Delving into history of new restaurant

A new restaurant in Ohtel (the name was dreamt up by the previous owner) at 66 Oriental Parade is called Duppa Bar (pronounced Duppa like cuppa). It brings to mind the early history of Oriental Bay.

The good ship Oriental brought Duppa to New Zealand (National Library)

The good ship Oriental brought Duppa to New Zealand (National Library)

George Duppa was the first known resident of Oriental Bay. He was an early settler, arriving in New Zealand on the Oriental, which left England on 15 September 1839 and arrived in Port Nicholson on 31 January 1840. He had come, as had so many other early settlers, to make his fortune. He was just 21.

Before leaving England he had purchased from the New Zealand Company eight properties in Wellington – each comprising one town acre and 100 country acres. When he arrived in Port Nicholson he discovered that, owing to a delay in the surveys, he could only purchase land in the Wairarapa, which too had not yet been surveyed or even purchased from the Maori.

George Duppa (Ohtel)

George Duppa (Ohtel)

He therefore, with others, decided to clear ground on the west bank of the Hutt River, only to suffer flooding, a disastrous fire and then an earthquake. George Duppa moved to Port Nicholson. He had brought with him from England a prefabricated house, and he set it up below where the Monastery now stands. It acquired the nickname of Castle Doleful, as he lived there on his own.

Originally the settlers called this area ‘Duppa’ but it soon became Oriental Bay, named by Duppa after the ship that brought him to New Zealand. The area was so remote at that time that it was used as a quarantine station, the patients being looked after by a doctor and nurse in a tent on the beach.

Duppa’s time in Oriental Bay was, however, quite short. In June 1841 Colonel Wakefield asked Duppa to accompany Captain E Daniell to the South Island, to help locate a suitable site for Nelson. Duppa attempted to have his land rights honoured by the New Zealand Company in Nelson. He was refused. In time, however, he was granted the lease of the Lowry Peaks country, and this was the foundation of his huge St Leonards station.

Oriental Bay in the 1840s. (National Library)

Oriental Bay in the 1840s. (National Library)

Duppa remained in the South Island until he left New Zealand in 1862. He sold his land for a large amount of money. On his return to England he married a lady considerably younger than himself, and lived the life of a wealthy gentleman. He was one of the first men to make a fortune in New Zealand. Sadly he was unscrupulous in his dealings and even tried to defraud the manager of his St Leonards station, Robert Ross.

It is good to report that Adam Cunningham, the owner of Ohtel and of Duppa’s restaurant in Oriental Bay, is totally different from George Duppa. He is generous and community spirited, and is keen to play his part in the life of Oriental Bay. Call in and discover for yourselves what he offers to Oriental Bay residents.

Ann Mallinson collated the above information from the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.

— Bay View newsletter 72, November 2018

A long-ago mystery of the yacht club

In our last account of the history of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, the loss of the yacht Windward was mentioned. For local resident Lorraine Christie, it is a very personal memory which she writes about here:

The Windward (Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club archives)

The Windward (Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club archives)

The Windward was a 26.5 yacht built in Wellington in 1921 by Mr R Millman. It was built to withstand heavy weather; however, it failed to return from a trip to the Chatham Islands, lost in a storm between Cape Palliser and the Port Nicholson Boat Harbour on 15 January 1931. It remains one of the mysteries of the Club.

My interest in the article in Bay View stemmed from my uncle, Archibald Havlock Irwin (Arch) who was one of the four crew. They were lost before I was born, but I grew up very aware of a large photo of the Windward in pride of place on my grandmother’s wall in Ponsonby Road, Karori.

I grew up with the family myth of this highly talented athlete and new graduate of Victoria University who was lost at sea in the prime of his youth. I grew up knowing that my grandfather, whom I also never met, never got over the shock of the loss which contributed to his early death the following year.

An account of the loss of the Windward and the attempts to find out what happened is recorded in Little Ships by Ronald Carter (published by AH Reed in December 1944). It makes interesting reading, as great efforts were made to locate Windward. Carter concludes: “One of the mysteries of Cook Strait is that it seldom, if ever, gives up its dead. Many a brave little vessel has been sucked down into the vortex of the cross-road of mighty ocean currents never to rise again.”

