History of Plimmerton
"History is the enactment of ritual on a permanent and universal stage; and its perpetual commemoration."
- Norman O. Brown
Plan of the Valuable Township of Plimmerton to be sold by auction 4th February, 1896.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref C.6.1.
Plimmerton was known to Maori as Taupo. In the 1840s, Ngati Toa rangatira, Te Rauparaha, has main residence, Taupo pa, at the site which is now Plimmerton Pavilion. His nephew Te Rangihaeata also had a pa in Plimmerton where the fire station now stands. After Te Rauparaha was seized from Taupo village by British troops and police on the 23rd July 1846, the village and pa were slowly deserted. After this time the main Ngati Toa villages in Porirua were Takapuwahia and Urukahika. In the following years European settlers began farming the area. One of these early farmers was James Walker (for more information on James Walker see the history of Paremata, Papakowhai and Mana).
General view of Plimmerton 20 September 1904.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref C.4.22.
Modern Plimmerton was born in the 1880s when the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company's decided to run the main trunk line through the town. With the railway's arrival, Plimmerton became accessible for tourists and holidaymakers. Large numbers of people stayed at the two-storey hotel, Plimmerton House, until it burnt down in 1907, and others camped out in tents for months at a time.
Steyne Avenue corner, c1925-1930.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref C.4.60.
Permanent accommodation was also built at this time. A Post Office report of 1896 stated that "several large and substantial houses have recently been erected, and Mr Kirkaldie intends erecting several more." By 1900 the township of Plimmerton consisted of 30 summer cottages, two private hotels and one general store. By 1908 the permanent population was over 100 and this increased to 300 in the summer.
Taupo was renamed Plimmerton, after John Plimmer, who is known as the "Father of Wellington". John Plimmer's son Charles was the proprietor of Plimmerton House.
Fires of Plimmerton
Plimmerton Volunteer Fire Brigade c1941.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref P.2.106.
Since the early 1900s there have been several devastating fires in Plimmerton, but luckily none of these have resulted in any deaths. A volunteer fire brigade was established in 1934.
Fires of Plimmerton timeline
c1907 - Plimmerton House burnt down. It was a big house and there was little or no water available.
c1920 - Steyne House burnt down.
A fire at Plimmerton destroyed 8 houses on Wednesday night, March 1930.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref C.6.3.
1930 - Eight houses burnt down in Steyne Avenue (numbers 40-44). The glare from the fire was visible in Pauatahanui and a striking photo in the Evening Post the next day shows only the chimneys standing. A lot of the houses were only used in the weekend. During this fire, people managed to remove furniture just in time and place it on the beach. When they finished they went home to bed, only to discover the furniture floating in the sea the next morning.
1932 - Taupo hall in Motuhara Road burnt down. The hall was a popular picture theatre and dance venue.
1954 - A fire destroyed the whole northern corner of Steyne Avenue, including the Theatre Royal, Casey's butcher shop, a hairdressers and a house, which constituted half the business area in Plimmerton. Fire engines came from as far away as Wellington and Paekakariki, but a rapidly receding and abnormally low tide hampered efforts to put the fire out.
Plimmerton Steyne Avenue and Moana Avenue.
Photo by Hannah Sutton, 2009
Plimmerton today consists of around 2,000 residents, more than half of which travel outside of Porirua City for work. Many of these workers catch the train to work from the Plimmerton Railway Station. The suburb has a number of shops on Steyne Avenue, including several cafes, a dairy and medical centre.
The beach which stretches around Moana Road is popular with daytrippers, local residents, surfers and boating enthusiasts. Dogs are allowed on most parts of the beach, but must be kept on a lead. It is possible to walk around the coast from Plimmerton to Pukerua Bay or there are several routes across the hill through native bush.
There is a Plimmerton Promenade Heritage Trail and pamphlet detailing sites of interest in Plimmerton. These include the site of Taupo Pa, and historic buildings such as Somme House, St Teresa's and St Andrew's Church, and the Kirkaldie family holiday home.
Source of information
- Heritage Trails - Porirua City. Plimmerton Promenade brochure published by Porirua City Council.
Continue to Sites of historical interest in Plimmerton or return to Plimmerton home page.