Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wharekura, Matariki and Awataha – Avondale’s lost place names

In three parts of Avondale, there are people living in the former workmen’s settlements or hamlets of Wharekura, Matariki and Awataha. But they’d never realise this, unless they came upon old subdivision plans for the government scheme from the turn of last century – and saw the replacement names which these areas became: Cradock Hamlet (Powell and Cradock Streets), Kitchener Hamlet (Holly Street) and Methuen Hamlet (Methuen and Bollard Roads).

Right from the 1850s the government of the day wanted to encourage settlers to live in certain areas of economic development. John Balance had a scheme in the 1880s offering an incentive to settlers to build their own homes, but it wasn’t a success. Come the late 1890s, the Liberal government tried again, with a workmen’s settlement scheme, buying up large acreages of land and putting up sections for lease. Applicants for the leases had to have property worth less that £150, be over 21 years of age, and engaged “in any form of manual, clerical, or other work for hire or reward”. Applicants had to show they had the means to erect their own home on the land, and were both “deserving and suitable”.

Local MP John Bollard from Avondale campaigned in Parliament for the establishment of some of the hamlets in Auckland – and got three for Avondale. All of the workmen’s settlement hamlets around the country had Maori names – the ones sited in New Lynn and close to Henderson retained their original designations, New Lynn’s one known as Hetana. But here in Avondale, the Maori names were superseded by stout British Empire names, probably due to the Boer War happening at the same time (1900-1902).

So, we never did see Methuen Road called Awataha Road, Cradock Street with the euphonious Wharekura Street name, and if Kitchener Street had been known as Matariki Street, perhaps it would not have had to have a name change in the 1930s to that of the British plant, Holly.

How successful were these settlements? The Avondale ones may have been more successful than those in other parts of the country. Methuen Hamlet for one was occupied completely within 10 years of the lease offer, but the government had to make things more attractive by offering freehold over time, on payment of mortgages, instead of simply having the system of renewable leases. The Avondale hamlets were just three subdivisions of many happening in and around the village township from just before World War I until the beginning of the 1920s, but they were the start of suburban settlement in New Windsor, Avondale Heights and the area around Avondale College and Avondale Intermediate today.

An update here, regarding Hetana and Waari Hamlets in the West, and Plumer Hamlet here.

1 comment:

  1. This is one heck of a cool post Ice. Finally had some time to have a nice read of all your posts. Your blog is getting seriously awesome.