— Bay View newsletter 72, November 2018

Oriental Parade’s street art


Walkers have enjoyed the murals on the seaside wall along Oriental Parade for many years. More recently a local house has had the same colourful treatment, and highly welcome it is too. Street artist Cinzah ‘Seekayem’ Merkens painted the frontage of No 134 Oriental Parade, next door to the swim shop. It makes me smile every time I walk past.

Bold and colourful, it uses elements of the surrounding flora and fauna, including the succulents growing in the owner’s garden. The wild plant and insect life on the waterfront have inspired him too. Top of the design is a tui, because these bold birds frequent the pohutakawa trees opposite and kept Cinzah company while he worked, with their chirrups and cheeky antics.

He wants to thank everyone who came by and expressed their appreciation while he was working and he also wants to give a massive thank-you to his client for having enough faith to give him such a free hand. We should give him thanks, too, for adding colour to our streetscape.

Cinzah drew and painted his way through high school. “Paper wasn’t big enough,” he says, “so a teacher gave me the tech room walls to paint!” He then moved on to the local skate bowl and painted there. At 17, an accident put him flat on his back, followed by six months in intensive rehab learning to walk again. But he didn’t let that hold him back too long. Soon he was painting once more, taking over galleries and studios but outgrowing them all.


He lived in Auckland for many years with his partner Ash and his two young children, but finally outgrew Auckland emotionally – as well as financially. “My whole generation is priced out of the market in Auckland. We weren’t getting ahead there. We were working around the clock just to live. We never saw each other.” So they moved to Napier where his first commission was to paint a fish and chip shop.

His street art can be seen around New Zealand now, including Auckland, New Plymouth, Mount Maunganui, Christchurch, Napier, Wellington and Marlborough. But it has also taken him round the world – to Australia, Mexico, North America, Japan, South-east Asia, Estonia and the Caribbean. For anyone wanting to see other examples of his work, go to:

Cinzah likes his art to be close to the environment. He often expresses views about pressing environmental issues. His work explores mythology, story-telling and themes such as the inter-relationship between humans and nature. He has also made a film about street art, emphasising its value as a legitimate branch of art and counteracting the perception of street art as “just spray-painting”.

— Judith Doyle, Bay View newsletter 72, November 2018


An influential music teacher

Florence Fitzgerald was a music teacher who lived in Hay Street, off Oriental Parade, in pre-World War II days. She was the first music teacher of Richard Farrell (1926-1958) who took lessons with her from the age of six until he was nine. Tragically, he died in a car accident in Britain in 1958 at only 31 years of age.

Richard Farrell, late 1950s. (Turnbull Library)

Richard Farrell, late 1950s. (Turnbull Library)

Richard Farrell has been described as New Zealand’s “greatest classical pianist”, achieving almost legendary status in his short career. While studying with Florence Fitzgerald as a child, he began to compose. At seven he played his own composition (a lament on the death of Archbishop Francis Redwood) with the Wellington Symphony Orchestra in a public concert.

His parents were not musicians but his uncle, John Farrell, was an actor and singer with J C Williamson Theatres. Richard Farrell attended St Mary’s Convent and St Patrick’s College – he was known affectionately as Junior Farrell at this time.

At 12 he moved to Sydney and studied at the NSW Conservatorium of Music for five years. The tenor Richard Tauber who was on an Australian tour at the time, offered him a European tour which Farrell couldn’t accept because World War II was looming.

Later he studied at the Juilliard School in New York, then toured the United States before returning to New Zealand and giving recitals round the country to great acclaim, including at the Wellington Town Hall. He moved to London in 1951 playing in the Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall under famous conductors, including Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Malcolm Sargent and Sir John Barbirolli.

He formed the Richard Farrell Piano Quartet and gave three seasons of chamber music concerts throughout Europe, later moving to Switzerland to prepare for a career as a conductor, his greatest ambition. But it was not to be: he died in a car accident in Sussex, UK, in May 1958.

If anyone has information on Florence Fitzgerald, we would love to hear from you in order to build a better picture of this music teacher who started Richard Farrell on his brilliant, but tragically short, career.

