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Early Wellington

PART IV. General Information

page 367

PART IV. General Information

Basin Reserve.

The original lay-cut of the City of Wellington made no provision for public parks, other than the Town Belt. In February, 1857, however, a petition was presented to the Provincial Council requesting that the site of the Canal and Ship's Basin at Te Aro should be set aside for a public park, etc. The petition was granted, and in 1863 the draining of Te Aro swamp by prison labour, as a preliminary operation necessary for the formation of a recreation ground, was put in hand. In 1866 the then Town Board undertook the erection of fences and the planting of trees, also agreed to supplement any money raised by the public by £ 1 for £ 1 up to £ 50 for the purpose of improving the surface of the ground. The first cricket match was played on the 11th January, 1868, between the Wellington Volunteers and a team from H.M.S. “Falcon.” A year or two later the Caledonian Society erected the Grandstand, with living quarters for a carelaker attached. In 1881 extensive improvements were made by the City Council, the open drain being piped and covered in, and the whole area ploughed and sown with grass seed. In October, 1890, Mr. Edward Dixon presented a clock for the Grandstand. The foregoing gives a brief history of the Basin Reserve. All cricket and other sports, etc., of any importance are held here by Overseas teams, if the Reserve is available. A new Pavilion has been erected in reinforced concrete with steel-framed roof, which seats 1,300 people. Provision has been made for dressing-rooms, shower baths, etc., for players, also tea-rooms and kitchen. The clock has been transferred from the old to the new pavilion. (City Year Book, 1928.)

Bethune and Hunter's Auction Mart.

Mention has been made of the old established offices of Bethune and Hunter and reference to the Index will direct the reader to further information.

A report of an early Auction Sale by this firm appeared in the “N.Z. Journal,” 25th December, 1841, viz.:—“100 wethers at 25/-to 27/-; 300 ewes at 21/-to 22/-; 6 heifers, £15 10s. to £16 10s.; 2 milking cows, £21 to £27; 8 working bullocks, £21 to £29; and 2 steers, £20.”

Books and Pamphlets. New Zealand Library.

The “New Zealand Journal,” 2nd October, 1841, pp. 243 and 244 (Sir F. R. Chapman's Collection), contains a list of books relating to Colonisation, Church Missionary propaganda, Cook's voyages, and adventures in New Zealand. An- page 368
Fig. 218.—Basin Reserve, 1877 (approx.). Showing the canal that flowed to the sea, via Cambridge Terrace. It was drained by prison labour. The artillery stables are on the hill to the left.

Fig. 218.—Basin Reserve, 1877 (approx.). Showing the canal that flowed to the sea, via Cambridge Terrace. It was drained by prison labour. The artillery stables are on the hill to the left.

Fig. 219.—Basin Reserve, 1900. St. Mark's Church and School to the right of the picture. The locality of the Vice-Regal Residence is on the extreme right. The Molesworth Memorial, Dufferin Street, was then within the enclosure.

Fig. 219.—Basin Reserve, 1900. St. Mark's Church and School to the right of the picture. The locality of the Vice-Regal Residence is on the extreme right. The Molesworth Memorial, Dufferin Street, was then within the enclosure.

page 369 other
issue of the same Journal, dated 1st February, 1845, gives an account of the Declaration of Independence, Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand Company's Titles and chronological events in New Zealand from 1814 to 1844. These journals may be seen at the Turnbull Library (Mr. J. C. Andersen). These lists, which are lengthy, may be recorded in a future volume, and only those books that the writer has referred to in this compilation are enumerated below:—
  • 1839–40—Information relative to New Zealand, compiled for the use of Colonists by John Ward, Secretary to New Zealand Company.

  • 1839–40—N.Z. Gazette and Wellington Spectator, the first number published in London, 1839, when the first Colony was on the point of departure. The second one issued from a tent on the beach at Pito-one, Port Nicholson, in April, 1840. (N.Z. Gazette and Britannia Spectator.)

  • 1840—N.Z. Journal, edited by Mr. (Justice) H. S. Chapman.

  • 1843—Wellington Almanac.

  • 1843—Twelve Months in Wellington, by Lieut. Wood.

  • 1843—New Zealand Tales, by “Koane,” Chapter I. (N.Z. Journal, 29th April, 1843.)

  • 1844—Wellington Independent.

  • 1847—Grimstone's Southern Settlements of New Zealand.

  • 1847—Brees' Pictorial. New Zealand edition de Luxe.

