Shop in Whakarewarewa, 1926

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Shop in Whakarewarewa, 1926.


This photo was taken around the time that a Commission to inquire and report upon the necessity or advisability of establishing model villages on the sites of the present villages of Ohinemutu and Whakarewarewa was reporting back.

The Commission was established by Prime Minister, the Honorable Mr. Coates and included Charles John McKenzie (PWD Acting Engineer-in-Chief), Reginald Bedford Hammond (Town Planning consultant, Auckland),  John Thomas Mair (Wellington, Government architect) Henry Taiporutu Mitchell (Surveyor, Rotorua) and Dr Peter Henry Buck (Director of Maori Hygiene).

It would appear that the early European administration of Rotorua township did not affect the village to any appreciable extent. In 1900 the Maori Councils Act was passed and the village came under the jurisdiction of the Arawa Maori Council who gazetted by-laws dealing with health and sanitation but administered via Komiti Maraes (Village Committees). Whilst the rush houses were picturesque they were poorly ventilated with earthen floors. Before the Komiti could make much in the way of changes the Tourist Department took over control of Rotorua township and persuaded the village to withdraw from the Arawa Maori Council and come under the direct control of the Tourist Department.

In 1923 under the Rotorua Borough Council Act the Council took over administration of the village, albeit with the assistance of the Village Committee and a caretaker.

The commission recommendations included a detailed survey be done to allow the design of a sewerage scheme and to ascertain the number of buildings to be removed or modified (to ease the overcrowding  and to allow 'alterations to maintain the outstanding feature of Maori architecture - namely, the front elevation with its distinctive maihi or barge-boards'.)

Also recommended were the removal of the existing tea-rooms on the Government Reserve and the improvement of the entrance to Whakarewarewa by removal of the existing unsightly buildings and the provision of suitable entrance gates

In the Maori portion of Whakarewarewa Reserve 'a school of Maori art , where particular attention is paid to carving, should be encouraged,...'

Thanks to the Don Stafford File 'Whakarewarewa' and to the J. K. and H. D. Fuller Collection. 

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