Waipawa Band Rotunda Enquiry

From: Jan
To: Anyone who can help
Subject: Waipawa Band Rotunda

Waipawa Band Rotunda Enquiry

Back in 2000 I was involved in a group which was looking into the idea of putting a Band Rotunda in Waipawa.

It was an idea that came up year after year in our Annual Meeting where we asked the public for ideas of things we could do to make Waipawa a better place to live, work and play.

Most of our projects were done with a lot of enthusiasm and organisation, blood, sweat and tears… And with very little money. So a Band Rotunda was perhaps a little more ambitious financially than projects we usually tackled.

At the time I was doing some work down in the local museum sorting through some of the old documents down in their old bank vault, and I found an old newspaper article about’The Band Rotunda that was Never Built.”

Well after reading this article I went straight up to the old Domain (now called Don Allen Reserve) and sure enough just through the gate I found the foundation stone for Waipawa’s Band Rotunda.

So based on this old newspaper article (from about 1971) and the definite evidence of the foundation stone I believed the story and I went to the CHB Mail and this story ran….

Rotunda for Waipawa?

Almost 100 years after the foundation stone was laid, a band rotunda project that began in 1902 may finally be completed.

The idea has been put to the Shooting Star Committee after being suggested at Waipawa Promotions Annual meeting for the third year in a row.

The discovery of an old newspaper article titled “the band rotunda that was never built’ prompted the committee to act on the recurring suggestion.

Waipawa Promotions chairperson Jan Gosling found the old story thought to be written around the 1960’s or 1970’s whilst looking through a scrapbook owned by local historian Margaret Gray.

The article said the original rotunda was to be built in the Waipawa Domain (now Don Allen reserve on the corner of Church Street and Domain Road ) to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and to house the bands which performed regularly on Sunday afternoons in the town’s main recreation area.

In the early 1900’s the Domain featured a picturesque creek, a small lake and well planted gardens of flowers and trees, perfect for traditional Sunday outings.

The unfinished project and the repeated suggestions for a rotunda struck Jan as ironic and made her even more enthusiastic about building a band rotunda in Waipawa.

If the submission is approved, the rotunda will be built in Nellie Jull Park instead of the original site because some houses have been built on the old domain and it is no longer the town’s main recreational area.

Jan said the rotunda would provide a focus for the park. “Not only giving it a sense of charm and history but also providing a venue for activities such as Picnic in the Park, Carols by Candlelight, open air debates, outdoor theatre, storytelling and a stage for musicians and dancers to perform.”

Well… after this article ran, that night my phone started ringing, and I had several older residents of Waipawa saying things like… “What do you mean Jan? Where did you get your information…? Because there was a rotunda in the Domain… I used to play chasing on it with my friends… There were swings and merry-go-round and the rotunda… I remember it as clearly as yesterday…” etc, etc…

And I thought “Bother!” as I really don’t like to put out wrong information, and I had to humbly apologize for getting it wrong.

And then a few days later (when I thought things had quietened down) I was bailed up in the supermarket and had another lecture from Sam, another older resident in Waipawa, and keeper of Waipawa’s history… and a hundred times more knowledgeable about such things than me – who told me “I don’t know who told you that Jan, but they are WRONG…!

There was a rotunda in the Domain…” and he went on and on too, about his band rotunda memories, and about how it got left behind in the Domain when the swings and play equipment were moved down to Nellie Jull Park and became very dilapidated, and sometime (he couldn’t remember exactly when) it just disappeared -and nobody knows what became of it.

So… I changed my mind. And I believed that what these older, wiser people said was true (as they have no reason to collectively lie about such things), and this old newspaper article that I had found at the Museum was wrong.. A band Rotunda DID exist in Waipawa. And that perhaps instead of finally finishing the project started 100 years ago, instead we were putting back a piece of our town’s history.

Unfortunately we missed out on funding back in 2000… so our idea of building the rotunda fizzled out and died…

Well it hasn’t died – not completely.

Today the stirrings of the idea are surfacing again. Dreams of a Community Stage are gaining momentum (built in the style of an old fashioned band rotunda) on which concerts of various sorts of music, dances, dramas, storytelling etc are regularly performed to make our park alive with activity… Just think of the possibilities…!

And with that idea comes the thought that it would be nice if we are putting back a piece of our history, that we build our new rotunda in a similar style to what we once had here in Waipawa… But we can find no photos and no plans…


Help us prove there WAS a Band Rotunda back in Waipawa’s past

If you have any stories, and/or photos of the rotunda that was in the Domain I would love to hear from you. Please email me and we will add your stories and pictures to the end of this enquiry.

From: Jack McCleary (taken from phone conversation)

Yes. There was definitely a band rotunda in the old Domain. There was a big pond behind it, with a few ducks.
I can’t remember too much about how the band rotunda looked as we didn’t go up there too much.
But we used to sometimes get paid threepence for going up there and holding lamps on sticks so that the musicians had light to read their music so that they could play.
The Band Master at that time was Ted Maher who was a blacksmith. His blacksmith business was down Ruataniwha Street about where Stephensen’s Transport have their big truck shed now. And the band used to practice above the shop where Mitre 10 is now.

From: Ron Booker (taken from phone conversation)

In the 1930’s we used to play on the band rotunda as kids. There was the merry-go-round – that is now down in Nellie Jull Park,- and swings and the slide, but I remember running around the band rotunda usually after Sunday School.
There was a big pond there which was supposed to be a boating pond, and I remember playing around it. But later it was filled in.
I can’t remember ever seeing the band perform on the band rotunda – but they did perform in the main street and I remember racing in there to try to get one of the lamps to hold up for the band musicians so they could read the music. You used to get a threepence for holding the lamp which was good pocket money back then.

