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Motueka Place Names

Posted March, 2010
Written by H. N. Murray, this article was published in the Nelson Historical Society Journal, Vol 2, Issue 6, April 1973, and has been reproduced and abridged here thanks to the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC -

Jubilee Bridge

The name was known and used since 1887 when a new bridge was built to replace one destroyed by flood a year earlier. It is believed the new bridge was named to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the crowning of H.M. Queen Victoria. The bridge spanned the river opposite School Road, Lower Moutere, and was described as a trestle type. In 1903 it was severely damaged and partly rebuilt.

In 1945, the bridge was wrecked by a heavy vehicle which struck the side and caused half the structure to fall into the river. Authorities decided to build a new bridge on a new road line which deviated approximately five hundred yards north of School Road. Much flooding was caused by opposing rivers which met where they entered the sea. In the final plan the new Jubilee Bridge (with name shown) spans the same river as formerly which was isolated. The two rivers are known as Moutere River and N.Z. Company's Ditch.

The Moutere River

Moutere River rises in the valleys near and beyond Upper Moutere, and large swamps had developed in the central valley. The Moutere River flows on the west side of the main road. Near the sea it had turned in a semi-circle and had been linked with the N.Z. Company's Ditch. On the surveyed road tide water added to the danger at fords and bridges. The river was suitable for small boats for nearly a mile. A loading bank was near the roadline where small vessels floated in several feet of water at high tides. Subseqent repair work on channels and bridge did not overcome the flooding.

N.Z. Company's Ditch is an excavated channel reported to have been formed six feet wide in 1860 decade by manual labour. The name is noted on some early plans and is still in use. The ditch was commenced from the Moutere River, close to the line of hills, and terminated at Harakeke, an estimated distance of six miles. It connected several prominent streams and often carried a very large volume of water. Scouring was extraordinary and huge quantities of debris and shingle were deposited where the rivers met, and into the tidal inlet.

Wildman Road

Wildman Road is named after the Wildman family who lived there for more than fifty years. A son, W. A. Wildman (later Captain) commenced his sea-going career on the cutter "Planet" about 1868 when the vessel was in service between Motueka and Nelson. Captain Wildman spent 62 years at sea as master of several steamers of the Anchor Shipping Company and made an exceptional number of journeys through Cook Strait.

Motueka's Present Wharf

This is the third locality to operate the wharf trade of Motueka and was opened in 1916 with approach road, reclamation and some construction. The port is located on the Moutere River which was dredged to a depth of nine feet. In the same scheme the No. 1 shed, a waiting room, office, shipping agent's office and a post office - Port Motueka - were provided. Other wharf sheds were added some years later.

Shipping arrived and departed according to tides and included passenger services to about 1930. Passengers travelled to Collingwood and Nelson, and on direct sailings to Wellington and other ports. The new wharf attracted several industries. The largest building was the wooden cool store built and controlled by the Motueka Cool Storage Pool, a co-operative concern in which fruitgrowers were entitled to storage space.

Later it became a limited liability company with the same objects. The building enabled growers to deposit and remove their own produce from cubicles held under refrigerated storage which provided for 40,000 bushel cases. The building was believed to be the largest wooden cool store in the southern hemisphere. In the 1920's when horse-drawn carts and lorries were in their fullest use, traffic congestion was common. The store was in constant use until the Cool Storage Company wound up. Other industries were set up.

M.V. "Wairau"

The abandoned vessel on the foreshore was built at Whangaroa in 1899-1900 as the topsail schooner "Ronga" which was a handsome craft. The remains are not handsome. In its final years it was laid up at Wairau Bar and Nelson. Finally she was brought to Motueka under her own power with an escort vessel and beached for repairs which were not completed. "Wairau" terminated its sea service in 1961. "Ronga" might have been restored for a museum.

The Old Wharf

This is the second wharf to be built on the site. The former wharf (built 1853) had extensive use by many small sailing vessels when navigation aids were inadequate. A new wharf built in 1889 was of stone construction and remains in fair condition. At the outer end of the stonework a wooden 'T' structure and buildings were erected. The wharf continued in use until 1916-1917 when all operations were transferred to the new wharf.

The old wharf had served the people for more than sixty years. A narrow trolley track lay along the length of the wharf for cargo purposes. Store sheds and wharfinger's house were established. Across the road were several industrial premises, and a hotel. Larger steamers appeared and passenger services were in operation to Wellington, Hokitika and other ports. Horse-drawn cabs plied between the port and the town, two miles distant. A post office "Motueka Wharf" was established until 1917.

The Monument on the roadway opposite the wharf was erected to commemorate the coronation of H.M. King Edward VII, and as a memorial to Trooper Tarrant who died during the Boer War. The structure was fitted with a water trough to serve the dozens of horses which visited the wharf. It was surmounted with a large lamp using kerosene fuel which served as a street light and shipping lead.

The Gables

The large two-storey gabled home situated at the corner of Tudor Street and Thorpe Street, was built in 1860. The ground floor is of cob construction and was used for volunteer Corps headquarters for some years. The upper floor was, and still is, a residence.

S.S. "Janie Seddon"

The abandoned hulk of the once-handsome vessel lies on the beach near the Old Wharf. It was the Government steamer in service at Wellington for more than forty years. About 1950 it was purchased by a trawling company domiciled at Motueka. It proved to be not wholly suitable for trawling, and being a steamer was expensive to operate and maintain a head of steam. It was eventually laid up at the wharf and to await a report on motor power, which was not suitable. A few months later it was towed to its present position where its sea service ended in 1956. Attempts were made to cut up the valuable iron plating. They were not completed but should be carried out to dispose of an unwelcome guest.

Fearon Street and Bush

These were named after the family of Captain Edward Fearon who, from 1844, owned the land and magnicent natural forest which he reserved for the people. Other donations included property for a church, and a valuable library.

Tudor Street

Tudor Street was named after Rev. T. L. Tudor who was first vicar of Motueka. He served in the first church built in the town. His Maori pupils were well cared for at the pa during the 1850 period.

Greenwood Street

Greenwood Street was named after the first medical practitioner who arrived in 1843. He was Doctor John Danforth Greenwood. His first home - Woodlands - built of slab timber was in Tudor Street on the southern side. Land which he donated for a new church was in Greenwood Street opposite the Post Office.

First Anglican Church and Cemetery

This was situated at the corner of Fearon and Thorpe Street. The site of the church was a few yards from the iron gate in Thorpe Street. The small timber church, St. Thomas', was built in 1848. Some years later it was moved to a new site. The font is made from a section of the mast of "Fifeshire," wrecked at Nelson 27 February, 1842, when leaving port. A number of pioneers are buried in the cemetery allotment.

First Landing Place

For settlers and others who travelled direct to Motueka, this came into common use from 1843. A loading bank and mooring posts were erected near the eastern end of Staples street where it joined a shelterd inlet from the sea. It was known as Manuka Bush for ten years until a more substantial wharf was built a mile to the south of it. The new one was known as Motueka Wharf with postal and telephone services.

Staples Malt House

This building to the north of the town was built more than a hundred years ago-probably 1853-1856. Much of the brickwork remains. The wooden housing over the stone cellar collapsed about 1957. The shingles on the roof are reported to be the original ones - some of them being in fair condition.

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