In the early 1870’s Sir Julius Vogel initiated a new colonisation scheme to essentially open up the hinterland of the country by clearing the bush and buildings new roads, bridges and rail. And with that would come people and homes.
In 1873 European settlers arrived in New Zealand, the majority being Scandinavian, and they began working on Sir Vogel’s colonisation scheme.
On the 4th March 1873 the “Forfarshire” arrived in the Port of Wellington. After a brief rest at the immigration barracks a group of mostly Swedish made their way over the Rimutakas to Kopuaranga north of Masterton where a camp had been established earlier by the Scandinavians. These people were mostly Danish, Norwegian and some Germans. The living conditions in the temporary camp were extremely crowded, primitive and very unhygienic. But they stayed for the promise of new homes in the Eketahuna Block 35 km’s north. They just had to wait it out until the land had been surveyed.
Once settled they re-named their new home Mellemskov which means ‘Heart of the Forest”. However by the late 1870s the name had reverted back to the Maori name of Eketahuna which means ‘to run aground on a sandbank’, so named by the tangata whenua to describe the location where their waka could not travel any further up the Makakahi River, which runs through the township.
Visit the Mellemskov Museum to find out more about the History of Eketahuna.