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 The Old Waterfront, p 48 The Streets of my city, Wellington New Zealand,
by F. L. Irvine-Smith. (1948).

Part Three Chapter Two
Western Suburbs

Contents: a letter | Part One chapters: 1 | 2 | Part Two chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15
Part Three chapters: Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Appendix

Great things are done when men and mountains meet.
William Blake.

Kelburn (W.1)

A CABLE CAR for a front gate and a viaduct for a back threw open to the city in 1902 the site of one of her choicest suburbs, Kelburn (W.1) named after Viscount Kelburn, the eldest son of the Earl of Glasgow, Governor of New Zealand (1892 - 1897), quickly became a favourite suburb, not only because of its proximity to the city, but because of the sheer beauty of its position poised high above the city and the shining waters below. The nucleus of settlement was the Upland Farm, acquired by the Upland Estate Co., in 1896, originally the property of Wm. Moxham, but every possible foothold was soon covered by the heavily basemented type of house which may be said to have become the characteristic of Wellington hillside architecture, and which is so well portrayed in the picture entitled "A Wellington Suburb," painted by Roland Hipkins, A.R.C.A. in 1931 and purchased in the same year by the Sargent Art Gallery, Wanganui. It was a sheer triumph of engineering that transformed the lower levels of Moxham Farm into habitable ground, now known as the Glen, which emerged out of the levelling of the knolls that filled the valley, their soil being spread by means of an aerial wire tramway.

Where the city streets are linked with the ocean.
Above: The Overseas Passenger Terminal at Clyde Quay, in the foreground the bathing beach at Oriental Bay and the Freyberg Baths.
Below: The New Zealand Railway roll-on, roll-off ferry Aramoana leaving her berth at Aotea Quay.

An aerial view looking west over the city wharves, railway station and
Parliament Buildings towards Tinakori Hills. In the centre of the picture
is the intersection of Bunny Street, Lambton Quay, Bowen Street, and
Molesworth Street.

The portal of the Wellington Railway Station, and adjacent overseas shipping berths

Kelburn is thus an essentially manmade suburb, from its cable tramway which transports passengers in ten minutes from the heart of the city, to its flights of soaring steps and bastions and retaining walls that transform the most inaccessible eyries into "desirable building lots," but once safely ensconced within these buttressed edifices, midway between earth and sky, the panorama that meets the eye is truly heaven-made - an unsurpassable vista of city, sea and sky in the perfection of harmonious balance.

In the midst of Kelburn stands the imposing block of Victoria College, the Middle Districts' share of the New Zealand University, a stiff ascent for the many thousand students who have travelled hopefully up the Kelburn heights for the past forty years in the effort to arrive. Nearby is Kelburn Park, a verdant expanse of "the greenest grass that ever grew," with scarce a trace of having been made to order by cutting off a hill-top and tipping it holus-bolus into the adjacent gully.

Kelburn thoroughfares have mostly been dealt with in other sections.

Included in the W.1 area of the city are the two districts of Highbury, cut up by Sir George Troup, his sister Mrs. C. F. Moore, and Mr. Milligan, and Taitville, the former estate of the late Henry Tait, subdivided as long ago as the seventies. At the entrance to Taitville from Aro Street is the fittingly named Entrance Street. This leads into Norway Street, which has no connection with the northern nation but was named "Norna Street" by Mr. Tait, Senr., and the word, mistakenly read as "Norway," was so recorded by the City Council. Mr. Tait, an admirer of Scott's writings, named Harrold Street after one of Scott's novels, and Irvine Street and Ninian Street after relations of his own. Haines Terrace received its name from Mr. W. J. Haines of Mitchelltown, the adjoining district, Thule Street after the island of Thule in the Shetlands, the birthplace of Mr. Henry Tait, as well as of his son, Robert Tait.

Cluny Avenue, off Raroa Road, was named after the ancestral castle in Scotland of Sir George Troup's paternal forebears. Sir George's farm at Wallaceville was likewise named "Cluny Friesian Farm" and all the beasts reared there had the prefix Cluny added to their names. Moana Road was so named because of the fine view of the sea obtainable from the road, and Raroa Road meaning "Sun-all-day," from its sunwashed aspect.

