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



The most valuable source for this study has been the files of the Hawera Star. Founded in April 1880, the Star gave exemplary coverage of south Taranaki life throughout our period. Since it sought to maintain a circulation throughout the rural districts, it shared the settlers' deep interest in roads and transport services. It closely followed the settlers' farming fortunes, page 21

Joel and Charlotte Prestidge and family, about 1902. Back row (with bith birth years): Lilian '89, Arthur '80, Fanny '78, Thomas '86, Front row: Kenneth '96, Leewis '88, CHARLOTTE '55, Enid '93, JOEL '50, James '99, Edward '82, Albert '92. These are the founding stock of an extensive South Taranaki farming clan

kept a careful eye on the activities of all the local bodies, and maintained competent local correspondents who gave an in-depth coverage of the unfolding life of all the main districts. Nevertheless, the first decade of settlement was for Kaponga one of half-hidden years, partly because for the earlier years its fortunes were reported rather vaguely as part of the wider world of the ‘Kaupokonui’, but also because no files of the Star seem to have survived for the period from the end of June 1888 to the beginning of October 1891 — the crucial years of the township's meteoric rise and the consequent recentring of the district's life. From October 1891 onwards the Star gave a rich coverage of Kaponga affairs and of their regional context. The Star material has been extensively checked against other sources, such as local and national archives, official papers and other newspapers. These have largely confirmed the quality and accuracy of the Star material, while their scattered and incomplete nature has made it clear that without the Star an in-depth study such as this would have been impossible. Handling the Star files has also been of great value in achieving our aim of seeing the Kaponga story against its global setting. For this wider setting a combing of the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives has proved particularly rewarding.