Topic: Fookes Street (TDN 21/04/2018)

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Fookes Street 

Waverley, in south Taranaki, was once known as Wairoa. In 1876, tired of the confusion caused by two towns in the North Island with the same name, the townsfolk seized the initiative and decided to change the name to Waverley, after the very popular novel by Sir Walter Scott.

No doubt having his say about the town's name was local resident, A.C. Fookes.

Albert Cracroft Fookes was born in England in 1839 and emigrated to New Zealand in 1861. During the military campaigns of the 1860s he was a member of the Taranaki Military Settlers and was awarded the New Zealand Medal. Afterwards, he received a grant of farmland near Waverley, married Harriet Hirst and started a family that ultimately comprised six sons and five daughters.

In the months after the town's name was changed, he moved to New Plymouth. However, his impact on Waverley was such that, even after his departure, he was remembered when Fookes Street was planned. Work forming the street commenced in August 1880.

Upon his arrival in New Plymouth, Fookes established a land agent business. He also acquired land in the Midhirst area and established the settlement there. Some legal issues about Fookes' land ownership in Midhirst have lingered and as recently as 2014 the Stratford District Council were attempting to contact his descendants to clear up matters.

Along with his successful business, Fookes took a close interest in local politics. He was elected New Plymouth's second mayor in 1878 and served two terms as a councillor. Albert Fookes died in his home in New Plymouth on August 2, 1916

One of his sons, Ernest Faber Fookes, was sent to England to study medicine and while there he played ten rugby internationals for England. After returning to New Plymouth, Ernest became a well-known doctor and sports administrator, most notably as first president of the New Plymouth Old Boys' cricket club.

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