Magazine Articles – Park pays tribute to fruit pioneers

Park pays tribute to fruit pioneers

Another magnificent spot in Hastings is Frimley Park which was once the home of J.N. Williams, landowner and industrialist. In a way, it is a memorial to the fruitgrowing pioneers of Hawke’s Bay. Williams developed hectares of orchards at the turn of the century. His main peach orchard at Frimley stretched from Maraekakaho Road to Ormond’s Karamu estate to the west. There were 60 rows of peach trees, each a mile long.

The blossoms of these peach trees created a spectacle which attracted national attention. Williams opened the Frimley Cannery in 1904. Six years later it was employing 250 people and the company was going as far as Wellington to find labour.

Features of today’s park are the large specimen trees planted by Williams around his homestead; a rose garden established by the Hastings Rose Society and an aquatic centre partly financed by J Wattie Canneries, Hawke’s Bay’s next major player in the canning and preservation of the province’s bountiful crops.

There are many other parks and reserves in Napier and Hastings which are also well established with specimen trees but they focus more on sport.

Historic venue

McLean Park, Napier, and Nelson park, Hastings, are historic sporting venues with Hawke’s Bay rugby sides of the 1920s and late 1960s remembered as two of the best New Zealand has ever produced – when the [they] held the Ranfurly Shield.

But they are not just rugby grounds. In 1959 McLean Park became the 50th in the world to be used for test cricket. The Harris Stand burned in 1985 and was replaced with a new stand and another since then which makes the ground attractive as an international venue.

Athletics is now the main summer sport at Nelson Park, Hastings, with its all-weather athletics track. John Walker ran a sub-four minute mile on this track during his successful bid to be the first man to run 100 of them.

The park is also now the home of rugby league in Hastings.

Small beginnings

Akina Park in Hastings has grown from a small parcel of land to a 10ha park, which is the home of Hawke’s Bay softball in the summer, and homes soccer grounds in winter.

This park, off Willowpark Road south, adjoins Hastings Boys’ High School playing fields.


Cemeteries in Napier and Hastings have more to offer visitors than morbid interest. The Havelock North cemetery has a wealth of history. In 1871 Havelock North was the secondary settlement of Hawke’s Bay. It was the stopping place for travellers.

Photo caption – BEAUTIFUL Frimley Park includes a rose garden established by the Hastings Rose Society.

HB cemeteries steeped in history

between Napier and the south, with two hotels, a church, blacksmith, wheelwrights, a school and several shops. In 1873, the railway line bypassed Havelock North and gave birth to the city of Hastings.

Although Havelock North has grown like Topsy during the past century, and ironically been amalgamated with the City of Hastings, it still retains its rural beauty and is still known affectionately as the Village and its cemetery reflects the age of the district.

Napier also has an old cemetery steeped in history. It is adjacent to Napier’s Botanical Gardens on Spencer Road, but can be more easily reached by going up the steep Chaucer Road to the corner of Napier Terrace.

Many of Hawke’s Bay’s pioneers and early settlers are buried here, including William Colenso, Sir Donald McLean and Major-General Sir George Whitmore, who led campaigns against legendary Maori warrior Te Kooti. Members of the Williams missionary family are also buried in the Napier cemetery.

Park Island Cemetery, near-by Napier’s Tamatea suburb, is also significant. Victims of the 1931 earthquake are buried here – 97 in a common grave and 26 in private plots. The first burial at this cemetery took place in 1917 after the closure of the hilltop Napier Cemetery. Park Island Cemetery has a bush walkway with different views with access from Westminster Avenue, Tamatea.

Wharerangi Cemetery is also in this neck of the woods. The area was bought in 1946 and first part developed was a Serviceman’s Lawn Cemetery and a garden of remembrance was developed in 1951 for the disposal of ashes.

There’s also a large cemetery at Taradale on the road to Puketapu.

Hastings has its earliest settlers’ cemetery at Stortford Lodge and its most recent burial lands at Mangaroa, Bridge Pa. Mangaroa Cemetery is on the site of a 40ha forest which the Hastings council used in the 1920s to establish a wood lot and provide work for the unemployed.

Valuable resource

Part of the forest was destroyed in a spectacular blaze, but trees from this forest provided a valuable resource when the council set about buying land to enlarge Civic Square in the central city and build a war memorial library

Photo captions –
MAINTENANCE has helped preserve the historic aspects of Napier cemetery and turned into a destination worth exploring.
LEFT: The Tom Parker Fountain, on Napier’s Marine Parade.

Prisoner’s hard graft created place of beauty

Adjacent to Mangaroa Cemetery is Hawke’s Bay’s Mangaroa Prison, which replaced the historic jail about 100m up Coote Road; on Napier’s Bluff Hill. The old Napier prison frontage is stone block and resembles the notorious Mt Eden Prison in Auckland.

Opposite the old Napier jail is a unique garden created from a disused prison quarry. Prisoners worked on the cliff face sending boulders crashing to the quarry floor where prisoners below broke the boulders with sledgehammers. Now a man-made waterfall drops 10m over the terraces where the prisoners used to work.

A bridge crosses a deep pool and water gushes through a series of gorges made from quarry stone. The gardens are a blaze of colour contrasting well with the norfolk pines which line the neighbouring Marine Parade.

The first of the norfolk pines, a landmark in Napier, were planted on Marine Parade in 1886. The following year, after severe storms and more flooding, a concrete seawall was built.

In 1893 a loan of $70,000 provided for extensions to the seawall and footpaths, gardens and a children’s play area along Marine Parade. After the 1931 earthquake rubble and masonry from the earthquake ruins were used to raise the land south of the Sound Shell. The parade was divided into two carriage-ways and the norfolk pines were retained, but were now in the central dividing strip of the road.

Between the Wool Exchange building, along the north end of Marine Parade and Coote Road there is testimony to how early Hawke’s Bay was regularly devastated by flooding. There is a stone memorial to people who died in Clive in a severe flood of 1863.

Town clocks

Today, it is in perhaps the worst repair of any monument in Napier or Hastings, yet floods will always be on the cards for the district because much of the twin cities housing, or urban development, is on what was once the course of rivers.

Other statues and monuments in Hawke’s Bay include town clocks.

The Hastings town clock was designed by Hastings architect S G Chaplin to replace the clock in the Post Office tower which crashed to the ground in the 1931 earthquake, killing Herald-Tribune reporter Darby Ryan. The chimes were used in the new clock which was built in 1934.

The town clock in Havelock North was built into the “rest house” in 1915. This public loo is a notable example of Chapman-Taylor architecture and sits in the centre of the Village. The building originally housed the transformer when electric power reached Havelock North. The clock was bought from the Hastings City Council in 1937.

Taradale’s town clock was completed in 1923. After the 1931 earthquake the clock tower resembled the leaning tower of Pisa because it was tipped from vertical with a 60cm lean. The damage was later repaired.

Photo caption – PART of Napier’s Centennial Gardens.

Original digital file


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