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Wanganui region – from the mountains to the sea…to the big carrot

Te Ara – Encyclopedia of New Zealand launches the Wanganui entry of its Places theme on Monday 16 June, 5:30pm at the War Memorial Hall. covers the breadth and depth of the region from the majestic Mount Ruapehu to the Turakina Highland Games.

Most famous perhaps for mild weather and a stunning river, Wanganui is also the training ground of New Zealand’s first rock and roll idol Johnny Devlin and was home to many renowned writers including Ian Cross (The God Boy), Robin Hyde and Janet Frame. Other famous sites include the Sarjeant Gallery, Moutoa Gardens and Ōhakune’s giant carrot.

Some interesting facts include:

  • From 1916 to 1936 Wanganui was New Zealand’s fifth-largest city
  • The Wanganui region is sinking in the south and rising in the north (geologically speaking)
  • In June 1847 soldiers outnumbered settlers in Wanganui by 800 to 200 following clashes between Māori and settlers
  • Durie Hill in Wanganui is home to a 66-metre elevator running up through the hill – the only underground elevator in New Zealand.
  • The Wanganui Chronicle is the country’s oldest surviving newspaper, first printed on 18 September 1856
  • The Wanganui entry will be launched by Labour List MP Jill Pettis at the War Memorial Hall, Wanganui, Monday 16 June at 5:30pm. It goes live to the public at the same time.

Local historian Diana Beaglehole wrote the entries, with assistance from Malcolm McKinnon and led by General Editor of Te Ara, Jock Phillips.

“With its rich Māori history and its wonderful collection of historic buildings, Wanganui city and region is one of the most fascinating parts of the country for anyone interested in our past and our traditions” Jock Phillips said.

“Diana Beaglehole has done full justice to her home region, and presents its story with a great affection and sense of its variety.”

The entry is divided into two parts: Wanganui – its landscape, plants and animals, people, history and townships; and Wanganui places - a visit to the significant parts of the region from Lower Rangitikei to Inland Patea.

The 150 Wanganui resources at reflect its wide variety of people and landmarks. Online visitors are encouraged to contribute their own stories, comment through a blog and add images with the Flickr feature.

Images range from a stunning shot of the Whanganui River to the well-known Octopus Swings at Kōwhai Park. Videos include a stirring haka practice by local Māori cultural group Te Matapihi; classic 1980s ski fashion on the slopes of Tūroa ski field and 1995 footage of Whanganui Māori occupying Wanganui’s Moutoa Gardens, traditionally known as Pākaitore.

The Wanganui entry is the 10th in Te Ara’s highly successful ‘Places’ theme which will eventually cover 22 regions.

Te Ara will ultimately be a complete encyclopedia of New Zealand available free on the web. Existing themes are ‘New Zealand Peoples’; ‘Earth, Sea and Sky’; and ‘The Bush’.

Te Ara, produced by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, is a world first – the first national encyclopedia to be produced for the web. It has already won a number of prizes and receives around 10,000 visitors each weekday.

Please quote as the source for this information.

Updated on 23rd July 2015