|Napier's Marine Parade|
|Sunday, 11 September 2011 15:17|
Marine Parade, as the name suggests, runs along the sea front. The area is very nice.
The story of these gardens begins with the need to keep the sea from running down into the town.
From the tourist information centre you can procure a book that guides you around the significant architecture.
Marine Parade's park can occupy you for some time if you care to take the time.
There are lots of the bleeding obvious and, tucked away in quiet corners, the not-so-obvious such as this waterwheel and other fountains other than the gorgeous standout in the previous tip.
Marine Parade isn't only a nice place to stroll in the daytime. At night the fountain, sound shell and buildings on the landward side of the road are brilliantly lit up. This is the A & B Building (with the clock tower) and the Masonic Building, which houses a hostel and two restaurants/bars.
Marine Parade Gardens
Colourful flowers down the side of the Marine Parade Gardens.
The story of these gardens began with the need to keep the sea from overtopping the beach and running down into the town.
A permanent sea wall was built in 1887-88 to replace an unsatisfactory wooden structure. The 'new' wall is still there - the low round-topped wall dividing the gardens from the Marine Parade footpath and roadway. Before the 1931 earthquake, the shingle beach came right up to this wall.
The tectonic plate movement which caused the earthquake raised the beachfront by two metres, resulting in a greatly enlarged area of shingle above high tide level.
Appointed Government Commissioner to oversee Napier's restoration following the destructive earthquake, J S Barton asked Charles Corner, the superintendent of the city's parks and reserves, if rubble from downtown's shattered buildings could be used in beach reclamation. When Corner replied that it could, the commissioner said: "Get on with the job. If I am not satisfied, I will let you know." He must have be satisfied, because the stretch of beach from the Ocean Spa swimming complex to the Marine Parade children's playground south of Marineland was levelled using horse-drawn scoops and the rubble unloaded there covered with clay and soil.
Promoters of Napier as a seaside resort had a long-held vision for a European-style line of 'promenade gardens'. The way was now open to realise of these dreams. Although it was the time of the Great Depression and money was scarce, Government subsidised work relief provided labour for the venture.
Retaining walls along the beach enabled the gardens and lawns to occupy a long raised terrace that ran south to the Soundshell.
In 1936, a substantial concrete sea wall with a walkway on the top was built from the Soundshell south to Raffles Street. The beach build-up can be best seen by standing alongside the 'Tui' anchor, mounted on the Rotary Pathway near the Sunken Garden. In 1938, a flight of eleven concrete steps linked the walkway to the beach.
Originally the gardens were a long expanse of unbroken lawn, stretching from a children's playground beside a swimming pool at the foot of Bluff Hill south to the skating rink site. The Kirk Sundial was the first feature to grace the gardens. It was donated by the mayor Gisborne and designed by Louis Hay.
The Thirty Thousand Club was formed in 1913 to promote the population of Napier up to 30,000. Over 62 years, this group of volunteers ran promotional events, raised funds and financially supported improvements to the township. They played an important role in the development of the Soundshell, Skating Ring and Colonnade (later known as the Veronica Sun Bay). A Thirty Thousand Club member, Tom Parker donated the Tom Parker Fountain, celebrated for its synchronised play of water jets and changing display of coloured lights. Also a member, A B Hurst and his wife donated the Floral Clock.
In 1954, the club donated the Pania of the Reef sculpture. Sited just south of the Tom Parker Fountain, it too has become a Napier icon. The statue made national headlines when, in 2005, it was stolen from its limestone rock base. It was recovered a fortnight later and re-set, in a much more secure fashion, onto the original base.