The Boulder in Queen’s Park on the upper lookout car park acknowledges the Rutland Stockade that once stood on the site.
Towards the end of 1846 tensions between Maori and European settlers in Wanganui led Governor Grey to decide to establish a military post here. A force of five officers and 180 men, mostly from the 58th Regiment (the Rutlandshire Regiment), as well as men from the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers were dispatched and arrived here on the 13th of December 1846. They proceeded, according to Grey’s instructions, to build a stockade with a blockhouse on the high ground overlooking the Whanganui River. This hill was known to Maori as Pukenamu and had once been a heavily fortified pa.
By April 1847 the stockade was completed and the 58th Regiment moved in to garrison it. Other British Regiments that were stationed at the stockade included the 65th, 57th and the 18th Royal Irish. None of the soldiers lived in the Stockade itself. The Officer’s Quarters were on the flat area beside where the Davis Library is today, while the men were billeted in town.
The stockade was 60 yards by 62 and enclosed two blockhouses, one at each end. It is believed that this was the largest stockade ever to be built in New Zealand and the cost was around 500 pounds. Rifle slits for the soldiers to fire through were included in the construction and because of this Maori gave the stockade the name “Te Whare Waakataata” (the peephouse).
In later years the Rutland Stockade was used as a prison until the stockade structure started to deteriorate, and in 1887 the council sold what remained of the structure to P Pinyon, a carpenter of Wanganui, who took two days to demolish it.