Toll gates have never been popular and when about fifteen years ago the Egmont County Council, in the Taranaki district, erected one near the Kapuni bridge on the Eltham-Opunake Road, the settlers paid their tolls sullenly, and vowed vegeance on the gates.
Just where the Kapuni bridge crosses the river, which flows from Mount Egmont, there is a big dark ravine where the water is very deep, enclosed on all sides by steepm rocky banks. One stormy night the old till gate keeper was lying in his bunk with his light in the window; he knew that there would be little traffic on such a night, and soon fell off to sleep.
At that time a coach left Opunake for Eltham in the very early hours of the morning, and got to the toll gate before daylight, but till this morning the old keeper had always been ready to receive it. The driver of the coach descended from his box to go and investigate, and to his astonishment he found the door of the hut securely fastened from the outside, and the man could not get out.
On further investigation he also saw that the gates were missing. A party of men had evidently removed them from their hinges and thrown them into the deep pool in the ravine. The ropes which held the old man in his hut and fastened the doorway were soon cut, and the council offered a big reward to anyone who would reveal the cuprits, but no one ever did.
Two visitors met recently at the bowling tournament in Auckland, and were discussing old times.
"When did we meet last?" said one.
"Oh, you remember it, don't you?" replied the other, "and I suppose we can talk about it now, but at one time a price was put on our heads, for it was the night that we bound up the door of the toll keeper's house at the Kapuni River, and threw the gates into the water over the clidff."
"Were those gates ever recovered?" was again asked.
"No, for all I know they are still at the bottom of that gully, but other ones were soon put in their place, and the toll is still there."
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The unpopular toll gate at Kapuni River
I found this in the Auckland Star, 16 January 1923.