Topic: City’s first buildings unearthed at Masonic Park

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In May 2014 historic remains of a bakery dating back to the 1870s were unearthed during a makeover of Masonic Park on The Strand in Tauranga. The site was historically home to the Masonic Hotel from 1865 until it was demolished in 1993.

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Press release (excluding images) - May 2014:

A surprise discovery at Masonic Park in central Tauranga has led to some of the city’s earliest European buildings being unearthed.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga (formerly the New Zealand Historic Places Trust) was called in on Friday 9 May after some historic artefacts were found by contractors working on the Masonic Park renovation project. For the last week archaeologists have been excavating the remains of the 1870s bakery with early cooking ovens.

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John Maxwell (5th from right) outside the Belfast Bakery on or near Opening Day 1870. Click here to learn more about John.

Image: Bay of Plenty Times (2014).

They have discovered the brick foundations of large baking ovens from two different time periods. One dates back to the early 1870s (or possibly earlier) and a later one that has not yet been accurately dated.

The bakery had a shop frontage on The Strand and was still operating in the second World War.

Businesses along The Strand in the 1870s

Tauranga (c1870s). From left David Asher’s store, Masonic Hotel, Bakery (John Maxwell's Belfast Bakery), Medical Hall, The Strand Auction Room, Phoenix Bakery, Bay of Plenty Times office, Tauranga Hotel.

Rachel Darmody, Heritage New Zealand’s Lower Northern Regional Archaeologist, says this is a nationally significant find that represents Tauranga’s early commercial development.

“It is rare to find such a well-preserved bakery from this time period anywhere in New Zealand. The only other examples we have are from the goldfields of Central Otago and one site in Dunedin. It is exciting to find that part of the early township still survives to tell us more about our past.”

The Masonic Park project was scheduled to be completed by end of June. While archaeologists are on site, project contractors have moved on to the next stage of the project which is to create a new rail crossing opposite Masonic Park. Renovation work at the park will resume around the archaeology site from next week.

In the meantime Tauranga City Council and Heritage New Zealand are considering how best to preserve the find. Options and possible funding ideas will be presented to the city councillors next month for direction. Some private sector companies have already expressed interest in assisting with funding.

Archaeologist Rachel Darmody, assistant archaeologist Cathleen Hauman and Tauranga City Council project designer Clinton Bowyer survey the remains of Tauranga's first bakery. Photo: George Novak (2014).

The site is currently closed to the public. Heritage New Zealand and Council propose to host a public open day to talk about the history found there.  


See Also:

John Maxwell of Belfast Bakeries (click here)

City’s first buildings unearthed (Sunlive, 22 May 2014).

Daily Southern Cross (25 May 1870, p. 3).

Early European Bakery Found in New Zealand (Archaeology Magazine, 22 May 2014).

Masonic Park gets revamp (Sunlive, 4 May 2014).

Rare find could become permanent sight (Bay of Plenty Times, 23 May 2014).



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City’s first buildings unearthed at Masonic Park

Year:2014 and c.1870
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
City’s first buildings unearthed at Masonic Park by Tauranga City Libraries Staff - HC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License