Raroa Road, a long road, was constructed through land belonging to (1) Henry Tait, (2) Charles Pharazyn, (3) William Moxham, and (4) R. G. Knight. The main purpose of the road was to provide access from the southern and eastern ends of the city to the "new" cemetery at Karori, opened in 1891. It was therefore named by the engineers on their plans "Cemetery Road," but in later years, as homes were built fronting the road, Mr. J. G. Reid approached the Council to change the name, suggesting Raroa, which was accordingly adopted. This road was constructed before Sir Geo. Troup had any landed interest in the district.

Disley Street is called after an officer of the Labour Department, Carey Street (formerly Heaton Terrace) after a Labour leader who fell in the Great War (19/4/17), while Pilcher Road commemorates a well-known early pioneering family, arrivals in the "Bolton," 1840. A later member of the family, Mr. E. G. Pilcher, was one of the founders and an enthusiastic Vice-President of the Early Settlers' Society. An earlier name for this road was Brosnahan Terrace after a resident, Mr. Michael Brosnahan. Clermont Terrace was named by Mr. H. Crump, who remarked in a recent letter that it was a name he imported from Australia. It first appears on a plan in 1909.

Northland (W.2)

Whose sunbright summits mingle with the sky

Across the Kelburn viaduct, the back bridge of Kelburn, lies North, land, a truly hill-top suburb occupying a southern spur of the Ahumairangi Heights and lying between Kelburn and Karori. This suburb was named after a former governor's son, Viscount Northland, killed in the Great War in 1915, whose father, the Earl of Ranfurly, was Governor of New Zealand from 1897 to 1904. It was during the latter's term of office that the owner of "Governor's Farm," as most of what is now Northland was then called, decided to cut up the estate, which was accordingly surveyed into residential sections by Thos. Ward and put up to auction by the late J. B. Harcourt, March 9th, 1900. The name "Governor's Farm" is of interest as recalling the days of Sir Geo. Grey and Sir Hercules Robinson, when the vegetables and dairy produce for Government House, then in Thorndon, were grown here. Hence the names Governor Road and Farm Road, which led to the vice-regal cabbage-patch.

The owner of the land, Charles Johnson Pharazyn, whose long life covered a span of over a hundred years (1802-1903) was one of Wellington's early pioneers, arriving in 1841 in the ship "Jane." His first land venture was the lease, in partnership with Sir William Fitzherbert, of 5,000 acres on the shores of Palliser Bay, and subsequently much land in and around Wellington passed through his hands. In 1852 with Mr. Nathaniel Levin, he founded the firm of Levin & Co., from which in 1862 Mr. Levin, Senr., retired and was succeeded by his son, William Levin, the firm then consisting of W. Levin, C. J. Pharazyn and Walter Johnston. In 1878 Mr Pharazyn retired to devote himself to his extensive land interests, Mr. Johnston joined his father and brother in the firm of Johnston M Co., and Mr. Levin carried on the old firm, taking in Colonel Pearce and Mr. John Duncan in 1889. C. J. Pharazyn entered the Legislative Council in 1869, retiring in 1885 to make way for his son, Robert Pharazyn.

One of the oldest homes in Northland, dismantled in 1929, was occupied for many years by Colonel Wm. Bazire Messenger. The owner arrived in New Zealand by the "Joseph Fletcher" in 1853, with his parents, brothers and sisters and spent his boyhood in Taranaki, where his father, Captain Wm. Messenger, had taken up farming pursuits, and where his mother was the very first to take music "into the bush" in the shape of a harp and a piano. After seeing service in the Maori War, Colonel Messenger was for several years in command of a post near the White Clifis, where Mt. Messenger bears his name. In 1902 he commanded the Tenth New Zealand Contingent to sail to South Africa during the Boer War. With homing instincts he spent his declining years in New Plymouth, surrounded by children, grandchildren and a charming garden, for which last he had the satisfaction of obtaining in 1920 the Horticultural Society's award for the prettiest of the smaller gardens of the town - no small distinction in the choicest garden centre of the Dominion.

Of late years Northland has been enhanced by the addition of the Prime Minister's residence, purchased for the purpose in 1939 from the late F. W. Manton of the firm of Ellis and Manton. The first Prime Minister to go into residence was the late Rt. Hon. M. J. Savage, succeeded in November, 1940 by the Present Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Peter Fraser.

