Topic: Elizabeth Street, Tauranga

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Elizabeth Street in the early years

Elizabeth Street runs from Takitimu Drive up through Cameron Road and beyond Devonport. Grey Street and Durham Street, both well known early streets in Tauranga begin, or end, off Elizabeth Street.

There was originally a stream, which started at the Elizabeth Street junction with Grey Street and wound it’s way down to the harbour (Heritage Study 2008, p18). Mareanui was the name locally known for the rising land on the harbour front bounded by Devonport Road and Elizabeth Street (Bellany, 1982 p.18).

The Street got it’s name from Mrs Elizabeth Tunks, who with her Tauranga born (1870) husband lived in a house on the street. Captain Thomas Tunks was a retired Imperial Army Officer from India and later Mayor of Tauranga (1933-35) (Bellany, 1982 p. 44 & 59). An early mention of Elizabeth Street's formation occurs in 1883 when a Mr Hamilton, is engaged in ploughing the area that would become the Street (Bellany, 1982 p. 53). By 1890, nearly all the streets on the main peninsula had been formed. In 1906, arrangements to asphalt The Strand, involved:

… metal barged down the harbour from the Waimapu Quarry… (being) crushed by a small crusher on the beach at the East end of Elizabeth Street — approximately where the railway bridge over the harbour starts. The crusher was fascinating to children - and the moored barges were a safe haven for shrimps to cling to. These were then easily caught by eager young shrimpers…(p. 54)

The Otumoetai Catholic mission, once the settlement of Tauranga began, built a chapel on the corner of First Ave and Elizabeth Street (1872). A timber church was built in 1888, and relocated to Bethlehem College in 1990 (BOPT 3 May 1991, page 1 ,BOPT 13 March 1991, page 3, BOPT 8 November 1990, page 2, BOPT 3 November 1990, BOPT 31 January 1978 , page 1, BOPT 9 January 1888, page 2 cited in a 2008 Heritage Study, p.128).

In 1909 plans were made to lay gas pipes along Elizabeth Street, as well as Park, Monmouth, MacLean, Harington, Wharf, Spring, Grey, Durham, and Willow Streets; also Cliff Road, First, Second, Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth Avenues, plus one hundred and fifteen chains on Cameron Road and seventy-three chains on Devonport Road [(Bellamy, 1982, p. 76)][Bellamy].

Other events

  1. In April, 1922 an Avro biplane piloted by Captain Fowler landed on the beach between Williams Street and Elizabeth Street. This was the first time the Waikareao Estuary was used as an airfield (Bellany, 1982 p.255).
  2. In 1928 a railway link was made to Auckland that ran along The Strand, but it was the pressure from local businessmen that had it diverted from original plans. These plans had been that the line would pass along Elizabeth Street to the “Back Beach” on the Waikareao Estuary (Bellany, 1982 p.29).
    The earliest high rise blocks didn’t appear until the 1960s, but when they did, it was Cliff Road nad Elizabeth Streets that held them (p. 26).
  3. In 1932 The Tauranga Aero Club began a lease on an area of non-tidal land at the base of Elizabeth Street, arranging for club-rooms and a hangar to built on the property (Ballany, 1982 p. 257).
  4. When Tauranga Aero Club left the beach runway on Waikareao Estuary for the newly-built aerodrome, their Elizabeth Street hangar was purchased for scouts and guides by their Tauranga District Commissioners, Mr and Mrs F.N. Christian and the Mayor, Mr B.C. Robbins. This Baden-Powell Hall opened in 1939 and served right up until 1979 when the 1st Tauranga Guide Company finally moved elsewhere (Ballany, 1982 p. 177).
  5. In 1965 the City Council offered the Arts Society (est 1946) the use of 64 Elizabeth Street, which was taken up after changes to the property (Ballany, 1982 p. 195).
  6. In 1974, traffic lights were installed on Elizabeth Street.

An Elizabeth street scene from the 1950s. Tauranga Electric Power Board. c. 1950

An Elizabeth street scene from the 1950s. Tauranga Electric Power Board. c. 1950 (Alf Rendell)


A 2008 Central Tauranga Heritage Study, prepared for the Tauranga City Council and Environment Bay of Plenty by Matthews & Matthews Architects LTD in association with Jinty Rorke, Jennie Gainsford, Lisa Truttman r. Askidmore & Associates.

Bellany A.C. (1982). Tauranga 1882-1982


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Elizabeth Street, Tauranga

Year:1870 and 2015

Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -37.6870329,176.16644889999998

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