Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 8, October 1967
The strange and interesting story of Mrs. Ngoungou the Pakeha grandmother of Mrs. J. Forsman, of Waihi Beach, proved most entertaining for the 40 people present at a meeting of the Waihi Historical Society last year.
Mrs. Ngoungou, as a little girl of eight, named Caroline Perrett, was kidnapped in 1874 from her father's farm in Taranaki. Her father had been unwise enough to ignore the warnings of the Maoris that the graves of their dead killed at Sentry Hill in 1864 must not be interfered with. He had tendered for the removal of the graves so that a railway could be built.
Caroline disappeared without trace and the next 12 years of her life were spent on the Kaipara gum fields. There she worked at gum digging like the other children. She forgot her mother tongue, learned to speak Maori, and shared in the life of her captors who, except for a certain unfriendliness at first, came in time to treat her as one of themselves.
At 15 years she married Ewa Ngaru. Their only child was a daughter, for Ewa was to die of consumption 18 months after this child was born. The daughter became Mrs. Ngaruna Mikaere of Coromandel and was Mrs. Forsman's mother.
The young widow nearly died of typhoid fever after her husband's death but at length she recovered and at 20 she married Ngoungou, a fine looking young Maori, who came north to the Kaipara from the Whakatane district.
He set out to return there with his young wife who left her little daughter with the tribe. It was a leisurely journey for first they took with them to Tauranga the body of her first husband's brother, Pikake Ngaranui. Then they stayed at Karikari [Katikati? – E] and Te Puke for long visits.
Their final destination was the 60-acre family farm at Poroporo near Whakatane, and there Mrs. Ngoungou spent the rest of her life.
There she re-learned her mother tongue, and there the childrenof her second marriage were born.
It was her niece, Mrs. Hayward of Taneatua, who, noticing her remarkable likeness to her own mother, stopped her one Saturday afternoon in Whakatane and asked her the question which led to her identification as Caroline Perrett, the little girl kidnapped from Taranaki over 50 years before. A happy reunion with pakeha relatives did not alter her way of life, and was satisfied to end her days in Poroporo.
(Mrs. Forsman found herself answering many questions and was presentatthe meeting which helped to identify her grandmother.)