  • 1849—Cook Strait Almanac.

  • 1852—Cook Strait Almanac. Bissextile, or Leap Year number.

  • 1863—Bull's Wellington Almanac, first year of publication.

  • 1865—Evening Post, first and other numbers.

  • 1866—Wellington Directory (New Zealand).

  • 1871—New Zealand Hymnal, compiled under authority of General Synod of the Branch of the United Church of England and Ireland, in New Zealand Sessions, 1862–1868, by A. G. Purchas.

  • 1872—Te Rauparaha, Travers.

  • 1875—Life and Recollections of a New Zealand Colonist, C. R. Carter.

  • 1877 and 1883—Bishop's Guide to Wellington.

  • 1879—Travels in New Zealand, J. C. Crawford, M.L.C.

  • 1886—Manual of New Zealand, by J. Howard Wallace.

  • 1886—Men of Mark in New Zealand, edited by Alfred Cox.

  • 1889—Poems (The New World, etc.), Austral Mrs. J. G. (Lady) Wilson.

  • 1890—Brett's Early History of New Zealand.

  • 1892—Dictionary of Australasian Biography, P. Mennell, F.R.G.S.

  • 1893—Seventy Years of Life in the Victorian Era.

  • 1896—History of New Zealand, Alfred Saunders.

  • 1897—Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol. I., McKee and Gamble.

  • 1898—Colonization of New Zealand and Life of E. G. Wakefield, R. Garnett.

    Fig. 220.—Basin Reserve, 1928. Showing the new Pavilion, the Dixon Memorial Clock and the Mt. Cook Barracks (site of the proposed National War Memorial Art Gallery and Carillon) on the hill at the left.

    Fig. 220.—Basin Reserve, 1928. Showing the new Pavilion, the Dixon Memorial Clock and the Mt. Cook Barracks (site of the proposed National War Memorial Art Gallery and Carillon) on the hill at the left.

    page 370
  • 1900—Weekly Press, illustrated booklet (Wellington Number).

  • 1900—New Zealand Free Lance.

  • 1903–04—Evening Post Christmas Numbers (Old Wellington).

  • 1907—N.Z. Mail, Special Wellington Number.

  • 1908—Adventure in New Zealand, by E. J. Wakefield, New Edition.

  • 1911—New Zealand, by the Hon. Sir Robert Stout and Mr. J. Logan Stout.

  • 1911—An Old New Zealander, or Te Rauparaha, Lindsay Buick.

  • 1912—Early Settlers Journal. Vol. I., No. 1.

  • 1914—Historical Records of New Zealand, R. McNab, Vol. II.

  • 1914—Early Rangitikei, by J. G. (Sir James) Wilson.

  • 1919—Land of Tara, Elsdon Best.

  • 1919—Year Book of the Wellington Harbour Board.

  • 1920—Three Years with the New Zealanders (Wellington Batt.), by Lieut. Col. C. H. Weston, D.S.O.

  • 1921—Old Redoubts, Block-houses, etc., Elsdon Best.

  • 1924—Early Reclamations, etc., H. Baillie.

  • 1925—Who's Who in New Zealand, by Dr. G. H. Scholefield.

  • 1925—Territory of Lands, Wellington Diocesan Synod.

  • 1925—The Veteran (South African War).

  • 1925—Land Legislation and Settlements in New Zealand, W. R. Jourdain.

  • 1926—The Polynesian Society; Its Genesis, Objects and Achievements, by Elsdon Best.

  • 1927—N.Z. Wesleyan Jubilee Index, Rev. J. T. Pinfold, D.D.

  • 1928—City Year Books, published by the City Council.

  • 1928—Notes of a Naturalist in Port Nicholson (The Nelsonian, January and July, 1928), by H. A. R. Farquhar, Karori.


Mr. R. Barton, in a letter published in the “N.Z. Journal,” 14th October, 1843, mentions the residences of Colonel Wakefield, Messrs. St. Hill, A. Hort, Guyton, Evans, Fox and Hunter as being amongst the best buildings during that period.

Brees' Pictorial New Zealand (1847), contains views of residences and public buildings erected between the years 1840 to 1847, viz.:—Plate 8 (No. 24), the Church of England Parsonage, occupied by the Rev. Robt. Cole. Plate 9 (No. 28), Mr. Brees' Cottage. Karori Road (Hawkestone Street). Mr. J. Wake-field's and Mr. de Bathe Brandon's.

