History

 

Taradale has a rich heritage stemming from its key role as the original gateway to the inland routes (including Taupo, Auckland and Taihape) and to the farms and settlements of its hinterland.

In 1851 Donald McLean purchased, on behalf of the Crown, the Ahuriri Block which included present-day Taradale and Greenmeadows. By the mid-1850s settlers began flocking to the province. The government purchased the Tutaekuri Block in 1856 which was subdivided, with Ahuriri Block, as the river Meeanee District and released for sale in April 1857.

William Colenso purchased several blocks of land, a large block in Puketapu, Meeanee and 364 near Otatara. This block stretched from Guppy Road to the Puketapu hills and was bounded by the Great North Road (now Meeanee/Puketapu Roads) and the Tutaekuri River. Henry Stokes Tiffen bought most of the land north of the road to Puketapu and west of Guppy Road and named it Green Meadows after the native danthonia grass which covered the region. Henry Alley came to the area and leased land from Colenso in 1858, naming the area Taradale.

Several hundred years ago there was a large Māori pā on the hills at the southern edge of what is now Taradale. Originally a double pā, the top part was called Hikurangi and the bottom Otatara. Occupied by a tribe known as Tini-o-Awa or Ngati Awa, the pā terraces enclosed about 100 hectares and were home to around 3000 Māori. The pā was on an excellent defensive site beside the Tutaekuri River, which was navigable by canoe from the sea. Food was plentiful, the hillsides were suitable for kumara growing and much of the area was a large tidal location with fish, eels and shellfish.

The pā was attacked early in the 16th century by the Ngāti Kahungunu tribe under chiefs Taraia and Rakai-hiku-roa. They came from Turanga, near what is now Gisborne, and defeated the Hikurangi pā. Unable to take Otatara at that time, Taraia set up a new pā at Pakowhai. Sometime later he organised another war party and again besieged Otatara. Legend has it that Taraia waited until the defenders were short of food. He then left, leaving a small party concealed near a patch of fern. The defenders sent two men out to dig for fern roots. They were ambushed then killed and their places taken by two of Taraia's men. When the defenders saw the men digging, they thought them to be from Otatara so they opened up the pā and went out to help. Taraia's men attacked and killed many of the local Māori. The pā then collapsed and was abandoned.

Over the year’s marriages took place between local Māori and Ngāti Kahungunu and peace was restored. Today the Otatara pā site has become a memorial to the Māori who were so prevalent in the area many years ago.