Elliot Street.JPG Elliot Street sign (2021). Rachel Sonius. Word on the Street image collection.

Elliot Street, at the eastern end of Waitara, was named after early settler John Elliot. It is spelled with one ‘t’ on the sign but often (mistakenly) with two ‘t’s elsewhere.

John’s parents Peter and Anne married in Cornwall in 1840 and immigrated to New Plymouth on the ship Amelia Thompson the following year. The young couple farmed in Westown and John, their first child, was born in 1843. John was still a teenager when the Taranaki Wars broke out but was allowed to join the mounted volunteers and took part in the attack on Te Kohia pā and the Battle of Waireka in March 1860.

John tried his luck on the goldfields at Ballarat and on the West Coast after the conflict, but returned home to take up farming. He purchased land in Waitara East and was known throughout the region for his height – newspapers regularly mentioned his “fine physique” or “almost giant stature”.  John married Emily Frances Lawrence, the daughter of a local baker and sweet maker, in New Plymouth on 1 August 1867. They had nine children, five boys and four girls.

Elliot’s father had taken an active part in local politics, serving on the Provincial Council until it was abolished in 1877, and his son was the same. John was elected chairman of the Taranaki County Council from 1879 to 1887, and also sat on the Waitara Harbour Board and Town Board. In 1890 he even ran for parliament, contesting the New Plymouth electorate seat and only narrowly losing out to farmer Edward Metcalf Smith. Elliot had apparently been considering another run for parliament at the time of his death. He was also a cemetery trustee and a Justice of the Peace.

After several decades of farming in Waitara, John and Emily bought land at Mahoenui, north of Awakino, and John died suddenly at his home there on 14 September 1902. Just 59 years of age, he was buried at Waitara cemetery, but several obituaries indicated that his remains were actually interred on the family farm at Mahoenui.


This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

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