Northland is too mountainesque to appeal to all, especially if approached from Thorndon, via the Orangi-Kaupapa Road. Small wonder, say some, that Wellington lasses have well-developed calves. The very names of some of the roads suggest higher altitudes - The Rigi, Sea View Terrace, Harbour View Road, Bank Road. The westerly face of the suburb descends abruptly to a glen dividing it from Karori and traversed by the Wilton Road (see N.2) while the eastern face descends with equal abruptness to a narrow glen dividing the suburb from Kelburn. This was the route of the old Karori Road, the first part of which, since the amalgamation of the Borough of Northland with the city in 1920, at the suggestion of Mr. John Aston, President of the Northland Progressive Association at the time, has been re-named Glenmore Road, as being well suited to the configuration of the road. Since the extension of the tram system to Northland, via the Northland Road, access to these mountainous parts has been rendered much more pleasant and easy. This necessitated the construction of the Northland Tunnel, passing beneath Putnam Street, which recalls a well-known Karori family of that name who owned property in this locality.

Karori (W.3)

Along the cool sequester'd vale of life,
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way

Of the three western suburbs, Karori, though the most distant, is the longest settled. This upland valley, closed in by its rugged hills, albeit eight hundred feet above sea-level, soon attracted settlement, and as early as 1845 numbered a population of 215. One great obstacle its settlers had to face was the difficulty of access over the formidable Baker's Hill (since 1904 pierced by the Karori Tunnel) but the effect of such isolation was to make this suburb probably more self-contained than any other part of the settlement. Pioneers came to Karori to stay. As a result, in no other suburb is it possible to find so many traces of the early population enshrined in its street names. No churchyard in the province has written upon its headstones more of its early pioneering names than can be found upon those of the beautiful little God's acre of St. Mary's, where sleep so many of the rude forefathers of this rugged upland vale, Well might Thomas Gray have sat and penned his immortal lines within sight and sound of such a spot. It is holy and historic ground, still tenderly cared for by pioneer descendants living around. They lived long in Karori. One can wander around whole family plots where never a member sleeps but had exceeded life's normal span by ten to twenty years, indeed, the Cornford tomb records the passing of Mrs. Fanny Cornford (April 15th, 1934) at the close of a life of 104 years. The church in its midst, regarded by many as the prettiest of the city's suburban churches pettier before the removal of the trees from its approach), was consecrated by the late Bishop Sprott, August, 1926, and took the place of an earlier church built in 1865, before which time services were held in a small hall standing on the site of the present old Council Chambers. Fancourt Street, a name changed in 1925 from Church Street, commemorates the first resident vicar of Karori, Archdeacon Fancourt, who began his ministrations in 1865. Near at hand lived Archdeacon Hansell, Vicar of St. Mary's from 1899 to 1914 whose gentle helpmeet, Mary, daughter of Archbishop Julius, passed away universally regretted in 1942. Six years later they were reunited, to part no more. Together they rest in the old Taita Churchyard, in the valley of the Hutt, the scene of so many of their labours.

Mention of the Archdeacon recalls his brother, Mr. Henry Hansell; who in 1902 became tutor to Edward, Prince of Wales, and remained with him until 1914. In October, 1912, Edward P., accompanied by Mr. Hansell, entered as Freshman at Magdalene College, Oxford, but on the eve of his third year his university career was curtailed by the outbreak of war. As he was frequently accompanied at Oxford by his tutor, it is easy to see how he acquired his Varsity nickname of "Gretyl." (1) Poor Gretyl! So brief a trial at kingship!

The Wellington Public Cemetery, one hundred acres, three roads, twenty-one perches, say city records, opened in 1891, is situated in Karori, and the old Sydney Street cemetery is now used only for those with burial plots. It occupies part of the early Chapman estate of Homewood. Mr. Justice Chapman (1803 - 1881), the friend of Cobden and John Stuart Mill, was one of Karori's earliest settlers. At the age of twenty he had left England for Canada where, in conjunction with Samuel Revans (q.v.) he had founded the first daily paper of that Dominion. On his return to England, he became interested in the New Zealand Company, and as a consequence left in the "Bangalore" for New Zealand, where he had been appointed by Lord Derby a Judge of the Supreme Court for Wellington and Nelson. He arrived in 1843 and for the following nine years lived at Karori, His son, Sir F. Revans Chapman, born at Karori in 1849, in later years held a similar position.

In the early fifties, the first Mental Hospital of Port Nicholson was established at Karori. It speaks well for the mental calibre of the early pioneers that the first patient was admitted in 1854, and four years elapsed bcfore a second was added. In 1875 the Asylum was moved to Mt. View, Wellington South, on a site of one hundred and thirteen acres, and remained there until demolished in 1910 to make way for the present vice-regal residence.

