Despite its link to New Plymouth's 19th century history, Niger Terrace only became an official street in 1969 when it appeared in the sixth edition of the Lands and Survey streets map. It had become a small isolated piece of Gilbert St when a section of that road had been closed. Given the need to rename it, the council noted its proximity to Fort Niger Reserve, which lent weight to calling it Niger Terrace.

Niger actually refers to a British warship HMS Niger, a barque-rigged screw corvette that arrived in New Plymouth in March 1860 at the start of the First Taranaki War. It brought with it a Royal artillery officer, Lieutenant MacNaghten, and some gunners. In addition to its on board armaments, it carried a 12-pounder brass field canon for naval brigade work ashore.

This gun was landed at New Plymouth and taken and entrenched by 50 "bluejackets" and marines on a hill, which became known as Fort Niger: where Fort Niger Reserve is today.

HMS Niger was involved in several notable campaigns.

Some sailors from it were involved with the 65th regiment in the attack on Te Kohia pā, while the Niger provided artillery and rocket tube fire anchored just offshore near the mouth of the Waitara River. This was the first engagement of the war.

The Niger also provided support during the battle of Waireka, aiding volunteers and the militia from the Ōmatā stockade by landing a party of marines under the command of Captain Peter Cracroft.

Two days later it was engaged in bombarding Māori positions near Wārea.

Later a detachment of marines from the Niger was stationed at Fort Niger as a garrison before it sailed to Australia and on to the West Indies in late 1860.

No doubt the current residents of Niger Terrace enjoy the view and sleep safe in their beds, even though the military have long since given up any presence at the fort next door.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.


Related Information


(1800-1913) HMS Niger and the Battle of Waireka (Unknown Date), National Museum of the Royan New Zealand Navy


Waireka Anniversary (31 March 1933), New Zealand Herald, Volume LXX, Issue 21455


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