Methodist link to Moxham Ave

MARY BAINES
Last updated 09:17 11/01/2013

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Residents of Hataitai's main street, Moxham Ave, may not know there could be an underground river running through their back yards.

In colonial times, the Waipapa Stream flowed through the suburb - from where the bus tunnel is now, down between Moxham Ave and parallel street Ruahine St, to the beach at Evans Bay.

Today, it is a one-metre wide culvert under back yards in Moxham Ave.

Despite a marine chart from 1826 that marked the stream outlet as "Good Water", by the beginning of the 20th century, residents wanted the council to declare it a public drain.

In 1909 a petition was sent to the city council, asking it to cover in the Waipapa stream.

Residents said it had been polluted by people emptying "slops" in it, creating a "menace to the health of the district".

The debate between council and residents about whether to culvert the stream raged for two decades.

Residents complained of flooding on their properties, and ponds or "cesspools" attached to the river filled with rotten matter emitting strong stenches.

By the early 1920s, council had taken heed and covered the stream.

But the problems had not been fixed. Residents complained of "very nasty smells" coming out of the mouth of the drains, and flooding continued on some of the properties until the 1950s.

One group of early settlers made good use of Waipapa Stream.

Chinese have lived in Hataitai since the early 1880s. when they grew vegetables in gardens watered by the Waipapa stream.

By the 1920s there were several fruit and vegetable shops run by Chinese in Moxham Ave.

The street was initially named Charles St, after wealthy land- owner Charles Crawford.

However, the name was soon changed to Moxham Ave, after William Moxham, who arrived in Wellington in 1858 on the ship Montmorency.

Mr Moxham was an early farmer of Upland Farm, which is now the Botanic Gardens in Kelburn.

Although there is no evidence he had interests in the Hataitai area, it is likely there was a religious connection.

He was heavily involved with early Methodism in New Zealand - a choirmaster, organ player, superintendent of the Sunday school and church trustee for the Manners Street Wesley Church.

In 1895 the Methodist Church built a wooden church, Kilbirnie Wesleyan Church, at what is now 111 Moxham Ave.

About a decade after it was built, the street got its name.

By 1913 the Methodist Church had been transported on rollers to a more centrally located site in Waitoa Rd.

Significant development, shop openings and the increasing population of the suburb, centred around the Waitoa Rd/Moxham Ave intersection, continued into the 1950s.

Today, a small shopping centre is centred in Moxham Ave.

In 2011 the city council added Hataitai Village shops to its heritage buildings.

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- The Wellingtonian

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