MANAIA (kindly reproduced from POLICING IN THE MOUNTAIN SHADOW by Margaret Carr)

Manaia’s police history has not been one of dramatic crimes or major policing problems. Rather, it is a history of constables serving the community and being a part of that community. It was not always that way. A redoubt was built in 1880 with enough room for 180 soldiers, which gives an indication of the tension in the area over land problems. After the arrest of Te Whiti and Tohu at Parihaka in 1881, plans to station forces at the redoubt were abandoned.

The same year there was agitation locally for a lock-up to be built at Manaia. Bushmen who threatened to fight with axes, or who left a hotel on Saturday night to challenge nearby passersby to fight were not the sort of people one policeman could take away to a lock-up. “Broken shins or worse to the representatives of law and order must necessarily result,” said the writer of a letter to the Hawera Star. “While one drunken man is en route, half a dozen of his mates might possibly take a mean advantage of the bobby’s absence.”When the Police Force was formed, Manaia did not have a resident constable until 1897. But the white settlers in the area were still very tense and fearful of Maori action, as the escalation of a land protest in 1886 showed.

News reached Hawera in July 1886 that Maori were likely to enter Manaia, so Sergeant Anderson and three constables were sent out.

Five hundred Maori gathered in a paddock on Mr. A. Hastie’s property near Manaia one morning, and by 1l.30am women were preparing a meal, and working bullocks, hacks, dray horses, buggies and drays were scattered over the land. One estimate was that there were 150 Maori horses and 18 tents and a house had been built. Pakeha were also gathering as the news spread, and Inspector Pardy was expected in the afternoon. The Maori invited those Pakeha present to have some food, but most refused and some armed themselves with wadis and whips. Settlers and bushmen entered the paddock and began impounding Maori horses, and then a melee developed over possession of the gate. Some of the Pakeha began to hit Maori, and Maori began to hit back. “Sergeant Anderson and others feared bloodshed, as there was every appearance of a really good row,” said a later report. Special constables were sworn in and told to go in and arrest the ring leaders. At the end of it all, after “a little rough work”, Titokowaru was too weak to stand. Te Whiti was also arrested a few days later and at the trial told the Wellington court that as the original owner of the land, he had been trying to regain it.

On charges of forcible entry and riot and malicious injury to property, Te Whiti was fined £100 and jailed for three months. Others arrested were fined £20 on each charge and jailed for one month.

The first constable to be stationed at Manaia was Patrick Quinn (see Hawera) who arrived to open the station on November 19, 1897. He did not get into any trouble at Manaia and served there for five years until his death at the age of 55.

His successor was Constable Laurence Carroll. Born in 1853 in Ireland, Carroll had served for a year in the Irish Constabulary before moving to New Zealand and the New Zealand Police. Before going to Manaia on January 22, 1903, he served at Wellington, Newtown, and Brunnerton, and he retired from Manaia on a pension in 1918.

Constable John Scannell, who also served at Te Wera and Whangamomona, spent 17 years in Manaia. While there (1918-1935) he also had the posts of clerk of court, bailiff, probation officer and inspector of factories.

Former labourer Constable Bertie Warren started out as a temporary constable in 1920. He initially served in Wellington before going to Napier in 1923, back to Wellington in 1925 and to Levin in 1933. He arrived in Manaia in 1935 and left for Cambridge in 1944.

Manaia’s first four constables served for five, 15, 17 and nine years each in the town, making it perhaps one of Taranaki’s steadiest stations. Constable James Adam Tocher was, presumably, the brother of Constable Ogilvie Tocker who served at Hawera. The two joined at Wellington on the same day and were allocated consecutive identification numbers, although they differed over the spelling of their name. Manaia’s Constable Tocker was born in Scotland in 1889 and was an asylum attendant before joining the police. He served at Wellington, Nelson, Collingwood, Waitara and Normanby before arriving at Manaia in 1944. He left in 1954.In 1954 Constable John Leslie Moore arrived from Murchison. He had previously been stationed at Wellington, Petone and Waitara, and served at Manaia until his death in March 1957, aged 59. Constable Moore had been made a member of the Manaia Town Council the previous November. A full police funeral was held at Manaia.