From: Frazer Kingston (taken from phone conversation)

I remember the band rotunda quite well. We used to go to Sunday school across the road from there at St Peters Hall with Mr (Edward) Bibby. After Sunday School we would often go and play in the Domain on the swings and things, a play chasing around the rotunda.

From: Jeanette Sanderson (taken from conversation)

I remember the old Domain. I used to play there in about 1947.
It was fairly wild and overgrown -a bit like a massive paddock with a few trees and things. We used to slide down the hill on grass sleds.
There was a dam there which used to be the collecting place for all the water that presumably came down from further up the hill. Around the edges it was fairly rough with lots of rapu growing and the dam was pretty mucky and slimy but we used to punt on it and have lots of fun.
There was definitely no sign of a Band Rotunda then.

Below I have taken a section from “Abbotts-ford. A History of Waipawa” by Margaret Gray (published 1989)

The Domain
During the 1860’s the Armed constabulary grazed their horses on the Domain at the corner of Church Street and Domain Road.

Later however, the Domain came the centre of community life.

The area was laid out in picturesque lawns and gardens. A pond with swans and a bridge completed the scene, but not quite, for a Band rotunda was erected in 1902 and on Sunday afternoons ‘gentle folk’ would stroll and listen to the band play.

It has to be remembered that at the turn of the century the Domain covers considerably more ground than it does today; it included the area of council houses, Kingston place and Limbrick Street.

A Band Rotunda was built to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VII on June 26th 1902, the foundation stone being laid on August the 9th, in conjunction with the Grand Gala.

Children derived great pleasure from the Domain. Swings, a merry-go-round, and other playground equipment provided entertainment but it appeared that the Band Rotunda offered the most amusement.

J.L. Milburne can recall when he was at High School at the time of the first world war, his science master, Bill Morris, took the class to the Domain each Monday morning for an hour’s gardening. Within a fenced off area, they prepared vegetable plots. The Domain also acted as a field training area for the High School cadets.

When Nellie Jull Park was gifted to the town in 1935, the play equipment was transferred from the Domain. Gradually the Band Rotunda fell into disrepair and disappeared.

The Domain stood neglected for many years.

The Borough Council built four houses for its employees on the southern perimeter and in 1968 erected the pensioner flats on another portion.

By 1979, the late Mr A Iggulden felt the time had come to beautify the old Domain. The Community Service Committee of Rotary was involved, as was the Community Works Scheme.

The area was cleared, tile drained and limestone paths laid. The Beautifying Society then became involved planting many trees. The trees were selected with the view to attracting native birds – Tuis and Bellbirds etc. At this stage the project was returned to council, who now have taken over responsibility of lawn-mowing.

 Here are some photos of how the Domain looks today.
If anyone has some photos of how it looked earlier in it history (whether very early Domain photos – or more recent photos – maybe from your childhood) please let us add these to its history.

The entrance of the Domain today – now known as Don Allen Reserve can be found on Church Street.

Today the pond has gone and the Domain is mostly grassed areas with areas of more established trees.

There are no picturesque bridges over a pretty little creek any more, but a large concrete drain with a weedy, swampy drain running into it. The Pond has been completely filled in.

The Domain used to be much larger than it is today. Kingston Place (above) and Limbrick Street, as well as the houses on the Church Street Entrance side were all built on land that was all once the Domain.

From: Mick Chote (from a conversation)

I haven’t lived in Waipawa long enough to remember the rotunda in The Domain but I can remember when Alf Iggulden and Keith Addis came along to Rotary in the late 70’s and told us that the Domain should be tidied up. It was a real mess and had been neglected for a long time.
Rotary took it on and then later the Beautifying Society.
I remember there was a bloke from the forestry who was brought in to tell us where to lay paths. It was a lot of hard work and it looked a lot different to how it was today.
I remember back then, Alf coming along to Rotary and telling us he was researching the band rotunda that used to be in the Domain and what happened to it.
I can’t be sure now – as it was a long time ago, and of course Alf and Keith are no longer around to ask, but in the back of my memory I have a nagging thought that it went to the Hastings Show grounds. I may be wrong but that’s what keeps coming back again and again.

From: Sam McCleary (from a conversation)

Yes. I remember there was a definitely band rotunda in the Domain but I can’t remember really what it looked like or much about it. We were from the wrong side of town. Us kids from the bush didn’t go up on the hill much and we didn’t go and play on the things in the Domain – The bush kids didn’t play with those kids from the Hill or the Park. Instead we made our own entertainment and played at places like down at the river. There we would catch freshwater crayfish and cook them up over fires in old jam tins or go looking for birds nests. Or we would go to the old timber yards and dig tunnels into the big piles of sawdust and then sit inside them and smoke cigarettes… or slide down the hill (over near Ireland road) on greased boards.

From: Roma Eddie (nee King) (from a conversation)

I remember the Band Rotunda as our house was directly opposite the Domain and it was a place we went often.
On Sundays everyone would go and listen to the band. They would stroll around the park and listen while the band played. There was a pond with a pretty bridge, and trees, and paths to walk on.
At sometime during the afternoon my mother and I would carry jugs of hot water across the road from our house (to the Domain) so that we could make afternoon tea for people in the Domain, including the band.
I can’t remember too much what the rotunda looked like as I was only four or five… and my favourite thing was the swing. I used to spend hours on the swing. It was the best thing in the whole world!

From: Bruce Stephenson (from a conversation)

The Band Rotunda had gone from the Domain when I was a kid but we used to play there often as we lived next door.
The Domain was nothing flash then.
There was a pond. We used to make rafts and sail around the pond on them, and we used to used grass sleds and slide down the hills.
I have never told my mother, but I broke my arm at the Domain climbing (or falling out of) a tree. It was a great place to play when we were kids.