Historical Society has much pleasure in presenting to the public the first Volume of its Historical Journal. It does so in the hope that … its contents [will] stimulate an interest in the Maori and Pakeha history of the district …’. Forty years on, the journal continues to foster that interest.

In this year’s issue we learn about the extensive gardens of Ngati Raukawa which now lie under our feet, our homes and our roads. This history is even more important as the new expressway reshapes our landscape once again. We also hear the story of a local artist whose modelling skills were good enough to fool Wellington bureaucrats in World War Two.

There are stories of public and private issues facing nineteenth century women both in childbirth and the struggle for the vote. You can read the tale of a visit by a 1920s celebrity, the story behind the health camp rotunda and advice on how to research family lineage and whakapapa. Locals also describe their memories which include primary school outings, staying at the health camp, work in a family restaurant and holidays at Otaki Beach.

The anniversaries of local organisations focus attention on our history and this year we celebrate the achievements of the Otaki Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Otaki Scholar and the Hawaikinui Tuarua Waka Ama Club.

The journal is sent to many areas of New Zealand including private homes and public and university libraries. A copy is ordered by Harvard University in the USA and we send them to Australia and Singapore too. Families also buy the journal to send to other family members overseas. In these days of soundbites and Twitter, some may say ‘Who cares?’ Our distribution shows how many people do care, all over the world.

Sarah Maclean, Editor


PHOTO: Plinth discovered on northern side of Otaki River near railway bridge. Thought to be a signalling device to help with crossing the river in the 1800s.

See page 37. Vol 40. OHS 2018 Journal

Photo courtesy Jim Matheson; September 2018

The 2018 journal is $25 (+ $4 (each) post and packing for mail orders) available by ordering and paying via the link below; by contacting Maurice King ( or 06 364-7311); by sending payment details to Otaki Historical Society, PO Box 50, Otaki 5542; or from Otaki Museum, RiverStone Café, Otaki Postshop, Railway Bookshop, Caltex Service Station and Beacon Bookshop, Levin.


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.

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.


You can download a copy by clicking on the PDF icon or this link. 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, Ian Carson, here. The Otaki Historical Society thanks professional indexer Elaine Hall for her valuable work. 

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 40
Volume 38
Volume 37
Volume 36
Volume 35
Volume 34
Volume 33
Volume 32
Volume 31
Show More


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 $25, plus postage of $4 per journal for NZ customers and $10 for Australian customers.

To pay for a journal:


• Transfer $29 by internet banking to the Otaki Historical Society, account number 38 9004 0987739 00; or

• Pay by cheque and post to Otaki Historical Society, PO Box 50, Otaki 5514


Please ensure you include your name and itemise "2018 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), The Tele, RiverStone Cafe and Caltex. Also the Beacon Bookshop in Levin.

Note: Past issues are available at varying prices from $5. Please contact for pricing.


Otaki Historical Society, P O Box 50, Otaki 5512