A71_542.jpg Axe, Felling. Collection of Puke Ariki (A71.542).

The world’s best axemen were not much chop compared to Ned Shewry. This axe was one of those wielded by the champion Taranaki chopper who was born in 1889 and grew up in the backblocks in Tāhora, eastern Taranaki.

When Ned was 17, he took over a Moki Road farm with his brother and quickly became adept at bushwacking, learning the skills and building the stamina which led him to win world wood chopping titles, and a swag of other competitions, before he finally retired from competition in 1934. Ned donated his axes and trophies to Taranaki Museum in 1960.

In later life, his considerable energies were turned towards nurturing trees, rather than chopping them up. He established a garden at his home in Corbett Road, Bell Block and was heavily involved with the gardens at Pukeiti. He died in 1962 and in 1985, the money bequeathed from his estate was used to build the Pukeiti gatehouse and extend the gardens. 

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