The Pukerua Railway Camp

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.

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Muri Station history taking shape

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…

Temporary heritage sign on Muri Station shelter.
It was installed by our friend Bill Inge, Village Projects Coordinator from Porirua City Council.

Pukerua Bay 2019 calendars for sale

The first batch of 2019 calendars have arrived and been delivered to those who ordered them, thanks for supporting us! We have more still for sale. Below are sample images of January and July. This time we’ve marked handy things on the calendar for you, like school term dates, recycling days, and your friendly local residents’ association meetings, as well as the usual public holidays and lunar phases. All printed on quality stock and yours for only $18. Please indicate if you are local, and someone will drop them off at your house, otherwise its $5 extra for postage anywhere else in New Zealand.

Funds go towards the Residents’ Association, to help pay for things like annual insurance, the access licence across Kiwirail land for the community garden, and so on.

Buy your 2019 calendar(s) now!

Taking orders for our 2019 Pukerua Bay calendar

This year’s calendar is about the people of Pukerua Bay, some living and some who’ve passed on. All have contributed to the fabric of this lovely village that we share, and the photos and words reflect that. The calendar is A4 sized and would make a perfect Christmas gift for past residents, family, friends and neighbours, or even framing for posterity.

Print runs will be done in batches as orders accumulate, so please allow some time; we will make sure they arrive before Christmas. We are delivering them ourselves to Pukerua Bay and wider Kāpiti Coast addresses for free, and outside of that area please include $5 for postage for up to three copies anywhere in NZ.

Order now for Christmas!

He Ara Pukerua signpost opening

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.

Train station and heritage sign opening day photos

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.

If you would like to share your memories please contact Margaret Blair on 021 1373 263, or email pukeruaheritage@gmail.com

Photography © 2017 Ivor Earp-Jones.