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Petone's First 100 Years (1940)


New Zealand's Centennial.

For one brief day the eyes of all New Zealand were turned to Petone, the occasion being the central event in the Centennial celebrations. On January 22nd, 1840, the first settlers landed on the Petone beach, and on January 22nd, 1940, the event was honoured by the opening of the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial at the foot of Buick Street. The central feature of the memorial is a Hall of Memories, with a symbolical etched window. The hall contains bronze scroll cabinets in which are enshrined the names of the pioneers and the names of the chiefs in the Wellington province, who sold land to the New Zealand Land Company. The prow of a ship representing the "Aurora" projects outward from below the etched window. The hall is flanked by fountains, paved entrances, green lawns and rock gardens, and is a fitting memorial to a great event. At the rear of the hall is a large vestibule and flanking the vestibule are bathing cubicles.

An Imposing Scene.
Memorial Opened.

The opening ceremony provided an inspiring scene, the crowd of many thousands extending along the Esplanade from Bolton Street to Beach Street.
The "Evening Post" describing the proceedings says:— "The courage, sacrifice, and faith of that small knot of pioneers, who undertook the hazards of ocean travel and landed on the beach of Pito-one one hundred years ago to carve a niche for themselves in a land of forest, mountain, swamp, and river, ignorant of what the future might hold, were honoured to-day by the unveiling on the Petone foreshore of the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial. It was a ceremony simple in form, but deeply impressive in its significance; Maori and pakeha, foes a century ago, joined as one in gratitude for the past, pride for the present, hope and steadfastness for the future; each owed the other much, and each was conscious of his debt.
"The dignified memorial, standing clean and white against the troubled grey of sky and harbour, was mutely eloquent of the spirit of the men and women who laid the foundations of a great nation; but, paradoxically, it was both necessary and unnecessary. It was necessary as a tangible form of remembrance and gratitude, but the true memorial to their bravery and foresight lay behind and in front. Across the harbour, under a mantle of cloud, nestled the high buildings of Wellington, capital of the Dominion, cradled by the hills, a symbol of achievement; in front of the memorial the thriving industrial centre of the Hutt Valley spread itself, symbolising progress; and all around were the unchanging ranges, seemingly bestowing their complacent approval.
"In spite of the threatening weather, more than 5,000 persons gathered at the foreshore for the dedication ceremony, which was to be followed
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Memorial Window Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial

by a colourful historic pageant culminating in the cementing of the friendship between the early settlers and the Maoris.
"A full-throated Maori haka of welcome, with its attendant grimaces, spear-prodding, and intimidating actions, gave fitting introduction to the official ceremony of dedication and unveiling of the memorial. Twenty-eight warriors and their leader, clad in the traditional piu-piu, vented their energy and skill with ferocious thoroughness; it was a welcome, certainly, but if a similar reception were given early settlers one could pardon any misgivings about the intentions of the Maori. They were all excellent physical specimens, and a possibly unintentional touch was added to the general impression of unity and comradeship between the Maoris and pakehas by the arrival of the haka party in khaki greatcoats.
"Before the ceremony began, the Government honoured the memory of Honiana Te Puni, a chief of the Ngatiawa, who died on December 5, 1870. The Minister of Finance and member for the Hutt (the Hon. Walter Nash) laid on the grave a wreath with the inscription: 'In grateful remembrance, from the Government of New Zealand.' With Mr. Nash were other Ministers of the Crown, and Maoris at the graveside included Hapi Love and Mrs. Love (great-grandchild of Te Puni), Rangiira (Taranaki), Tu Pito Maruera (Patea), Ivor Te Puni (great-grandson), Manu Mataka (oldest great-grandchild), William Barrett (a descendant of Dicky Barrett), Puke Heremaia, and Mrs. Tuko Tahi. Hapi Love is a descendant of Jacky Love, and wore a kiwi mat."

Tributes To Pioneers.

