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Plimmerton's Historic Fire Station

Actually, our station isn't itself particularly historic... it was built by brigade members soon after World War Two, based around an old radar installation shed brought down from Paekakariki Hill.

The site itself is very significant, though. Our station sits at the exact spot that Kupe, the legendary Maori explorer, is said to have first brought his waka (canoe) ashore in New Zealand. Probably from somewhere around here he spotted the long white cloud that inspired his name for the new land, Aotearoa. Surprisingly this is not very well known locally today, and not recorded by any memorial.

And the spot continued to be important. Te Rauparaha, chief of the powerful Ngati Toa tribe, built his main pa (fortified village) here in the early 1800s.

Plimmerton fire station (at left)
and environment today...

... and then, Mana Island in background.
The station is now located at the seaward end of these palisades.
(note there are fewer rocks - these arrived in a later earthquake)

Te Rauparaha was unquestionably the paramount Maori leader in the district. Though he remained carefully impartial during the first New Zealand Wars in the Far North during 1845-46, he was strongly opposed to land sales. Governor George Grey saw him as a potential threat to British control. On the 23rd of July 1846, in a move as illegal as it was clever, he ordered a dawn raiding party to capture Te Rauparaha, ambushing him as he slept at his Plimmerton (then Taupo) pa. The spot of his capture is marked today by a carving and plaque a short distance from the fire station.

According to one account he was subdued only after one of the sailors grabbed him by the testicles. As historian James Belich notes, this is an appropriate symbol for both the morality and the effectiveness of the kidnapping. Though Te Rauparaha was released eighteen months later, the old man was weakened and had lost mana. Effective Maori opposition to British land sales and political control was over in this part of the country.

Te Rauparaha

Governor Grey

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