Pukekura park - old curator's office

Old Curators Office

Taranaki Daily News May 31, 1952

In a report in 1946 Thomas Horton highlighted the need for new staff offices. He was working from part of the original tea house, built in1905 adjacent to where the current tea now stands, and had been moved in 1931 (when the current Tea House was built) to a dark damp spot along the path to the west of the Fernery. It had been repurposed as a ladies toilet and curators office, and because of the location the building was always cold and damp. The remaining staff were housed in the old bathing shed which had also been relocated along the same path.

In 1948 when a site was selected for a Ladies Dressing Shed at the south-west corner of the Sportsground a decision was made to excavate the site to be large enough, that in future a curator’s office/staff room could also be erected.

Following a park inspection by the committee in September 1949, an urgent priority was given to the preparation of plans etc. for a Curator’s office and staff quarters. At the April 1950 Committee meeting the issue was raised again as being urgent. Eventually plans were prepared by the City Engineer and Graham Harvey, which were presented to the committee at their December 1950 meeting. The plans were approved at the next meeting in February 1951, but due to work pressures, Harvey was unable to finish the final plans and specifications until November 1951. The following month a tender of £2,996 13s submitted by Messrs. Ashman Ltd was accepted for the construction of the building.

At that time it was decided to dedicate the building to the memory of Mr. & Mrs. Graham, and a dedication plaque was subsequently fixed on the exterior of the building. A couple of months earlier the committee had received notice that they had been left a large bequest on the death of Mrs. Graham. The Graham’s during their time in New Plymouth in the 1920s and 30s were the proprietors of the Criterion Hotel and had been strong supporters of the Park.  The bequest stipulated that it had to be spent on permanent structures, and realised over £21,000 over a period of several years. Even though the building was dedicated to the Graham’s memory, their money did not directly pay for the building’s construction.

The final cost of the building was £3296 12s 8d of which the council paid £1500, the remaining £1796 12s 8d was paid for using monies from the following bequests: Sanders, Attrill, Mary Freeth, Annie Hulk, Clara Bingham, E. F. Fookes and A. R. Standish.

Construction started in February of 1952 and was completed in May 1952. It comprised an L-shaped workshop accessed by a large double doors, a staff lunchroom, and a small dressing room with a shower, a storeroom, and an office for the curator.

The building was used as the office for the Pukekura Park Curator and the Parks & Recreation Department as an administration centre. The building continued to be the office for the curator up until June1999 when the curator role was disestablished. The building ceased being the base for the Parks & Recreation Department in the late 1980s. Subsequently the Curator’s office was reoccupied in March 2007 as the curator’s office when the Park Curator role was re-established.

More recently the building has largely been vacant except for use by the Events Team during the Festival of the Lights, and as a base by the “Energy City Harriers”.

The building became vacant because of the construction of a new Curators Office near the Fernery entrance in 2013.