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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]

Wanganui Corporation

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Wanganui Corporation.

The Borough of Wanganui was incorporated in the year 1872. Its area is 1000 acres, and it contains 1900 rateable properties. The rateable value is £84,000, on which 2s. 5d. in the £ is levied, producing an annual rate of £10,150. In addition to the rate revenue the Council receives revenue from its reserves to the amount of £1700 per annum. Included in these reserves are 250 acres within the Borough, and 2000 acres at Mangawhero. The municipal offices, erected in 1881, are located in St. Hill Street, and adjoining is the Opera House, also the property of the ratepayers. The latter was built in 1899, at a cost of £5000, and is the only theatre in the town. It has seating accommodation for 1000, and is lighted by both electricity and gas.


On April 1st, 1902, the Corporation purchased the plant of the Wanganui Gas Company, Limited, originally established about 1878. The works are situated on a borough reserve in Taupo Quay. In October, 1905, a fine building in brick was built in Ridgway Street, and contains the offices and showrooms for the gas department. The three gasometers are capable of holding 315,000 cuble feet of gas. Throughout the district there are twenty miles of mains, and 1,750 consumers. The price charged is 5s. net per 1000 feet for lighting, and 4s. 9d. net for cooking and heating purposes.

Swimming Baths.

These are provided by the Municipality on the river bank, and consist of a large basin, with hot and cold baths also on the premises. A caretaker is in charge.

Fire Brigade.

The Volunteer Fire Brigade is supported by an annual subsidy of £300. The principal station is in St. Hill Street, near the Opera House and Council Chambers. The Brigade is under the command of Captain George Spriggens.

Water Supply.

A gravitation scheme has been satisfactorily installed throughout the borough at a total cost of £60,000. The main source is eighteen miles distant, a dam having been constructed beside the Okehu Stream. Although this is usually sufficient, a subsidiary supply is obtained from Virginia Lake, on St. John's Hill. The water from the latter alone gives a pressure of forty-five to sixty pounds to the square inch in the town mains, and when this is added to the larger supply the pressure rises to 110 to 130 pounds to the square inch.


The outfall is into the sea through the Wanganui river.


The loans raised for municipal purposes are: a consolidated loan of £55,000, a water-works loan of £70,000, a street improvement and drainage loan amounting to £27,500, a municipal opera house loan of £4000, gas loans of £55,000, and a tramway loan of £40,000; total £251,500.

Denton, photo.Public Gardens, Wanganui.

Denton, photo.
Public Gardens, Wanganui.

Electric Traction.

Voting in favour of an electric service for Wanganui was carried on 28th November, 1906. The intention is to construct about six miles of track, commencing at the gasworks, Taupo Quay, via Victoria Avenue, Glasgow Street and the River Bank to Aramoho, together with two branch lines. The power-house will adjoin the gasworks, and coke will be largely used. The estimated cost of construction and equipment is £40,000.


The Borough Council acts as a Queen's Park Domain Board. The local Museum, a Band Rotunda and Band Room, and a Tennis Court are among the attractions in the Park. Another Borough Reserve is Cook's Gardens, which may be entered from St. Hill, Nixon, and Ridgway Streets, and from Maria Place. A very fine observatory, owned by the local Astronomical Society, occupies an elevated part of these gardens. The Moutoa Gardens, originally intended for a Market Square, are on the River Bank near the Court House. Victoria Park about twenty acres in extent, on St. John's Hill, within the borough, is well planted and sheltered, and mostly used for football and other sports.

Borough Council.

The members of the Council for the year 1907 are: Mr. C. E. Mackay (Mayor), Messrs. T. H. Battle, G. Carson, F. A. Harkness, A. Harris, E. N. Liffiton, J. T. Muir, C. W. Poynter, H. A. Purser, and G. Spriggens. The principal officers are: Messrs. G. Murch (town clerk), A. Gilmour (engineer), and G. D. Stone (gas manager).

His Worship The Mayor, Mr. Charles Evan Mackay, was also Mayor in 1906. He was first elected to the Borough Council in November, 1905. In 1904 Mr. Mackay was elected a member of the Mataongaonga page 592 Road Board, on which he still serves. Mr Mackay was born in Nelson in the year 1875, was educated at Wellington and Canterbury Colleges, and graduated B.A. in 1894 and LL.B. in 1900. Two years later he settled in Wanganui, and has since practised his profession as a solicitor. As Mayor of Wanganui he is an ex-officio member of the Harbour Board and Wanganui River Trust.

Councillor Thomas Henry Battle, member of the Wanganui Borough Council, has represented the borough for several years on the Sanitation Works, Water Supply, Gasworks, and Tramway Committees. He is also a member and officer of the Fire Brigade.

Councillor Gilbert Carson, a member of the Wanganui Borough Council, has been well-known in Wanganui since he purchased the “Wanganui Chronicle” in 1874. He served as a member of the House of Representatives for Wanganui, having been returned at the general election of 1896. Mr Carson is a member of the Public Baths, Reserves, Sanitation and Tramways Committees. He is also chairman of the Board of Governors of the Wanganui Girls' College, and a member of the Education Board.

Councillor Alfred Harris was first elected a member of the Wanganui Borough Council in the year 1906, and was re-elected in April, 1907. He is a member of the Public Baths. Water Supply, Suburbs, and Tramways committees. Mr Harris came to New Zealand in the year 1877, and had experience in farming and flax-milling before settling in Wanganui.

Councillor F. A. Harkness was elected a member of the Wanganui Borough Council in 1897, and serves on the Reserves, Sanitation, Gasworks, Works, and Suburbs Committees.

Councillor Edward N. Liffiton, the senior member of the Wanganui Borough Council, was first elected in the year 1888, and he serves on the Reserves, Finance, and Suburbs Committees.

Councillor James Thomas Muir, member of the Wanganui Borough Council, occupies a seat on the Finance, Public Baths, Sanitation, Gasworks, and Opera House committees.

Councillor Harry Arthur Purser, member of the Wanganui Borough Council, occupies a seat on the Finance, Reserves, Opera House, Water Supply, Works, and Tramways committees.

Councillor Charles William Poynter was elected in April, 1907, to the Wanganui Borough Council. He was born in Nelson, and entered the employ of Mr A. D. Willis, in Wanganui. In 1897 he was promoted to the position of manager of the firm. His father was the late Mr John Poynter, an old Nelson colonist, politician, and Resident Magistrate, who is referred to on page 81–2 of Volume 5 of this work.

Councillor George Spriggens, a member of the Wanganui Borough Council, serves on the Opera House. Water Supply, Gasworks, and Works Committees. He has served in various positions with the local Fire Brigade.


Mr Saynor Griffiths was a member of the Wanganui Borough Council for eight years, took an active part on the Waterworks, Opera House, and other committees, and holds office as one of the Sinking Fund Commissioners. He also served for four years as a member of the Wanganui Harbour Board. Mr. Griffiths was born in London, England, came to New Zealand in 1867, and has since resided in the Wellington Provincial District. Further reference to Mr Griffiths appears as manager of Messrs. W. and G. Turn-bull's local branch.

Denton, photo.Mr. S. Griffiths.

Denton, photo.
Mr. S. Griffiths.