Cameron Blockhouse, Whanganui

DSC04311The Cameron Blockhouse is a timber blockhouse in Wanganui, New Zealand, built during the New Zealand Wars in the mid-1800s. Farmer John Cameron built this blockhouse at Marangai in 1868 as a place of refuge for his family. Though war never actually reached this locality between Whanganui and Turakina, fears at the time were well-founded. That winter and spring, the growing forces of the Ngati Ruanui leader Riwha Titokowaru won a series of stunning victories over the small New Zealand army in south Taranaki. In November, with Titokowaru just west of Whanganui, the colony was rocked by Te Kooti Rikirangi’s raid on Poverty Bay, in which about 30 Maori and a similar number of Pakeha were killed.

The blockhouse was typical of structures that were built in haste around the lower North Island at this time. The blockhouse consists of a floor of compacted earth, double-skinned totara walls with clay infill and a corrugated iron roof. Clay was used in the walls for protection against bullets and the threat of fire. It is a rare surviving example of a privately constructed redoubt from that era.

 

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