Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Toko Street, link to telegrams and telegraph poles.

Toko Street, a history by Sandra Quinn

Toko St from Victoria St

Photos by Sandra Quinn taken 2015.

Victoria Lodge on corner of Toko & Victoria Sts.





Toko Street was named after Roger Delemere Dansey who was the Postmaster for Rotorua at the time of the Tarawera Eruption (1, 2, 3). Probably owing to his association with telegraph poles, Dansey was nicknamed Toko, meaning pole (2).

Dansey is well known for sending a Telegram letting the outside world know of the “fearful night” of the Tarawera Eruption and also as the Chairman of the Rotorua Town Board from
1895-1897 (4, 5).

Four things you may not know about Roger Delemere Dansey.

1.   He’d just got home from a birthday party when he started noticing strange happenings on the night of the Tarawera Eruption. Both he and another local man, J.H. Taylor, shared the 9th of June as a birthday (4, 6, 7). You can listen to some of Dansey’s terrifying and fascinating account of the Eruption online at the links below or come into the Library and listen to his full account (6, 7).

2.   The duo, Rosy Tin Teacaddy,  wrote a song about Roger Dansey called “Telegrams and ashes” as part of the album “Mountains are all men” for the 125th Anniversary of the Eruption (8 ,9).

3.   Dansey may not have ended up as the postmaster and Chairman of the Rotorua Town Board, as folklore has it that his wife Wikitoria Ngamihi Dansey (nee Kahuao) saved him from drowning after he dived off cliffs into the Waikato River near Taupo (4, 10). Nearby Victoria St is named after Wikitoria (2).

4.   Dansey laid the foundation stone of the Victoria Institute which housed the Rotorua Library in 1897. He placed coins and a copy of the Hot Lakes Chronicle in the stone (4).


1.   Roger Delemere Dansey: Kete Rotorua

3.   The Rotorua Morning Post. 11.8.1934. A pioneer passes. [Microfilm]

4.   Stafford, D. M. (Donald Murray). 1986. The founding years in Rotorua: a history of events to 1900. Auckland [N.Z.] ; Rotorua [N.Z.] : Ray Richards Publisher and Rotorua District Council.

6.   Eyewitness: The 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera Radio New Zealand National.

8.   Telegrams and ashes by Rosy Tin Teacaddy: YouTube.

9.   Rosy Tin Teacaddy at Lake Tarawera: Department of Conservation.

10.   Daily Post Feature 1991 quoted in Allen, P. (1996). Rotorua people 1880’s to 1940’s: living south of old railway: Glenholme area top Whakarewarewa. Rotorua: P. Allen.


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