His station in Manaia was taken over by Constable Archibald Charles (Mick) Hobbs from Otaki. Hobbs had also started out as a temporary constable before signing on to the permanent staff in 1936. His previous service included 10 years at Reefton and 9 at Otaki, where The Dominion reported the community held five valedictory celebrations to farewell him. In 1969 his health forced him to move to a sedentary job at New Plymouth. He retired in 1971 after 35 years in the police — 36 if his year as a temporary constable was included. Constable Douglas Howell Williams transferred from Taneatua in November 1969, bringing with him a keen interest in rugby. Since joining the police in 1950 he had been stationed all over the North Island — Wellington, Auckland, Dargaville, Kawakawa, Te Kuiti and Waihi and, after Manaia, Pahiatua and Palmerston North. Robert Bruce Mackenzie, who joined the police in 1951, took over at Manaia in November 1972, and retired 14 years later after a total of 35 years service. He was followed in September 1986 by Constable Tumu Kingi Joe Ngere (Jim), who is still in Manaia. Crimes were reported fairly far apart in Manaia. Many of the early offences involved stock horses and cattle. Although many reported cattle thefts are over-written in red in the crimes book “found straying at — returned to owner”.”Wilfully damaging a cow by shooting and wounding it” was reported by one constable, who also noted that the suspected offender was an English chemist who farmed a neighbouring property and was sick of the cow straying.

In April 1901, Emeo Klett, the stable-keeper at Eltham hired a buggy and pair of horses to the Minister for Public Works, who was going to Opunake and Hawera. Klett sent a man along to drive the horses and buggy. After dropping the Minister at Hawera, the driver borrowed a saddle and bridle and scarpered with “one brown buggy mare”. The offender was arrested in New Plymouth a week later.

Several farmers in the Manaia area had young lads working for them on licence from Burnham and Levin industrial schools and from the Stoke Orphanage at Nelson. Absconders were common and occasionally thefts and burglaries were put down to these youths on the run. More often industrial school trainees headed straight back to their parents’ homes. A Kaponga hairdresser and tobacconist twice reported the theft of money and tobacco products and then returned to report his books also stolen. ‘‘Case a very doubtful one,’’ Constable Carroll noted a few months later. ‘‘Complainant now a bankrupt. ’’Many of the thefts reported were opportunist ones from coats left hanging at stock sales or in hotels, or left on dressing tables with the house unlocked. In these more trusting times the MP for Patea lost three £5 notes from his trousers while he slept in a room at the Manaia Hotel with the door ajar. And then there was the offence of “mischief”— the marble slab on a new bridge being smashed, the cart being removed to the middle of a river…Charge books can reveal a lot of detail about offenders as much as offences, and Manaia’s was no exception. A 14-year-old youth who had absconded from his licensed employer was believed in 1927 to have committed a burglary in Manaia. He was described as stout, 4 foot 9 inches tall, wearing a black and white football jersey, black football pants, white tennis shoes and a pair of ladies’ silk stockings! In 1924 Constable Scannell arrested a schoolteacher for burglary. The 18-year-old was eventually convicted of theft and put on probation for three years. When arrested the youth’s pockets were emptied and the contents listed £8/13/08 in cash, two leather purses, one metal watch and chain, one mouth organ, one whistle, one pocket knife, two pencils, one corkscrew, one scissors, one stud and one comb. Perhaps this was the impedimenta of youth. The next two people arrested in Manaia were a labourer charged with stealing a bicycle, who carried nothing but cigarette tobacco, and another labourer, charged with stealing money, from a drunk, who carried nothing but a pocket knife. Not unsurprisingly, the victim of that last theft, a grocer charged with being drunk in a public place, had nothing in his pockets. Most of Scannell’s problems in 1928 seem to have been caused by one 15-year-old, sometimes accompanied by a 17-year-old mate. The 15-year-old was apparently a burglar and compulsive shoplifter. His haul from seven separate thefts from shops was two lots of clothing, a bottle of jelly-beans, a jar of rose and lemon jubes, a jar of chocolates, a pair of ladies’ gloves and six boxes of gramophone needles. His total haul was worth less than £30 and he was sentenced to three years’ borstal training. The following year an employee of the Manaia Town Board admitted a total of eight charges of theft as a servant. He had stolen money and made false entries in the financial records over the whole of 1928, netting almost £250. He was sentenced to up to one year of reformative detention.

Theft as a servant seemed to be popular around the depression years. Farm labourers stole from their employers, and a Post Office employee stole more than 70 booklets sent out to Manaia residents by post.

But, for the most part, those arrested for thefts, burglaries and assaults were charged at the same time with being drunk in a public place.

Recommended reading:

“The History Of A Small Town Police Station”, Norrie Keenan

“Policing In The Mountain Shadow”, Margaret Carr