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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, 1966

Towai-towai Street:

Towai-towai Street:

Our old friend Toi-toi under different spelling which has been retained in the spelling of a ship, the Motor Vessel Towai, which page 23figures in shipping notes. There are two native trees called the Towai also. Our spelling is toe-toe.

This street ran from the end of Hampden Street West up the valley to Britannia Heights but nowadays Hampden Street West has disappeared and Toi-Toi Street starts from Vanguard Street, fizzling out in a little zig-zag path before it reaches Britannia Heights.

Toi-toi Valley has been used to include all the valley between Mount Street and the Port Hills. There was an old Toi-toi Valley School for Girls where Kirby's freight yards are now. An old photograph shows all the girls out in St. Vincent Street swinging fearsome looking Indian clubs round their heads. The outside ranks are standing on the railway line but I don't suppose there was much traffic.

Toi-toi Valley always had a bad name for floods and mud right from the first day when the settlers struggled across the swamps there on the way to Church Hill. Not that the construction of Saltwater Bridge helped either for it seems to have had swing gates that wouldn't work. They either jammed open and let the tide pour in our else closed when a flood swept down the valley and made matters worse.

The Board of Works, the predecessor of the City Council, received many a rude letter from the irate settlers in Toi-toi Valley, like this one:

"To Millowners, Capitalists and Others.

The Sluice at Saltwater Bridge being again out of repair, and the tide pouring in like a mill-race, it is advisable to part with the same to any person wishing to erect a Flour Mill, Flax Mill or Saw Mill. The particulars as to title and what the present works in their unfinished condition have cost the public, may be had by applying at the Board of Works, Nelson."

Or this one:

"Toi-Toi Valley Roads.

From the alarming quantity of mud on the roads of this valley the inhabitants are fearful lest the railway will never bless them, on account of the whole accumulation threatening to become an impassable morass."

But the railway was built and ran for many a year until the last shocking day when the rails were removed. No longer could the inhabitants of the Valley see the train steaming sedately past with belated travellers pursuing it up St. Vincent Street and catching it about Victory Square. The Valley has sunk back into its peace until the new Motor Road is built and hordes of trucks and trailers disturb it again.