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Settler Kaponga 1881–1914 — A Frontier Fragment of the Western World

Boundaries: ‘Kaupokonui’ to Kaponga

Boundaries: ‘Kaupokonui’ to Kaponga

What are the boundaries of our Settler Kaponga community? A simple answer is that we are concerned with those folk who looked upon Kaponga township as their local centre. But history is never too simple. As we saw from Joel Prestidge's reminiscences, the township was not there for the pioneers; their local centres were Manaia or Okaiawa, and they were lumped in with a wider group, the ‘Kaupokonui’ settlers, the folk up in the bush sections of the Kaupokonui Survey Districts. Not till towards the end of the first decade was the name Kaponga coming into frequent use. At the start we shall have to be content with much reporting covering the larger Kaupokonui community, but at the personal level we are concerned with those who in due course came to centre their local affairs on the rising Kaponga township.

We will use the term ‘Kaponga District’ for a clearly defined area whose settlers will receive our closest attention. These are those spread between the farms along Mangawhero Road to the west and Palmer Road to east, with northern and southern boundaries provided by the mountain and the Te Roti-Opunake railway. Settlers south of the railway and along Skeet Road tended to centre on Manaia and Okaiawa; those to the east of Palmer Road on Eltham and its outlier Mangatoki, or on Stratford if living in the northern reaches. The western boundary proved the most fluid throughout. Early Rowan and Mangawhero Road settlers made their way in via Skeet Road and at first tended to look south to Manaia, but when Eltham Road was at last properly formed and bridged Kaponga won over not only them but also settlers further to the west at Awatuna East and Makaka. Wherever folk outside the bounds chose to centre their lives on Kaponga they will be given their full place in our story. We will use the term ‘Kaponga district’ (i.e. without the capital ‘D’) when referring to this broader, less clearly defined group.