Historic site: Taupo Wetland

"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again."

- Maya Angelou.

Image of Taupo wetland, c.1937.
Taupo wetland, c.1937.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref C.2.4

Taupo Wetland is two kilometres north-west of the Ohariu Fault and the area has been tectonically uplifted by a series of surface rupture earthquakes between 700-3,900 years ago (Cochran et. al 2007). The southern end of the swamp has been drained and developed for farming and industrial use. And studies have shown that the wetland was once wetter than it is today (Cochran, 2000).

The wetland holds special cultural and spiritual value for Maori people. Taua-tapu track which linked Taupo pa (Plimmerton) and Waimapihi pa (Pukerua Bay) historically gave access to the wetland where mahinga kai and flax was gathered.

In the 1880s a number of prominent businessmen among them, Messrs Plimmer, Levin and Shannon formed a company to provide flax for mills at Foxton. They also established the Wellington Manawatu Railway Company which opened in 1886.

As the demand for flax increased plants were gathered from a variety of sources for planting in the swamp which accelerated the natural process of plant succession and ensured a ready supply of flax for the market.

It is unclear when flax harvesting ceased with some accounts saying it had stopped by 1947 and others saying 1966. Flax was only ever harvested at Taupo Swamp, not processed, so there is little if any signs of the industry that can be seen today. The swamp area was purchased in 1986 by the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.

Continue to Plimmerton signpost stories or return to Plimmerton.