Linda Ward

Popular history to reprint.

In the 19th century a young widow, Annie, whose husband had drowned in a country weir, was living with small children on the remote Ngamatea Station to the west of Hawke’s Bay. 

Access from the back country in those days was very difficult but Annie, who owned one of  the first Studebaker cars in Hawke ’s Bay, was not daunted by the primitive road and often drove to Napier to do business.  

Local residents, so the story goes, were so full of admiration for the popular young lady that they named the treacherous track up the hill just beyond  Kuripapango, towards Taihape, ‘The Gentle Annie’.

This is just one anecdote told in the popular local history West To The Annie Rēnata Kawepō’s Hawke’s Bay Legacy, which will be reprinted this year with funds raised going to the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank. 

The book tells the history of the people who have populated RD9 – the land between the Ngāruroro and Tukaekuri Rivers from Ohiti, (near Fernhill) to Kuripapango – and incidentally comprising areas such as Omapere that suffered heavily during Cyclone Gabrielle. 

“There’s always been a lot of interest in  the book,” says Linda Ward an original contributor, from Waiwhare, one of the most inland districts in RD9. Other authors include her recently deceased husband David and several descendants of original landowners, many of whom are also now deceased.

The book features five large early Hawke’s Bay stations and has  a “Land Tree” with each block of land in RD9 shown and traced through its changes of ownership. Renowned local historian Pat Parsons has written the opening two chapters on early Māori history, which includes the story of paramount chief Rēnata Kawepō, popular with both Pakeha and Māori.

West to the Annie was published by the RD9 Historical Trust in 2002 and sold a whopping 1,500 copies on the first print run and a further 500 on the second. Profits to the value of $45,000 made then were pivotal in helping get the Knowledge Bank off the ground.

 Now, due to dozens of requests, Linda Ward, who is a volunteer at the Knowledge Bank, is leading the re-print.

While it has been out of  print, second-hand copies of West to the Annie have been selling for as much as $200 a copy.  

The re-printed version will retail at $90.00 each. If you wish to order a copy  Email:

Public interest journalism funded by New Zealand on Air.


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