Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Waitara, New Zealand
According to the 2001 census the usually-resident population of Waitara was 6250, a decrease of 4% since 1996.
The establishment of government in New Zealand occurred on 30 June 1852 with the Imperial Parliament at Westminster passing an Act granting representative institutions (partial self-government) to New Zealand. The colony was provided with six provinces. Under the Town Boards of Taranaki Ordinance in the 1870s Raleigh was created. The Counties Act in 1876 created 63 counties but the Board of Raleigh was kept separate from the Taranaki County.
There had been considerable activity on the ground before those times. Since before the 1820s whalers and sealers had enlisted the help of Maori in their work and had offered help and weapons (guns) to the Te Atiawa chiefs and their ally to the north, the Maori chief Te Rauparaha.
When Pakeha settlers came to New Plymouth in the 1840s and '50s they found that it was not the place that they had hoped for and they attempted to move to better areas in Taranaki. Wiremu Kingi te Rangitake the paramount Te Atiawa chief, now living with his people some 150 miles (240 km) to the south at Waikanae, did not want Europeans to move anywhere else, especially into Waitara and would not sell the land. To the settlers the Waitara River offered a good sheltered harbour for shipping whereas New Plymouth, where the settlers were living, did not have anything suitable (a consequence of buying sight-unseen!).
Maori owned land by tribal group-ownership. It was the privilege of the senior chief to disburse lands and tribes didn't necessarily have to be resident on any land to claim it. Land could be taken by force but it could be taken back by more force and a level of revenge (utu).
When surveyors went to Waitara to plot the land and divide it into lots they planted pegs to indicate their measurements. Maori people—old men, women and children—came along behind them and pulled up the pegs. The next day the military commander gave the Maori 24 hours to apologise and withdraw. Wiremu Kingi replied that he did not want war but he would not give up the land. Martial law was proclaimed in Taranaki on 22 February. The Militia and Taranaki Rifle Volunteers were called out. People abandoned their country farms and withdrew to New Plymouth. Some women and children were sent to Nelson as shipping was available.
Governor Browne came down from Auckland with the British Army's Colonel Gold and four companies of the 65th Regiment. Gold decided to build a garrison (Waitara Camp) on the block to protect the survey. On 5 March 1860 about 400 British army men and about 200 others marched from New Plymouth to occupy the camp.
This situation lead, on 17 March, to war between the Pakeha and the Maori, this became part of what was called the First Taranaki War and, mainly, the Maori won the battles. However they lost the ownership of the land. There is a good outline of this first battle here: http://www.balagan.org.uk/war/nz/1860.htm —It is interesting to note that the Taranaki Wars are not listed by the British Army in their "The Army in the 18th and 19th centuries" exploits. Nor did they learn any tactics and they repeated the same mistakes in the First Boer War and other turn-of-the-century campaigns.
Recently the government of New Zealand appologised for confiscation of the lands. See: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Community/005~Conservation-and-Maori/Settlements/008~Te-Atiawa-Settlement-Heads-of-Agreement.asp
The first port in Taranaki to engage in international trade was Waitara, in 1823, when the barque William Stoveld anchored in the river mouth and traded with the Maori. With the establishment of the freezing works in 1872 the river port became even more important to the Province.
Two large petrochemical plants form the largest part of Waitara's industrial activity. The Waitara Valley plant is dedicated to production of methanol from natural gas (about 1500 tonnes per day. The Motonui plant, originally designed to produce synthetic petrol from methanol now produces chemical grade methanol. The high cost of synthetic petrol production and low market prices made the process uneconomical at the time. Motonui has the two largest wooden structures in the southern hemisphere and they are only exceeded by a temple in Japan for size anywhere.
The Motonui plant closed permanently on 17th December, 2004. A shore production facility for the new Pohokura oilfield is being built immediately adjacent to it.
Supporting the surrounding farming industry is a significant activity for local businesses.
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