Topic: Armed Constabulary in Taupo

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The Armed Constabulary's mark in Taupo's history.


 The Armed Constabulary was set up in 1867 to keep law and order after the withdrawal of British Imperial troops, and the increasing unrest among the Maori population.

The original Taupo Armed Constabulary fort, right, was established at Opepe, 17 miles east of Taupo on the Napier Road, where Maori tracks passed between the Waikato, the Ureweras, Wanganui and Manawatu.

Opepe became a thriving community between 1869 and 1870. It grew from the initial stockade to hold 30 men, was extended to include huts for up to 100 men, and later included barracks, officers' quarters, stores and other amenities.

 By late 1870 there was a library, bakery, blacksmiths, a store and a "wet canteen" (pub), followed by a hotel, stables and a race course.

 This was the centre of the Taupo District for nearly 20 years.  A walk around this area will lead to the old well and the trough for watering the horses. A pit saw has also been erected for viewing.

The Tapuaeharuru redoubt for the Armed Constabulary was built in Taupo, on the high bank overlooking the river bank north west of where the current police station is. The pumice magazine blockhouse, below right, still stands and has been restored by the Historic Places Trust.

Besides keeping the peace, the soldiers also built roads, bridges, forts and stockades and put up telegraph lines.Armed Constabulary magazine blockhouse The Napier-Taupo road was started in 1869 and completed in 1872.

The AC Baths is named for the  Armed Constabulary. The original pool was dug by the soldiers upstream of Lofley's pool, and is the site of the current AC Baths.Many of the soldiers remained in Taupo after the Armed Constabulary was disbanded in 1877.


In 1869 a group of Bay of Plenty and Tauranga Volunteer Cavalry were surprised and set upon by Te Kooti's band who were fleeing pursuers. Nine troopers were killed and four managed to escape and make their way to Fort Galatea some 50 kilometres away. The graves of those killed lie at Opepe. For more detail of the Armed Constabulary, a visit to the Taupo museum is well worthwhile.


William Lofley, who was a survivor from the wreck of the "Orpheus" prior to joining the AC, started a hot bathing pool and later developed the Spa Hotel at the same site.

Joseph Rickitt opened a store in Tongariro Street.

Sam Crowther and his brother Joe set up the coach service with McCauley between Napier and Taupo. Crowther Terrace bears his name.

Captain John Mackintosh Roberts commanded the Taupo Police District based at Opepe.  He became the resident magistrate and Chairman of the Licensing Trust.  Roberts Street is named after him.

Major David Scannell took command of the AC in 1871 and was later the Native Land Court judge who confirmed in a judgment that Horonuku Te Heuheu had ownership of the volcanic peaks of Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Scannell Street is named for him.

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Armed Constabulary in Taupo


Napier-Taupo Road, Iwitahi 3379, New Zealand

Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -38.765997,176.21671200000003

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Sources:Taupo Museum