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Pioneering family’s historic battle ground farm goes on the market after 170 years

Tags: Rural Taranaki

A sprawling dairy farm owned by the descendants of New Plymouth’s first pioneering settlers has been placed on the market for sale for the first time in 170 years.


A sprawling dairy farm owned by the descendants of New Plymouth’s first pioneering settlers – and the site of battles which earned two Victoria Cross bravery medals for military gallantry on New Zealand soil – has been placed on the market for sale for the first time in 170 years.

Part of the 152.5 hectare farm located at Omata some five kilometres south of the city was first bought by pioneer settler Jesse Jury in 1847 – six years after he and his family sailed from Plymouth in England on the emigrant ship William Bryan and arrived at New Plymouth.

Homestead

New Plymouth is named after the port from which the boat departed. Shortly after landing, emigrant expedition leader George Cutfield wrote a letter home, describing the fledgling New Plymouth town settlement as: "A fine country with a large quantity of flat land, but every part is covered with vegetation, fern, scrub and forest. There are thousands of acres of this land which will require but a trifling outlay to bring into cultivation.”

Jesse Jury’s early tenure of the coastal farm survived the bloody land wars of the 1860s.

The Sutton Road farm has a pa site on its northern boundary where battles took place between Maori and the British-backed New Plymouth defence forces. Meanwhile, the British troops and New Zealand volunteer forces who fought in the land wars hastily built flimsy battlements around a second Jury home where Jesse’s eldest son John lived.

During the battle for Waireka as it was referred to, British sailors from the HMS Niger fought alongside the army troops and New Zealanders. Among those sailors was leading seaman William Odgers who displayed what his citation recounts as “conspicuous gallantry” by storming the pa in the face of “heavy fire”.

The battle for Waireka around Kaipopo Pa on Jury’s Hill featured a veritable ‘who’s who’ of colonial New Zealand war heroes. Among those involved in the battle were captain Francis Joseph (Frank) Mace, and trooper Antonio Rodriguez de Sardinha who were both awarded the New Zealand Cross for gallantry in later conflicts. Their medals are on display today in Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth.

Meanwhile at a subsequent Taranaki land war battle on the farm’s southern boundary, regimental drummer Dudley Stagpoole was also awarded a Victoria Cross for outstanding bravery – recovering a wounded colleague from the front line in the face of heavy enemy fire from heavily fortified positions.

The pair of Victoria Crosses are among only a handful of this decoration to be awarded to members of the armed forces for combat within New Zealand.

That original Jury homestead site was excavated in 2009 and scores of English settler artifacts and remnants were recovered. The paddock containing the original home, and its subsequent replacement dwelling, has always been known by generations of Jury family members as ‘Grannie’s’.

Elizabeth outlived husband Jesse who was killed by a tree he was felling as part of breaking in the farmland.

Details of the skirmishes taking place on the Omata farm are extensively outlined in Victoria University’s historical archives. Now, some five generations later, the historic property has been placed on the market for sale through Bayleys Taranaki in a tender process with offers closing on February 23.

Bayleys Taranaki rural salesperson Mark Monckton said that even though lush grazing grass had subsequently covered what were once battlefields, the trenches built by soldiers around Omata Camp nearby were still clearly visible in almost original condition.

“The Jury name is enshrined throughout Taranaki’s history. Original settler Jesse Jury supplied the timber which built the local church, while Elizabeth Jury was its cleaner. And their great grandson Len is a legend at the Tukapa Rugby Club where his fitness training consisted of running from the farm to the park some nine kilometres away… and of course running home afterward,” said Mr Monckton.

The freehold Omata farm currently milks 330 cows in a 30-aside shed - which produced an annual average of 116,123 kilogrammes of milk solids over the last three seasons.

The block is subdivided with a mix of post and batten fencing, hedges and electrics with a network of laneways leading to the milking shed. Maize and grass supplements have in the past been grown on farm in conjunction with approximately 25 hectares of neighboring lease land.

Building infrastructure on the farm includes three hay sheds, implement/storage and calf sheds, and two underpasses below State Highway 45 and Waireka Road. Accommodation on the property consists of a five-bedroom 1920’s villa, supported by a three-bedroom residence and a two-bedroom worker’s cottage – all with their own individual access.

“With panoramic views out to Paritutu and the Sugar Loaf islands, and north across the lights of New Plymouth and up the Taranaki Bight, it’s easy to comprehend why the Jury farm was such a strategic location in the Maori land wars,” Mr Monckton said.

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