18 Wallingford Road, Te Uri-Wallingford, Central Hawke's Bay

Wallingford Station

There are many reasons that Wallingford might become a subject of historical fascination, and an obvious first one might be that the Ormond Family retained ownership of the farm since John Davis Ormond began acquiring land here in 1853, the family only giving it up in 2017. The name of the farm he took from his home in the United Kingdom, Wallingford Berkshire.

John Davis Ormond later became Superintendent of Hawkes Bay and then a Member of Parliament. Other Ormonds also held national positions and the Ormonds are most proud of the fact that their fourth generation produced 52 first cousins. The homestead burned down in 1880, but the new one was even bigger, and it needed to be, to house the 12 offspring of the third generation. Wallingford had a village grow up around it, including a blacksmiths shop, a school (at one time hosted in the homestead) and several other related buildings. The woolshed has become heritage listed for it's age, but it is actually the Rarotongan workforce of Wallingford Station that is a landmark in New Zealand's Social History.

It is well known that Pacific Islanders were called to the cities and factories of New Zealand in the booming 1960s and 1970s to help with labour shortages, what is maybe lesser known is that the first wave of immigration was in 1941, and amongst the first migrants were Rarotongans who made their home with the Ormond Family of Wallingford Station, and many others followed, the last group being in the 1990s. The women managed the homestead and the prolific Oromond children, while Rarotongan men worked the farm. The first migrants were sorely needed while young New Zealand men were away at war, and the relationship was so positive that many other Cook Islanders followed, beginning their New Zealand life here. Both groups speak fondly of each other and there are meany return visits. Other Rarotongans also settled in to work on other Central Hawkes Bay farms during and after the war, making Porangahau New Zealand's largest rural centre of Cook Islanders.

This video from Tagata Pacifika gives firsthand accounts of the happy lives of the Ormonds and the Rarotongans.

Johnny and Jen Ormond opened the homestead doors as a wedding, and conference venue and accommodation house in the 1980s and ran it as such for over thirty years. It was sold after Johnny's death and still operates as a luxury lodge. One of the wings is named the 'Raro' wing as it was where the Rarotongan workers stayed. The farm is still a working farm, but there are recreational opportunities here too like 10 hectare QEII Queens Convenant bush for walking and cycling.

NZPlaces would love to hear your firsthand account of Wallingford, or receive your images.


Image Credits: Booking.com



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