If you’ve ever wondered how New Plymouth developed the way it has over the past 50 years, former Taranaki Regional Councillor Barry Marsh sent us the letter below.
Your article on David Lean bought back my own recollections of those times.
It wasn’t until the early fifties that things started to happen. Alfred Honnor was a good mayor (1956-1968) who had a vision of how to move New Plymouth forward and one of the first things he did was install a sea wall on Woolcombe Tce.
Sewerage was the next thing. Also, our water was poor quality and used to run out. The gas plant, where Centre City is now, had problems with its piping network under the streets. It was Alf Honnor who put the programmes in place to fix those problems.
First, was the water. A weir was built on the top side of Lake Mangamahoe to divert more water through to the lake, and a water treatment plant was built to upgrade New Plymouth’s water quality.
Honnor had enough vision to recognise the discharge from the existing sewage tanks on Eliot St was not acceptable and we needed a new sewerage treatment plant.
The library building and war memorial hall, the Kawaroa Baths and the airport were all built under his term of office. In 1968, a transportation plan for New Plymouth was proposed, with three northern outlets to prevent road congestion.
When Denny Sutherland became mayor in 1968, he carried on developing the projects that Honnor started. It was in this period that Prime Minister Rob Muldoon had his Big Think Projects and upgrading the northern outlet became necessary to transport modules from the port to Motunui. Honnor’s plan for three northern outlets just seemed to disappear.
In this period, the Aquatic Centre and new stadium were built. Paul Ryan, Steve Ander and I were flicking through a magazine and saw an article about an aquatic centre in Canada. We thought an ideal location would be next to the Kawaroa Baths on the tennis courts at Kawaroa Park. We put together a body of people to raise the money for it to happen.
At the same time, the Army Hall burnt down and its sports users had nowhere to go. They wanted a stadium, so we combined with them to raise money for the two projects. The only councillor to give us support was Brian Bellringer, who chaired the council’s aquatic centre and stadium committees.
I am disappointed the fundraisers for the pool and the stadium have never been properly recognised for the work they put in.
During the time Claire Stewart was mayor (1992-2001), the Puke Ariki Library-Museum was built and the coastal walkway extended past the Woolcombe Tce cliffs.
I drew a plan of the foreshore from Waiwhakaiho to the port with the possibility of building a walkway. We met at the Waiwhakaiho River and walked through to the port and the idea started from there. Funding was coming from the Government for cycle and walkways at that time. The council applied for a grant that enabled them to build it.