Welcome to the Tawa Historical Society Web Pages
Tawa Historical Society was established in 2001 from an initiative of the Rotary Club of Tawa. The Society has membership of approximately 50 people interested in the heritage of the community of Tawa.
We aim to accurately identify and to educate the Community about aspects of historical significance in the Tawa area and where appropriate to also advocate for their conservation.
Our activities include research, field work, publication, advocacy, and submission on heritage matters to the Wellington City Council.
Executive Committee Meetings are normally held at 7.30 pm on a first Monday every second month at the Tawa Community Centre, Cambridge Street. Click here for the full schedule.
The AGM is scheduled for Wednesday 27th August 2016. Usually two special public meetings are scheduled each year. These will be advertised to members and on this site when details are available.
Recent Society News
NEW BOOK ABOUT TAWA Life and Soul – Tawa Hall 1933–1963 was released in October 2016 at a function hosted at the Tawa Library. Copies are available for sale for $20 (+p&p) at the Tawa Library or through the Society. This publication tells the story of life of the Tawa Town Hall during the period 1933 – 1963 when it was the social Life and Soul of Tawa. It relies heavily on extracts from local newspapers thanks to Papers Past as well as memories and stories edited by Michael Steer who has also researched the supporting background illustrations, photographs and contemporary newspaper reports.
NEW BOOK ABOUT TAWA The Ranui Golf Club of Tawa Flat 1923–1929 by Michael Steer was released in Novbember 2015 at a function hosted at the Tawa Library. Copies are available for sale for $20 (+p&p) at the Tawa Library or through the Society.
It’s hard to imagine an 18-hole golf course in central Tawa but from 1923 until 1929 you could tee off there. The golf clubhouse was located at Bartlett House, 26 Oxford Street and the course was about 4850 metres long with a par of 75. The seven hill holes in the Lyndhurst Road / Lincoln Avenue area were notoriously difficult in windy weather and the holes on the flat were often rather boggy. However, while the weather and water posed some problems for the club’s on-going success, it was the constant shadow of subdivision that hung over the club. In early 1929 the club closed and members transferred to Titahi Bay and houses slowly began to cover the golf course land. “The Ranui Golf Club of Tawa Flat 1923-1929” relates the story of what was envisaged as being the first stage of the development of a “sporting township” in Tawa Flat.
NEW BOOK ABOUT TAWA A History of Tawa was released in November 2014 at a function hosted by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. Copies are available for sale for $45 (+p&p) at the Tawa Library or through the Society. This new publication tells the story of Tawa over a period of more than five centuries. The opening chapter deals with the physical setting, and the first inhabitants of the area. The remainder of the book follows a chronological path, noting the significant developments within the district since 1840. In particular, it chronicles such matters as the removal of the bush cover and its replacement by grass; the importance of the road to Wellington; changes in agriculture; the arrival of the railway; attempts at suburbanisation; the critical effects on Tawa of the Tawa Flat railway deviation and the motorway; the post WW2 boom in population; and the impact on Tawa of Johnsonville’s and Porirua’s shopping malls.
A History of Tawa contains 256 pages, and is liberally illustrated. It includes 65 photographs, 17 maps, 15 tables, and 11 illustrations, and has, for example, population figures which include results from the 2013 census, and photos not only back to 1865, but also recent panoramas and pictures.
A History of Tawa is written by Bruce Murray, president of the Tawa Historical Society, an historical geographer by training, a teacher of geography and history, and a Tawa resident for half a century. Tawa is fortunate that its history has been well documented in the past. Elsdon Best’s newspaper articles of 1914, Porirua and they who settled it, was the first. Arthur Carman’s Tawa Flat and the old Porirua Road, published in 1956, continues to be a goldmine of information. Ken Cassells’ Tawa - enterprise and endeavour of 1988, which recorded not only Tawa’s history but also the demise of the Tawa Borough Council, is similarly valuable. We believe that it is timely for a new, up-dated history of our district to appear, and that this latest publication will both complement and enhance the stories of the northernmost suburb of New Zealand’s capital city.
Memories of Tawa Flat, 1928 – 1958 was released in April 2013 at a function hosted at Mexted Motors. Two reprints were required to keep up with initial demand. Remaining copies are available for sale for $20 (+p&p) at the Tawa Library or through the Society. This publication tells the story of life of Brian Mexted in the form of a collection of memories and stories edited by Brian Steer who has also researched the supporting background illustrations, photographs, including Tawa School class photographs, and contemporary newspaper reports.
Best of Tawa Volume III was released in December 2012 and is now available for sale for $20 (+p&p) per volume at the Tawa Library or through the Society. This continues the stories of Elsdon Best which were first serialised in the Canterbury Times in 1915. Volume III concludes the articles with miscellaneous jottings by Elsdon about the Wellington area including information about some place names, and also a reproduction of an obituary article that was written about the life of Elsdon Best. Volume III also contains a comprehensive cumulative index for all three volumes. Volume II covers the Maori troubles in the Wellington area culminating in the battle at Battle Hill, and the building of the Old Porirua Road. Volume I concentrates on the pre-European and early European settlement of the Porirua District.
Arthur Carman’s Suitcase – The Life and Times of Arthur Herbert Carman was released in 2011 and is now available for sale for $30 (+p&p) at the Tawa Library or through the Society. Amply illustrated with photographs this publication tells the story of life of AH Carman. Arthur was a well-known Tawa identity from the early 1930s till his death in 1982. He played a huge role in community service for most of those years, and led a most interesting and at times controversial life. His book, Tawa Flat and the Old Porirua Road, is of inestimable value to anyone interested in Tawa’s history. This comprehensive book relates the life of Arthur and his family, and aspects of his sometimes controversial life in Church, Politics and Sport.
26 Oxford Street and the Bartlett family was released in 2010 and is now available for sale for $25 (+p&p) at the Tawa Library or through the Society. This publication tells the story of the house at 26 Oxford Street, built in the 1860s, and the Bartlett family that occupied it. The Bartlett family came from East Chinnock, Somerset, England to New Zealand on the Clifton arriving in 1842. After farming for a time in Ngaio they purchased a Section 44 at Tawa Flat and build the house that stands at 26 Oxford Street.
Rails Through the Valley is the fifth significant publication by the Tawa Historical Society since its formation in 2001. The first limited printing of this 56 page A4 format book with colour illustrations was released in November 2008 for the Wellington RailEx Exhibition and is now available for sale for $25 (+p&p) at the Tawa Library or through the Society.
Lest Tawa Forgets is the fourth significant publication by the Tawa Historical Society since its formation in 2001. The first limited printing of this 100 page A4 format book coincided with ANZAC Day 2008 and also the laying of a plaque at the foot of Memorial Oak Tree outside Tawa School planted in 1943 in memory of those from Tawa that gave their lives in the service of New Zealand forces overseas. It is now available for sale for $20 (+p&p) at the Tawa Library or through the Society.
See projects for further in formation on the project areas that the Society has been working on.
Contact Tawa Historical Society at:
P.O. Box 56-076
Chairperson: Bruce Murray Ph. 232 5374
Secretary: email: secretary (at) tawahistory.org.nz