Sim­pler times in Porirua’s ‘burbs

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

‘‘Lots of neat peo­ple grow­ing up in Porirua.’’

A photo of the Porirua sub­urb of Els­don in the early 1950s had some of our read­ers re­mem­ber­ing back wist­fully to a less com­pli­cated time.

Porirua in that era was a city de­vel­op­ing quickly - the tran­si­tion from a small vil­lage, with a train sta­tion, cou­ple of churches, ho­tel and a gen­eral store was hap­pen­ing quickly.

It’s well-doc­u­mented that af­ter World War II, Porirua was tar­geted as a site that could ease the pres­sure of the Welling­ton ur­ban area, so large-scale hous­ing de­vel­op­ment was un­der­taken.

Land prices were cheap com­pared to the Hutt Val­ley, the Main Trunk Line al­ready passed through the Porirua basin and plans for a road link­ing John­sonville and Porirua were well ad­vanced.

With good earth­work equip­ment, build­ing took place in Porirua in the 1950s on a massive scale.

Later, mayor Whit­ford Brown com­mented: ‘‘Porirua was alive with fever­ish ac­tiv­ity. The air was full of the dust of earth­works as the con­tours of the coun­try­side were dra­mat­i­cally al­tered to pro­vide hun­dreds of hous­ing sec­tions for new families ar­riv­ing ev­ery day.’’

When we put a pho­to­graph - cour­tesy of the Wat­son fam­ily col­lec­tion - onto so­cial me­dia, the mem­o­ries be­gan to flow.

From ‘‘I can see the house I grew up in’’ to peo­ple point­ing out they were born in the ma­ter­nity hos­pi­tal at the bot­tom of the row of houses, our read­ers re­called life in this grow­ing sub­urb in the 1950s and later.

‘‘Had great mo­ments up the bush and down the har­bour,’’ said Wil­lie Mann. ‘‘Home. Lots of neat peo­ple, grow­ing up in Porirua.’’

Ju­dith Mack­in­tosh watched the area grow be­fore her eyes.

‘‘Oh wow, my fam­ily lived in Aparangi Cres from the late 50s for many years,’’ she said. ‘‘We all went to Mana Col­lege and Porirua School. Saw the build­ing of Todd Mo­tors and many other changes.’’

The nearby Whit­taker’s fac­tory was a com­mon rec­ol­lec­tion, in­clud­ing tales of free peanut slabs on the way home from school.

‘‘Def­i­nitely loved grow­ing up with Whit­taker’s choco­late smell,’’ said Lolina Theresa Tupua.

‘‘I re­mem­ber ev­ery Satur­day it was ex­tra strong, the scent of the peanuts, and my fa­ther worked there, too.’’

Denise Robert said there was al­ways build­ing work go­ing on and she used to play in the bush be­hind Mana Col­lege, es­tab­lished as the first col­lege in the Porirua basin in 1957.

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