Howick’s Centennial 1947

Howick Centennial Parade, Selwyn Road, 1947.

As Howick, Pakuranga and districts count down to the 175th anniversary, the Times continues its series by Alan La Roche giving readers a glimpse of life as it used to be. The countdown began at the 170th in 2017

After World War II, some new immigrants from Britain and the Netherlands, together with older residents, started planning Howick’s centennial in November 1947.

In 1847, many Fencible families were escaping from the Irish Potato Famine or over-crowded polluted industrial cities to make a fresh new start in Howick.

Most of the first Fencible soldier-settlers arrived on November 15, 1847, at Howick Beach, disappointed at the treeless landscape but were warmly welcomed by Maori chiefs Wiremu Te Wheoro and Tara Te Irirangi.

Miss Nixon had recorded the Maori and European history of Howick.

The Howick Town Board encouraged local clubs and societies to prepare plans for floats for a grand parade and other special events.

The grand parade started at Howick Beach led by Princess Te Puea Herangi representing the Maori community. She was the eldest daughter of Maori King Tawhiao.

Te Puea was accompanied by her friend Ngeungeu Te Irirangi of Ngai Tai Umupuia, tangata whenua of Howick area along with twenty Ngai Tai supporters.

Their ancestors landed here about 1000 years ago. With the One Tree Hill Brass Band playing Sussex by the Sea, and two Scottish pipers, they all headed up Selwyn Road to the Howick Town Hall followed by a platoon of red coated soldiers, early settlers, and naval crew all in authentic costumes.

Bewhiskered gentry, with bushmen and farmers on horseback, all represented the early settlement of Howick.

Veterans of the Boer War, World War I and II in uniform were followed by horse-drawn buggies, Clydesdales hauling a large wagon of settlers, a dray load of hay and a phaeton carriage, mounted Pakuranga Huntsmen in scarlet uniform and an 1895 Benz motorcar that struggled but was soon hitched to the Volunteer Howick Fire Brigade fire engine.

Cars and a few motorbikes from 1900 were on display followed by highly decorated floats from every Howick club, then giant noisy earthmoving monsters completed the procession.

More than 5000 watched and applauded the participants.

Speeches were given from the balcony of the Marine Hotel by Princess Te Puea, acting chairman of Howick Town Board Cecil Litten, Prime Minister Peter Fraser, Opposition Leader Syd Holland, Mayor of Auckland John Allum and Chairman of Manukau County Council Mr McDougall.

A lunch was then held at the Marine Hotel followed by entertainment with Maori performing poi dances, action songs, then wheelbarrow races, slow cycle “races”, a tricycle race and other novelty events.

The band concert, puppet shows, refreshment stalls and a merry-go-round were on paddocks now covered with the Howick Information Centre. A fancy dress ball was held in the Howick Town Hall that evening.

The next day there were celebratory Anglican and Catholic church services, remembering the 100 years of service.

In the following week there was a Centennial Flower Show, a children’s sports-day, golf competition and rugby games. There were church socials, a garden party at the Catholic Convent attended by Bishop Liston, a Howick Lodge Ball and a grand dance on Saturday evening.

A children’s ball in the evening and a carnival sports day in the Domain and a mannequin show presenting clothing over the last 100 years were all part of the week-long centennial festivities.

Alan La Roche MBE
Howick Historian
alanlaroche@xtra.co.nz