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  • Keith Newman

Haumoana Paradise by the Sea

Haumoana Playground Story - battle for playground and facilities

In the first years of the 20th century, Clive Grange Beach, the Tukituki river mouth and camp ground were a popular holiday spot with many day trippers heading out for a picnic. Tattersall’s stables ran a dray to the beach at 9am every Sunday, for a return fare of 2/6d. Special arrangements were made for family picnic parties. Holidaymakers were so taken with their time in this paradise by the sea they were reluctant to return home, with headmasters reporting the numbers returning to school in early February 1904 were significantly reduced. In the holiday period of 1906-1907 around 40-50 families were camped there.

After drowning accidents, “a beach improvements committee provided lifebuoys and warning notices” to make life at Clive Grange beach safer.

However, efforts by the Clive Grange (Haumoana) Improvement Society to have suitable amenities installed to cater for the burgeoning picnic and camping area dragged on for several years.

When amenities were finally put in place, having them maintained presented a further challenge as did gaining some local ownership of the area and recognition of local concerns about the shifting river mouth and the erratic driving of visitors in their newfangled motor vehicles.

Conveniences needed

In May 1914 two bathing sheds were washed away in a flood and the Haumoana Improvement Committee at its annual meeting at Clive Grange Presbyterian Church in January 1915, wrote possibly for a second or third time to the HB County Council urgently requesting conveniences be provided due to the “large crowds visiting the area”.

In October, the committee made a further request for conveniences, and to seek some control over land at the river mouth. It wanted improvements to the remaining men’s bathing sheds and new rings for the swings in the playground. And it continued its correspondence with The River Board warning of a new threat to the area, “the cut in the river” was threatening settlers at Clive Grange.

The committee was also concerned that cyclists were being run off the Hastings to the Grange road by over eager motorists. “The inconvenience and discomfiture of being smothered in dust is bad enough, but the danger to cyclists who are apt to be thrown from their track by ruts and stones etc is a very real one. The fact that half the surface of the road to the Grange is rough metal has aggravated the trouble this year and motorists have no compunction in rushing up on the smooth half of the road even though it may be the wrong side with the same speed they do when they have the road clear.”

The failure of the HBCC to respond to multiple requests for improved conveniences at Haumoana was on the agenda again in January 1916 as were the other prevailing issues, The River Board’s failure to close the ‘cut’ in the river and speeding motorists during weekends and holidays. The Police were now being asked to take action.

A year later the committee, having failed to get any response from the River Board, wrote again stating their failure to close the cut meant “the island was nearly wasted away”.

‘The island’ can only refer to one of three islands in the river mouth where early Maori settlements had been. The remains of two can still be seen on the northern estuaries of the Tukituki which can be viewed from East Clive (Waipureku).

Unsanitary conditions

By early 1917 it was evident no local council was willing to support the formation of a Domain Board to look after the camping area and its facilities. No action had been taken to provide new facilities and the bathing sheds were becoming unsanitary “through misuse”.

A sub-committee was formed to deal with sanitary improvements and look into whether the sheds may need to close.

Finally, in December 1917, there was action. The Hastings Standard, commended the Beach Improvement committee for its work in erecting public conveniences at the Clive Grange beach. A substantial concrete water tower had been built with ladies and men’s dressing sheds on either side, including cisterns, wash basins, and showers.

“Tents were already being erected ahead of the camping season and all available houses and whare’s were already rented out.” Within a year, however, letters to the local papers complained the conveniences were “going from bad to worse…and becoming a discredit to the residents and the local beach committee. In December 1920 one writer referred to sanitary arrangements as being more like “a death trap”.

Concurrently a challenge to the preferred seaside resort was being mounted to the south by rival seaside resort, Te Awanga with its popular lagoon and camping ground slowly evolving and plans for small whares (huts) for weekend visitors going ahead.

The facilities at Haumoana were gradually eroded by inundation and finally Around 1936 village was completely flooded; the playground and facilities irreparably damaged and concrete retaining walls placed along the beach to protect the area were buried under shingle.

Swings at Grange Beach (Haumoana)

Sources: Hastings Standard, 23 Jan 1915 Hastings Standard, 23 October, 1915 Hastings Standard, 13 January 1916 Hastings Standard, 25 Jan 1917 Hastings Standard, 17 December 1917 Hastings Standard, issue 208, 2 Dec 1920 Hastings Standard, 11 February 1919 Hastings Standard, 4 March 1920. City of the Plains, A History of Hastings, M.B Boyd, Victoria University Press (for Hastings City Council), 1984, p 155.

Photo: Swings at Grange Beach, MTG Archives with permission

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