The courage and energy of the pioneers and the heritage and inspiration they bequeathed to the generations that followed, formed the keynote of the official addresses that preceded the unveiling of the very fine memorial window by his Excellency the Governor-General (Lord Galway). The presence of the Marquess of Willingdon, as the representative of the United Kingdom, and Senator P. A. M. McBride, as the representative of the Australian Government, together with messages of congratulations from other British Dominions, imparted an Empire significance to the occasion, which was notable for its impressiveness and dignity.
The Mayor of Wellington and chairman of the Wellington Provincial Centennial Council (Mr. T. C. A. Hislop) presided, and among those on the official dais were Lord and Lady Galway, the Marquess and Marchioness of Willingdon, the Deputy Prime Minister (the Hon. P. Fraser), the Minister of Finance (the Hon. W. Nash), the Minister of Industries and Commerce (the Hon. D. G. Sullivan), the Minister of Defence (the Hon. F. Jones), the Minister of Internal Affairs (the Hon. W. E. Parry), the Minister of Agriculture (the Hon. W. L. Martin), the Attorney-General (the Hon. H. G. R. Mason), the Minister of Housing (the Hon. H. T. Armstrong), the Minister of Labour (the Hon. P. C. Webb), the Hon. D. Wilson, M.L.C., Leader of the Legislative Council, the Chief Justice (the Hon. Sir Michael Myers), Sir Harry Batterbee, High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, and the Mayor of Petone (Hon. Sir Michael Myers).
Among those present were members of Parliament and the Mayors and representatives of the various centres and local bodies of the Wellington province.
The speakers were Mr. T. C. A. Hislop, Mayor of Wellington, Mr. G. London, Mayor of Petone, Hon. W. Nash, Senator McBride, Commonwealth of Australia, the Marquess of Willingdon, Hon. P. Fraser and His Excellency Lord Galway who dedicated and unveiled the memorial window.
Greetings were read from the Prime Ministers of Great Britain, Canada and South Africa, and from Lord Bledisloe, a former Governor-General of New Zealand.
An official luncheon was provided at the grandstand on the Recreation Ground.

Historical Pageant.

In the afternoon, scenes of a hundred years ago were re-enacted, and historic words were heard again on the Petone Recreation Ground, when a Centennial Pageant was presented to an audience estimated at well over 10,000.
When the official party arrived after the opening of the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial on the Petone foreshore, the ground was rapidly filling and there were not many seats left in the stand, which was reserved for invitation-holders.
The official party included Lord and Lady Galway, the Marquess and Marchioness of Willingdon, the Hon. P. Fraser, Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. H. G. R. Mason, Attorney- General, the Hon. D. Wilson, Legislative Council, Senator P. A. M. McBride, representing the Australian Government, the Chief Justice (the Hon. Sir Michael Myers), Sir Harry Batterbee, High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, and Mr. G. London, Mayor of Petone.
The acting was most realistic, depicting the arrival of the "Tory" and scenes from Maori Pas, where the debates regarding the sale of land to the New Zealand Company were held (the actual speeches of the chiefs were recited) and the distribution of goods on the "Tory."
Then followed a scene depicting the festival gathering on the Petone beach on September 30th, 1840, the hoisting of the New Zealand Flag, the speeches, the hakas, and the feast.
The second part of the pageant (held after partaking of a dinner cooked in an umu in which were roasted two bullocks, two sheep, two pigs, and half a ton of potatoes) consisted of scenes from the arrival of the "Aurora" on January 22nd, 1840, and various scenes in tableau form, depicting friendship between Maori and Pakeha.
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Centennial Celebrations.

Pageant on Petone Recreation Ground.
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Opening of Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial on Petone Beach.

The pageant was produced by Mr. Harison Cook.
The principal parts were taken as follows:—Colonel William Wakefield, Eric Muir; Edward Jerningham Wakefield, R. Burgess; Dicky Barrett, P. L. Hunt; Captain E. M. Chaffers, L. K. Morris (assistant producer); Robert Doddrey (the ship's storekeeper), F. Dick; Puakawa, Hapi Love; Wharepouri, Simon Penny; Te Puni, A. Tinirau; Taringakuri, T. Tinirau; Wi Tako, Hamiora; Matangi, Tau Hamakehu; and Richard Lowry (the chief mate), J. W. Andrews (Mayor of Lower Hutt). The First Lower Hutt Rover Crew played the part of the sailors.
Mr. Matt Love was in charge of the cooking. The chief cook was Kopu, and his assistants were Apou, Edwin, Tamokepo, Hakaraia, and Tutaha. Members of the Ngati Poneke and the Ngati Taranaki assisted greatly in the conduct of the pageant.

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