Amid much controversy and debate, the mayor is pushing to have an "H" inserted in Wanganui ...

But this is not Annette Main and 2015 - it's 1902, the mayor is one Alexander Hatrick, and despite his worship's best efforts to revert to "the original Maori mode of spelling", we had to wait well over 100 years to become Whanganui.

No such a delay to see kangaroos introduced to the town ... but they didn't take, and the last recorded sighting was in Okoia in 1869.

These are just a couple of the quirky stories contained in a new book, Whimsical Tales of Old Wanganui, by local author and history buff Murray Crawford.


The numerous amusing, baffling - and sometimes plain bizarre - tales prove that truth can be stranger than fiction and there's nothing new under the sun. Though we don't seem to have horses falling into drains any more or pass bylaws about ladies' hat-pins.

Crawford, a popular contributor to the Chronicle, has collected these wacky anecdotes from newspaper reports of the time, and he will launch the book on Monday at the Jane Winstone retirement village.

At $35, the book offers a wonderfully rich read, and all proceeds will go to Alzheimers Whanganui because, as Crawford, says "valuable organisations such as this are always struggling for funds".

He stumbled on his literary career late in life, deciding on a whim to enter a story-writing competition in the Wanganui Herald in 1985.

Inspired by earning a consolation prize, he expanded his story and it became his first book, Mystery on the Whanganui, a young persons adventure based on historical events.

An "irreverent romp" through the Taranaki wars followed - Rooster McGurk: Unsung Colonial Hero (and Reluctant Virgin) - then two books about semi-legendary Whanganui character Granny Dalton to mark 150 years of the local fire service and 150 years of what is now St Peter's Church, formerly Christ Church.