Tony Ratcliffe and his beloved elephant. Tony’s story of growing up in Taumarunui and developing a love for animals and the circus way of life won second place in the Roll Back the Years writing competition

CompetitionAnne Fraser is presented with her third place prize by Mike Gavan of Taumarunui Paper Plus. Anne’s story and poem related to the tramlines and sawmill of her youth. Paul Chaplow (left) of Forgotten World Adventures presented RBY writing competition winner Richard Steele with vouchers for two to take a trip on the railcarts travelling down the old Stratford line to Whangamomona.

Current Projects

With the publication of Logging the Punga achieved in late 2021, The Historical Society has yet to decide on their next project. Watch this space!

Manunui, Ellis & Burnand Mill


In 2017 the Historical Society began the further research needed to publish this Manunui story which completes the trilogy of Ellis & Burnand’s operations in the King Country.

CompetitionThe late Ken Anderson published the histories of E&B’s Ongarue and Mangapehi Sawmills (Sparse Timber Sawmillers and Maoriland Sawmillers) and was part way along with a manuscript on the Manunui Mill before his untimely death.
In, December 2021, the book Logging the Punga has been published.

Recently Completed Project – Roll Back the Years Vol 7

After a writing competition in 2016 the contributed stories, along with others, have been published in an all new volume in the tradition of the enduring Roll Back the Years series.

Having achieved the republication of Ron Cooke’s original old magazines in six volumes the Society felt it was time to add to the archive with new material and this would be a good way of doing it.

After all, our history is our communal memories so the more who join in to retain it the better. 22 people, both current and ex-Taumarunui folk, put pen to paper and recorded memories of a wide range of the district’s history.

The judges awarded First Prize to Richard Steele for his story “Farmers Versus Possums – the Bovine TB Battle” Tony Ratcliffe’s story “My Dreams Began in Taumarunui”, recalling his childhood love of the circus developing on to his well known career, came in Second.

Third Prize went to Anne Fraser for her story “Mangakahu Valley Tramlines” and Judith Bryers Holloway was Highly Commended for her “Taringamotu Memoirs”.


Thanks also to Forgotten World Adventures, Blue Duck Station, Taumarunui Paper Plus, Chateau Tongariro and Anna and Maraku Cribb for donating the prizes.

The Historical Society is very appreciative of those who wrote down their memories.
Further contributions to the Society’s archive would be very welcome so please keep those stories coming in. Volume 8 awaits us.

Further contributions to the Society’s archive of memories are very welcome so please keep those stories coming in..

From Low Gear to Overdrive

Anyone would think three volumes of trucking history would have covered all Taumarunui’s transport operators, but not so!

There are still stories to be told and the Society is methodically collecting material on those remaining truckers and the businesses they either owned or drove for.

Please contact the Society with any information or photos you may have. It might just be the details we are searching for to complete  a story or identify a truckie of old.