Food in the Wairarapa

Food in the Wairarapa

A Family at War

This is the story of the Wishaw family - Mabel, Harry and Bernard. Allow about an hour for the full tour.

Mabel WhishawHarry WhishawBernard Whishaw


Mabel, Bernard and Harry Whishaw were three of Catherine and John Whishaw’s eight children, from Stoneridge, Featherston.

Mabel, the eldest of the three siblings was born in 1883 in Kakaramea, South Taranaki. Harry was born in 1885 in Wellington and Bernard, the youngest, in 1893.

In 1914 at the start of WWI, Mabel was 31 years old, Harry was 29 and Bernard 21.


Featherston Heritage Museum
Fitzherbert Street
Behind the Fell Locomotive Museum

Before you follow the Whishaw's story, stop at the Featherston Heritage Museum. Here you'll get a feel for the layout and environment of the Featherston Military Camp and other aspects of training life through the photographs and memorabilia on display.


Featherston Military Camp 
State Highway 2

Featherston Military Camp

Featherston Military Camp was a temporary home for over 60,000 soldiers in training between January 1916 and November 1918. The barracks housed 4500, with a tent camp (Canvas Camp) holding about 3000. 

Mabel became a military nurse at the Featherston Military Hospital in 1916. In April 1918 she was promoted from Staff Nurse to Sister. Three months later, the influenza pandemic arrived. By mid-November, some 2,500 men were sick, and the hospital was overwhelmed.  

Here's a good map to see the layout of the military camp in relation to current roads. The hospital area was south of today's SH2, bounded by Main Road and Camp Road, opposite the barrack camp.


Tauherenikau Camp
Tauherenikau Race Course
State Highway 2

Tauherenikau Camp

Tauherenikau Military Camp was set up in August 1915. Bernard trained here then embarked for the Suez in Egypt two months later. When he left, he was a member of the Wellington Mounted Riflemen. At some time during his service in Egypt he moved to the NZ Mounted Rifles Machine Gun Squadron.

Bernard died of malaria in October 1918. He was 26. He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.


Featherston War Memorial
Corner of Fitzherbert Street and Fox Street

Featherston War Memorial unveiling 25 May 1927

All three Whishaw children’s names are listed on this memorial.

Harry, a labourer, enlisted in August 1914 and by October 1914 was on his way to Suez. He saw action in Gallipoli, Egypt and Western Europe. At Gallipoli, Harry was wounded twice; first in April 1915 with a bullet to the neck and again in August, with shrapnel in his hand.

Harry was killed in action near Armentieres, France on 3 July 1916. He was 32. He is buried in France at the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery in Armentieres.


Featherston Cemetery
Grave Reference 85
Western Lake Road, Featherston

Featherston Cemetary War Graves

Mabel is buried here at the Featherston Cemetery. She is the only Whishaw sibling to be buried at home.

Mabel died from influenza while nursing at the Featherston Military Camp, at the height of the epidemic. Her younger brother Bernard had died just three weeks earlier. Mabel was 34.

None of the Wishaw siblings had married.


Service Numbers:

Mabel Helen Whishaw 22/371

Harry Guthrie Whishaw 10/154

Bernard Guthrie Whishaw 11/1996


Other stories you might like to follow:

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is across Lake Onoke from Lake Ferry but can be accessed down Western Lake Road from Featherston in about 40 minutes and from Martinborough in about 50 minutes. This part of the coast is close to one of the world’s top ranked lodges at Wharekauhau Country Estate.

Tararua Forest Park

The Tararua Range provides Wellington, Wairarapa, Horowhenua and Manawatu with an outstanding variety of tramping, hunting, rafting and walking opportunities in a wild, natural landscape.

At 116,535 hectares the Tararua Forest Park is the largest conservation park managed by the Department of Conservation in the North Island.

The main entrance on the Wairarapa, eastern side, of the Tararua Range is Mount Holdsworth near Masterton. Waiohine Gorge near Carterton is another popular gateway to south eastern Tararua Forest Park. On the Kapiti Coast, western side, the entrance is at Otaki Forks where multi day tramps traverse the ranges and arrive in the Wairarapa.

MOUNTAIN ALERTS should always be checked here before departing on a tramp into the mountains.

Hut Tickets are essential for an overnight stay in a back country hut. Purchase your hut tickets and hut passes from the Masterton isite Visitor Information Centre.

Topographical Maps of the back country are available at isite Visitor Information Centres.

Personal Locator Beacons effective to 62m and monitored by NZ Rescue Coordination Centre. Just $5 a day! Bookings essential +64 6 370 0155

The main tramping routes in the Tararua Ranges are:

Gentle Annie Loop Track is one of the most popular day trips in the park. The east grade of the Gentle Annie Track climbs past the Rocky Lookout, through the heartland of Pig Flat to Mountain House Shelter before descending onto the Donnelly Flat Loop Track to enjoy an interesting round trip with a range of forest walking.

Totara Flats is in a beautiful setting at the confluence of the Waiohine River and Totara Creek. Take advantage of the excellent swimming hole right in front of the hut.

Powell Hut and Mount Holdsworth climbs through beech forest that markedly reduces in stature as the bushline and Powell Hut are approached (1,200 metres). Reaching the summit of Mount Holdsworth (1,470 metres) gives a real sense of achievement and well worth a photo.

Mount Holdsworth Jumbo Circuit is a two to three day tramp involving a climb through beech-podocarp forest to some of the best alpine tops in the Tararua Forest Park.

Mitre Flats on the Barra Track is an excellent first tramp for families.

Waiohine Gorge is the start of several touring tramps and is a good alternative start point for Totara Flats.

White Water Rafting
You can also experience the thrill of rafting white water rapids on the Waiohine River with Wellington Rafting. Learn more here.


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