— Bay View newsletter 72, November 2018

Bringing back our birds


I often enjoy watching tui swooping from the Town Belt onto the flax bushes beside the Monastery zigzag. Their white throat tufts catch the sun as they search for nectar – no wonder the early settlers called them parson birds after the ‘clerical collar’ on their necks.

Occasionally I see fantails darting amongst the trees on the edge of the Town Belt, flicking those fluted tails back and forth. But my greatest joy remains the young kingfisher that sat still on the wires that stretch alongside my apartment, while I took a photograph. Although I resent Saturn’s wires that cut across the otherwise-lovely view of the harbour, at least they provide perches for the birds.

What a lot of thanks we should give to Zealandia and the Predator Free Wellington movement for bringing our birds back, even in suburbs near the city centre like Oriental Bay. A 2017 Wildlife Management International survey of bird populations in Wellington City found tui had increased threefold from 2011 to 2016 while kaka and kereru showed similar improvements over the same time. I haven’t yet seen a kaka near where I live – a treat in store, hopefully.

The wildlife sanctuary’s project began in 1995 when the Karori facility became the world’s first full-fenced eco-sanctuary (in 1999) and home to a multitude of native species. That spawned the Predator Free Wellington movement which aims, in the next 10 years, to have the capital free of pests – rats, possums, stoats, weasels, ferrets and hedgehogs.

Pest-free groups now exist in 25 Wellington suburbs. There are about 40 volunteer groups working in public reserves and some 5000 traps in reserve and backyard areas. A $3.27 million funding boost to Predator Free Wellington and Capital Kiwi over five years was announced by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage in August of this year.

— Judith Doyle, Bay View newsletter 72, November 2018

The Next Era of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club

In the last issue of Bay View, we described the formation of the yacht club and the building of the boat harbour at Clyde Quay. (This history is abbreviated from the club’s website.)

The standard yacht-racing course in these early years was around Somes and Ward Islands, starting and finishing at the clubhouse at Pipitea Point. On occasion, matches were arranged around a buoy off Pencarrow Lighthouse. Harbour racing was popular, as it is today. Tack-by-tack reports appeared in the local press after each weekend’s racing.

Towards the end of the 1880s reclamation began on the harbour front, and the Club’s headquarters were transferred from Pipitea Point to a site near the old Thorndon Baths. The sport of yachting flourished in the 1890s. A New Zealand championship yacht race was proposed in 1891 and later that year the New Zealand Yachting Association was formed and its sailing rules were adopted by Port Nicholson Yacht Club.

The outbreak of World War I saw many members joining the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and Club affairs slowed. Out of a membership of 130 in 1917, 54 members were away at war. ...... At the end of World War I, the Te Aro Sailing Club (formed in 1906 by a group of young lads with centreboard yachts) and the Te Ruru Yacht Club (a group mainly interested in cruising) amalgamated with the PNYC.

A few records remain from the 1900 to 1930 period, the most significant event being the granting of the Royal Charter to the Club in October 1921. In the following year the Governor-General, Viscount Jellicoe, was selected to represent Wellington at the Sanders Cup in Dunedin. The Port Underwood race of the 1929–30 season was the first to be reported by radio.

In December 1930 the club yacht Windward made a historic passage to the Chatham Islands crewed by experienced Club members — I P Rollings, C A Steele, A H Irwin and D A Graham. Unfortunately, Windward failed to reach Wellington on her return voyage. She was last sighted sailing in heavy conditions in Palliser Bay and was believed to have been lost close to home.

The depression of the 1930s resulted in the curtailment of many social activities and cast gloom over the Club’s 50th anniversary in 1933. World War II affected the Club greatly. In the first year more than 100 members were in the forces and more were joining.

When the American forces arrived in New Zealand in 1942 the Clyde Quay boat harbour was turned over to them, and all craft other than those requisitioned for defence service had to be removed. Throughout World War II the Club operated in temporary premises in Evans Bay and only returned to the old Clubhouse adjacent to the Freyberg Pool when the Americans left at the war’s end.