Plate 10 (No. 30). Mr. Suisted's hotel (Barrett's). the Freemasons Hall above built by him, and the Medical Hall (Messrs. Dorset and Sutton's). Plate 11 (No. 34), Mr. Wicksteed's, Karori Road, Cadet's College for survey cadets of the New Zealand Company, and Mr. Hill's. Plate 13 (No. 40), Wesleyan Chapel, Te Aro, and Mr. Brewer's house, Manners Street. Plate 14 (No. 43), The Exchange (Town Hall). Plate 16 (No. 47), Colonel Wakefield's residence, No. 49 Bank, Manners Street. Plate 17 (No. 50), Messrs. Simmons and Hoggard's windmill, Mount Victoria, and Mr. Fitzherbert's farm residence, called Victoria Cottage. Plate 18 (No. 53), Major Baker's, and the Red House or Barracks above it, built by Mr. Cooper, of the Thistle Inn. Plate 19 (No. 56), The Catholic Chapel, Boulcott Street. (No. 57), Court House and temporary church (previous to the erection of the church behind Colonel Wakefield's), Mulgrave Street, and Thistle Inn, kept by Mr. Cooper. Plate 20 (No. 60), Mr. N. Levin's and Mr. Holroyd's houses, Tinakori Road. Mr. Dorset's higher up the Tinakori range of hills. (No. 61), Judge Halswell's house, Ohiro (sec. 28). Plate 21 (No. 63), the beach at Te Aro, showing Sutton's, Lyon's, Boulcott's, Wallace's and others. Views of Molesworth's, Riddiford's, Hon. Petre's, Swainson's, Aglionby Arms, Porirua Whaling station, Fort Richmond, Hutt, and Pitoone and Paremata Pas are amongst the very fine collection of engravings.

The New Zealand Directory, compiled by Stevens and Bartholomew in 1866, gives the following information: “During the past twelve months, through the page 371 removal of the seat of Government, a large number of persons (besides officials), have come from the other provinces and the adjacent colonies to settle in Wellington, where warehouses, shops and dwelling houses have been erected in every quarter.

In a book entitled “Seventy Years of Life in the Victorian Era,” by a Physician, and published in 1893, the author writes: “Taking a steamer from Lyttelton, and continuing our passage along the east coast for 175 miles further north, we reach Wellington, since 1864 the capital of New Zealand, in which we land on a fine, but dusty and windy day, characteristically windy, hence its nickname, ‘Windy Wellington.’ The large Government buildings, the House of Assembly, and even the Governor's palace, are so many shams. In the distance you exclaim, ‘what splendid freestone structures,’ and when you go up to them and tap them with a finger, you find that they are nothing but wooden erections, painted and rough cast with sand to represent stone: but they are very handsome, being ornamented with pillars having Corinthian capitals well carved, and elaborate cornices, and surmounted by towers or high spires. They are regarded by the citizens with great pride, and a wonder of the world as the largest buildings of wood in the universe. A Roman Catholic Church perched on a pinnacle of rock high above the town was enough to deceive anyone, but on going up to it, was found to be wood also, but sculptured with figures at great expense.… The town is confined to the space between the hills and the port, so that the people have been obliged to build their houses up the steep hills, and in the gullies, and on any flat available space, natural or artificial, that they could stick a building on.”

Building Statistics.

The return published in the City Year Book for 1928 shows the number of permits issued for the erection of buildings in Wellington City and Suburbs for five years from 1923–1927:—

Year. Dwellings. Buildings. Alterations. Values.
1923 …. 452 66 739 929,639
1924 …. 632 75 753 1,361,584
1925 …. 564 67 895 1,060,137
1926 …. 747 73 842 1,926,832
1927 …. 917 93 1007 2,020,833

Cemetery (Sydney St.).

The Gov. Gazette, dated 26th Oct., 1841, announces the setting apart of Reserves L and M for cemeteries (18 acres) and a church site lac. 4p. (opposite).

These are recorded on a plan of the City of Wellington signed by Felton Mathew, Surveyor-General.

Bishop Selwyn, viewing this plan, looked at Res. M and considered it inconvenient for a church site; it was appropriated to the Parsonage, and a site for the Episcopal Church was selected in the cemetery and approved by the Bishop.

In 1842, Governor Hobson adopted the plan of giving to each religious body a burial ground from the public land, proportioned to the number of its adherents as determined by the Government census.

On Tuesday, 26th Nov., 1844, a public meeting was held at Barrett's Hotel (Hotel Cecil site), to discuss the action of Governor Fitzroy in determining to appropriate a part of the ground originally destined to the burial of the dead and other purposes.

