Burnt Papa Road Materials

Engineering Work (eg road, bridge, sawmill, dam)


Between 1890 and 1925, road building in the "papa" mudstone areas of inland Taranaki and northern Wairarapa were severely constrained by the absence of durable roadstone.

Becasue of this suitable local mudstone was "burnt" using papa fired in temporary kilns. This produced produce a brick-like product which was broken and used as roadstone.

This material stopped being economical as motor transport became available and wood from forest clearing was no longer available. Burnt papa aggregate can still be seen in some unsealed road pavements. As such there is little evidence left. However, on some back roads burnt papa peices can be seen amongst the aggregate on the road.

Bruce Dobson, 'Road Access a Burning Issue for Early Settlers of Inland Taranaki,' unpublished paper, IPENZ Heritage Committee, February 2003. See attachment below.


Bruce Dobson paper Feb 2003 (600 KB).pdf


King Country / Central Volcanic Plateau, Taranaki

Access Info

Nature of Engineering
Infrastructure (incl. Road, water, ports)


Burning papa at Whangamomona, Taranaki, for road metal, 18 April 1907. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19070418-12-3

(Click image to enlarge )

Burnt papa as a substitute for suitable metal in road-making: a pile of stone after leaving the kiln, Ohura, King Country, 12 February 1914. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19140212-44-2

(Click image to enlarge )