Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Victoria University College an Essay towards a History


That £ 1000 did it. Mr Pharazyn was a shrewd, well-known and wealthy Wairarapa sheep-farmer, with good investments, whose interest in learning had so far been manifested mainly in membership of the Wellington Education Board. His letter was not the sort of letter that could be ignored by a council weighed down by Queen's Scholarships, holding those 4000 acres in the Nukumaru Survey District the paid nothing, and anxiously calculating lecturers at a hundred and fifty pounds apiece. A committee went to look at the territory indicated by Mr Pharazyn—fairly determined, no doubt, to do justice as between wisdom and gold. It was all part of the Town Belt, both the waste land of the Kelburn park reserve and the precipitous hillside adjoining. The City Council might be expected to look at the park with a jealous eye; what of the alternative? There was a report.

The committee having carefully gone over and inspected the land is satisfied that it is convenient, accessible and suitable and under existing conditions the best available, it has good road access from North and South and is by direct road within ten minutes walk of the centre of the City. The land in question is high is a bout six acres in extent and can at a very moderate cost be made into an admirable site.' And it commanded a magnificent view. But the Town Belt was bound up in legality. An act would be necessary to facilitate the transfer of the land, the City Council would have to be compensated from land in the Willington College reserve (also hillside) which would not harm that college.

page 81

‘With respect to the position of the city with reference to this question your committee are of opinion that the proper housing and establishment of a University College in the City is an important City interest and should as much as possible have the City Council's support so long as no injury to the citizens as a whole is done thereby. Your Committee urge that not only will no injury be done gut a great benefit to the City will result in converting an unused and unsightly piece of land to this useful purpose and improving it with a suitable building to bring University education within the reach of the youth of the City.’

Them began the negotiations, and further reports. The Professorial Board, stimulated by Easterfield, wanted Kelburn park. Hogben, the head of the Education Department, said flatly that kelburn Park would do. Government, said particular interest. When the Duke and Duchess of York came to Wellington the students, clad in cap and gown, halted them with a banner inscribed ‘We have eyes but no site’–which loyal greeting caused the visitors some mystification. The City Council was prepared to give the ‘Salamanca Road’ site, upwards of six acres, in exchange for land of equal value, conditional on building being started within five years; or two and a half acres at the north of the park reserve, on condition that the college reclaimed for it an equivalent from the deep gully at the other end. But what use were two and a half acres? There was a small piece of land next to the Salamanca Road site owned by the Hospital Trustees, which could possibly be obtained, to make six and a half acres in all. The college Council plumped for this site. The Hospital Trustees were at first not very amenable. The Council received a letter from the Nelson college Board of Governors, who had resolved that' Nelson being and inherent part of the Victoria college University District, as well as pre-eminently fitted to become the Seat of the University', they should offer page 82 a site of six acres free of cost, ‘the situation offered being second to none in the Colony for the purpose required’. But Nelson was not in the centre Wellington, and the Council could but tender its thanks.

An act was passed by parliament in November 1901 to facilitate the negotiations which were in progress.12 The Hospital Trustees came round to accept a government section adjoining the hospital as fair exchange; deadlock between the City Council and the Wellington College Governors was solved by acceptance of a ten foot frontage on Willis Street owned by the Governors, instead of ten acres on a bare hillside; and in February 1902 the thing was done. The College had its site, or at least the ‘six vertical acres’ from which a site could, in the Wellington manner, be hacked and hewn; and the Council braced itself to its next task, that of getting money from the government for a building.

12 12The Victoria College site and Girls High School and Wellington Hospital Trustees Empowering Act, 1901.