Street History: Taranaki St

Most Wellingtonians will be familiar with Taranaki St, which stretches 1.3 kilometres from the waterfront as far south as Wellington High School.

Taranaki St is noted these days for places such as The Green Parrot Cafe and Molly Malones, but has a colourful and varied history dating back to the early 1800s.

It was named in about 1840 after early settlers who were Taranaki natives living in Te Aro Pa. The pa was on the foreshore at the bottom of the street and as a result the street was often referred to as "Taranaki Pa".

Between 1820 and 1880, Te Aro Pa was one of the largest in Wellington, with up to 200 people occupying more than two hectares. By the end of the 19th century the pa was unoccupied.

In 2005 archaeologists uncovered the remains of the pa when work was due to begin on an apartment complex.

There is now a visitors' centre in lower Taranaki St, where Te Aro Pa used to stand. It contains foundations of two ponga buildings and information about the pa.

Haining St, which runs off Taranaki St, was noted for its Chinese community in the 19th century. Until 1960 it was known as Wellington's Chinatown and had a reputation for gambling and opium use.

Taranaki St's Wesley Methodist Church was built in 1880. Behind it is the church hall, which was built in 1882.

The parish has several multicultural congregations, including Fijian, Tongan and Samoan.

Another Taranaki St identity was the police station that was located at the north end, opposite the Green Parrot.

Government architect John Campbell designed the building in 1914. It was a police station until the 1980s.

According to Wellington City Council, there are seven heritage buildings in Taranaki St, including those on Taranaki St wharf.

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