Porirua’s CBD in 1960 and now


Porirua City centre in the early 1960s has the feel of some­thing about to kick off.

This week’s Flash­back photo is from the Watson fam­ily, for­merly of Ti­tahi Bay, who have a su­perb col­lec­tion of old Porirua pho­tos.

Often from the 1950s and 1960s, the pho­to­graphs show a nascent city en­joy­ing its ado­les­cence.

Porirua be­came a city in 1965 but the photo we put up on so­cial me­dia this week pre-dates this mile­stone by a few years.

The city centre is a blank can­vas, with just a hand­ful of build­ings un­der con­struc­tion on the re­claimed land. Some roads are es­tab­lished.

The lu­natic asy­lum looms large in the back­ground, houses oc­cupy the space that North City Shop­ping Centre does to­day and the bridge over Porirua Stream is in a dif­fer­ent place to the Ti­tahi Bay Rd exit we use now.

The Aotea res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment, where the man is stand­ing, is decades away. To­day, it is an ever-grow­ing sub­urb that looks over a busy city centre.

In 1900, Porirua had three churches, a ho­tel, rail­ways sta­tion and a gen­eral store.

Af­ter WWII, the need for more ur­ban devel­op­ment saw Up­per Hutt, Wainuiomata, Stokes Val­ley and the Porirua basin take off in terms of pop­u­la­tion growth.

Land was cheap in Porirua, the main trunk line ran through it, con­struc­tion was soon to be­gin on a road be­tween John­sonville and Porirua and the nat­u­ral to­pog­ra­phy and re­sources were ad­e­quate for ser­vices like wa­ter retic­u­la­tion and stormwa­ter drainage.

Porirua was a planned city. Hous­ing, shop­ping and com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial devel­op­ment

Porirua re­mem­bers

Com­ments on Face­book gen­er­ally put the year of theWat­son photo in the early 1960s. Eleanor Cater said it was a great his­toric pic­ture, show­ing the ground­work be­ing laid to build a city. CamDowl­ing said it wasn’t hard to pick out the city centre lay­out even 50 years ago, point­ing out the ‘‘Count­down cor­ner’’ on the far right. were all thought out.

As far as the town centre was con­cerned, there were de­signs cre­ated as early as 1947, yet the fi­nal de­ci­sion on the lay­out was not made by gov­ern­ing lo­cal author­ity Makara County Coun­cil un­til March 1960.

Most of the orig­i­nal vil­lage on the western side of the rail­way line was cleared, Porirua Stream di­verted and Kenepuru Stream straight­ened. Land was re­claimed at the head of the har­bour.

Earth­works be­gan in sum­mer 1959/60 and by 1964 all the cut­ting and recla­ma­tion was com­plete.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion, com­merce and shop­ping was fo­cused on the city centre, pedes­tri­ans were sep­a­rated from traf­fic and car park­ing was avail­able for cars.

The first shop, Fashion Court, on Lyt­tel­ton Ave, was opened by the Min­is­ter of Lands in 1963.

While other re­tail­ers fol­lowed, it was the ar­rival of the likes of the Gen­eral Elec­tric Com­pany, Ko­dak, Chubb, Ash­ley Wall­pa­per, WR Grace and, later, Todd Mo­tors, that set the city on its way as a com­mer­cial and re­tail des­ti­na­tion.


An old photo of Porirua, pos­si­bly taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

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