Topic: Karamea Street (TDN 31/05/2014)

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Karamea Street 

Karamea St in New Plymouth joins Poplar Grove with Barrett Rd.

The reason for the choice of name is not certain, although it derives from a town in the South Island, best known for its access to the renowned Heaphy Track. Charles Heaphy saw the Karamea River on June 20, 1846 during his explorations of what was then termed the Western Coast of the Middle Island.

The area is a natural wonderland, whose celebrated natural beauty has wide appeal. Situated in the north-west corner of the South Island, Karamea lies at the end of the West Coast's Heritage Highway. With a year-round mild climate, and some of the most sumptuous bush in New Zealand, it is a place to "drop off the planet" for a while.

However, talking up Karamea's natural beauty tells us nothing of the reasons for attaching its name to a street in New Plymouth, in the other island, a long way from its home.

Probably, like several other road names in the area, it recalls a ship. Steam ship Karamea was built in Newcastle for Shaw, Savill & Albion, and saw service from 1899 to 1925, carrying passengers from Britain to New Zealand. In 1912, Karamea ran into a field of ice in the area that claimed the Titanic. The captain slowed to a speed of two knots and turned the ship south to avoid serious damage.

According to the reliable Reed book of place names, the name Karamea comes from Kakara- taramea, which translates literally as "the scent of the spear grass". Spear grass, Aciphylla squarrosa, exudes a gum when its leaves are heated. This gum, when mixed with oil extracted from Kereru, the wood pigeon, was made into a sweet smelling oil. The oil was an object of barter.

"Karamea" is also a named cultivar of feijoa, fruiting in mid-season.

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Karamea Street (TDN 31/05/2014)

City:New Plymouth