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Axe-wielding chefs and folk music

TALIA CARLISLE
Last updated 13:45 28/02/2014

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The Wellingtonian

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The misspelt Majoribanks St prompted Wellington's folk music scene and "fancy" coffee.

Majoribanks St is located in lower Mt Victoria, rising east from Courtenay Place. The area became known as Little Italy, largely because of Rinassimento, the popular Italian restaurant famous for its axe-wielding chef Renato.

Today the restaurant site is occupied by Hazel restaurant, which opened in 2004 on the corner of Roxburgh and Majoribanks streets.

Hazel's predecessor, Monde Marie, was the place to be in the 1960s, with folk music every night and the odd drop of rum in its coffee, made famous by owner Mary Seddon, the granddaughter of former Prime Minister Richard Seddon.

"A fancy coffee wasn't even heard of in those days," Miss Seddon's niece, Jane Burke told The Wellingtonian last year.

"Aunt Mary really turned the Wellington scene around and made the Monde Marie the home of folk [music] for Wellington."

Monde Marie and the Chez Paris nightclub opposite, were "reminders of a different age", Wellingtonian reader Roy Walker wrote in 2010 - "black-and-white television, hardly any traffic lights, relatively few cars on the city streets and no big supermarkets".

Today the 500-metre road includes The Embassy Theatre, Apollo Lodge Hotel, the Majoribanks Apartments and a host of restaurants, including Capitol, Royal Thai Restaurant, Saigon Taste, The Lotus and Ortega Fish Shack & Bar. The Ambeli opened in 2006, replacing the Roxburgh St Bistro, and before that the Roxburgh.

For many years, the City Hotel was a landmark on the corner of Kent Tce and Majoribanks St. It was run by famous All Black Mark Nicholls.

Later it became Flanagans Hotel, and then the New City Hotel.

More recently, it was the site of the popular Sandwiches bar and restaurant, which closed last year because of earthquake strengthening issues.

The Mount Victoria Loop walking track begins at Charles Plimmer Park at the top of Majoribanks St.

It is part of the Hataitai to City Walkway, and joins the Southern Walkway to the top of Mount Alfred then winds on to the Newtown to Hataitai Walkway and back to the city, providing views of the city, harbour, Newtown and Hataitai.

A few years ago, the city council was advised that Majoribanks St should be Marjoribanks St, after early 1840s New Zealand Company director Stewart Marjoribanks (pronounced Maach- banks).

The council consulted with residents about whether the name should be changed, but the majority "did not want the council to waste money and create confusion by making a change", council spokesman Michael Brownie said.

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- The Wellingtonian

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