Queen Elizabeth Park
When Masterton was surveyed in 1854 an area was set aside for “Public Reserve” on the site which is now Queen Elizabeth Park. However when the reserves were gazetted in 1861, Queen Elizabeth Park was included among the “Education Reserves”. (Land from which revenue was generated to provide schools). As a result the land was leased and vested for rough grazing.
In 1870 an attempt was made to set the land aside for public use, but it was not until 1875 that a successful petition achieved acquiring the land for the town. A publicly elected Trust was formed in 1877.
One of the first Trustees was a local nurseryman W.W. McCardle who prepared plans for the park. The first major planting occurred in 1878. The park was known as “Masterton Park” until 1954 when it was renamed after the newly crowned monarch, Queen Elizabeth.
One of the priorities for the Park Improvement Committee when the Masterton Park came under the control of the Masterton Borough Council was the establishment of an “ornamental water.” When the land was awarded to the Masterton Trust Lands Trust to add to the Park in 1904 it was decided to construct the ornamental waters in an old ox bow off the Waipoua River.
In September 1906 it was resolved by the Council to add some protective works to the banks of the river (along the old river course at the bottom of Dixon Street, at Bruce Street) and to add the “artificial water”. The lake was completed in 1907. Bathing was popular in the early years of the Park’s existence, and as early as 1908 swimming carnivals were held in the Lake, to raise funds for further improvements. A diving board was placed at the eastern end of the Lake, and high diving events were placed on the programme.
A childrens’ paddling pool was added to the Lake, at the area where the inlet came into the Lake, in 1914. During the early years the Council turned down applicants who wished to run motor launches on the Lake, as well as a commercial water shute.
The major island is divided into four by several channels. Extensive planting having taken place at different times. The major refit came when it was decided to make the lake a memorial to World War II. The lake was extended and renamed the “Lake of Remembrance”. At the same time an avenue of trees (oaks) was planted to establish Memorial Drive around the northern side of the lake.
Situated in the historic Kiosk building, it is operated as a private operation.
The Kiosk was built in 1912 as a tearooms and was known as Coronation Hall to commemorate the coronation of King George V.
Charles Alyner Pownall moved to Masterton as a 22 year old in 1887 a year after becoming a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court in Wellington. He established a legal practice and was elected Masterton’s Mayor at age 24 – the youngest to ever hold the office. In 1893, he implemented the raising of 30,000 pounds to establish a water and drainage scheme for the town, putting an end to artesian wells and cesspits. Pownall was elected to the position of Mayor twice more between 1896 to 1902.
He had a special interest in the beautification of the town and in the Park. The gate was dedicated on June 3rd 1903. Pownall died in 1912 aged 47 years.
There were problems with the procuring of the gates. Originally the four pillars were to have been of cast iron but the agreed tender of 65 pounds supplied posts of only half the expected diameter. To provide the correct size would have been too expensive, so concrete posts were erected instead. These provided a strong base for the cast iron gates to be hung with the inscription “C.A. Pownall” and “Mayor 1890-1902”.
In the early 1960’s an arch was erected over the gates bearing the words “Queen Elizabeth Park”.
Wairarapa Soldiers Memorial
The bronze figurine of “The Last Anzac” stands atop the War Memorial just through the gates of Queen Elizabeth Park. Erected in 1923, it commemorates the last soldier off the beach at Anzac Cove and was sculptured by the Lynch brothers of Auckland. It is one of two figurines, the other being on the Devonport memorial in Auckland. There are 438 names engraved on the original plaque.
In 1952 a special ceremony was held on Anzac Day where panels of the names of men and women who lost their lives in the second world war were unveiled.
The historic cemetery was revitalised in 1973 when consideration was given to convert the site into a passive recreation area.
The community reacted strongly against this, taking into account the notable figures buried there, including Masterton’s founder, Joseph Masters. The pioneer cemetery was officially established and cleaned up by a group of volunteers. A lych gate creating an entrance into the park was also erected.
In November 1974, Miss Lena Iorns, a direct descendant of Mr Joseph Masters unveiled a plaque “In memory of our pioneers…”. It was erected by the Wairarapa branch of the New Zealand Founders Society.
The Hosking Garden
William Henry Hosking or “Old Doctor Hosking” was a familiar figure in the rutted and dusty streets of the small Masterton township of the 1890’s. He was small, dapper, bearded and wore a top hat. He was reportedly always in a hurry.
Superintendent of Masterton Hospital for 20 years, Dr Hosking was ahead of his time using hypnosis on his patients and he had an x-ray machine in his home. He bought radium to use on his patients, made his own serum for injections and did his own research. He is reported to have been one of the first doctors in New Zealand to introduce x-ray apparatus and perhaps not surprisingly he died of radium poisoning at the age of 76.
