Karehana Reserve Water Supply

During recent earthworks for a new garage in Reserve Road, contractors working for Chris & Miriam Griggs dug out an old piece of machinery. Allan Dodson, Plimmerton historian has identified it as an old belt driven water pump.

In the 1920’s the Karehana Bay area was not connected to mains water and residents collected rain water for household use. When Cameron’s Guest House, now Moana Lodge, was built on the corner of Moana and Cluny Roads, it required a constant supply of water, especially during the summer months.

The concrete remains of a reservoir in Karehana Reserve are still visible


The Karehana Reserve water supply consisted of a number of elements. Water was diverted from the stream to a reservoir near the bottom of the Reserve and fed down to the recovered water pump near the corner of Reserve and Cluny Roads. From there it was pumped to a holding tank on the corner of Motuhara and Cluny Roads.

The tank, circled on this 1920’s postcard below, acted as a header tank for the guest house. Long term Karehana Bay resident, Reta Ewen, as a young woman in the 1930’s, remembers local men being able to collect water in kerosene cans from the tank during dry periods.

Belt driven water pump at Reserve Road


From the tank the water was piped down to a small number of taps along the road before reaching Cameron’s Guest House, its final destination. Here the water was used for flushing toilets and washing. Mains water was finally supplied to Plimmerton and Karehana Bay in the late 1950s.

Header tank at corner Motuhara & Cluny Roads c1926


Cameron Guest House operating as Karehana Boarding House in 1946


For more information about Cameron’s Guest House


Karehana Reservoir – 2017: Mary Beckett

Belt Driven Water Pump – 2018:  Allan Dodson

Header Tank Cnr Motuhara & Cluny Road – c1926: Alistair Robb postcard

Cameron’s Guest House  – 1946:  Allan Dodson collection

One hundred years ago 21st November 1918

While peace had been declared the Spanish Influenza would take 9,000 lives in New Zealand. The flu was often spread in large gatherings so sports games were cancelled and dances banned.

The epidemic hit Plimmerton and Hongoeka with up to 100 people falling sick. On 20th November 1918 three men were reported to be seriously ill at the temporary hospital set up in St Andrews Church, Steyne Avenue, Plimmerton.

One was Giovanni Martino Mariano (  Jack ) Vella of Skolo House, Steyne Avenue.   Jack died, aged 21, on 21st November 1918 his older sister Metty Vella noting that:

The whole family got sick during the influenza epidemic; we lost my brother Jack in the epidemic. Mother had us all in bed, except herself. She managed to keep going and then my brother was so ill we took him to the emergency hospital in the Anglican Church across the road. It was a shocking thing. It took both young and elderly people.

Another to die was Mr Donald Robertson, Donald was 44 and had operated the Plimmerton Railway Store and later post office from 1900 – 1914.

The third man Ernest Arthur Palmer a lay reader in the Anglican Church had volunteered to work at St Andrews during the epidemic he died in Wellington on 28th November 1918.

News reports in 1918 noted at least three Maori from Hongoeka had also died.

Vella family 1909 – a young Jack seated far right, his sister Metty standing 2nd left – Pataka Art & Museum


Metty Vella 1919- training for handling flu cases – Metty was a Volunteer aid nurse during WW1

St Andrews 1916 copy of postcard

Steyne Avenue pre 1916 Plimmerton with Skolol House on the left and Plimmerton Railway Store and Post Office right

Black Bridge – Pukerua (Airlie) Road and Karehana Park’s petanque court

Black Bridge – Pukerua (Airlie) Road and Karehana Park’s petanque ‘court.’

What is the connection between Pukerua Road, the Black Bridge and the Karehana Park Petanque Court?

By 1912 with the opening of Plimmerton Extension (Karehana Bay) there was a track from Karehana Bay to Pukerua Bay, the Pukerua Road, but this crossed mainly privately owned farm land.

