Topic: Yatton Park Interpretation Panels (Tauranga)

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Tauranga City Council installed information signage at Yatton Park to tell of the history of the area. It was here that the first Maori settlers established a school to train their aspiring tohunga (teachers, spiritual guides, healers). The community that grew around the school had gardens as well as food sources in the harbour and surrounding forest to sustain them. However, after tensions with the British establishment escalated into war, the land was confiscated and sold on to John Alfred Chadwick in 1864. Chadwick planted many of the trees that now make the park so special. The land changed hands a few more times in the 1900s until it was bought by the council and turned into a public park.

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Yatton Park Interpretation Panels (Tauranga)

A New Country: A New Start

In the 14th century, Tamatea Arikinui and members of his family arrived in Tauranga in the 'Takitimu' waka (canoe). They had sailed from Rarotonga to Kaitaia in the North then on to Tauranga.

Arriving at Te Awanui near the foot of Maunganui, Tamatea swam to the base of Tirikawa rock and placed the mauri stone at its base. Then, after landing at Awaiti, Tamatea and the waka's Tohunga climbed the mountain, built an altar and offered thanks for their safe arrival.

From that vantage point Tamatea-Arikinui identified Maungamana in the east for a home, and Puwhenua to the south as the highest point. He also identified the Waimapu estuary and river as the place to locate a school - a Kura wananga.

Yatton Park Interpretation Panels (Tauranga)

Tutarawananga: No Ordinary School

Tauranga's first school was located in a cave on the banks of the Waimapu River. A pa was built on this headland to support the tohunga (teachers) and their students. Children with the right blood lines were chosen and their learning took place over seven years. They were taught from the three baskets of knowledge - Tuaurei, Tuatea and Aronui. They learned about their past and to control the world they lived in now. They learned how to read the stars, how to fight, how to teach and how to heal. They were future tohunga, carriers of knowledge, priests, wise men.

Yatton Park Interpretation Panels (Tauranga)

A Time of Change and Loss

Over the years many renowned tohunga taught at the wananga including Rongokako (Tamatea's son), Te Kaponga and Taiwhanake. But their traditional teaching methods were disrupted with the arrival of European settlers and the subsequent conflict. For the people of Tutarawananga the war was devastating, Their lands were confiscated and the wananga was forced to shift further up the river.

The Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907, which sought to reduce the influence of traditional lore and supposedly dangerous 'false' teachings, also had an impact but the school survived. However, by the early 1970s the number of teachers and pupils with the right knowledge and bloodlines had declined and Tutarawananga became part of the past.

Yatton Park Interpretation Panels (Tauranga)

Settlers and Survivors

1864: The area now including Yatton Park was confiscated after the land war and gifted to Hamiora Tu, who aided the British forces in the battle of Gate Pa.

1867: John Alfred Chadwick bought 398 acres from Hamiora which he named Yatton Estate (probably after a place of that name in England). As well as growing wheat John Alfred planted many exotic trees - now giants in the present day park.

1884: The property was bought by Lucy Mansel. An English woman in her fifties, Lucy emigrated to New Zealand with her six nephews and helped run the farm. She had the original four room house enlarged to an impressive homestead with eight bedrooms, a drawing room, dining room, kitchen, dairy and outbuildings. The gardens were landscaped and soon Yatton became a focal point for the social life of the district.

1898: The property was subdivided, with Lucy retaining the 37 acre homestead block.

1916-1918: When Lucy died, aged 85, the homestead was bought by Charles Rackham. Unfortunately the house burned down just a year or two later.

1919: John Boyd bought 24 acres of the block to mill its mature pines. He then gave the property and the house he had built, to his daughter Myrtle and son-in-law, Phil Douglas.

1950s: A saw mill was set up on Yatton land in the early 50s to mill native timber from the Oropi forests. It operated until the late 1980s. Douglas wanted to preserve the impressive exotic trees that had been planted by Chadwick. He suggested that the land be made into a park and 171/2 acres were purchased by the Crown in 1954 for £7,500.

1960s & 1970s: The newly formed Tauranga City Council became responsible for Yatton Park in 1963. In the 1970s the park was cleared of scrub, landscaped and the walking tracks established.

Yatton Park Interpretation Panels (Tauranga)

this page was archvied at perma cc march 2017

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Yatton Park Interpretation Panels (Tauranga)


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