Arthur's Stone

Waimate North Road, Kerikeri

  • Arthur's Stone.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Stuart Park. Date: 1/10/2004.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7743 Date Entered 14th May 2008 Date of Effect 14th May 2008


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 173050, North Auckland Land District and the stone column known as Arthur's Stone thereon. The registration extends for a radius of 5 (five) metres around the stone. (Refer to Extent of Registration Map in Appendix 1 of the Registration Report for further information).

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 173050 (RT NA105B/68) North Auckland Land District

Location description

The stone is in a paddock on the eastern side of Waimate North Rd, just north of the bridge over the Waipapa Stream.


This stone was erected on 9 November 1840 by Rev Richard Taylor to mark the place where his son Arthur fell from his horse and was killed on 12 October 1840. This is the oldest memorial to a Pakeha in New Zealand. Arthur Taylor is buried in the churchyard of St John the Baptist at Waimate North.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This is New Zealand's oldest memorial to a Pakeha. While Maori certainly erected memorials in a variety of forms to commemorate their tupuna, a thorough analysis of memorials by Imelda Burgess for her registration report on the William Wakefield Memorial in Wellington (Register 1441, Category I) identified no memorial to a Pakeha earlier than the Wakefield Memorial, which dates from the early 1850s. Arthur's Stone predates that by at least a decade.

Bargas wrote:

The William Wakefield Memorial is a very early example, possibly the earliest example, of a memorial or monument found in New Zealand. It was ordered and arrived in New Zealand in the early 1850s, conceived and commissioned prior to any known examples of monuments or memorials in New Zealand, in the sense of a statue or stone structure that gives tribute to someone or something. The earliest known memorials or monuments to be erected in New Zealand date largely from 1860s (though there is an example from 1857). These monuments largely commemorate war or those who served or were killed during war.

The earliest known memorial or monument to early Pakeha settlement or settlers is the Wayside Memorial Cross in Christchurch, erected c1857 (the original cross has been replaced).

Arthur's Stone was conceived and erected in 1840, considerably earlier than either of these examples.

The erection of memorials to individuals became a widespread practice in New Zealand. The erection of a memorial at the place of death continues to the present day with the contemporary practice of commemorating road accident victims with a white wooden cross. Arthur's Stone can be seen as a direct antecedent of this practice, New Zealand's first memorial to a road accident victim.

Arthur Taylor was not a significant character in New Zealand history, since he died so young. Indeed the fact that Arthur was deprived of the opportunity to fulfil his potential is a poignant element of this and other memorials to those who die in childhood. Arthur Taylor can be considered as representative of the children of the early Pakeha and especially missionary settlers of New Zealand in the nineteenth century. Richard Taylor, who created the memorial, is a significant identity in New Zealand colonial, missionary and Maori history

Richard Taylor's selection of a natural local stone for this memorial contrasts with later practices of using imported materials such as marble, constructed materials such as concrete or iron, or dressed and polished local stone.


Although currently screened from public view by a recently planted hedge, the single erect column standing alone in a field has substantial aesthetic impact, as do standing stones in many parts of the world. The stone was not erected primarily for aesthetic reasons, though Taylor selected the stone and was careful to whitewash it and plant the ground around it.


The monument serves as a vivid visual reminder of the life and hardships of the families of the missionaries, some of the earliest Pakeha settlers in New Zealand. Most contemporary recorded history is written by the missionary men about themselves and their colleagues, and their evangelising and civilising endeavours. Arthur Taylor's death, the grieving of his father and the erection of the memorial provided an opportunity for Richard Taylor to record in his journal a vivid insight into the experience of his family, wife and children in the face of this sudden loss of their beloved eldest son.


In his Journal, Richard Taylor makes clear both Arthur's remarkably developed spirituality for one so young, and his own religious doubt over the loss of his son, which he saw as a further test of his vocation. The whole purpose of missionary endeavour was a spiritual one, and this stone forms an unusual complement to other evidence of that spirituality, more commonly preserved and experienced through the mission houses and churches that survive from that period.

