The story of the Band Rotunda, often referred to as a band stand or pavilion started in 1882 when the Recreation Ground Board was approached by architect, Henry Edmonds who submitted his plans for the Rotunda. Edmonds probably had some tie to the town band. The design was considered both suitable and ornamental and was approved of by the Board. The estimated cost was between £70 and £80. It was decided that the pavilion should be erected at the knoll on which Mr. Furlong’s mirror stood, on the south face of Cannon Hill. The Board anticipated that the cost would be raised from the proceeds of concerts given by the town’s band. Unfortunately, when the band was approached, they declined to make that commitment. Due to lack of finance the Rotunda was put on hold until 1885.

At their meeting in November 1885, the Board decided to erect a band stand and ask the local architects to gratuitously supply a plan capable of extension when funds permitted. In other words, they wanted to build it in stages. A deputation from the New Plymouth Town Band met with J. T. Davis (Board Chairman) to fix a location. Again, the area where Furlong’s mirror stood seemed to be the most acceptable location. At that time Cannon Hill extended further south, so to accommodate their preferred location part of the hill would have to be cut back and one of the largest pine trees in the grounds felled. The tree was probably planted on the opening day of the Recreation Grounds.

Band Rotunda, circa 1908 (Puke Ariki PHO2002-883)

At the December 1885 meeting, the Board received a design from architect James Sanderson who in the early 1880s had been in partnership with Henry Edmonds. It was thought that the structure would be quite an ornament to the grounds. The Rotunda was described as having a conical roof, supported on eight pillars, which rested on an octagonal shaped base of concrete. Iron railings ran from pillar to pillar, and entrance was by four steps which were continued all-round the structure. At the meeting Sanderson said he was willing to supply full detailed drawings and also offered to supervise the construction. In March 1886 Messrs. Scott Bros. were asked to provide an estimate to supply the Rotunda. The estimate was not well received by the cash strapped Board, and it was decided to ask Scott Bros. if they could supply the structure in parts.

Band Rotunda - Auckland Weekly News, August 24, 1905

Fundraising started in September 1886 with a fancy-dress ball organised by the Foresters’ followed soon after by a fireworks display. The Board received £25 from Jas Paul (Mayor) who was one of the patrons of the ball and £10 10s from the fireworks display.
The work started by cutting back Cannon Hill and levelling a site for the Rotunda foundation. This was done by Mr. J. Roberts at 5½d a yard, the excavated earth was deposited below the dam in order to raise the pathway by the Lily Pond. It was noted in the April Board meeting that Mr. Roberts had moved 151 yards of material.

The earthworks were finished by the beginning of March and Mr. H. Hooker, the contractor selected to build the base began immediately. Unfortunately, two acts of vandalism caused delays in its completion, however it was finished in time to be used by a band during Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebrations in June 1887.

Another fancy fair was organised raising £61 14s and the Board went back to Mr. Sanderson to see how they could progress. It is reported in the August 1888 Board meeting that the plans of the proposed band stand and the price from Oakey & Asher for erection, totalling £190 were approved. However, because the plans could not be executed in stages it was put on hold until sufficient funds were available.

Over the next two years many fundraising events were held until finally at the end of 1890 the Board was in a position to proceed. Tenders went out for the construction of the Rotunda organised by Mr. A Mofflin who appears to have taken over the project from Mr. Sanderson. The construction of the Rotunda was awarded to T. Bond & Co., at a cost of £94 10s.

The cast iron components for the rotunda were manufactured by Scott Bros. foundry, Christchurch and arrived on the Takapuna, February 1891. Unfortunately, it was not as ordered, however, after renegotiating the price the Board accepted the structure. They were eager to get the Rotunda finished before the start of the Taranaki Jubilee celebrations. On March 31, 1891, over 5,000 people attended a sports event in the grounds. This was followed by a pyrotechnic display in the evening during which bands played on the newly erected Rotunda.

In 2013 the Rotunda underwent a major restoration; at which time the roof was repainted in its original colours of red and white stripes.

Puke Ariki ARC2003-1233 B7-1

This path was formed from the spoil when cannon Hill was cut back to make space for the Band Rotunda construction.