City’s first buildings unearthed

Historic remains of one of Tauranga City’s earliest buildings – a bakery dating back to the 1870s – has been unearthed at Masonic Park on The Strand.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga were called in to investigate after contractors working on the renovation project, next to The Pheonix, discovered historic artefacts on May 9.

Click the image above to watch the video
Heritage New Zealand lower northern regional archaeologist Rachel Darmody at Masonic Park. Photo: Tracy Hardy

Tauranga City Council says for the last week archaeologists have been excavating the remains of the 1870s bakery and have discovered brick foundations of the large baking ovens.

The early cooking ovens are from two different time periods with one dating back to the early 1870s, or possibly earlier, and a later one that has not yet been accurately dated.

The bakery had a shop frontage on The Strand and was still operating in the World War II.

The Masonic Park site was historically home to the Masonic Hotel from 1865 until it was demolished in 1993, with council deciding the site was to become an open space reserve in 2010.

Heritage New Zealand lower northern regional archaeologist Rachel Darmody says this is a nationally significant find representing Tauranga’s early commercial development.

“It is rare to find such a well-preserved bakery from this time period anywhere in New Zealand. The only other examples we have are from the goldfields of Central Otago and one site in Dunedin,” says Rachel.

“It is exciting to find that part of the early township still survives to tell us more about our past.”

The renovation project was scheduled to be completed by end of June before the historical find halted work.

Instead while archaeologists are on site, project contractors are moving on to the next stage of the project, creating a new rail crossing opposite Masonic Park.

Renovation work at the park will resume around the archaeology site from next week.

In the meantime council and Heritage New Zealand are considering how best to preserve the find. Options and possible funding ideas will be presented to the city councillors next month for direction.

Some private sector companies have already expressed interest in assisting with funding.

The site is currently closed to the public. Heritage New Zealand and Council propose to host a public open day to talk about the history found there.




7 Comments

Heritage Is Important

Posted on 24-05-2014 14:37 | By Nick Sutton

The ignorance apparent in a couple of the above comments is staggering! Maori/Pakeha/European heritage, whatever, it makes no difference because it is all NEW ZEALAND heritage! :-)

Another Slant to consider

Posted on 23-05-2014 16:12 | By carpedeum

I read with interest that this Masonic Park is having a " Renovation Project" - had no idea where this park was located - however I now find its the one remaining green space down on The Strand. What is happening to it?? Never mind what " they" have found there now - WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING THERE ??? HAS THE PUBLIC/RATEPAYER/PERSON ON THE STREET HAD ANY INPUT-BEEN CONSULTED /BEEN INFORMED?? Did we miss the lead up to this being dug up for - and more importantly WHAT IS GOING TO REPLACE this space

Bakery Owner

Posted on 22-05-2014 20:39 | By tabatha

yes Robert seem to remember the Parnwells taking the bakery over and then the so called modern bakery in Elizabeth Street.

Bakery Owner

Posted on 22-05-2014 18:06 | By Robert

It could be that this site became a bakeshop owned by the Bert and Aida Parnwell. They later built a bakery in Elizabeth St which eventually became the building that Dick smith is housed in.

Of No Interest

Posted on 22-05-2014 16:36 | By Jitter

This should be of no interest to anyone as it is only a European site. Preserve it Nah! Get rid of it as it has no cultural significance. Does it have the European equivalent of a taniwha living there ? Now we are talking.

This Brings Back memories

Posted on 22-05-2014 14:21 | By tabatha

As a young child we arrived in Tauranga around 1948-9. My parents had a small orchard at Levers Road and each day that the Rural Mail delivery came we had a loaf of freah bread delivered from Wood’s Bakery from the Strand, suspect same site. My half brotther also brought bread home from the same bakery at times. It was always first to get what was called the bakers kiss, the part where the bread joined. No sliced bread in those days and it was what I call fresh bread.

Not Maori

Posted on 22-05-2014 13:45 | By YOGI BEAR

Bury it, forget it is there, write it out of history ... no treaty claims there.

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