A recent visit to the revamped Potter Children's Garden in Parana Park was first and foremost a chance for the children to cool off. Not being terribly good at just sitting around watching mine and other people's children splash and scream, I took the chance to photograph some of the historic features of the park.
The little stone humpback bridge that provides access to the children's water garden has dedicatory plaques to benefactor George Parr (1869-1929) and his housekeeper Annie McPherson (c.1854-1928). Upon Parr's death, his house and garden on River Rd were gifted to the borough of Hamilton for use as a children's convalescent home and playground, to be known as Parana Park.
It was a late night when I discovered the Hansard record of the parliamentary debates of February and March 2011, when the Hamilton City Council (Parana Park) Land Vesting Bill received its three readings before the House of Representatives. The bill proposed vesting the park as a recreation reserve and the debates, led by Hamilton MPs David Bennett, Tim Macindoe and Sue Moroney, were enthusiastically contributed to by Trevor Mallard, Steve Chadwick, Tau Henare, and others. The Maori name of the area, Putikitiki, was a point of contention, when it was discovered the name of the park had not been considered by the Geographic Board.
Nevertheless the act was passed in May 2011, not that I can recall reading anything of it at the time.
One feature of the park, mentioned by Labour MP Steve Chadwick during the second reading of the bill, is the brick fireplace and campfire circle near the playground and aviary.
Above the fireplace is a plaque bearing this charming motto: "Light your fire and never fear; Life was made for love and cheer. Presented to the Girl Guides by the Rotary Club of Hamilton."
It would appear the fireplace dates to 1950. Today, some of the letters are missing. I'm not sure if the Guides still use the fireplace, and compared to the Children's Garden, the circle looks rather overlooked and unloved.
My children and their friend got a quick lecture in return for appearing as models in the accompanying photograph, about all things being new once and that it would be a shame if what was once a special new feature of Parana Park was neglected and eventually "tidied away". New things, as I told the children, are only new for a short while, but that doesn't mean we should pay them no heed as they settle into the landscape and become part of our city's historic memory.
See parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Legislation/Bills/e/6/a/00DBHOH-BILL9952-1 -Hamilton-City-Council-Parana-Park-Land-Vesting.htm and parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Legislation/Bills/e/6/a/00DBHOH-BILL9952- 1-Hamilton-City-Council-Parana-Park-Land-Vesting.htm for the Parana Park Act and the debates preceding its being passed into legislation.