Karori conjures up the thought of farms, of old manor-like homes and of Mansfieldiana, though the farms, mostly dairy, have almost all receded before the activity of the building speculator. Old residents tell of pioneer farmers who "yoked" their milk to town via Polhill's Gully and then delivered it from door to door. The big timbered houses have mostly gone the way of all New Zealand's early homes. One of the last remaining is "Chesney Wold," built by the early pioneer, Stephen Lancaster, who bought the land in 1859 and erected the house in 1866. Mr. Lancaster had intended the house for himself, but was induced to let it to James Edward Fitzgerald, who had come from Christchurch to Wellington in 1867 to take the post of Controller-General. Mr. Fitzgerald laid out the grounds attractively and remained here for some years. Alas! the pretty gardens of those early photographs are now closely overbuilt.

In 1893 Chesney Wold was purchased by Sir Harold Beauchamp, who moved there from No. 11 Tinakori Road, the birthplace of his third daughter, "Katherine Mansfield," destined to become New Zealand's most gifted writer, but whose short life of thirty-five years ended in France in 1923. A memorial tramwait erected at the southern end of Fitsherbert Terrace and her portrait, placed in the Dominion Art Gallery in 1946, keep her memory green in Wellington.

Another distinguished daughter of Wellington, whose span was all too short, was Iris Wilkinson (Robin Hyde) who in a brief life of thirty-three years reached the front rank in both fiction and verse, Her life of brilliant promise was cut off in London in 1939.

Many besides the Controller-General were wishing to acquire homes at Karori. In 1888 Messrs. Lancaster, Duthie, Jas. Wallace and Kennedy Macdonald formed a subdivision syndicate which gave seven new streets to the suburb. Of these, four were named after the syndicate members, (1) Lancater Street, (2) Duthie Street, (3) Wallace Street, now Braithwaite Street (Mr. Braithewaite was city engineer when the trams were laid), and (4) Macdonald Street, now Messines Road, and the remaining three after their daughters: Amy Street, now ( 5 ) Marsden Avenue, after Miss Amy Lancaster (Mrs. Newcombe); Bella Street, now (6) Gipps Street, after Miss Bella Duthie (Mrs. Miller), and (7) Vera Street, after Miss Vera Macdonald (Mrs. Joseph Parker). Newcornbe Crescent was laid out on land cut up by William Newcombe, son-in-law of Mr. Lancaster.

Sir Harold Beauchamp too was interested in the development of the suburb, and a block cut up by a syndicate of which he was the controlling member, is traversed by Beauchamp Street, off which branch smaller streets named after the Karori Borough Councillors at the time - Cook Street, Spiers Street, Dasent Street, Tisdall Street, Lewer Street, and Cargill Street.

Another of the "big houses" was "Rosehaugh," named after the family home in Scotland, the Karori residence of Jas. MacKenzie (1849 - 1928), I.S.O., F.R,G.S., Under-Secretary for Lands (1913-1915) who in his time did much for pioneering and exploration in the colony. Rosehaugh, noted for its beautiful grounds, thirteen acres in extent, was at a later date occupied by Professor Hugh Mackenzie of Victoria University College, who by the way, was no relation of the owner. Part of these gardens are now traversed by Rosehaugh Avenue and part by Seaforth Terrace, the exit of the cemetery, both named by Mr. Jas. MacKenzie.

Yet another fine public servant is remembered in Friend Street, after Mr. George Friend (1838 - 1898), who came to New Zealand in the ship "Hamilla Mitchell." Well provided with mental ballast, an ex-student of King's College, London, and Trinity College, Cambridge, he was in 1863 appointed clerk-assistant of the House of Representatives, passing to the chief clerkship in 1889. He too sleeps in St. Mary's churchyard.

The picturesque home of Justice Chapman, which he called "Homewood," has long since been dismantled, and in its place was built in 1903 another "Homewood," erected by Sir Chas. Johnston, a former mayor and leading merchant of the city. Earl Street, Karori, altered in 1925 to Lemnos Avenue, was named after his son, Earl Johnston. In 1928 "Homewood" was purchased by Mr. Sutherland, and gives the name to "Homewood Avenue" fronting the property. Mr. Sutherland's beautiful gardens and his generous use of them for all charitable purposes have done much to popularise Karori in the eyes of residents of other suburbs.