Mr. J. Woodward proposed and Dr. Knox seconded “that the cemetery situated between Bolton and Sydney Streets can not be diverted from the original purpose without doing violence to the rights of proprietors, and wounding the feelings of persons who have interred relatives or friends in that place.” The resolution was carried, and the page 372
Fig. 221.—Jonas Woodward, Esq.

Fig. 221.—Jonas Woodward, Esq.

following members of the House of Commons (England) were written to and asked to support it:—Sir C. E. Smith, Messrs. J. A. Roebuck, B. Hawes, J. Hume, J. T. Leader and T. S. Duncombe.

Other speakers at the meeting in Wellington were the Revds. S. Ironside, J. Watkin, Messrs. R. Hart, Waters, J. Wade, Jas. Smith, Jas. Wallace, W. Lyon, R. D. Hanson, and F. J. Knox. In Bishop Selwyn's diary, parts of which were published in the “New Zealand Journal” dated 21st April, 1849, mention is made of the church and cemetery.

Reference is also made by Bishop Selwyn to sentiments expressed by nonconformists:—

“With the exception of a piece of land at Tearo (Te Aro), South end of Wellington, we are still without a site for a church, in a town half as large as Constantinople. The piece originally marked out (in the Government Reserve, opposite the Bowen Street Hospital) is a mere water course, scarcely available even for the small parsonage which stands perched upon the only flat part of the ground, with a most uncomfortable exposure to wind and rain.

“Of course I declined to accept such a site for the main church of the Southern Division. It was next proposed to build the church upon the burial ground allotted to the Church of England in 1842. The foundation was no sooner laid than the Dissenters protested against any appropriation of a burial ground to the Church. One half of the burial ground was allotted to the Church in October 1842, and enclosed at our expense, but we never refused the key of the ground to any who applied for it.

“The Dissenters availed themselves of the use of the fence, for which they had not paid, leaving their own ground unoccupied. When they had buried their dead for some time, by our permission, they then claimed the joint use of the ground, and have agitated the same question, to our great annoyance, up to the present time. The Church of Rome has kept possession, without opposition, of the burial ground marked out for its members in 1842, by the same authority, whose acts have been disputed in our case. If you hear of my intolerance and bigotry, I beg you to accept my assurance that I have never done an unkind act, or written an unfriendly word against any member of any other religious body.”

Referring to the conservation of tombs, and desecration of the cemetery, “The Independent,” of the 24th May, 1848, gives an article on the consecration of the cemetery.

The Hon. Robert Stokes, in the Legislative Council on the night of the 16th September, 1873, uttered these almost prophetic words:

“What guarantee had the relatives and friends for the conservation of the tombs and graves that they would not be desecrated? Was the care which the provincial and local authorities had shown in their management of the town of Wel- page 373 lington such as to inspire increased confidence in their management.

“The Hon. Gentleman, in the course of his denunciation of those legislators of his day who, by means of the Wellington Burial Bill, sought to close the town's original cemetery, and, under the Public Reserves Act, wished to remove from office the existing trustees who had fenced it in, planted it with trees, and otherwise beautified it with walks.

“Bishop Selwyn consecrated the Anglican portion. Trustees were appointed, and a lodge for the Sexton was built” (on the hill near the Jewish portion). “The chapel, so much desecrated to-day, was removed to the cemetery. This mortuary chapel was Wellington's first Anglican Church, in which Bishop Selwyn and other notable early divines preached.”

The “Herald” continues: “Time and time again attention has been publicly drawn to the imminent danger of unsightly pinus insignis trees causing further destruction to grave plots and memorial stones in the cemetery. One originally beautiful memorial, consisting of twin Ionic columns, now almost in ruins, is worth recalling. In its issue of 27th April, 1874, the Wellington “Independent” wrote: ‘Saturday, 25th April, witnessed an event which has long been looked forward to by a portion of the community; the unveiling, with Masonic honours, of a monument, which has been erected by Captain Stafford, of the barque ‘Camille,’ over the last resting place of his late friend and sailing master, Captain Tucker, who was born 21st December, 1832, and died April 2nd, 1873.’”

The “Herald” further continues: “Captain Edwin Stafford, born 1822, died at Wellington, 19th July, 1885. Both share the same grave. Even the fine feelings, and the rare sentiment which, in Captain Stafford's case, denoted his own perception of how the dead should be venerated by the living, is turned to poorest example by no attempt whatever being made to restore one of the most beautiful memorials in Wellington's most picturesque old burial ground, to even somewhat orderly shape.”

