Secrets buried in Wellington's streets

Last updated 11:36 19/12/2013

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The hidden secrets of some of Wellington's streets have been explored this year.

Most we have looked at were named after early settlers or prominent members of the New Zealand Company.

Notable exceptions included Tinakori Rd, which was named after a dispute between Maori employees and their bosses.

It's said a quarrel began when labourers were not given a free meal as part of their pay for completing the road, even though it was customary for employers to do so.

The street subsequently acquired the name Tinakori Rd, a mixture of Maori and Pidgin English, which loosely translates to "no dinner road".

Many of the streets in Wellington also had more than one name.

Alexandra Rd, which has dramatically changed from a barren street to one covered in native bush, used to be called Victoria Rd.

The Wellington fire brigade complained about the number of roads named after Queen Victoria, so it was renamed after Queen Alexandra instead.

But it was what happened in and around the streets of Wellington that captured the imagination of readers and The Wellingtonian writers.

In Newlands Rd we found a strange story of illegal abortions in 1923.

The police had been watching Newlands health specialist Daniel Cooper and his wife, Martha, for months, suspicious they were performing illegal abortions.

A search of the Coopers' Newlands Rd property, a small farm, uncovered three tiny corpses.

Police discovered that as well as performing dozens of illegal abortions, Daniel Cooper had been offering another service.

The Coopers offered unmarried pregnant women a place to stay in their Newlands Rd property and promised to find a home for the babies when they were born.

But it was not easy to find a good home for a child and murdering the newborns was a cheaper and easier solution.

The number of babies murdered was never known.

Cooper was hanged at the Terrace Gaol in 1923.

The Rigi in Kelburn used to be the main coach road to Karori and Pipitea St was the home of Wellington's stocks - now it is host to the much-publicised GCSB spy agency.

Derwent St in Island Bay was infamous in the 1960s because of a dog poisoner.

For five years, the notorious Island Bay Dog Poisoner made vicious attacks on residents' beloved pets with strychnine, a toxic pesticide.

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Several Derwent St family pets were killed, but the police and public were stumped.

The editor of The Evening Post made a plea for the senseless cruelty to stop.

Miraculously, the editorial appeared to work, though the poisoner was never found.

Pirie St was the site of a serious tram crash in 1920. Three people died and many others were injured.

The tram had raced down Pirie St and the driver lost control.

The car tipped when it was rounding the Brougham St corner.

There was also a shooting in Pirie St in 1893, when Louis Albert Sanderson gunned down his stepfather, W J Spencer.

Many of the streets had a nautical link.

Owhiro Bay Pde surrounds a bay that has claimed many ships and at least nine lives.

After one such sinking in 1982, treasure hunters headed out to try to strip the ship's liquor cabinet.

Four sunken ships in the bay are now popular dive spots.

Hector St in Seatoun starts near the area on Seatoun Beach where some passengers from the Wahine were rowed ashore during the never-to-be- forgotten storm on April 10, 1968.

We also travelled out to Somes Island and examined the history of the island's one and only road.

The road is home to a historic pa site and a cemetery for early immigrants who were quarantined there.

There was an animal quarantine there until the mid-1990s.

It was an internment camp for enemy aliens during the two world wars.


Streetwise features this year: Newlands Rd, Cambridge Tce, Alexandra Rd, Leeds St, Broadway, Bell Rd, Glen Rd, Cocayne Rd, Stewart Duff Dr, The Rigi, Lakewood Ave, Haining St, Mulgrave St, Abel Smith St, Pipitea St, Tinakori Rd, Derwent St, Courtenay Place, Farmers Ln, Todman St, Roxburgh St, Coutts St, Wilton Rd, Hector St, Old Karori Rd, Weka St, Main Rd Somes Island, Duncan St, Hill St, Wellington Rd, Ballance St, Bolton St, Miramar Ave, Owhiro Bay Pde, Avon St, Wadestown Rd, Pirie St, Boscobel Ln, Quebec St, Campbell St, Landfill Rd, Black Rock Rd, Wakefield St, Lyall Pde, Vivian St, Bing Lucas Dr.

- The Wellingtonian


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