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Again Points: John Stewart the pioneering city planner of Manawatū

Driving, biking or strolling the roads and streets of Palmerston North, Feilding, Rongotea and Halcombe, it is simple to neglect the routes by which we journey weren’t at all times there.

Palmerston North and its environs have been as soon as bush and swampland, and moa walked on what’s now Albert Avenue.

A moa footprint discovered there can nonetheless be seen in a plaster-cast taken of it in 1912, held at Te Manawa.

Someone deliberate and laid out the cities and thoroughfares of Manawatū, and that any person was John Tiffin Stewart. His title de él lives on in Mt Stewart (Whakaari), 1000’s of kilometers from his birthplace of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, Scotland.

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John Stewart's signature can be seen in the bottom right of this watercolor drawing he did of the construction of the Upper Gorge Bridge (Woodville end), 1874.

Manawatū Heritage

John Stewart’s signature may be seen within the backside proper of this watercolor drawing he did of the development of the Higher Gorge Bridge (Woodville finish), 1874.

Born in 1827, Stewart was the son of Agnes Oliphant and John Stewart, commander of a fisheries cutter. He studied engineering in Glasgow earlier than following his brothers to the Australian goldfields.

Three years later he emigrated to New Zealand, the place he grew to become a surveyor for the Authorities. Stewart mapped the Manawatū River and surveyed roads within the Wairarapa area earlier than transferring to Foxton in 1864.

The next yr he married Frances Ann Carkeek. The couple lived in Foxton for twenty-four years, and had 10 youngsters.

Frances was apparently involved for her security and that of their youngsters as her husband was always away on surveying journeys, so he gave her a pistol to defend herself with. It wasn’t till a few years later that she realized the pistol was not loaded.

Within the 1860s the Authorities was buying land in Waitotara and Manawatū for European settlement, and Stewart, who had realized to talk te reo fluently, was concerned with the Authorities’s negotiations.

He stored notes of those negotiations, information of that are held within the Ian Matheson Metropolis Archives. A proficient watercolourist, he supplemented these notes with energetic illustrations.

Stewart recorded in his pocket book that Te Hiriwanu, the principal chief at Raukawa Pa, advised him, “You might be holding to the rivers in your survey and you’ll inform the Govt. that there are solely water and shingle in our Block. Now I’ll present [show] you one thing higher.”

Te Hiriwanu led him to “a positive clear area within the bush northward of the higher a part of the river, between Maraetarata and Te Wi. This opening is named Papaioea and would type web site for a township.”

And so, the thought of ​​Palmerston – later, Palmerston North, to keep away from confusion with the city down south – was born.

Te Hiriwanu, the principal chief at Raukawa Pa, was on good terms with Stewart.

William Henry Thomas Partington/Alexander Turnbull Library

Te Hiriwanu, the principal chief at Raukawa Pa, was on good phrases with Stewart.

Stewart loved the respect of Māori, a respect he returned: “In surveying this huge block (Ahuaturanga) I additionally laid out the native reserves and had no disputes with the Māories (sic), and I have to bear testimony to their honorable conduct all by the time I used to be amongst them.”

Stewart’s notes usually are not the dry, impersonal accounts of officialdom: he included observations, impressions, sketches and jokes at his personal expense. On this anecdote, for instance, he mocks his personal self-importance of him, his dignity of him undone by a chicken.

“I had been addressing a big assembly of natives within the wharerunga or council home on a matter of appreciable political significance, and had been urging my views with all of the earnestness the topic demanded; instantly on conclusion of my speech, and earlier than the previous chief, to whom my arguments have been mainly addressed, had time to answer, a tui whose netted cage hung to a rafter overhead, responded in a transparent emphatic means: ‘Tito! False!’

“The circumstance naturally precipitated a lot merriment amongst my viewers, and fairly upset the gravity of the venerable previous chief Nepia Taratoa. ‘Good friend,’ he stated, laughing, ‘your arguments are superb, however my mokai is a really sensible chicken, and he isn’t but satisfied’.”

A Stewart pencil and watercolor drawing of the building of the gorge road, looking up Gorge from westward, 1871.

Manawatū Heritage

A Stewart pencil and watercolor drawing of the constructing of the gorge highway, wanting up Gorge from westward, 1871.

Typically it is what Stewart does not say that’s most revealing. For instance, he dryly information that, “Once we have been camped close to Te Awa Huri Pa in 1859 I bear in mind Main Biggs who was subsequently killed within the Poverty Bay bloodbath was there. A lot for 1859.”

Stewart was answerable for the planning and subdivision of the area’s cities. The city squares of Palmerston North, Feilding, Halcombe and Rongotea are all his doing. He designated highway and rail bridges all through Manawatū and Rangitīkei, and the highway by Te Āpiti – Manawatū Gorge.

His power and resourcefulness have been legendary. His plans have been too helpful to be trusted to the rare and unreliable mails, and he would usually stroll from Palmerston North to Wellington to ship them to the Authorities – ​​after which stroll again once more.

Between 1868 and 1871 Stewart labored on the design of the Whanganui city bridge, contributing a wood extension as the unique design was too quick. He moved along with his household to Whanganui in 1885, the place he rapidly grew to become concerned in native affairs.

He was elected that yr to the borough council, and served because the Authorities’s consultant on the Whanganui River Belief.

Stewart's drawing of the Manawatū Gorge Road looking towards Ashhurst, 1874.

Manawatū Heritage

Stewart’s drawing of the Manawatū Gorge Highway wanting in the direction of Ashhurst, 1874.

Collectively along with his daughter and son-in-law, Stewart submitted a plan, efficiently adopted, for the event of Virginia Lake.

He was keenly involved in meteorology, music, and astronomy, and he additionally embraced philanthropic and charitable causes such because the Whanganui Orphanage.

The Stewarts’ house was bequeathed of their will as a Karitane hospital for new child infants, and it was later used to take care of sufferers throughout the influenza epidemic of 1918.

Stewart Home, a grand two-storey villa in Campbell Avenue, Whanganui, nonetheless stands at present. Certainly Whanganui has as a lot declare to John Tiffin Stewart as Manawatū does.

He died there in 1913, and is buried along with his spouse and eldest son within the Heads Highway Cemetery.

Tim Upperton is a author residing in Palmerston North.

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