Entering the cemetery by the Sydney Street gate, and proceeding up the main carriage way, one may read the inscriptions on the tombstones (excepting those that are weather-worn and others that serve as props to support the tenacious ivy which embraces them and obliterates the names) which are erected to the memories of some of the earliest settlers and persons mentioned in the preceding chapters in this book.

The old Chief of Pipitea, Te Ropiha Moturoa, who died in the year 1874, Mohi and Hirea Naponga, Miriama Teira, and Hori Tamati Pipi (1877) are buried at the north-eastern corner, near Peter Laing (1884), and W. Sears Crowell, captain of the barque “Wakefield.” The Tolley plot is opposite.

Further to the right is a well preserved memorial with the following inscription: “Sacred to the memory of Susan Collins, wife of Robert R. Strang, who died 30th November, 1851, aged 51 years; Susan, their daughter, wife of Donald (after wards Sir Donald) McLean, who died 7th November, 1852, aged 23 years; also Robert Roger Strang, died 27th September, 1874; aged 79 years.”

The latter was the first lay representative of the Church of Scotland.

Immediately above this plot is the grave of Marion, only daughter of Robert and Marion Hart, and wife of the late Robert Park, of Wellington and Canterbury.

Beyond the Harts' plot may be seen the names of old identities—the Luxfords, page 374 Thomas Wilmor McKenzie, Edward Too-math, and the Holdsworths.

Proceeding further, one may see the names of other Wellingtonians—Edward Grigg, one time barrack master, and the Claphams, of Thorndon.

On the other side are the memorials to the Wallaces, and adjoining these are two recumbent stones bearing the names of Captain James Smith, 65th Regiment (1849) and Stephen Carkeek. At the back of these (to the east) may be found the Wakefield plot, with an upright slab and four recumbent stones, encircled by iron railings.

The upright slab, which has been “rent asunder” on some previous occasion, and indifferently repaired, bears the name of the gallant Colonel William Wakefield, principal agent to the New Zealand Company, also a record of valuable services in foreign lands and in New Zealand. Four recumbent slabs mark the resting places of Edward Gibbon, Daniel, Selina, and Edward Wakefield. The names on these are becoming indecipherable.

George Hunter, the first Mayor of Wellington, who died in 1843, and some of his family, occupy the adjoining plot. Quartermaster Paul, a near relative, lies nearby. Dr. Featherston's plot is also in the vicinity, as are also those associated with the names of Major Marshall, A. de Bathe Brandon, Robert Stokes, J. Earle, the Pharazyns, Monteith, and the Bannisters.

Near the bend—proceeding to the chapel—are the graves of George Tabor, James and George Kearsley, Mrs. Banna-tyne, Major Baker, and an old Nelson friend of the writer, Charles Moore Igglesden, formerly District Grand Secretary for the North Island (under District Grand Masters Sir Donald Maclean and C. J. Toxward) for the Masonic Fraternity, and designer of the old Customhouse and Post Office, Wellington.

The pyramidal monuments erected to the memory of Henry Blundell and William Barnard Rhodes, face the newly renovated chapel. Nearby are the Fitzgeralds, Bethunes, Kebbells and the Richardsons.

The Early Settlers' Association, with Sir Douglas Maclean as President, and the relatives of many of these persons interred in this sacred spot, successfully opposed the City Council's proposal, in 1928, for making a tram route through the Sydney Street portion, affecting approximately 300 graves. A modified scheme has since been proposed, involving the removal of four graves at the north-western portion, near the Jewish burial ground.

Through the courtesy of the City Council the writer was enabled to inspect the plan showing the proposed deviation on the corner mentioned above.

The names (kindly supplied by Mr. E. H. Harlen) of the four persons interred in this vicinity are:—George Robert Purdy, Henry Smith, Thomas King (who were buried in the year 1884), and Ernest Barraclough, died 1890.

A memorial stone, erected by his numerous friends as an affectionate tribute to his memory, marks the last (?) resting place of George Robert Purdy, who died on the 21st May, 1884.

A typed list of names, in alphabetical order, of persons interred in the area involved in the Council's first proposal, has been carefully compiled by Mr. Harlen, the custodian at the Karori Cemetery.

This list, the result of many hours research and night work, must have been an important factor in determining the Council's decision to abandon the first scheme.