Simpler times in Porirua’s ‘burbs
‘‘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.