Pukerua Bay has a significant Māori history. Miria Pomare will speak about the people, places and events important to Māori in this place. Ashley Blair will talk about the dramatic events of the late 1880s when the railway was put through Pukerua Bay. There will also be a demonstration of the new augmented reality app “Discover Porirua” which features most of Pukerua Bay’s Heritage sites.
30 October 2021, 10.30 am (ical) Place: Former Muri train station, end of Muri Road (map)
Despite the gloomy grey weather, the Pukerua Bay Family Fun Day went ahead as planned for the opening of the new Rail Comes to Pukerua and Rail Timeline display panels in the former Muri Station building, and the community garden fun day. The He Ara Pukerua rail history displays were blessed by Ngāti Toa kaumatua Kahu Ropata, supported by Moana Parata and others. Porirua City Mayor Anita Baker and Ward Councillors Nathan Waddle and Josh Trlin revealed the panels. A section of the tramway rail used during the construction of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway 1884–1886 was presented to the mayor. Kahu also blessed the community garden. Following the blessing and speeches there was a sausage sizzle, cakes and tea brewed from thermettes, and a stalls selling T shirts and home-made face masks. A smaller turn-out than planned, but still attended by enthusiastic locals braving the wind and drizzle.
He Ara Pukerua is grateful for the help from Greater Wellington Regional Council and KiwiRail to secure the lease on the former Muri Station shelter. The northbound Muri Station shelter has been relocated onto the garden and is in the process of being refurbished.
Images courtesy of Cr. Josh Trlin, Porirua City Council (via Facebook); Andy Erceg and Ashley Blair, He Ara Pukerua (via Facebook).
T-shirts and tote bags are back on sale again. We are taking orders now for personal delivery. You can pick your desired size and colour as described in the product descriptions (although we have run out of the pink T-shirts). Please allow a short delay for printing.
Pukerua Bay has a long association with servicemen. Some of the men were living in the Bay when they enlisted, but many of them were associated with the Bay through friends and family.
Local historian, Margaret Blair, tells their stories in this special issue of COVID Courier.
Plan for the 25th: Stand at Dawn The RSA and New Zealand Defence Force would like us to remember those who gave their lives for our country. At 6:00 am on Saturday 25 April, stand at your letterbox and take a moment to remember our fallen – but please stay within your ‘bubble’.
Sudden death, stabbing and robberies: The Wild West? No – the Pukerua railway camp.
During the construction of the railway tunnels between 1884 to 1886 up to 400 men were employed at any one time by Samuel Brown the contractor. The No. 15 contract, for construction of the railway between Pukerua and Paekakariki including six tunnels, was “considered the most difficult and important [contract] on the line.”¹ Many of the men lived at Pukerua in what was known as “the railway camp” or “Brown’s camp”. They lived in tents, whares and huts or stayed in “boarding houses,” which were probably just tents with wooden floors.
The brick makers, bricklayers, tunnelers, quarrymen, woodcutters, stonemasons and navvies walked from Wellington round Porirua Harbour from Pauatahanui, up the Kakaho Stream valley then over the saddle and down to the camp. Contractors, managers, foremen and the better paid tradespeople travelled by coach to Pauatahanui and walked to the camp or took passage on one of the coastal steamers calling onto Pukerua.
With so many men in the camp there were incidents such as robberies of watches, money, jewellery and even clothing. During this time the New Zealand Police Gazette had fourteen entries for Pukerua including a one pound reward notice for a sixteen year old ship deserter. More dramatic was a fire in a whare which had dynamite and blasting caps stored inside. The two miners who lived in the whare made a very hasty exit. Although the caps exploded the dynamite “burned quietly” but they lost all their clothes.
Generally the camp was peaceful but in June 1886 two miners who shared a whare had an argument. One was stabbed with a miner’s candlestick, a sharp pointed iron candle holder used in mines and tunnels. The charge of unlawful wounding was changed by mutual consent to common assault and both miners were bound by the Magistrate to keep the peace for six months.
Benjamin Thatcher, a man who already knew the inside of a Magistrate’s Court, ran one of the boarding houses at the Pukerua railway camp. As well as accommodation and meals Thatcher provided the workmen with alcohol. But he never had a licence nor was there any way to hide the barrels of beer rowed ashore from the s.s.Tui. Constable Roche from Paekakariki saw 120 gallons of beer from the Thorndon Brewery being landed at Pukerua for Thatcher on 16 May 1885. Thatcher was subsequently charged at the Paekakariki Police Court with sly-grog selling. Constable Roche said, “that the vicinity of Thatcher’s house was one of the most dangerous places in New Zealand for drunken men to frequent, as they had to pass a high and precipitous cliff going backwards and forwards.”² Thatcher was fined £20 and costs or one month in prison with hard labour if the fine was not paid. Later that same year he was fined 20 shillings, with 7 shillings costs for being drunk in charge of a horse at Pukerua. However, two months later the horse may have had its revenge. While Thatcher was riding beside the contractor’s tramway he was thrown from the horse with “great force” onto the iron rails. He was badly injured and taken to Wellington Hospital by train.
