Story: Manawatū and Horowhenua places
Page 7 – Beneath the Tararua Range
Locality and railway station on the Wellington–Manawatū rail line, 11 km south-west of Palmerston North. Linton was named after Palmerston North early settler and mayor James Linton, but no township developed. In 1945 Linton military camp was built 3.5 kilometres to the north-east. This became the country’s largest in 1985 when the permanent force at Singapore was relocated there. More units have transferred from Auckland and Waiōuru. An adjacent prison, first for youths and later for adults, opened in 1971.
Township 21 km south-west of Palmerston North, with a 2006 population of 516. Tokomaru started as a station on the Wellington–Manawatū railway line in 1886. It lies in a farming district extending north to Linton and west to Ōpiki, between the Manawatū River and the Tararua Range. The steam engine museum, a private collection, has drawn visitors since 1970.
Hard work at Ōpiki
In the 1940s and 1950s several Māori families lived in camps at Ōpiki, working for vegetable growers. May Te Peeti recalled that ‘children worked alongside their parents, digging up potatoes, carrots, and parsnips with four-pronged forks and shearing knives … Steel from the old winding gramophones was the best for making special knives to weed rows and rows of onions a mile long’. 1
Former flax-growing area on State Highway 56, on the south (left) bank of the Manawatū River. Converted into farms in the 1920s, it was mostly pasture except for some potato and onion cropping. A distinctive suspension toll bridge across the river operated from 1918 to 1969.
Township 30 km south-west of Palmerston North and 17 km north-east of Levin, with a 2006 population of 1,371. Known as Te Maire, the town planned on the site by the New Zealand Company in the 1840s was never built. The first settlers to Shannon, named after a director of the Wellington and Manawatū Railway company, arrived after land sales in 1887. Flax milling, the development of farmland, and dam building at Mangahao kept the town buoyant until the 1920s.
Many Māori casual workers were re-housed in Shannon from rural shacks in the 1950s and 1960s. In 2006, 40% of the population identified with Māori ethnicity (compared with 14.6% nationally). Manufacturing businesses, set up in the 1960s, were reduced to only one by 1987. In 2001 the Richmond fellmongery was the town’s largest employer. Owlcatraz, an educational park, is a tourist attraction.
Mangahao power station and dams
Located 10 km into the Tararua Range from Shannon. Water from the east-flowing Mangahao River is channelled through pipelines on the steep slope above the station. The drop is more than five times that at Niagara Falls in North America, ending at the west-flowing Mangaore Stream.
The risk of sudden floods complicated construction in the 1920s. The river’s normal flow could quickly become a massive 510 cubic metres per second, sweeping away equipment and levelling earthworks. The tunnelling was also dangerous, and seven people died. Prime Minister Bill Massey opened the dam on 3 November 1924. At that time Mangahao was the country’s largest power station, but it is now one of the smallest. Today it has a capacity of 38 MW, compared with 360 MW for the Tongariro power scheme, for example. Mangahao is run by Todd Energy and King Country Energy. Annual national kayak and canoe championships are held on the Mangaore Stream.