Topic: Howard Street (TDN 07/09/2019)

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Howard Street, near East Beach in Waitara, was named after a soldier killed in the First Taranaki War.

James Howard fought in the 65th Regiment of the British Army. These infantry troops took part in imperial conflicts everywhere from Massachusetts to Oman, with around 700 serving in Taranaki in 1860-61. Known as the "Royal Tigers", they were nicknamed the "Hickety Pips" by Māori. Soldiers of the 65th shared a mutual respect for the fighting ability of their Māori opponents, who it is said would often call out to British sentries on night patrol, letting them know when a ceasefire was planned for the next day so they could all get some sleep. Many soldiers and officers chose to stay in New Zealand as settlers after their discharge from the regiment.

On 23 January 1861 a combined Te Ātiawa-Waikato force made a daring attack on the British military position at Huirangi pā near Waitara. Lance-Corporal Howard was badly wounded and eventually died on the night of 2 February 1861.

Intriguingly, the Taranaki Herald later claimed that Howard was not his real surname. The young man apparently confessed to a Lieutenant just before he died that he was actually the son of Sir William Campbell, a nobleman from Tullichewen Castle in Dumbartonshire. It was alleged that Howard had enlisted in the army in the hope of distinguishing himself, and was “always regarded with respect and deference by his comrades, for his bearing on all occasions wore the stamp of superiority”.

Unfortunately Howard’s confession was a lie. William Campbell did own Tullichewan Castle and had a son called James. But the real James refuted the soldier’s story in a letter to the editor in July 1861, after reading about his death in a Scottish newspaper.  James Howard still fought and died far from home however, which is why the street was named for him.

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Howard Street (TDN 07/09/2019)