Hawera is the second-largest town in the Taranaki region of New Zealand's North Island, with a population of 11,800.
It is near the coast of the South Taranaki Bight.Hawera is 75 kilometres south of New Plymouth on State Highway 3 and 30 minutes' drive from Mount Taranaki. It is located on State Highway 45, known as Surf Highway 45 for its numerous surf beaches.
State Highway 45 passes through Manaia, Opunake and Oakura en route to New Plymouth. Kaponga is a 20-minute drive to the north-west. The Marton–New Plymouth Line railway passes through Hawera and has served the town since 1 August 1881, though it has been freight-only since the cancellation of the last railcar passenger service between Wellington and New Plymouth on 30 July 1977.
Hawera is Māori for "burnt place", from fighting between two local sub-tribes, which culminated in the setting ablaze of the sleeping whare (house) of the tribe under attack.
The name became apt when the town suffered extensive blazes in 1884, 1888, and 1912.
For this reason a large water tower was built in the centre of town to increase water pressure; and this became one of Taranaki's best-known landmarks (appearing, for example, on the cover of the 1974 telephone directory). After falling into disrepair the tower was closed to the public in 2001, but after an extensive restoration program it opened again in 2004.
Hawera is also home to Tawhiti Museum, well known for its hand-crafted life-sized wax sculptures depicting scenes of local heritage and history, and its scale models of local Maori pa.
Originally part of the home garden of community leader and farmer Charles Goodson, the Dell was first developed as a swimming pool by damming a small spring. The swimming hole was lined by tidy concrete steps (1), and a bridge stretched over the spot where many Hawera children learnt to swim and paddle a boat. The Dell's trees, many of which are over 100 years old, include a magnificent Swamp Cypress.
Over the years, the garden has been divided and sold. The swimming hole was drained and the garden fell into wrack and ruin until four walking friends from the Hawera Women's Club - known as the Goodson Guerrillas - decided to do something about it. Together the group created the gorgeous Goodson Dell.
This park offers many pleasant opportunities to sit and enjoy the pretty vistas the Guerrillas have developed and enhanced. There is also a chance of meeting one of them spending an hour or two weeding or pruning, perhaps adding a seedling or two and ensuring the Goodson Dell is picture-perfect for future generations
King Edward Park offers pleasant picnic spots in tranquil locations, spectacular floral borders and rose gardens, dramatic seasonal changes and a wide range of amenities and attractions. Commissioned in 1875 and opened in 1902, the park commemorates the coronation of Edward VII. The two oak trees standing near the main entrance were planted during the opening ceremony.
Intended to showcase plants suited to the South Taranaki environment, the park been designed around a formal base of two intersecting avenues.
Championed by community leader and horticultural enthusiast Charles Goodson, many of the specimen trees and plants he introduced still remain today, notably the totara hedge planted in 1905, along with extensive daffodil beds, of which he was a noted breeder, and scented Luculia, a species he introduced to New Zealand. After his death, the Hawera Horticultural Society created the Goodson Memorial Garden, which offers spectacularly colourful rhododendrons and azaleas.
Equally spectacular is the park's model boating lake (1), an expansive man- made pond that reflects surrounding trees and floral borders, and is home to many ducks and the occasional model yacht or power boat. The recently restored park gates (2) were erected to mark the Hawera Industrial Exhibition of 1904 and the District's troops lost in the South African War.
The statue of pioneer farmer Albert Arthur Fantham (3) has surveyed the pork for a century. The 167 year old naval cannon (4), which never fired a shot in anger, and the park's observatory (5), hich began life as a band rotunda over a tea kiosk, were both installed in 1912.
A unique feature is the Wendy Statue (6), created in England to commemorate Hawera mayor James Campbell, who died in office. The sculpture is the companion piece to the statue of Peter Pan in London's Kensington Gardens and has been in place since 1951. Built by the local Lions Club the pirate ship and tree fort (7) continue the Peter Pan theme and offer a popular playground.
The Whareroa dairy factory, 4 km south-southwest of the township, is the largest dairy complex in the world in terms of output.
The complex is owned by Fonterra, having been built by the former Kiwi Co-operative Dairies Limited (whose original plant opened on that site in 1975).
During peak season, the complex employs 1,000 people and processes up to 14 million litres of milk per day. Electricity and heat used at Whareroa is generated by an on-site gas-fired power plant, with excess electricity fed into the national grid.
A horticultural oasis in the heart of dairy country, Hollard Gardens is an intriguing and relaxing destination all year round. Primarily a plant collection, much of the informal four hectare garden is woodland. The gardens are renowned for their repository of plants, representing exotic introductions and New Zealand-bred plants spanning the last 75 years.
Hollard Gardens is the achievement of a lifetime's work by Bernie and Rose Hollard. Bernie came from a local dairy farming family and began the garden in 1927. An avid plant collector he had a reputation as one of this country's foremost plantsmen.
The garden is a monument to his patience and horticultural skill, and offers intimate gardens, hidden paths, expansive lawns and swamp gardens.
Bernie's Home Garden (1) features vegetables, herbs, a food forest, chooks and a beehive, and is a venue for regular home gardening workshops. The children's playground area (2) offers a free gas barbeque and gazebo, making this garden retreat the ideal spot for a family day out Whether you're an expert gardener or just have a passing interest, the huge array of plants at Hollard Gardens will fascinate and absorb you. There are spectacular mountain views from a number of vantage points. Hollard Gardens is owned and managed by the Taranaki Regional Council.
YOUR GUIDE TO LIVING IN SOUTH TARANAKI
M P Condon
Part 1 . Part 2