Eyewitness Account Sir- In tonight's Herald I saw Mr Irvine's idea of the cause of the rumble at 12.30pm today. I take the honour to correct this. I was near No 1 pole, by the tramway powerhouse, when I happened to look up, and saw a huge white ball fly from the sun in a westerly direction. It had a tail like a meteor and gradually faded off into a long silver-like line, which remained in the sky for several minutes after the ball disappeared, and then faded away like puffs of smoke. Soon after the ball disappeared I heard an explosion like the boom of a heavy gun. Perhaps astronomers can give us a reason for this. I am, etc. ONE WHO SAW IT. Aromoho, November 26, 1908.
Mokoia is famous for much more than its purple house and pet shop in the middle of nowhere. Indeed, it is a place held in high regard by many international museums and research papers around the world. Scientists have travelled to Mokoia from many countries to scrabble around farmland in the hope of taking a rare and outer-worldly item back home with them.

A submarine explosion was thought by many to be the cause of a loud rumble heard near Whanganui in November 1908.

Mr Stone, manager of the gasworks there, was nearing his home at about 12.30pm when he saw a bright flash zooming to the earth from high in the sky. His family came out of their house to see the cause of the loud explosive noise that followed the light, and witnessed a smoke trail that appeared for three or four minutes.

People throughout the Hawera district had also heard the unusual noise, described by one resident of Kakaramea as sounding at first like loud thunder (the day was clear and sunny) and then like "a big mob of horses trotting over the wood planking of a fairly long bridge, and there was a rattling angry noise with it, very similar to a gale of wind rushing through the rigging of a ship".

The noise scared animals too and horses and cattle were seen galloping around their paddocks.

The terrifying sound lasted for about a minute. Other people spoken to by the Kakaramea correspondent in the Hawera and Normanby Star thought the noise was one or two teams of horses and drays doing a bolt down the road. One said "I thought it was perhaps a second Tarawera eruption".

Walter Hosken of Bell Block was spending the day at the races in New Plymouth when the event happened. He was chatting with two young women when one of them drew his attention to the sky. He saw what he thought was a kite, but realised it wasn't when it burst into flame and created a smoke trail behind it.

The incident got more than the Taranaki people talking. Overseas journalists and scientists were curious about what had happened on that calm sunshiny day in South Taranaki. A fireball seen falling into the sea off the Whanganui coast was in fact a meteor, and some of its fragments that followed after it burst through the atmosphere fell around Mokoia, especially on Cecil Hawkin's farm.

The Star subsequently reported:
"In connection with the meteoric phenomenon reported last week, it is interesting to learn that a mass of metallic substance has since been discovered on Mr C Hawkin's farm at Mokoia, having fallen quite recently, and presumably on the day that so many people experienced the sensational presence of the deadly messenger from the unknown. The ground is all torn up where the meteorite ploughed itself into the earth, and the ball was apparently shattered to fragments by the force of the impact".
The object seen plunging to the earth at the Hawkin's farm missed the farmhouse by about 180 metres, and landed in a pine plantation. The Hawkin children had been playing near the house.

Mr Hawkin had heard the whizzing sound followed by the loud bang when it struck a tree branch, shattered an exposed root and finally plunged into the earth, making a 28 centimetre-wide hole.

A "ganger" working on the bridge over the Manawapou stream saw another piece of the meteorite fall into thick bush cover on a steep bank of the stream, followed by another piece "whizzing through the air like a rocket" that landed in the stream, with "a splash and a hiss".

What followed was great excitement in the area as scientists travelled from overseas to the Hawkins' farm to hunt for fragments of the meteorite. It was rare for a meteorite to be seen and rarer still to find fragments of it. The results of those searches can be found in many institutions, including museums in America, Paris, India, Vienna, London, and New Zealand.

Mr George R Marriner, FRMS, curator of the Whanganui Museum in 1908, said that because only the noise of the meteor had been heard in Whanganui, nothing much was thought of it, but when he was presented with a piece of the meteor soon after, he immediately booked a seat on a train to Mokoia to see the site.

At the farm, Mr Hawkins showed Mr Marriner where the fragment had landed and broken the tree's branch. Mr Marriner collected the shattered root containing small fragments of the meteor and the larger piece that had made the hole. The curator then looked around the thick bush near the Manawapou stream, but had to give it up as the train departure time drew near.

Back at Whanganui, Mr Marriner placed an advertisement in the Hawera and Normanby Star and the Taranaki Herald, requesting anyone who had heard the meteor to write to him with their information, so he could gauge how far the noise had travelled. It had been heard over a 160-kilometre stretch between Mt Taranaki and the Rangitikei River.

It was hoped Mr Marriner's expediency would benefit the museum, as it was besieged with letters from British and European institutions interested in having a piece of the rock.

"This meteorite is causing a small commotion among the scientific world of Europe. It is hoped that some exchanges may be arranged that will leave our museum much richer in exhibits," a report stated.

In 1937, the meteorite came once again into the news when an Australian museum requested a fragment from what was held at Whanganui.

The Mokoia meteorite was one of the rarest found anywhere on earth, made all the more so because it was actually seen falling to the ground.

Puke Ariki in New Plymouth holds two pieces, which it says contain some of the oldest known material of our solar system. The white parts of the fragment have been dated at 4.57 billion years old. Planets and other meteorites began forming in the solar system 10 million to 50 million years later.

"Happily, meteorites do not fall often", said a discussion piece on the Mokoia incident a couple of months later in the Star.

"Happily, when they have come, the broad acre rather than the crowded thoroughfare has been their smashing-place."