Topic: Tauranga Domain

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Tauranga Domain has an interesting history. The whole of the northern end of the Te Papa peninsula was occupied by Maori until the devastating raid by Ngati Maru from the Thames area in 1828. Story by Jinty Rorke.

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Band Rotunda
Band Rotunda Tauranga Domain c.1915

Rev. A.N. Brown and his fellow missionaries used the area outside the immediate mission house environs for their domestic animals, and for vegetable gardens.  When the soldiers arrived in 1864 redoubts were established.  The Monmouth Redoubt has survived intact, but the Durham Redoubt was built on a hill long since cut down where the Durham Motor Inn is now.  The closest flat land was the area to the west and this became the parade ground.  Here punishment was administered by the 68th Durham Light Infantry and their successors, the 12th regiment.  According to the Bay of Plenty Times the culprits were strung up on “triangles” and received their lashes to the accompaniment of the regimental band while “a number of curious individuals anxious to gratify a morbid taste” gathered to watch.

Durham Infantry
Durham Light Infantry 1864

Tauranga residents applied to the Native Minister for a public park in 1873.  Although their first choice was an area between the Huria marae and the newly formed road to Waihi, the government handed over this more central area for the Tauranga Domain.  The next section south, referred to for many years as the Wharepai Field because of its proximity to David Asher’s Wharepai Boarding House in Hamilton Street, was added five years later. Then in 1881 the adjacent northern portion was notified in the New Zealand Gazette as the site for a secondary school for Tauranga. 

A Domain Board was established to administer the whole area.  It was anticipated that the parade ground would be turned into “something approaching in character to a garden, where the perfume of flowers and perhaps the warbling of birds would recall old forgotten memories”.  Lack of money, then as now a problem with public works, prevented the Domain Board from doing more than fencing and planting trees. 

Money for the upkeep was obtained by leasing land for grazing. This caused almost more problems than it solved.  The athletics and rugby clubs disliked using land on which cows had left their offerings, and the cattle often ate the small shrubs and trees laboriously planted by volunteer labour.  A well on the northern part of the area was used for water until the borough supply was laid on in 1912. 

Football and cricket pavilions were constructed in the 1890s, with bowls, tennis, croquet and hockey played on a regular basis.  A band rotunda was built in 1894.

Bowling Club 
Bowling Club Tauranga Domain c.1920s

The 1940s saw some changes.  A new site – Hillsdene – was chosen for the co-educational secondary school, and the former High School Reserve became a permanent part of the Domain.  It was here that a Transit Camp was created, operated by the Borough Council for returning soldiers and their families.  The camp closed and the buildings were removed in 1951.  Duff Maxwell helped with the demolition, and used some of the timber and concrete around The Elms estate.

The Domain has always been the scene of community events including a garden party for MP Sir William Herries, Coronation festivities, and Mounted Rifles exercises.  The first of the highly successful Highland Games were held in on the Domain in 1969. 

There are two significant memorials in the Domain: the statue of Canon Charles Jordan, Vicar of Holy Trinity for 39 years, who also served as Mayor of Tauranga for nine years. This, Tauranga’s only commemorative statue, was unveiled in 1916, four years after Jordan’s death.  The War Memorial Gates were designed by Col. G.A.Ward, local architect and owner of the Bay of Plenty Times.  They were opened in 1921 as a tribute to local men who died in World War I.

Domain Gates
War memorial gates Tauranga Domain c.1921

 Further information is available through the Tauranga City Libraries’ New Zealand Room
This page was archived at Perma cc January 2017

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