Pukekura Park - its ecology and history - Friends of Pukekura Park New Plymouth Inc.

Early Park Administrators

George Fuller

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This photograph below is of very special interest for anyone studying the Park’s administrative history.


It was previously displayed in the Tea House, and appeared in A.B Scanlan’s book ‘Pukekura’ which was published in 1978 to commemorate the Park’s centennial in 1976.


It was taken by William S. Oakley on 28 March 1934 shortly after the Brooklands handing-over ceremony, at which time Brooklands was gifted to the people of New Plymouth. The ceremony was attended by Lord Bledisloe. To my knowledge there are relatively few photographs of early administrators of the Park, so this one is unique in that it depicts those in various leading roles covering a span of 58 critical years from 1876 to 1934.


Park Administration

The remarkable length of that time-span was made possible by the presence of Robert Clinton Hughes, pictured in the centre of the front row. As a young solicitor, keen on swimming, he foresaw the potential of developing a neglected, treeless, steep-sided valley, with no level ground, into a recreational and botanical area – a great leap of faith which aroused the interest and support of a few friends.

Money was laid down in support, a trust formed, and project approval granted. The Town Board insisted that the development “should not be an impediment to the ratepayers” - or words to that effect.

A committee was formed and went into action with dramatic success, buoyed by a very responsive community. Robert C. Hughes served the Park for nearly 60 years, which must surely constitute a record. His inspiration and leadership ensured a rich heritage. Standing at the left of the picture is Tom Boulton, Head Gardener at Brooklands for many years until the handing-over.

Also standing is Thomas H. Horton, a renowned and successful nurseryman from Hastings who was Curator of Pukekura (and following this occasion, Brooklands) from 1924 to 1949.

Sitting at the left is J. McLeod, Chairman of the Pukekura Park Committee at the time.

The person sitting at the right is William Walter Smith , who was Curator of Pukekura Park from 1908 to 1920. How fortunate we are that this photograph was taken to preserve the memory of these notable people who played such a crucial role in the development of Pukekura and Brooklands Parks.

Reproduced from The Newsletter of the Friends of Pukekura Park 2(1) (May 2007)


A photograph taken on 28 March 1934 at the handing–over of Brooklands Park to the people of New Plymouth, features notable curators, solicitors, nurserymen and administrators who inspired and led the early development of Pukekura Park from 1876 to 1934. Contributions made by these talented leaders were both crucial and far-reaching.

Pukekura Park, Brooklands Park, New Plymouth, New Zealand, Robert Clinton Hughes, Tom Boulton, Thomas H. Horton, J. McLeod, William Walter Smith, gifting of Brooklands Park, Lord Bledisloe.


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