One of the original roads in Taranaki County, it is named after the Cowling family that settled in the Westown area and farmed and lived there for well over 100 years. William Cowling arrived as a single man aboard the Plymouth Company's first ship, the William Bryan in 1841. He later married Mary Hawke and together they had 13 children.

It was one of their grandsons, Fred Cowling who became the most notable member of the family. An early environmentalist, he was passionate in his determination to protect native bush from wholesale clearance. True to his word he embarked on an ambitious tree planting programme with two thousand kauri trees planted in a block on his farm. The resulting magnificent Cowling Plantation in Barrett Domain was gifted to the people of New Plymouth in 1948. It is now one of the largest stands of kauri in New Zealand; only eclipsed by some of the larger indigenous forests.

Fred's family home was located on what is now Roto Street, overlooking Barrett Domain. A striking feature in the garden was a five-step pyramid, decorated with marble and stone, built in 1943. Both the house and the pyramid have now been demolished.

Fred died in 1955 and like his ancestors was buried in the little Hurdon cemetery on Tukapa Street. For many years the family looked after the small cemetery, the final resting place for many original settlers from the area and generations of Cowlings. 

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

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