The Reserves of New Brighton

Camera flashes at the annual gala at Wainoni Park on January 24. [24 Jan. 1914] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0019
Camera flashes at the annual gala at Wainoni Park on January 24. [24 Jan. 1914] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0019
Richard Greenaway is an Information Librarian with an interest in the history of East Christchurch. He has an eye for a good story and the skill and patience to check and cross check all kinds of references. He has compiled a wonderful array of New Brighton stories. Here he explores the reserves early residents of New Brighton could enjoy. These reserves were gazetted in the time of the Canterbury Provincial Council, 1853-76.

No. 224 – Spit Reserve

This is the reserve on the New Brighton side at the mouth of the Estuary. It was set aside for the purposes of a lighthouse which was never built.

Many ships were wrecked on the Sumner Bar. For, example, the Irish lawyer and later judge, Henry Barnes Gresson (1815-1901), lost his substantial legal library which he had brought from the Old Country.

No. 1616 – Thomson Park

This is the land on the eastern side of Rawhiti Domain. In 1896 the New Brighton people petitioned for the establishment of a borough council so that they could take over this wilderness. The borough council was established in 1897.

People wanted to sell it off for housing. An act went through Parliament during World War I to try to bring this about. In his 29 April 1922 Star reminiscences, ‘Old New Brighton’, George Thomas Hawker described it as ‘New Brighton’s menace’.

Part of the land was made into a children’s playground during the Depression. This work was carried out under the leadership of Thomas Edward Thomson (1877-1942) and the place was named ‘Thomson’s Park’. In the Christchurch City Council’s Reserves Department reports, there is a scathing indictment of the work of these amateurs.

The first golf match held at Rawhiti Domain [1952] File Reference CCL Photo Collection 22, Img02332
The first golf match held at Rawhiti Domain [1952] File Reference CCL Photo Collection 22, Img02332

No. 1579 – South Brighton Domain, Pleasant Point and Rawhiti Domain

This includes the South Brighton Domain, Pleasant Point and the western side of Rawhiti Domain. It also included land in North New Brighton where night soil and food waste was dumped. This last piece of land was eventually sold for housing and the money used so that the city council might be able to purchase the New Brighton Trotting Club land which became Queen Elizabeth II Park.

‘Harold Logan’ was a famous pacer. He won the New Zealand Trotting Cup in the 1930s. He was owned by Ernest Hinds but raced in the colours of Hinds’ step-daughter, Effie Hinds. The horse was kept in the South Brighton Domain and one small boy shouted excitedly to his parents: “Look, Harold Logan’s eating our grass”. Christchurch City Libraries holds, in its archives, the Harold Logan papers, newspaper articles and photographs relating to the famed horse and its career.

The Nautilus on the Avon-Heathcote Estuary in the 1920s [ca. 1920] File Reference CCL Photo Collection 22, Img00080
The Nautilus on the Avon-Heathcote Estuary in the 1920s [ca. 1920] File Reference CCL Photo Collection 22, Img00080
Pleasant Point developed as a picnic spot in the 1920s when New Brighton baker, Harry Nelson Hawker (1868-1947),  plied his big launch, Nautilus, for hire on the Avon river from the Seaview Road bridge to Pleasant Point. The launch was built in Auckland and has been retired there.

In the Depression, men were employed by the Christchurch City Council and New Brighton Borough Council (and paid by the Government) so that much of the domain could become a golf course. In October 1934, the local authorities went as a deputation to the Ministry of Unemployment in Wellington. The local bodies wanted the unemployed to be excused from going to a ‘slave camp’ on the Ashley River.

On 15 October, the Mayor reported on the insensitive attitude of Bromley, deputy chairman of the board, and the free hand allowed him by his political master, the Right Hon. J. G. Coates …. The civil servant spoke of the ‘golden golf course’, because of the huge amount of public money which had been spent creating the course.

The library has some great photographs of New Brighton capturing its life as one of New Zealand’s premier seaside suburbs, full of life and character. New Brighton residents have been good at recording their local history and the place has inspired novels and biographies. Read more blog posts about New Brighton history, including more from Richard.

Sources

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