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Taranaki

Taranaki is both a mountain and a region in New Zealand, situated on the west coast of the North Island. The local Maori tribes include Ngati Mutenga, Ngati Ruanui and Ngati Tama.

The main city is New Plymouth, with smaller towns (from north to south) being Waitara[?], Inglewood[?], Stratford, Opunake[?], Hawera[?] and Patea[?].

Mount Taranaki (also known as Mount Egmont) is the dominant feature of the province, being the second tallest mountain in the North Island. The mountain is a near perfect cone and dominates the landscape. It last erupted in the mid-eighteenth century. The mountain and its immediate surrounds are a national park.

The province is exceptionally fertile, thanks to generous rainfall and the rich volcanic soil. Dairy farming predominates, with the milk factory just outside Hawera the second largest in the Southern Hemisphere. There are also oil and gas deposits in the region, both on shore and off-shore. The Maui gas field off the north coast provides most of New Zealand's gas supply, as well as supporting a methanol plant (formerly a synthetic petrol plant) near Waitara. However, this field is being depleted sooner than expected, leading to increased efforts to find further reserves.

Brief History

New Plymouth was initially settled in the early 1840s. European colonisation was slowed by the local tribes' opposition to land sales and strong identification with the king movement. There was much fighting in the 1860s, with British imperial troops being called in to pacify the area. The present main highway follows the path taken by the British as the marched from Patea north to New Plymouth.

Following the withdrawal of the British troops Maori resistance continued, with Titokowaru leading an uprising which achieved some notable successes against the colonial forces in the south Taranaki region. Titokowaru advanced almost to Wanganui[?], defeating three colonial forces and causing much alarm amongst the settlers.

Titokowaru's vigorous military response can be contrasted with Te Whiti o Rongomai[?]'s peaceful opposition centred in Parihaka[?]. Te Whiti's peaceful community was suppressed by colonial troops.

The net result of Maori opposition to settlement was a series of governmant land confiscations. The release of a Waitangi Tribunal[?] report on the situation led to some debate on the matter in 2002. The authors of the report compared the suppression of Taranaki Maori with the Holocaust. This controversial choice of language met general disapproval, with one government minister being forced to resign for trying to defend it.

Taranaki's landscape and the mountain's supposed resemblance of Mount Fuji have led it to be selected as the location for The Last Samurai, a motion picture set in nineteenth century Japan.



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