Friday, 9 August 2013

Down These Mean Streets: Street hazards of early Tauranga

Looking north along The Strand, c. 1883, showing the wooden seawall that was built to separate the roadway from the beach.
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 04-250
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the streets of Tauranga presented many perils to the unwary. Crime and violence, though not entirely unknown, were not the problem: it was the state of the streets themselves. Here are some of the challenges faced by citizens and visitors as they tried to go about their business.

Looking south along The Strand, c.1909, showing the concrete seawall, and the stout wooden cages protecting the palm trees from stock.
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 99-1308
The Sea. ‘Strand’ means ‘beach’, and Tauranga’s Strand was at first called Beach Street or simply The Beach, because that is what it was. The Strand got a wooden seawall in the 1870s, and was further buttressed by a concrete wall in 1902, but before that an easterly gale would dump sea water and sand into the shops.

Cows on Cameron Road, Tauranga c.1920s. The wide grass verges of Cameron Road being ‘mown’ by the Borough’s licensed cows.
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 11-109
Cows. The licensed cows of Tauranga were allowed to browse the grass verges until 1932. Unfortunately they did not restrict themselves to acting as the Borough Council’s unpaid mowing machines. They also snacked on garden blooms (an indignant householder produced half-eaten sunflowers as evidence at one Council meeting), palm trees on the Strand (in spite of the stout wooden cages around the plantings), and even cabbages at the greengrocer’s. Even when peacefully chewing the cud, they tripped people up in the dark Avenues at night, and blocked the entrances to shops.

Bulls. Where cows are, there may be bulls. The Bay of Plenty Times warned its readers of a bull wandering the streets in March 1876.

Horses. Horses roaming free were less tolerated than cattle. Faster and more skittish than cows, they regularly frightened pedestrians, and on at least one occasion a child was kicked in the head.

Dogs at The Strand, Tauranga, Undated, Loose print by unidentified photographer
Image © and courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection
Dogs. On the Strand in 1915, the motley forerunners of Hairy McLary and his friends felt quite at home. ‘Yellow dogs, black and white dogs, tan dogs, and others’ allegedly barked, slept, fought, and bit people with impunity. The unknown ‘dog-poisoning fiend’ reduced the town’s canine population by killing 20 animals between the Strand and Tenth Avenue in the summer of 1917. However, only a month later a large and ferocious bulldog was said to be roaming the streets at night.

(to be continued)


  1. Thanks for this blog, as someone who grew up in Tauranga in the 1970's and 1980's it's fascinating to see Tauranga back through the ages. I was never interested in Taurangas history when I was a kid, but now find it fascinating.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Calum. Hopefully we can keep you entertained with regular images and tales. If you have any stories and photos relating to your youth, we're always looking for new material.

  3. My wife also enjoyed your blog. Her grandfather owned the farm behind the hospital and the road names murray, Laurence,Neil place, Matthew street, Arden road are her family names.