Petone is where it all started for Wellington in January 1840.
From a Maori perspective it could be regarded as the primary infection site. Back then, it was known to the Tangata whenua (people of the land) as Pito-one, and was a swampy area backed by heavy forest. But the settlers were made welcome by the great chief Te Puni. Now it is a quirky suburb of Lower Hutt City, characterised by many old working class villas in varying states of disrepair or restoration. Here and there, there are rather grander establishments, the home of ambitious and successful early settlers. Thomas Price arrived in 1842 and became a successful sawmiller and timber merchant. He built his rather grand home in 1901, not only to house his family, but also to showcase all the products his business could supply. Ill-health forced him to move to Wellington a year later and the place acquired the name “Price’s Folly.”
However, the main attraction for most visitors to Petone is its main street, Jackson Street. It runs parallel to the foreshore, two blocks back from the beach and is lined with shops and restaurants. Unlike the carefully managed balance of the malls, Jackson Street has a surfeit of odd, sometimes eccentric shops. There are a great many coffee shops and fast food outlets. A bookshop that specialises in cookery books, a knife shop, a candle shop, a few too many second-hand shops, none of which would match the polished templates of mall management. Many of the old buildings, however have been carefully restored to a condition often exceeding their original glory.
A favourite shop when we first came to the area was Rayner and Woodward. It was an old-fashioned hardware store. It was the kind of shop where you told the assistant what you wanted and he (it was always a he) went out the back and returned with a selection form which to choose. The building has been restored and converted to a tavern. Even that is a little unconventional since the owners encourage you to bring your own food if you wish, though they have a reasonable menu of their own.
Every effort is made to preserve and restore the old, but now and then demolition is necessary when the risk in this earthquake-prone land is deemed too high to be economically mitigated. This building, next to the old town hall clock is being taken down, and I am trying to find the history that required that large clear span. (Update: a friend had seen a reference to the old “State Picture Theatre” and there is a picture in the National Library archives that show it in its glory days … follow the link)
In the side alleys of the industrial area, there are many little garages and storage sheds and of course they are a target for the ubiquitous spray cans.
Sorry to have been late.