A fond look at Titahi Bay, then and now
Titahi Bay has passed its boom and is quiet again.
The seaside suburb, which today has a population of just over 7500, boomed in the 1950s and 1960s, as people flooded in.
Our Flashback photo this week, from the archive of John Watson, shows a Titahi Bay with plenty of space between sections and open parkland.
It is believed the shot was taken in the mid-1950s and landmarks include the Marine’s Hall and Kura St.
A comparative shot today, take from high above The Spinney, off Chaffey Cres, is in stark contrast, with the only spare space being parks, as housing has intensified.
Armin Blum told Kapi-Mana News in 2012 that he liked to get to Titahi Bay regularly to see how ‘‘his’’ houses were faring.
Blum was one of 190 Austrians who sailed to New Zealand in 1952 and 1953 to construct prefabricated houses as part of an initiative created by the New Zealand Government to get thousands of Kiwi families into homes.
More than 500 imported precut homes were constructed by Blum and his fellow Austrians.
They are distinctive by their covered porches and many can be seen in the streets near Ngati Toa School.
Blum said wages in Austria were not good and New Zealand was an attractive prospect for a 27-year-old in 1953.
He decided to come for two years, and never left.
His dismay at finding alcohol was prohibited in Titahi Bay was offset by the reaction to the Austrians’ arrival.
‘‘We had parties right from the start and were invited to the pa [in Takapuwahia] in the first week. I think we were quite popular,’’ he said.
The 1960s were a boom time for the suburb as Titahi Bay’s Main Rd provided better access to the land and the shopping centre, sports clubs and schools grew fast.
In 1986, construction of the $26 million sewage treatment plant began and it was opened in 1989 by then Prime Minister David Lange, hailing it as one of the most technically advanced
Cars on the beach was a hot topic, then and now – old photographs show vehicles right the way up the beach, but the central area of the sand is now off limits due to damage to the fossil forest.
The shopping centre, which had 20 thriving stores at its height, struggled to survive from the mid-1980s because of the development of shopping in central Porirua. Postbank and other stores have closed and there is now no ATM or gas station.