Topic: Pou Tutaki - FitzRoy's Pole 1848/1940

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Intersection Devon Road and Smart Road, Waiwhakaiho, New Plymouth

Fitzroy's Pole 

Pou Tutaki - FitzRoy's Pole 

The original FitzRoy's Pole was erected in 1847-8 by Parata te Huia, Waitere Katatore and the people of Puketapu. It marked the eastern extent of the New Plymouth settlement after Governor Robert FitzRoy reduced the New Zealand Company’s 60,000 acre (24,280 hectare) land purchase to 4000 acres (1619 hectares). 

Pou Tutaki (a pole to bar the way) - was originally situated a little closer to the river alongside the old road from the Waiwhakaiho ford near the present netball courts carpark.

It was quickly named "FitzRoy's Pole" by settlers, irate at the loss of potential farmland at Bell Block. The way was, however, not 'barred' for long as Pakeha land purchases in the Puketapu area during the 1850s saw colonist's settlement expanding towards the Waitara.

The pole was damaged in a scrub fire in 1877 and its remains chopped up for firewood by the nearby Devon Road toll-gate keeper.

The present pole – a replica based on a watercolour painting by William Strutt - was carved by Paikea Henare Toka of Hawera for the 1940 New Zealand Centennial. It was unveiled on 26 June 1940. (See report  in Documents below) 

(Strutt's watercolour, dated 1856, is held by Alexander Turnbull Library - See Image below.)

"Shock and awe" probably best describes the New Plymouth civic authority's response at the time to the overt "manliness" carved by Toka in the lower Maori figure. A workman was rumoured to have been dispatched forthwith to ‘correct’ the work! The figure remains emasculated to this day.

(Over the years there has been considerable confusion over the identity of the figures on the pole. Some authorities have maintained that the lower figure is the Pakeha and the upper one, the Maori, although after study of all available sources, that now seems unlikely.)

In September 1984 the pole was chainsawed down by a young man protesting over the perceived unequal availability of Government mortages.

Attacked again in February 1991 - this time unsuccessfully - by four men, reportedly in retaliation for the then-recent destruction of the militia statue on Marsland Hill's New Zealand Wars memorial.

The pole was restored to its full height, moved a few metres and re-dedicated in Septemer 2001 after the building of the nearby Harvey Norman complex.

In 2009 (TDN 31 Jan 2009) a kohatu (important stone) uncovered during the excavation of Te Oropuriri pa at Bell Block in 2004, was placed at the base of the pole with due ceremony by former Governor-General, Sir Paul Reeves and members of Puketapu hapu.


Seffern, W: Chronicles of the Garden of NZ, 1896, p157

Brookes, E: Frontier Life, 1892, p 9

Wells, B: History of Taranaki, 1878, p 147

Cowan, J: New Zealand Wars, 1922, p 145

McCormack, E: Alexander Turnbull, 1974, p 238

Scanlan, B: Historic New Plymouth, 1968, p 23

NZHPT (Taranaki) Site Files



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Pou Tutaki - FitzRoy's Pole 1848/1940

City:New Plymouth
Pou Tutaki - FitzRoy's Pole 1848/1940 by Ron L is Copyright Act 1994