The name Monument Hillside relates to a memorial built in 1903 for Trooper Wiggins who died of enteric fever (Typhoid) while on active service in South Africa during the Boer war.

The recreation Grounds Board were approached by Wiggins work colleagues regarding the construction of a memorial. “Mr N.K. MacDiarmid has, on behalf of the officers of the Bank of New South Wales, asked permission of the Recreation Grounds Board, to erect a stone in the grounds to the Memory of the late C.E. Wiggins, a former officer of the local branch of the Bank, who left Taranaki for South Africa on active service, but who actually succumbed to fever at Germiston. The memorial will take the form of a stone column, from 10 to 12 feet in height. In accordance with Mr MacDiarmid’s suggestion, a poll of the subscribers to the fund was taken upon the question of the site of the proposed memorial, resulting in 35 votes being cast for Sumner, where the parents of the deceased live, 31 for the Recreation Grounds here, and 10 for other places and 11 did not vote. The result of this voting was communicated to the parents of the deceased, who expressed their preference for the Recreation Grounds, as two memorials already exist in Sumner. Accordingly, Mr MacDiarmid has asked the Board’s permission to proceed with the work.” (TH 26 March 1903)

In May the Board received an application for the memorial construction. “The application of Mr N.K. MacDiarmid, manager of the Bank of New South Wales, for the erection of a monument in the grounds to the late Trooper Wiggins, was acceded to, and the site for the erection be on the tongue of land near the long island and the path leading to Mr King’s.” (TH 6 May 1903)

Pukekura Park - Wiggins Memorial

The Wiggins Memorial can be seen inside the right edge of the picture one third of the way up from the bottom. circa 1906 (Puke Ariki ARC 2008-322-199)

Pukekura Park - Wiggins Memorial

Looking North - Boatshed visible middle right. (Puke Ariki PHO2007-021)

By August the stone for the monument had been imported. “The many friends of the late C.E. Wiggins, who volunteered for service in south Africa with the Third Contingent, and died at Germiston, will be pleased to learn that the stone to be erected to his memory, by the officers of the Bank of New South Wales in New Zealand, has just been imported Mr W.F. Brooking, to whom the work has been entrusted, and its erection will be proceeded with at once. The memorial is an obelisk of polished grey granite, and it is by the permission of the Board, to be placed in the Recreation Grounds.” (TH 26 August 1903)

It was however vandalised in 1919, and according to the Daily News (19 May 1919) “The marble column of this monument has been violently wrenched from its position and thrown down. In falling it smashed some of the iron railing and stanchions of the pedestal. “

It turns out the damage was done by three boys who had been seen doing the “mischief” (TDN 21 June 1919).

The Board considered prosecuting (TDN 9 July 1919, Pukekura Park Board) but the investigation by the board’s solicitor concluded that the damage was accidental rather than deliberate and so no prosecution was proceeded with. The final sentence of the report of the Board meeting was “The monument will be re-erected without cost to the board.”

It remained in the park until the mid-1930s: At the Pukekura Park Board Meeting, November 21, 1933 the last item in the minutes reads, “Re Wiggins Memorial: The question of repairing or removing the Wiggins Memorial was discussed, and the matter left in the hands of the chairman and secretary to discuss with the relatives and come to some final arrangements.”  Twelve months later in the minutes of the November 1934 meeting of The Pukekura Park Board it was recorded “Stone and fittings on monument hill had been removed.”

Pukekura Park - Wiggins Memorial

Looking south. Notice lack of trees on the hilltop. Auckland Weekly News, February 4, 1904.