3.2. Section 23 (2) Assessment:

b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

Because he was killed as a child, Arthur Taylor is not himself an important person in New Zealand history. However, the creator of the memorial was his father Rev. Richard Taylor, who arrived in New Zealand with his family as a missionary in 1839, at Paihia. Rev. Taylor was one of the company of Church Missionary Society missionaries who first began their evangelism in New Zealand in 1814 under the leadership of Samuel Marsden. A few months before Arthur's death, Richard Taylor signed the Treaty of Waitangi as a witness on 6 February 1840, and at Te Waimate on 9 February 1840. He was present at the signing at Mangungu on 12 February, and made a full record of the speeches of the important chiefs there. He again signed the Treaty as a witness at the fourth signing of the Treaty at Kaitaia on 28 April 1840. In 1843 Taylor moved with his surviving family to Wanganui, where he played a significant role in mission activity, in education, in community life, in natural history and in ethnology. Thus Arthur's Stone is also associated with the broader theme of English missionary settlement, religious practices and the introduction of English ideas into New Zealand. Although his death prevented him from fulfilling his potential, Arthur Taylor's me-morial is tangible evidence of missionary settlement in New Zealand, a rare example of an historic place of mission association that is not a mission or church building.

Arthur's Stone is significant as the oldest memorial to a Pakeha in New Zealand. The erec-tion of memorials became in itself a significant practice throughout New Zealand in later years. Arthur's Stone is the first memorial in New Zealand to a road accident victim, the first example of the current widespread practice of erecting a memorial beside highways to mark the site of a fatal road accident.

(f) The potential of the place for public education:

The memorial provides a tangible focal point for public discussion and educational activity about New Zealand's earliest Pakeha settlement and its missionary past, due to the memo-rial's association with an early missionary family. It also provides an opportunity to increase public knowledge of this past. Because of its direct link to the marking of road accident sites, there is potential to link something familiar in modern life with a related activity in the past.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place:

Arthur's Stone is of outstanding commemorative significance since it is the oldest memorial to a Pakeha in New Zealand, and the country's first memorial to a road accident victim.

(i) The importance of the identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:

The memorial relates to the early missionary period of settlement in New Zealand, and pro-vides an opportunity for rare insights into the lives and the hardships experienced by the families of the missionaries.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:

As the oldest memorial to a Pakeha, and the first memorial to a road accident victim, Arthur's Stone is not just rare, it is unique. Missionary children are not well evidenced in the history of this period, so Arthur's Stone provides a rare opportunity to explore that aspect of this early period of Pakeha settlement


This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: b, f, h, I, j.


Arthur's Stone is unique, as New Zealand's oldest memorial to a Pakeha. It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Arthur's Stone was erected by Rev Richard Taylor on 9 November 1840 to mark the place where his ten year old son Arthur Spencer Taylor fell from his horse and was killed on 12 October 1840. Arthur Taylor is buried in the churchyard of St John the Baptist at Waimate North. [The grave has a bronze plaque which is thought to have been placed there some time ago by the artist Cranleigh Barton (1890 – 1975), belived to be a relative. The wording on the plaque reads:

Arthur Spencer


Rev. R. Taylor M.A

Born at Coveny in the Isle of Ely

SEPT 14TH 1830

Killed by a fall from a Horse

Oct 12th 1840


Iwaenga nui tatou i te ora

Kei te mate]

Richard Taylor's wife Caroline (Arthur's mother) had been visiting the Church Missionary Society mission at Te Puna.

Richard Taylor made this entry in his diary for 12 October 1840:

I set off this morning taking some horses and poor Arthur on one of them to bring back his dear Mamma. When we got about 4 miles on the way he whipped his horse and it set off, and being on a side saddle he was shaken off. His foot hung in the stirrup, he was dragged a considerable distance, and received several kicks one behind the left ear when his shoe tore and he fell. I picked him up just in time to receive his last gasp which was only perceptible; he never moved nor uttered a sound, but as it were in an inconceivably short time breathed out his soul to the Lord who gave it, poor dear boy, his was indeed a short and quick step from time to eternity, the pain and groans were mine I stayed with the body about two hours when Mr James Davis came to my help and soon after his father. I had 2 natives with us who made a rude bier on which he was carried back a mournful return, we were met with the tears of the whole school. In the evening my dear wife and Laura came when our expected joy was darkened a general gloom hung over us.

A contemporary newspaper gives the following account:


On Monday the 11th instant , a fatal accident occurred on the road between Waimati and Kerikeri, which has plunged the family of the Revd. Mr Taylor, of the Waimati in deep distress. Mr. Taylor's eldest son, a boy of 1O years of age was, with two youths in the Seminary, accompanying his father to meet his mother and sister, on their return from Tepuna. While riding gently along, a touch from a switch which he held in his hand caused the horse to start. He fell, and was dragged by the stirrup, the animal at full gallop, for more than a hundred yards, when his foot became disengaged. His father was instantly with him, but he expired immediately in his arms. The suddenly bereaved parent had to return home with the corpse of his son, borne by Natives, and a friend met the mother with the appalling intelligence. The event has excited the deepest sympathy. The funeral took place on Wednesday the 14th, and was attended by the young gentlemen in the Church Missionary Seminary, of which Mr. T. has charge, and many Europeans and settlers in the neighborhood, in addition to the Missionary and Mission families. Arthur Taylor was a remarkably intelligent boy, and has left strong evidences for so young a child, of a reflective mind.