Karori bred a fine race of farmers. Cook Street and Campbell Street recall the days when the surrounding hills were grazed by the flocks of Messrs. Cook and Campbell, early pioneering graziers of thc district. Standen Street, Eagle Street, Monaghan Avenue, Cornford Street, likewise commemorate leading farmers of the district. A son of the pioneer builder of Chesney Wold, Mr. Stephen Lancaster, J.P., born in Karori in 1862, became one of the leading farmers of the Manawatu district and the President of the Manawatu A. & P. Association. He was a brother of the late Thomas L. Lancaster, who for many years was Lecturer, and subsequently Professor of Biology at Auckland University College.

A small group of Karori streets - Birdwood Street, Chaytor Street, Flers Street, Verviers Street, Scapa Terrace, Lemnos Avenue and Messines Road - commemorate incidents or personages in the Great War (1914 - 1918) (v. "Soldier Streets"). Birdwood Street was formerly one of our "women" streets, and was known as Evelyn Road, after Miss Evelyn Dasent, daughter of the Rev. Dasent, Vicar of Karori. Both sleep in St. Mary's churchyard. It is to be regretted that many of these newer names have had to take the place of those of the old settlers originally given to these streets, the reason for the change being the duplication of city street names as outer suburbs were incorporated into Greater Wellington, and the excursions and alarms of Fire Superintendents who frequently found themselves racing to the wrong end of the city.

In 1891 Karori became a borough, remaining so until its amalgamation with the city in 1920. The first Mayor was Mr. S. Lancaster, from whose family Lancaster Street takes its name. Further mayoral streets are Tisdall Street (W. H. Tisdall, Mayor, 1903); Dasent Street (C. A. Dasent, 1908 and 1910); Hildreth Street (W. T. Hildreth, 1914); and Burn Street (B. G. H. Burn, 1915 and 1918). Duthie Street is named after a mayor of the city in 1889.

In Burrows Avenue, Reading Street, Richmond Avenue, Raine Street, Standen Street and Henderson Street, we have the names of early Karori pioneers, many of them farmers, who also did yeoman service as Borough Councillors of their valley settlement. To Mr. Henderson is due as well the naming of Paisley Terrace, which he first called Stirling Terrace, after his Scottish birthplace. Cooper Street, cut through Cooper property, perpetuates a legal family long resident in Karori, members of whom were D. G. A. Cooper, S.M. and G. S. Cooper, Colonial Under-Secretary. The picturesque Cooper homestead, now used as one of the auxiliary buildings of Marsden School, is still standing.

Mallam Street was cut up and named by the late Thos. Ward, A.M.I.C.E. (1849 - 1935), who bestowed upon it a family name of his own. For many years Mr. Ward, who reached New Zealand in 1873, was one of the leading surveyors of the colony and played no little part in the formation of our later city streets, supervising, inter alia, the laying out of Roseneath, Northland, Highland Park and the Queen's Drive, as well as the construction of the Karori Tunnel. Mr. Ward also founded the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors and was its first Secretary.

Allington Road keeps alive the memory of the first Karori schoolmaster in the sixties. Parkvale Road ran along the valley at the back of the settlement, always called Parkvale Valley. Pimble Avenue and Joll Street recall to the memory of old identities the marriage of Miss Pimble to Mr. Joll, members of two of the earliest Karori families. The name of the Putnams of long standing in Karori is recorded in Putnam Street, Northland, which was formerly part of the borough of Karori. Mr. Collier of Collier Street was the first milk inspector of the Council. In Donald Street, named after an early Karori family of the same name, were situated W. H. Young's Pleasure Gardens, the rendezvous of many an early holiday maker. These were afterwards purchased by Mr. Platts-Mills, who lived here for many years, Mr. Young aIso ran the first coaches from Karori to the city, until bought out by Mr. Spiers. These were the days of the "old road" to Karori, when the route followed what is now known as "the Rigi," then crossed the present road and went on up, up over Baker's Hill, now pierced by the Karori Tunnel, and then down, down to the Devil's Bridge, and mounted again to the settlement, passengers cheerfully hopping in and out at intervals to do the "up" sections of the journey on foot. It is difficult, nay, almost impossible, for present day residents, whirled along in electric tramways or high speed motorcars, to visualise those days, but to do so is to open the book of Karori's story at its most historic and formative pages.

Entrance to the University

1. "Coronation commentary " by Geoffrey Dennis, p. 168: also "A King in the Making, by G. Parkhurst, p. 122.
Part Three : Chapter Three : South-West Suburbs

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