Would you risk your life for this dessert plate?
During the First Taranaki War in 1860 it seems members of the Atkinson family did.
The Spode plate was among the treasured possessions buried by Arthur and Maria Atkinson near their farm cottage in the Hurworth area as they joined other settler families in a desperate flight to New Plymouth. There was only time to mark the position of the hidden treasure in relation to a tree before they left home.
Their fears for their safety proved to be well founded. During the course of the war Hurworth was devastated by fire with most buildings and surrounding bush destroyed.
When the family returned home in 1861 the landscape had changed and the site of the buried treasure was lost. Attempts to recover the crockery later were unsuccessful until one of the sons of the then owners of the farm, James Smith, discovered it in the 1920s. After being annoyed by an order from his Mum to dig the vegetable garden James stabbed his gum spear into one of the farm tracks and struck the buried stash. His brothers, Charlie and Richard, helped him dig the crockery up but it is not known who eventually dug the vegetable garden. Ref: A82.521
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