The evolution of the rural settlement pattern of lowland South Taranaki, 1860-1920
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The settlement pattern forms the basis of any cultural landscape and it is the aim of this study in historical geography to trace its evolution in lowland South Taranaki in order to explain that landscape's final appearance. This pattern has evolved from the time of first European settlement and its study from a historical and geographical viewpoint allows the contribution of each stage in its evolution to be illustrated. To this end not only is where the people were important, but also why they were there and the intensity of their occupance. South Taranaki 's settlement pattern has formed around Agriculture, and as a result there is little need to distinguish between urban and rural uses of the land in the case of concentrations of settlement. The townships such as Ohangi, Oeo, and Matapu for example are an integral part of the rural scene as they exist only to serve their local farmers. The larger centres such as Hawera and Eltham serve a wider community than that provided by the districts' farmers but insofar as they have grown from and contributed to the rural districts they will be included as part of the rural settlement pattern. The area studied is bounded in the north by a line from Opunake through Ngaere to the edge of the hill country of inland Taranaki. This hill country and the Patea river to its mouth at Patea forms the eastern boundary (see figure 5). The coastline from Patea to Opunake forms the south western boundary. These boundaries are set not so much to argue that this area is distinct geographically as because by concentrating on a relatively small area the many factors which make up a settlement pattern can be illustrated. In addition available source material also favours this delimitation as it was the circulation area for The Hawera and Normanby Star and the Egmont Star the two major primary sources. This area includes all of the Hawera and Waimate West counties together with parts of the Patea, Eltham and Egmont counties (see figure 4). A boundary based more on county lines was considered but discarded as these had undergone many changes. The emerging of stable administrative boundaries is in itself one theme in the settlement patterns evolution. The settlement pattern in its final form was a European creation. The time period covered therefore is from 1860 when large numbers of Europeans began to settle to 1920 by which time the pattern had emerged in its final form. Most of the development took place between 1880 and 1900, while after 1920 the emphasis is on greater efficiency in farming interrupted by the depression of the 1930's.