Hawera Water Tower, Hawera 4610, Taranaki, New Zealand 

Hawera has always seemed to have had some association with fire. The name, ‘Te Hawera’ which means ‘the burnt place’, came about many years ago after an incident between two feuding Maori tribes in the area. One tribe surprised the other in the dead of night and burned the village to the ground ensuring there were no survivors – so the area became known as ‘the burnt place’.

With the arrival of European settlers, Te Hawera became shortened to Hawera and the district continued to live up to its name. In 1884 a hotel was razed, in 1888 a large fire destroyed five businesses and in 1912 a particularly disastrous fire destroyed a large proportion of the main street area. This last event resulted in insurance companies demanding better fire fighting capacity for the town.

The decision was made to build a water tower and construction began in 1912 and was completed in 1914. In 1932 following Hawera’s 50th Jubilee red neon lights were erected around the top of the tower as a memorial to the pioneers of the district. These neon lights remain today. More recently (2002 – 2004) the water tower underwent a $1.1 million restoration project to restore the historic landmark.

Epic New Zealand Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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