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

The First Pukekura Park Tea Rooms

David Medway

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At its meeting on 20 February 1905 the Recreation Grounds Board, predecessor of the Pukekura Park Board, resolved that “If funds permit a ladies’ room with all conveniences will be erected in the grounds” (Taranaki Herald 21/2/1905). In his report presented to the Board at its annual meeting on 3 May 1905 the retiring Chairman, Clement W. Govett, said: “It has long been felt that there was no accommodation for ladies, and the Board, acting on a faith that has never failed them, have gladly accepted the offer of the Builders’ Association to supply all the work required to put up a handsome building, with tea room attached, and not exactly knowing where the money is coming from, have pledged themselves to supply about £50 worth of material required” (Taranaki Herald 28/4/1905, 4/5/1905).

The “handsome building with tea room attached”, situated behind the former bathing shed and the present Tea House, was completed by the time the Board met on 5 July 1905. Instructions were given to fence in the garden round the building. The Secretary, E. H. Tribe, reported that, owing to the expense incurred in its erection, the Board was now working on an overdraft (Taranaki Herald 10/7/1905). The statement of receipts and expenditure for the year ended 31 March 1906 shows that the building cost the Board £68 16s 11d, and that it was in overdraft at the Bank of New Zealand in the sum of £61 10s 9d for which certain individual members of the Board were personally liable (Taranaki Herald 3/5/1906, 14/6/1906).

In his report for the year ended 31 March 1906 the Chairman, F.P.Corkill, said: “Through the energy of our Secretary, Mr Tribe, a ladies’ room has been erected in a central position in the Grounds, and we believe that this will be much appreciated by those for whom it has been provided. This summer it has been mainly used as a tea room, but this is not the purpose for which it was designed, and for the future it will always be available for the convenience of lady visitors and particularly those accompanied by children” (Taranaki Herald 7 & 14/6/1906).

The first formal function to be held in the new ladies’ room appears to have been the meeting which the Board, on 2 August 1905, decided to call to consider the question of holding a floral fete in aid of the funds of the Board (Taranaki Herald 4/8/1905). The last formal function to be held in the building was on 17 October 1929 when control of Pukekura Park was formally handed over to the New Plymouth Borough Council (Taranaki Herald 17/10/1929). It appears that at some time after 1914 the building became known as the tea kiosk, from when it may have functioned solely as tea rooms. The accompanying photograph of the former tea rooms, reproduced from a post card, was taken by F.G. Radcliffe in 1914.

Thomas Horton, superintendent of the park at the time, recorded in his work diaries, now in Puke Ariki, that on 27-31 October 1931 he and his men were “Assisting to remove old Tea Kiosk etc”. The new tea kiosk was formally handed over and opened by its donors, Mr and Mrs C. H. Burgess, on 14 November 1931 (Taranaki Herald 14/11/1931).

The provision of a ladies room with tea room attached, along with an associated fence, sent the Recreation Grounds Board into overdraft.  However the first formal function held in the building was a meeting of the Recreation Grounds Board on 2 August 1905, at which a floral fete was considered in order to raise funds.  The ladies room later became known as the tea kiosk, and was replaced, through the generosity of its donors, Mr and Mrs C. H. Burgess, when a new tea kiosk was handed over on 14 November 1931. A photograph of the original building (taken by F.G. Radcliffe in 1914) accompanies the article.

Key words:
Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand, ladies’ room, tea house, tea kiosk, tea rooms, Recreation Grounds, conveniences.


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