Friday, 5 February 2016

February of Yesteryear in Rotorua

It Happened on this Day 

Through the month of February, there will be a display on the 2nd Floor of Rotorua District Library of events that happened on this day in history in Rotorua. You can also follow the events online with weekly blog posts. This is the first post in a series of four. Dates for events are drawn from the works of Don Stafford


1st February 1887


Rotorua County formed by separating from Tauranga County.

The Founding Years by D.M. Stafford - cover
Rotorua county was separated into North and South Riding and elections were held in April 1887, then again in November 1887 with the same members being re-elected.


There were issues around whether fees should be collected by the County or the Town board. All the Rotorua County Councillors resigned in October 1888 and no further elections were held. The Rotorua County Council was not re-established until 1911 with Cabinet providing Administration under the Thermal Springs Districts Act in the interim.

Want to know more?

Kete Rotorua - Rotorua County Council to 1960
Rotorua District Council Official Handbook and Services Guide 1994-1995
The Founding Years in Rotorua by D.M. Stafford

2nd February 1987

First School to teach in te reo Māori opens.

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata at Ruamata Marae, Rotokawa, was the first Kura Kaupapa in Rotorua.

Cathy Dewes was heavily involved in establishing the school. Of the 11 inaugural students, 4 of them were Cathy’s children.

Want to know more?

An excellent article titled “Persevere no matter the cost” on Cathy Dewes and education based on a Māori ideology can be found in: Mana : the Maori news magazine for all New Zealanders, Aug/Sep 2003, p95-101

3rd February 1931

Majestic theatre converts to talkies.

The Majestic Theatre which was in Tutanekai Street  converted to “Talkies” on the 3rd of February 1931.

Want to know more?

Kete Rotorua - Majestic Theatre

unidentified Māori woman holding tobacco leaves, Rotorua area, Bay of Plenty Region 4th February 1929

New tobacco crops planted.

New tobacco crops were planted at Te Koutu and Kawaha.

Photograph from Alexander Turnbull Library of an unidentified Māori woman holding tobacco leaves, Rotorua area, Bay of Plenty Region.

Want to know more?

The New Century in Rotorua by D.M. Stafford

5th February 1966

Rangi and Rotorua: An Illustrated Guide to the Thermal Region - cover

Guide Rangi retires from guiding.


Rangitiaria Dennan was of Ngati Pikiao (Ngati Hinekura hapu), Tuhourangi and Ngati Tarawhai descent.


She trained initially as a teacher and then as a nurse before becoming a guide at Whakarewarewa. She saw guiding as a way to educate people about the Maori world view.



Want to know more?

Te Ara - Rangitiaria Dennan
Guide Rangi of Rotorua
Rangi and Rotorua: an illustrated guide to the thermal region by J.H. Richards

6th February 1914

Plunket nurse appointed

Nurse Ada Chappel was appointed as the plunket nurse in Rotorua on the 6th of February 1914.

Want to know more?

Read more about the history of Plunket in New Zealand and particularly about Nurse Ada Chappel’s dilemmas with bicycles while posted in Auckland in the book, I was a Plunket baby: 100 years of the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society Inc

7th February 1870

Te Kooti retreats from Rotorua

Te Kooti and his forces of over 200 arrived in the under-defended area of Rotorua. They sent a letter ahead saying they came in peace. Based on various factors, Gilbert Mair believed Te Kooti would attack.

With his smaller force of Arawa men, he began a day long combat that saw the loss of lives on both sides and caused Te Kooti to retreat.

Want to know more?

The Founding Years in Rotorua by D.M. Stafford
Gilbert Mair: Te Kooti’s Nemesis by R.D. Crosby
The New Zealand wars: a history of the Maori campaigns and the pioneering period. Vol. 2 by James Cowan
Redemption songs : a life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki by Judith Binney.


This series of posts is written by Sandra Quinn, Heritage Collections Librarian, Rotorua District Library.

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