Taihape and Mangaweka - a building mix up?
Local folklore will tell you that the reason for the large bank building at Mangaweka (rather extravagant compared to the size of the town) and the small bank building at Taihape (small for the size of the town) was down to a drunken builder/architect who mixed up the plans or that the buildings were ‘switched’. The real reason may prove to be less dramatic.
When the building at Mangaweka was proposed it was thought that Mangaweka would be the main station for the railway and the site of the railway settlement (construction of which had reached Mangaweka in 1902). The population was also growing, a 1909 census showed the town's population to be almost 1000. Many of the workers working on the large viaducts for the railway line were based in Mangaweka.
Having been an agency of Hunterville since 1898 and with the town growing it became a branch in 1906. The building was completed in 1909 (original plans are dated May 1908). In less than 10 years however, the town's population was in decline.
Meanwhile, in 1903 Taihape had no bank, a 1897 census showed a population of just 39 people. However, the Hunterville Manager heard of a plan by the Bank of Australia to open a branch in Taihape and decided to quickly open a branch before they did.
Both banks opened their first branch on the same day; the 9th December 1903. This was a welcome development for the rapidly expanding town of Taihape with the railway line reaching the town a year later.
A more permanent bank building was erected in 1906 (2 years prior to the plans being approved for Mangaweka). With the opening of many sawmills, influx of workmen for the railway and land in the area being offered for sale, the town quickly expanded. Soon the population of Taihape far exceeded that of Mangaweka.
Is this a case of the bank backing the wrong town or a mix up of plans?