The most famous anecdote about Dr Hosking was that in the centre of his top hat he carried his stethoscope or plant cuttings or specimens from patients insides to be analysed at home.
He was keenly interested in horticulture and was responsible for the introduction of hedgehogs and toads to the Masterton District.
Today’s sunken garden was originally the Christina and Alice Hosking Baths (commonly known as the C and A baths) which in 1910 were given to the women of Masterton by Doctor Hosking. The baths were named after his wife and daughter.
The baths were a grand affair with changing rooms while the baths themselves were 75 feet long and 40 feet wide. There was also installed a seat in one corner of the building where a woman was employed to sit to “supervise the behaviour of the swimmers.” It was the doctor’s daughter Christina who completed the opening festivities of the day by being the first to dive into the pool.
The baths however, were badly damaged in the 1942 earthquake but it was not until 1967 that the council of the time listened to their Superintendent of Parks, Colin Pugh and agreed to have a sunken garden built, using the original foundation from the pool.
The gardens were opened by Miss Christina Hosking.
Masterton Municipal Brass Band Rooms
The Masterton Municipal Brass Band opened its new band rooms in Queen Elizabeth Park in Masterton, in March 1986. Previously it had been housed in an old room on the Dixon Street side of Queen Elizabeth park for some eighty years before the shift.
The band’s origins date back as far as 1873 and is one of the oldest bands in New Zealand.
Edward VII Band Rotunda
Since its settlement Masterton had attempted to raise funds for a band rotunda. It was not until the Coronation of Edward VII on August 9, 1902 and the help of a special celebration subsidy that the plan became reality. The band rotunda was built on the park oval as a coronation memorial being completed in June 1903.
The Masterton band led a large crowd of dignitaries and residents in procession from Masterton Post Office to the park for the double opening and dedication of the band rotunda and the C.A. Pownall Memorial Gates. Mr P.L. Hollings, Chairman of the Coronation Celebration Committee and President of the band officially opened the band rotunda.
One of the original trees in Queen Elizabeth Park – a great Redwood – was struck by lightning during a storm in mid 1989. The damage caused the tree to be dangerous and had to be felled.
Parks staff counted the rings on the tree stump left in the ground and ascertained that it was over 114 years old, making it one of the original trees planted in the park.
It was decided that the stump was to be kept as a ‘history table’. The felled wood was used to create a memorial.
Today forming an intricate ‘umbrella’ over the tree stump, the redwood shingle roof and trellis sides form the shade, while the trunk beneath it forms a seat or table for viewing the oval.
The grandstand which stands alongside the oval in Queen Elizabeth Park was built in 1895. As early as 1879 there had been attempts to erect a grandstand, but these all faltered until 1895 when a concerted drive for public subscriptions was successful in getting the building erected.
During the 1920’s a Beautifying Society was formed in Masterton. This society was very interested in upgrading the Masterton Park, and they provided a number of new features to the park over the years.
One of the first of these was the fernery, which was built in 1924, and planted with 57 different varieties of fern.
The following year the Rose Garden was built, and planted with bushes provided by the society.
Within the Park the society provided the scarlet oaks for the Memorial Drive around the lake after World War 2, a native border near the Pioneer Cemetery, and the Rhododendron Walk on the southern boundary.
Colin Pugh Sports Bowl
Originally known as Masterton’s Sports Bowl, the sports field attached to Queen Elizabeth Park was renamed, the Colin Pugh Sports Bowl in 1989. It was named after Colin Pugh following his retirement from the position of Superintendent of Parks in Masterton after 27 years service. The park is used for soccer, athletics and cycling. In 2012 a synthetic athletic track was completed at the Sports Bowl.
Conditions of Public Use – Pelorus Track (All Weather Track)
For the enjoyment and safety of all users, please
• No wheels, food or pets on the track
• Use lanes 4-8 for training – save lanes 1-3 for events or they will wear out too fast
• Only bare feet, running shoes or spiked running shoes
• Throwers please repair your holes created from throwing implements – the in-field is often used for cross-training
If there are other individuals or groups using the facility:
• Priority 1: Groups who have hired the whole facility through www.allweathertrack.org.nz
• Priority 2: Groups or individuals who have hired part facility have priority for the areas booked eg: Throwing circle
• Priority 3: Competitive users who have paid an annual $57.50 fee to the Track Trust have next priority
• In most cases, lanes 7-8 will remain open to the public even when another group is using other lanes
If track and field athletes wish to train at the same time, for everyone’s safety:
• Introduce yourselves and explain your programmes / training intentions. Caution other people present.
• Athletes – do not cut across the infield when throwers are training. Only use the track. Maintain distance.
• Hammer throwers – extreme caution, cones or warnings symbol, preferably have a spotter present
• All other throwers – cones or warning symbol
For enquiries and bookings please visit the sportsgrounds page.