Running a boarding house at Pukerua during construction of the railway was a risky business. Three Pukerua boarding house keepers at the railway camp, James Edward Raistrick, Edward Robinson and Edward Henry Banks, ended up in court when each, at different times, was declared bankrupt.
In September 1884 a Post Office and Post Office Savings Bank were established at Pukerua with John Laughton, the works manager, as postmaster. Many men spent all of their first pay on alcohol and were absent next day. Samuel Brown announced that from then on anyone absent after pay day would be dismissed and he advised workers to make use of the Savings Bank. This advice was heeded and there were no more absences following pay day. Laughton encouraged workers to save and on one occasion over £300 was deposited by Pukerua workmen into the Savings Bank.
In late August 1885 the badly decomposed body of a man was found up a gully near the camp. He was identified as Richard Price, a striker who worked with the blacksmith Malcolm Mclntyre. The inquest heard that in June Price was planning to work on a bridge near Woodville and his mates thought he had left even though the body was only 150 yards from his hut. He was known to be a heavy drinker and this may have contributed to his demise.
The Pukerua railway camp was disbanded with the opening of the railway and so ended a most colourful time of Pukerua’s history.
You might have noticed that the old shelter building on the southbound platform of the former Muri railway station has a new coat of paint and is looking pretty flash. This is thanks to the Greater Wellington Regional Council, which is handing ownership of the building over to the Residents Association. It’s the culmination of a long process that began when GWRC closed the station in 2011.
The plan is to make it part of He Ara Pukerua heritage project, and it will have the Pukerua Bay railway history on display in the shed. In the meantime, we have a temporary sign…
The beach heritage marker, part of Pukerua Bay’s He Ara Pukerua heritage project, will be unveiled by Porirua Mayor, His Worship Mike Tana. The marker covers a brief introduction to Pukerua Māori history, George Stubbs, John Nicol, Nobby Clark, beach houses, the 1962 Battle of the Rocks, the Rāhui and early artists.
This will be followed by the unwrapping of the bollard for the Pukerua Bay Surf Lifesaving Club at Brendan Bay, with members of the club.
10 am start, Saturday 3 August 2019 (ical) Southern beach car park, at foot of Goat Track (map)
The He Ara Heritage Group of the Pukerua Bay Residents Association would like to invite you to the opening of 4 heritage bollards on the Ara Harakeke Way. The event will be on Saturday 19 May 2018 and start at 10.00am by the entrance to Whenua Tapu.
That might sound a bit official but it’s really a great chance to see and hear stories about our local history. The bollards have been placed alongside the walkway to mark significant events or places at those sites.
It’s a 2.5 km walk down to the Z Truck Stop and Mayor Mike Tana is officiating at all four of them. He will be ably assisted at each one by our selected historians who will give a potted history of the significance of each site.
A representative from the Hongoeka Marae will bless each one and Mayor Mike will unveil them with a flourish. As a bonus, Mike Jebson from the QE2 National Trust and a resident botanist will speak as we pass the Taupō Swamp sign which was recently rediscovered. The last time it was seen out in the open was when the Queen was here!
At the Truck Stop we will have available some ‘local’ refreshments. They will be non-alcoholic and child friendly. Actually they will be real fruit ice blocks made on the Kāpiti Coast by a couple of ladies just starting their business called Paekākāriki Pops.
It was almost a day for hats and umbrellas last Saturday, but the rain was kind and merely washed the station so Ngāti Toa Kaumata Taku Parai could bless the new Pukerua Bay station building and the He Ara Pukerua heritage sign. Greater Wellington Regional Councillors Jenny Brash and Barbara Donaldson cut ribbons to formally open the station, and Porirua Mayor Mike Tana unveiled the He Ara Pukerua sign, which is the first to mark a Pukerua Bay heritage site. 27 May 2017 will also be remembered as the day well-known Pukerua Bay resident Ray Brown sang his song “Pukerua Bay” which he composed in 1958.
He Ara Pukerua is the name of the Pukerua heritage project, and recognizes the many tracks which are part of Pukerua Bay’s history. There are many other places of interest in the history of Pukerua Bay and the Heritage Group is seeking contributions or memorabilia towards recording them.