Taylor's biographer J M R Owens provides subsequent details, based on Richard Taylor's Notebook:

Mr King, the school's usher and Mr Hatch the second master sat up with the body and on the fourteenth the burial service was held. Arthur's cloak and cap, with his Bible and Prayer Book, were placed on the coffin, with flowers. More than eighty Europeans attended, for, as it happened, all the members of the northern mission were present in Waimate at the time. Henry Williams conducted the service and Taylor preached the funeral sermon, choosing as his text the words written in Arthur's Bible, 'in the midst of life we are in death'.

Taylor's Journal later gives an account of the erection of the stone:

Nov. 9th [1840], I returned late in the evening, having waited to see a basaltic column 7 ½ feet long put up on the spot poor Arthur met his death. It was carried from the Kerikeri. 10th. I took Steel with me this morning and we cleared a circle around the stone on which we sowed clover seed & white washed the stone.

The wider significance of this event is that it provided the stimulus for a rare account of the family life of the early missionaries in New Zealand and the hardships experienced by those families. Richard Taylor wrote at length in his Journal about the events leading up to and following Arthur's death, and his family's reaction to those events. R M S Taylor, a descendant of Richard Taylor, has remarked:

The tragic accident to Arthur gives us cause to remember the children of pioneer families, for they too played their part in sometimes demanding circumstances, and those circumstances served to mould fine character during childhood years. The accident prompted an unusually detailed word picture of one fine little fellow. While the missionary grieved for his firstborn he also disclosed more of his fatherly love and pride, and of his own faith and fortitude, than might otherwise have been known to us. We feel sympathy for the family, and we honour Arthur for his achievement of so much maturity of character in so short a life.

Physical Description

The stone was described by Rev Richard Taylor as being 'a basaltic column 7 ½ feet long' (2.25 metres). Today, it is 1.52 metres high, presumably because some 75 centimetres is below ground. The stone is roughly rectangular in section, approximately 40 by 30 centimetres in section and tapers slightly towards the top. It shows no sign of having been shaped, though it does bear some incised initials and other lines, considered to be graffiti later in date than 1840 - '1914' appears in 2 places. Taylor's drawing of the memorial (see Appendix 2) possibly indicates some form of inscription, though no trace of this can be detected today.

There is now no sign of the whitewash Taylor painted on it on 10 November 1840, nor the clover he planted that day, nor the wooden fence shown in his drawing. Taylor moved from Waimate to Whanganui in 1843; it is not known whether any ongoing maintenance was undertaken on the memorial.

It has some lichen growing on its upper surfaces.

Construction Dates

1840 -
Arthur Taylor falls from his horse and is killed on the road from Te Waimate Mission to Kerikeri Mission.

1840 -
Arthur is buried in the churchyard at Te Waimate.

Original Construction
1840 -
Richard Taylor arranges for the erection of a stone column on the site of Arthur Taylor's death.

1840 -
Richard Taylor and an assistant whitewash the stone and plant clover around it. Then or later a wooden rail fence is erected around it. The fence has subsequently disappeared.

Kaikohe Rotary Club erects a stile and fingerboard drawing attention to the memorial, as part of a programme of marking significant historic sites.

Construction Details

Naturally formed basalt column from Kerikeri. The stone was erected under the supervision of Richard Taylor.

Completion Date

25th February 2008

Report Written By

Stuart Park

Information Sources

Owens, 2004

J M R Owens, The Mediator: a life of Richard Taylor 1805 - 1873 VUW 2004

Journal of the Whanganui Historical Society Inc.

Journal of the Whanganui Historical Society Inc.

R M S Taylor, 'Arthur Spencer Taylor', 14/1 1983: 8-11

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northland Area Office.

Associated NZHPT Registrations:

There are no associated registered places in the immediate vicinity. Arthur Taylor is buried in the churchyard of St John the Baptist at Waimate North (#64, Category I). Arthur was travelling with his father to meet his mother Caroline at the Kerikeri Mission Station (Kemp house #2 Category I, Stone Store #5 Category I). Caroline Taylor had been visiting the CMS mission at Te Puna, which is within the proposed Rangihoua historic area.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.