Up to the 1920’s the majority of transport to Plimmerton was by train. There was a ‘road’ from Pauahatanui to Plimmerton but this was a track only for the adventurous.

In 1921 an official road had been formed, now called Grays Road, linking Pauatahanui to Plimmerton for motor vehicles and there was a push to form better access up the Pukerua Road (Airlie Road) to Pukerua Bay.  The road from Karehana Bay crossed over the main trunk railway near Whenu Tapu. An early bridge constructed in 1912 was replaced in 1937 by what became known as the Black Bridge. The Black Bridge’s height, local urban myth relates, was low enough to decapitate any incautious railway driver or engineer although there is no record of this happening.

The opening in 1939 of SH1 meant that the majority of traffic to Pukerua Bay and points north meant that traffic used this route rather than via Karehana Bay. It is about this time that the use of Pukerua Road fell out of favour and Airlie Road became the common usage.

In 2010 the Black Bridge was replaced by a modern double lane concrete structure and the disassembled wood from the bridge was retained by the Porirua City Council (PCC).

In 2015 with the community supported upgrade of Karehana Park the PCC offered to the Plimmerton Residents Association (PRA) a quantity of the wood from the ‘Black Bridge’ to be used for Heritage signs and also to construct the Petanque Court at the Southern End of Karehana Park.

The Touhy Homes petanque court at the northern end of Karehana Park is used during finer weather by locals and visitors and a signage board will be erected outlining the history of the court.

The sound of horses’ hooves

From the days when the weekend sounds of horse’s hooves were not uncommon Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay children rode either along Moana Road or from the Whenua Tapu track on their ponies to here!

Can you identify where and the date of each photo?

1955 possibly Ken Gray at a gymkhana, in the background – The Winstone Pipe works

1999 photo taken as part of the Millennium Project looking south towards what is now Big Mac Slabs

Revealing photo of now from Big Mac Slabs looking north with a view of the front paddock

Map – shows the area split into a front and back paddock

From the early 1950’s to the early 2000’s Plimmerton Pony Club was held in the area shown. On gymkhana days riders used to bring their horses down to the club early on Saturday  to be ready for the Sunday’s activities. As the club was situated along SH1 it was always a show stopper when the show jumping started.

Originally set up by the Gray family, the club was very strong during the early 1990’s and was a regular winner of the annual Prince Phillip Games.

By the early part of the 2000’s when the number of riders dropped and pressure came on the club’s use of the grounds  with changes to the shape of SH1.

 Plimmerton Pony Club then joined with the Pauatahanui Pony Club using their grounds near Pauatahanui village prior to moving up to Battle Hill.

Keen rose gardeners were always willing to clean up after the ponies had been through!


Plimmerton houses with names

Our historian Allan Dodson is looking through his vast photo archive and every month will give us an image or two to enjoy and speculate upon.

This month we take a look at Plimmerton houses with names.


Plimmerton has over the years had a large number of houses with ‘names’ the most well know are:
Somme House, Turville House, Sokol House and Cameron’s Guest House but others also homes in Plimmerton and Karehana Bay have been given their own special names.
The days before people had motorhomes they could name!!

Do you know where these homes are and do you know of others?


Plimmerton gets the royal treatment

Our historian Allan Dodson is looking through his vast photo archive and every month will give us an image or two to enjoy and speculate upon.

1953 Plimmerton Entry – waiting for the Queen

This month we take a look back through the archive to when the Queen came to town in 1953 (driving past still counts!) and 1973 when she opened the local QEII Wetlands.

1953 Reenacting the Coronation of Queen-Elizabeth II Plimmerton School

The 1953 visit included the Plimmerton School presentation where some residents may be recognised.

Taupo Swamp Royal visit

In 1973 the Queen visited Plimmerton and opened the Taupo Wetland.
Click here for more background information from QEII Trust.
There is a young John Burke in the background!

1953 Plimmerton SH1 Royal Tour