Below is an extract from an article written by George Fuller who was the curator of the park when the fountain was built.
1967-68. Fred Parker was a well-known horticulturist with a garden open to the public. He was also an influential member of the Pukekura Park Committee of the day and began agitating for a fountain in the Park. His suggestion was that it be sited on the northern face of Cannon Hill, visible from the Main Gate. Practical J.W.G. ( Jack Goodwin) was concerned that it would create a ‘Scotsman’s Grandstand’ for the Sportsground! He appointed G. Fuller, now Curator, and C.I. McDowell to seek an alternative, preferably in what has become its present site. Subject to removal of a specimen weeping elm it seemed a perfect location.

Work was to proceed as time/opportunity permitted. I had a team from the Park staff and Ian was in charge of a roving team of gardeners and maintenance crew servicing all other Parks and Reserves in New Plymouth.

The weeping elm transplanting embodied a strange coincidence. The site of the present Band room had been a private residence with a large weeping elm in the garden. When the house was demolished, the tree was re-sited beside the Fountain Lake. We now took the obstructing specimen from the newly chosen Waterfall site and relocated it in, of all places, close proximity to the newly constructed Band room! This cleared the site for action.

After the contribution of ideas from many sources had been considered, Ian McDowell with the uncanny skill for which he was noted came forth with what could be called ‘an artists impression’. Alex Brodie, a retired civil engineer on the Pukekura Park committee checked mechanical details and approved. No other documentation was made!

Pukekra Park - Proposed Waterfall

Taranaki Daily News, July 31, 1969

The fall was to be constructed of boulders set in concrete as naturally and as unobtrusively as possible. The bank allowed for a total drop of about ten metres, but this was to be broken up into four separate cascades, the uppermost violently turbulent, the lowest a broad tranquil water curtain.

Vertical reinforcement of the structure was to rely on placement of three eleven metre power poles provided by the New Plymouth District Council Electricity Department forming a strong backbone. These would be set, slightly reclining into the bank with the tops tapering in towards the centre, then each projection for the cascades later would be secured to that tripod with hoops of steel as work progressed upward. The placement of the poles was the start of construction on 13 August 1969.

When the poles had been seated in recesses in the almost vertical bank a depression was excavated in front of, and beneath them to form what would become the pool. Several cubic metres of concrete was poured into the depression to stabilise the bases of the suspended poles and form the bottom of the pool. One hundred tons of boulders was donated and delivered on site when the parameters of the pond were defined, but before a start was made on incorporating these a relatively formal base of squared blocks hewn by prison labour was laid in the area below the full width of the lowermost water-curtain cascade. This zone is devoid of water during operation, unlike all cascades above it. Each block/boulder was individually selected visually for specific placement by Ian or myself and I recall that we wore the skin off our fingers in our early enthusiasm. Before being bedded in concrete, each had to be rolled or slid by hand across the heavy plank spanning the pool cavity. This involved intense ‘hands-on’ activity.

The fluidity of un-set concrete meant that we could only complete about two rows of boulders in a day and because this work could only be carried out sporadically when free of our normal commitments, progress was slow. The plank method was practical up to about the level of the third cascade from the top then I think we had the assistance of a crane. A selection of boulders was saved for the top section and carted to the top of the bank from where they were rolled down into place as required.

Lighting was to be totally concealed by location beneath each cascade, shining down onto the wet rocks below. This is a unique and very special feature. Not least, it avoids the need for floodlighting. Fluorescent lighting was chosen because of low maintenance and high light efficiency, the colour integral to each tube as distinct from colour filters customary with incandescent lighting.

Waterfall Construction in Progress

Taranaki Herald, November 25, 1969

Waterfall Construction in Progress

photo - Sunday Express September 20, 1970

The pumping machinery was to be the same as for the fountain, a fifteen-horsepower electric motor driving a 4 inch (100 mm) centrifugal pump supplying about 200,000 litres per hour.

As the new feature began to grow and assume the proportions of a spectacle and gain credibility the NZ Insurance Company contributed a gift of $1700 toward the waterfall costs in commemoration of opening a new building in New Plymouth. The unveiling of a plaque recording this took place on 21 October 1970. The Mayor, D.V. Sutherland officiated. I’m not sure if it was our original concept, but it became clear as we progressed that this waterfall would simulate the dynamics of the passage of water from the source of the Waiwakaiho River on Mount Taranaki where it crashes and tumbles over boulders then the turbulence is diminished as it approaches its confluence with the sea.

Pukekura Park Waterfall - Opening Day

Proposed Waterfall Drawing -1969

Drawn by Ian McDowell (courtesy Parks Dept.)