Alice is honoured at last

NEXT time you are taking a drive along State Highway 43, east of Whangamomona, take note of the newest addition to the Heritage Trail, a sign in memory of early settler, Alice King. Alice King came to Taranaki with her husband John Goode King and two children, James and Lou. They were part of a group of seven families who settled land around Whangamomona in 1884.
The government divided the land into 111 small farms and though there were almost no access routes, no schools, shops or facilities of any kind, the settlers prevailed.
Life for Alice was tough, and though she lived to give birth to another son in the settlement, she developed peritonitis, an infection of the appendix.
Despite the doctor from Stratford riding the 65 kilometres to Whanga as fast as he could on horseback (changing horses along the way), Alice died.
Since there was no local cemetery, the King family buried Alice in their front garden, planting two trees to mark the grave, one at her head, and one at her feet.
In 1914, the railway was put through Whangamomona, and in 1975 (long after the King family had left the region), railway workers unaware of the significance of the trees cut them down, leaving no marker of the grave.
The King family were outraged when they learnt of this, and disappointed further when driving the Forgotten World Highway to see Heritage Trail signs about many pioneers, but not Alice.
They began campaigning for a Heritage Trail sign for Alice, and now this dream has come true.
A contingent of locals and two members of the King family were present at the unveiling, Alice's grandson Sid and great granddaughter Nancy.
"It means so much to us to have a sign like this," they said.
"We are extremely proud of our heritage and pleased to be able to share Alice's story with all the tourists coming through."
Deputy Mayor, Neil Volzke, attended the ceremony and said that Alice's history is significant for all of us.
"We should remember people like Alice as pioneers of this district."

- Stratford Press

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