Mr Breidecker: Custodian 1878 – 1880

Mr Breidecker was obviously appointed as a result of the tender process and became the second custodian of the Recreation Grounds. Breidecker was already set up in the grounds, having leased part of it since late 1875 to plant and cultivate a vineyard and strawberry garden. The vineyard was situated in the part of the park now known as Stainton Dell and flowed up onto the eastern hillside behind the racecourse. Also, from the beginning of 1878 the board had employed either Mr Breiedecker or his son to weed flower beds in the garden, so his appointment perhaps ended up being an obvious choice.

In his “Pukekura Park, its Origin and Development. A brief History” (Taranaki Herald 4 August 1916), Robert Clinton Hughes had this to say of Breidecker: “…. Breidecker, a German lately out from the Rhine district. Breidecker was keen on planting a vineyard. Accordingly about an acre of ground near the racecourse was set aside. Part of this was deeply prepared, being deeply trenched, and choice cuttings, some from Australia, were planted. Owing however to some defect in the climate or soil, the winery was not a success. Breidecker remained two or three years and then went to the Hokianga District, where he successfully cultivated grapes and made wine.”

During Breidecker’s time as Custodian the main works were the draining of the swamp between the vineyard and the Main Lake by forming a ditch, and the construction of a bathing shed. This was for the newly formed swimming club that used the Main Lake and was situated roughly where the Tea House is. It was also during this time that the board decided on bylaws for the grounds.

Breidecker was succeeded sometime in the first half of 1880 by Darby Claffey. Breidecker, however, remained working his vineyard for another year until he surrendered his lease on it at the end of May 1881, before moving to Hokianga.

Ian Hutchinson