Brooklyn Local History
Wondering about the local history of Brooklyn? On this page we aim to collect relevant library resources and interesting local history websites about Brooklyn, as well as highlight notable persons and organisations long established in Brooklyn that have a strong community link.
Brooklyn was established in 1852 by John Fitchett senior as a dairy farm, and given the name 'Fitchett'. In 1888 Brooklyn (previously known as Goathurst Farm) was combined with Fitchett to make today's suburb of Brooklyn. In 1906, the introduction of an electric tramway through the town belt by Central Park (today's Brooklyn Road) aided the rapid development of Brooklyn.
Features Historical & Current
Central Park was established in 1913 on Town Belt land. The wrought iron gates at the entrance to the park were presented in 1920 by the then Mayor, John P Luke. During 1942-1944, Central Park was covered in tents housing US military troops.
- Photo of tents housing US military troops at Central Park (NZhistory.net.nz)
- Explore Wellington - City to Sea Walkway - Central Park (see point number 7)
The wind turbine was installed in March 1993 as a test for wind-generated power. Power generated by the turbine is injected into the local network for general distribution in Wellington.
Polhill gun emplacement
Polhill anti-aircraft gun batteries were built in 1942 for the capital's defence against invasion by the Japanese in WWII. The Brooklyn battery is within the Panorama Heights subdivision and the land it sits on has been allocated as reserve land. When it was built, Polhill had accommodation for 109 personnel.
- Photos of the gun emplacement
- Information about Wellington's gun emplacements (includes Polhill gun emplacement)
Sutch House was designed by Ernst Plischke and built between 1953-56. The house is one of New Zealand's iconic residences with its modernist design.
(Please note, this list does not include people who are still alive.)
John Fitchett arrived in Wellington in 1842 on the ship London and died in 1875. In 1899 his son A.B. Fitchett and R.B Todman decided to subdivide his land. A.B Fitchett imported the first milk separator in to New Zealand.
John Henry Heaton
John Henry Heaton arrived in New Zealand in 1856, aboard the Lord Ashley. Worked as a customs and shipping agent and was a member of the harbour board. He was elected Mayor of Melrose borough, which was incorporated in 1888.
Ernst Plischke, (1903-1992)Architect Ernst Plischke was born in Vienna and emigrated to New Zealand with his Jewish wife in 1939, to escape Hiltler's Nazism. We have several books on his works
Jane Thomson, (1858-1944)
Jane Thomson was a mountaineer.
William Sutch, (1907-1975)
William Sutch was a teacher, economist, writer and diplomat.
For more notable New Zealanders, visit The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.
Books & other items
Here are some electronic resources to help you in researching Brooklyn's history:
- The Wellington Local History Database
This is an index database based around a collection of newspaper articles dating back to the 1940s when the clipping and indexing of local newspapers first began at the Central Library. The complete article can be viewed by either requesting the listed WVF subject file from library staff at Central Library, or requesting to see a microfilmed copy of the original newspaper.
- The Evening Post Clippings Collection
The Evening Post Clippings Collection contains several hundred thousand newspaper clippings collected between 1927 and 1977. It was originally assembled and maintained by Evening Post library staff as a reference collection by newspaper journalists and editors and is now housed on the 2nd Floor of the Central Library in 30 filing cabinets. A database search will result in a list of subject envelopes with each envelope containing up to 50+ clippings. A search on a suburb's name will bring up all those envelopes with the term in their subject heading though other subjects (such as the zoo or Wellington Hospital) may require more specific searches.
- Index New Zealand (INNZ)
Index New Zealand (INNZ) is an index with abstracts from selected New Zealand serial publications, including newspapers, and nearly 300 journals about New Zealand and the South Pacific. INNZ is updated daily and approximately 2,000 documents are added monthly. Subjects covered include general interest material, social research, current affairs, the arts and humanities. Comprehensive coverage of titles extends from 1987 onwards. Many New Zealand titles have also been retrospectively indexed. Try an advanced search for "Brooklyn" as a phrase.
- The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre
The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre contains several heritage digitised books which contain a wealth of information about early Wellington suburbs (including the Cyclopedia of New Zealand). Run a simple keyword search and see happens!
- Wellington City Archives
Located near the Basin Reserve, the Wellington City Archives is one of the first places to visit if you wish to engage in primary historical research into Wellington's suburbs. The manner in which material is arranged at the archive means that you will need to approach your research with an interest in a specific street, building or institution rather than the suburb as a whole. There is an on-line database on their website which will enable you to see what files and other information is held, but you will have to visit the archive itself to view the material. Note that file retrievals normally take one working day to process from the time they are requested but requests can be made by phone or email.
- Papers Past
Provided by the National Library, Papers Past showcases selected 19th century New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The site currently contains digital images of over one million pages from more than 40 publications.
Also from the National Library. This is is an initiative that aims to make New Zealand digital content easy to find, share and use. It includes content from government departments, publicly funded organisations, the private sector, community groups, and even social networking sites like Flickr. You can search across all available sources of information at once, or select your preferrred sources, and it's possible to refine your results by format, e.g. newspapers, images, manuscripts, digitised books, etc.
General community websites
- Explore Wellington - City to Sea walkway
- Hawkins Hill mountain biking track
- Penthouse cinema
- Heritage buildings list
- Brooklyn Library
- Wellington City Council
This page is written and maintained by our Local History Librarian, Gabor Toth. Our aim is to collect in one place useful sites and library resources for discovering historical content about Brooklyn. We'd be pleased to hear from you about this page - you can email us with any feedback.