Hawera is the second-largest town in the Taranaki region of New Zealand's North Island, with a population of 11,950. It is near the coast of the South Taranaki Bight.
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Access to the water tower is obtained from the i-SITE Information Centre, which is located right beside the water tower, on High Street.
Hawera has always seemed to have had some association with fire. The name, ‘Te Hawera’ which means ‘the burnt place’, came about many years ago after an incident between two feuding Maori tribes in the area. One tribe surprised the other in the dead of night and burned the village to the ground ensuring there were no survivors – so the area became known as ‘the burnt place’.
With the arrival of European settlers, Te Hawera became shortened to Hawera and the district continued to live up to its name. In 1884 a hotel was razed, in 1888 a large fire destroyed five businesses and in 1912 a particularly disastrous fire destroyed a large proportion of the main street area.
This last event resulted in insurance companies demanding better fire fighting capacity for the town. The decision was made to build a water tower and construction began in 1912 and was completed in 1914. In 1932 following Hawera’s 50th Jubilee red neon lights were erected around the top of the tower as a memorial to the pioneers of the district. These neon lights remain today. More recently (2002 – 2004) the water tower underwent a $1.1 million restoration project to restore the historic landmark.
Planned for promenading, the park was also intended to be a source of inspiration for local gardeners, exhibiting collections of plants suitable for growing in the town and surrounding district. Remnants of the collection theme can be seen in the 15 varieties of hedge plant used across the park, the spring displays of daffodils and the heritage and modern rose gardens.
The park features several significant items of memorabilia; historic wrought iron gates, a marble statue of pioneering farmer Arthur Fantham and a bronze statue of Wendy, the companion piece to the Peter Pan in London’s Kensington garden. A purpose built model boating lake hosts an annual little ships regatta and the former tea kiosk and band rotunda is now Hawera’s observatory.
A 150 year old cannon has long been a favourite toy for children in the park along with a pirate ship and fort. Modern play equipment caters for toddlers and younger children, while seats, tables and an electric barbecue make the park a popular picnic venue.
As a public facility this park has no specific “best season to visit.” Winter sees Magnolias in bloom and festoons an aged Tawa with overwintering monarch butterflies, spring shows off the Azalea and Rhododendron collections, summer and autumn the rose gardens and annual borders. For 365 days a year, King Edward Park is truly a garden for all seasons.
Step inside and it’s a veritable shrine to the singer from Memphis who died 16th August, 1977, though KD, self-styled curator will argue, “it’s a celebration of Elvis’ life” he says, “not his death”. And so, very definitively, it is. Elvis on the walls and the ceiling. Elvis on the glasses, mugs, ties, cufflinks, book sleeves, album covers, even the barstools. The television plays endless Elvis reruns.
Born in Hawera, KD's a painter and paperhanging contractor by trade, but his Museum is his pride and joy. The museum can be found in the converted garage of his home in Hawera on New Zealand’s North Island. Make an appointment today to get a once in a lifetime tour!
Freedom camping in self-contained-vehicles is permitted in the carpark area of the TSB Hub, as highlighted in the map. Exclusion: there is carparking at either side of the TSB Hub. Three self-contained vehicles may park in the Waihi Carpark and three self-contained vehicles may park in the Camberwell Carpark at any one time. No person may freedom camp for more than three (3) consecutive nights in any calendar month. Check the comments for more information from users.
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