The stories behind Wellington streets

01:01, Dec 21 2012
Featherston St 2012
Featherston St, now.
Beauchamp St Karori
Popular name: Beauchamp St, Karori.
Beauchamp St Tawa
Take two: Beauchamp St, Tawa.
Vivian st 2012
Now: Vivian St, today.
Severn St
Then: Island Bay, 1912. Severn St is the dirt track in the right centre. Derwent is parallel, to the left. Taputeranga Island is at the top left.
Oriental Pde
Then: Oriental Parade, 1910, eight years before the band rotunda was built.
Donald St Karori
Then: Karori, 1942, with Karori Normal School in the centre. Donald St runs beside it up to Wrights Hill.
Donald St 2012
Donald St is still easily seen, but Karori Normal School, bottom right, has changed markedly.
Moorefield Rd 2012
Now: Moorefield Rd, looking south from Johnsonville train station.
Riddiford St 2012
Now: Riddiford St, 2012, with buses and heavy traffic, and still with the power lines overhead.
Middleton Rd
Now: Middleton Rd runs from Johnsonville to Porirua.
Marion St 2012
Now: Waverley Hotel is now car park.
Evans Bay Parade 1950
Then: By the 1950s Evans Bay Parade was a popular boating spot.
Kent Tce 2012
Today: Kent Tce is a busy thoroughfare to the airport and eastern suburbs.
Crofton Downs
Ministerial roads: Looking over Crofton Downs, Churchill Drive runs past the shopping centre, bottom right, and Bowen Hospital, bottom left, to Wadestown.
Crofton Downs 1970
Urban spread: Crofton Downs, 1970. The construction of Bowen Hospital, foreground, was well underway by this time.
Cuba St 1939
Then: By 1940 Cuba St was a bustling retail zone.
Manners St 1971
Manners St, at the corner of Willis and Boulcott streets, 1971
Constable St 2012
Now: Constable St, photographed from Riddiford St, with Newtown Library on the left
Constable St
Constable St, 1910, looking west towards Brooklyn Hill.
Molesworth St, 1946
Molesworth St, 1946.
Aro St 1949
Aro St, 1949.
Hawker St Old
Then: Wellington mayor Sir Francis Kitts strolls down Hawker St in 1957.
Hawker St 2012
Now: Hawker St, 2012. Same view, with more cars.
HIGH RISE: Owners of older buildings in Lambton Quay face expensive insurance premiums as a result of earthquake risk.
HISTORY GONE: Imagine if Lambton Quay had retained its fine character buildings?
Ghuznee splash
Ghuznee St
Ghuznee St
Ghuznee St
Nairn St 2012
Now: Nairn St, 2012,. The city council-own Central Park Flats, centre left, dominate the view.
MID DOM: holloway rd history
MID DOM: holloway rd history
Newcombe Cres 2012
Newcombe Cres resident Don Paterson
WEDGED: A bus blocks Devon St after becoming stuck on its way down the street.
Onepu Rd 2012
Now: Onepu Rd, 2012, looking toward Lyall Bay, Elements Cafe is on the right. There is not lack of wiring in Lyall Bay.

The Wellingtonian has surveyed more than 40 streets since March as part of our popular Streetwise feature.

Many streets have been named from Maori words, after famous New Zealanders, or after early settlers from our colonial past.

Some suburbs have borrowed street names from other countries - many of Brooklyn's streets are named after past American presidents.

More than 20 streets in Crofton Downs are linked to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and streets in Grenada North have a West Indies connection.

But it's what happened on the streets of Wellington that turned out to be more interesting, from mysteries involving babies to opium dens, lunatic asylums to wartime battles.

We were reminded that an 1854 jail on The Terrace, where Te Aro school now stands, was one of Wellington's first jails, and held some of the region's most notorious criminals.


Readers learned that Donald St, Karori, was the site of New Zealand's first lunatic asylum. Poorly run, it was closed in 1875 and the buildings were turned into what is now Karori Normal School.

"The Battle of Manners St" was remembered. In 1943, some American soldiers refused Maori soldiers entry to the Allied Services Club, which sparked a three-hour street brawl.

Hundreds of Wellingtonians joined more than 1000 New Zealand troops who battled the American soldiers with batons, belts and knives.

Another central street's varied past was recalled. Taranaki St was once a pa, the largest in Wellington.

A side street of Taranaki St, Haining St, was noted in the 19th century for its Chinese community, known as China Town. It had a reputation for gambling and opium dens.

A close look at some of Wellington's streets revealed a darker past.

In Onepu Rd, Lyall Bay, there have been several fatal car accidents, fires, suicides, drownings, and a tram accident that resulted in one death and 28 injuries.

At the end of that street, a two- week-year old girl was found wrapped in brown paper, buried in a sandhill in 1922. The mystery was never solved.

In Te Aro's Holloway Rd, there have been fires, major landslides and a murder. Locals even talk about a ghost.

There has been violent crime and prostitution in Marion St, with two prostitutes being stabbed there in recent decades.

However, readers were reminded it once housed a religious hall and one of Wellington's first paint shops.

During the year we revealed why Wellington's steepest street, Weld St, is so steep.

Wadestown's grid pattern, reputed to have been created in London, takes no notice of the terrain. The near-vertical street switches between steps and road to make it accessible.

Devon St in Aro Valley has had its fair share of layout-related issues, too. The zig-zagging and sloping street, really only wide enough for one direction of traffic, has caused problems for lorries, trucks and buses since the 1920s.


Aro St, Beauchamp St (in Karori and Tawa), Boulcott St, Bould St, Broderick Rd, Constable St, Crofton Downs streets, Cuba St, Devon St, Donald St, Evans Bay Pde, Featherston St, Grenada North, Ghuznee St, Hawker St, Holloway Rd, Kent Tce, Lambton Quay, Manners St, Marion St, Middleton Rd, Molesworth St, Moorefield Rd, Moxham Ave, Nairn St, Newcombe Cres, Onepu Rd, Oriental Pde, Palm Ave, Redwood Ave, Riddiford St, Severn St, Simla Cres, Taranaki St, The Terrace, Vivian St, Wallace St, Washington Ave, Weld St, Yule St.


The Wellingtonian