Historic site: Former Hobson Street

"Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Image of Hobson Street.
Hobson Street.
Paremata, Wellington in the 1930s, photographer not identified. New Zealand Free Lance Collection. Reference number ½-099872-G Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Hobson Street was originally know as Slum or Slug Alley

By the 1880s a small fishing settlement existed just south of the entrance to the Pauatahanui arm. Formerly known as Slum or Slug Alley, it became known as Hobson Street after a group of youths removed the Hobson Street sign from Wellington and transferred it to the settlement. The name became official in 1948.

The little settlement was made up of fishermen of a number of nationalities including Greeks, Italians, Austrians and Scots. Such diversity of people made for a very lively community. Many of them combined their musical talents and formed a small orchestra which regularly played at Sunday night dances.

The fishermen of Hobson Street

Image of Hobson street fishermen.
Hobson street fishermen.
Man with accordion is Ted Barry.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref P.2.60.

Weather permitting, the boats would go out daily to fish the waters of the Cook Strait. Huge catches of fish would arrive back at Paremata. Once landed, the fish were taken to Wellington to be sold. Unsold fish were smoked at Bruce's smoke house. Occasionally the catches were so large that the excess fish were loaded into a railway wagon which was pushed onto the Paremata railway bridge and the fish then shovelled into the outgoing tide.

The Hobson Street fishermen were occasionally involved in disputes with the fishermen from Island Bay. A Paremata resident recorded an incident which occurred in June 1933:

Last Sunday night some Italian fishermen from Island Bay boarded some of the Paremata boats and threw £80 worth of fishing gear overboard because the Paremata fishermen have just left the Fishermen's Union. The Italians have also threatened to burn the "Southern Cross", the biggest of the Paremata boats, if she returns to Island Bay.

At its height, Hobson Street consisted of 21 baches and a grocery store

By the early 1940s there were 21 baches on the street, a grocery store was operating and the road was improved to allow trucks to drive down and collect the fish. But it remained a relatively poor community and many families struggled to survive during the depression. Some of the buildings were so close to the water that during high tides the waves would wash right up under houses.

By the 1950s major roadworks had begun for the suburb. Reclamation work was carried out directly in front of the fishing village to straighten the railway line which had previously run behind it.

Hobson Street was demolished in the early 1970s

By the 1950s it was clear the community’s days were numbered. It was built on land owned by New Zealand Railways or the Marine Department and in the early 1970s it was demolished to make way for the realignment of the railway line and State Highway 1.

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