The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
Oakura is a small coastal town about eight miles to the south-west of New Plymouth, on the New Plymouth-Opunake road. It is in the Wairau survey district of the Taranaki land district, in the Omata riding of the county of Taranaki. Oakura has a post office and telephone bureau, one hotel, a store, and a blacksmith's shop, and there is also a town hall, in which services are held by visiting clergymen. The Oakura Dairy Factory is in active operation during the season. The area of good land in the neighbourhood of Oakura is restricted, owing to the mountain range coming very near to the coast line at this point. During the native troubles a considerable amount of fighting took place in the neighbourhood. There is regular coach communication by the New Plymouth-Opunake line.
The Oakura Public School is one of the old established schools in the Taranaki district. It contains one class room, a lobby, and two porches. There is also a teacher's residence of five rooms. The number on the roll is forty, and the average attendance thirty-five.
Miss Alice Grace Bartlett, D1, was appointed Teacher of the Oakura school in the year 1905. She was born in the New Plymouth district, and educated at Otakeho and in Hawera. After serving as a cadet in Hawera she went to Otakeho, where she remained for three years. She then served successively in the Terrace End, Mangamahu, Fitzherbert East, and Awatuna schools, before receiving her present appointment.
Captain Francis Joseph Mace, J.P., who occupies a prominent place in Gudgeon's “Defenders of New Zealand,” took a very active and gallant part in the Taranaki Maori war, and his name is inseparable from its history. He was born in Madeira, in the year 1837, and was educated in Leamington, Warwickshire, and at Islington, London, England. In 1856 he came to New Zealand with his parents in the ship “St. Michael,” direct to New Plymouth. The family at once entered upon pioneer life, taking up land at Omata. Mr. Mace had a great deal of experience among the Maoris in connection with Mr. Wellington Carrington, and became familiar with the native language. When, in 1860, the settlers of Omata erected a stockade, in consequence of rumours that unfriendly natives were on their way from the south, Mr. Mace volunteered for service under Captain Rurton, the commanding officer, and while acting as a scout, he discovered the rebels at Wairau, 500 strong. He gave the alarm, and warned the settlers to retire to the stockade, but Mr. Ford, disregarding the advice, paid the penalty with his life. Captain Burton, wishing to know whether the rebels were erecting fortifications, sent young Mace to reconnoitre. While galloping alone up the Waireka Hill, he met two natives—and named Apia, whom he knew—and was warned by them that no white man would be allowed to pass. With diffienlty, he persuaded Apia to return with him to see Captain Burton and Captain Good. On Apia leaving, shots were fired, killing Ford, Pasome, Shaw, and two boys, Mr. Mace next volunteered to ride into New Plymouth with despatches, and though repeatedly fired at, he accomplished the dangerous duty without injury. After this he acted as guide to Captain Cracroft of H.M.S. “Niger. It is Captain Mace's opinion that nearly five years' warfare might have been avoided if the capture of Waireka Pa by Captain Cracroft's volunteers had been judiciously and actively followed up. Old Abraham, the leading chief, was killed, but no sufficiently decisive victory was gained, and the turbulent natives continued their depredations. On joining the Mounted Volunteers, Mr. Mace was made orderly to Colonel Carey, and was thus engaged at Waitara for about two years. He had a horse shot under him, and was twice wounded by spent bullets. For his services in the Omata and Waitara campaigns he received the thanks of Governor Gore Browne, who offered him a commission, which he declined. On a truce being proclaimed at Waitara, Mr. Mace returned to New Plymouth, served under Colonel Sir W. J. Warre, was promoted to the rank of ensign in 1862, had command of the Mounted Volunteers, and was foremost in all the skirmishes of that time. In July, 1863, he received his lieutenancy, went recruiting in Dunedin, and returned with 150 men. He was promoted to the rank of captain; and Colonel Haultain, then Defence Minister, acknowledged that the Taranaki Mounted Volunteers, under Captain Mace, were, as a corps, second to none in the colony. He was frequently mentioned in despatches, and immediately after the war was awarded the New Zealand Cross. Captain Mace can tell of many stirring episodes in the war. He was wounded in an ambuseade at Warea, where a small party was surrounded by seventy natives. At the taking of Abraham's pa he had his horses killed and wounded under him. Captain Mace was subsequently for about five years a member of the Provincial Council of Taranaki, and for over twenty years was a member of the Oakura Road Board, of which he was also chairman for a considerable period. He has also been chairman of the local school committee, and member of the Licensing Committee. He has been a Justice of the Peace since the conclusion of the war, and has been a Freemason since 1863. In 1863 he married a daughter of Mr. Hamer Arden, one of Taranaki's early settler's, and has two daughters and four sons. Two of his sons have leased from their father a fine 300 acre freehold farm at Wairau.