By 1948 it was apparent that the old Clubhouse was not adequate for the Club’s needs, and a sub-committee was formed to discuss new facilities. It proposed that a new Clubhouse be built on a site near the Clyde Quay Wharf. In view of the Americans having taken over the boat harbour and the old Clubhouse, Commander Coene of the US Marines proposed that the RPNYC be able to take over the premises as the new Clubhouse.

The RPNYC trough a maze of masts

The RPNYC trough a maze of masts

So the Club’s main concern in the early 1950s was to obtain a new Clubhouse, and there was much fundraising activity including the selling of “Special Life Memberships” at £25 each. Tenancy of the Clubhouse was negotiated in 1956 and, after extensive renovations, the building was opened as the new Clubhouse on 1 November 1958. The opening of the Clubhouse marked the beginning of the Club’s current history and a sharp increase in the number of members and new boats.

The club’s centenary in 1983 opened a new era in the club’s history and these recent years will be described in the next Bay View.

— Bay View newsletter 71, May 2018

Take a Moderne Walk in Oriental Bay

Art deco is well-known in New Zealand but its successor — the Moderne style — is less well-known, and we have several distinctive examples in Oriental Bay.

This Moderne style took art deco a bit further. Buildings got bigger and, prompted partly by the experience of the 1931 Napier earthquake and partly as a response to new overseas styles, heavy decoration was shed and sleeker forms favoured.

The curving frontage of Olympus is pure Moderne

The curving frontage of Olympus is pure Moderne

Sunhaven, with some Moderne features

Sunhaven, with some Moderne features

Anscombe Flats, where the architect lived

Anscombe Flats, where the architect lived

It’s surprising that so many buildings were built in Wellington — including in Oriental Bay — in the 1930s, during the Depression. The 1920s had seen an absolute building boom which the Depression largely ended. Building activity never actually ceased, however, as can be seen in our own suburb. To see examples of the Moderne style, take a walk, starting at Olympus, the curving blue and white building at the corner of Grass Street and Oriental Parade. Continue along the Parade towards the city and pass Sunhaven with its five balconies. Our third example is Anscombe Flats near the bottom of Oriental Terrace. Its superb Moderne style includes lovely rounded corners and moulded window hoods.

Olympus and Anscombe Flats were designed by Edmund Anscombe (1873-1948), one of New Zealand’s most distinguished architects. He bought the land in 1933, at the age of 60 when he was widowed. He planned to sell the apartments and live on the top floor of Anscombe. The building was completed in 1937 and Anscombe lived there until his death in 1948. A modern addition has been added to the top floor.

Olympus has an entrance in the side street away from the bay and our most frequent winds. It also avoids taking space on the sea side with its spectacular views. There are no porches jutting out in front of each flat, which add to the streamline effect. Sunhaven, between the two Anscombe buildings, was designed by Victor Smith and built in 1939. It does not use the rounded corners so beloved by the Moderne style but he does use the flat reinforced concrete slab walls, the projecting balconies with curved corners, the rolled steel hand-railing and the flat roof — all hallmarks of the Moderne. Although the original plan was for eleven stories, the Council reduced it to six. Even so, at the time it was built, it was the highest building in Oriental Parade.

— Judith Doyle, Bay View newsletter 71, May 2018

The Oriental Bay Rafts

The rafts are a very popular attraction of Oriental Bay, providing as they do hours of enjoyment for young and not so young swimmers.

They were the brainchild of Virginia Barton-Chapple, who had returned to New Zealand in 1980 after 20 years in London. In 1984 the Oriental Bay Residents Association had just been reformed, under the chairmanship of Henry Ward. It had been in recess for many years, and was resurrected by Roger Newport.

Virginia joined OBRA as a committee member in 1984, and suggested that they work on the idea of rafts for the bay. She had seen rafts in Auckland, and was worried by seeing swimmers going out to the Oriental Bay fountain and climbing onto it. She could see trouble, and she was right — lights were broken and the mechanism of the fountain was affected. The Council put strong wire round the fountain in an effort to deter swimmers from climbing onto it, but then there was the worry that people would hurt themselves on the wire.

The 1984 OBRA Committee, however, was not keen on the idea of spending time and money on rafts — very few of the committee members were swimmers — but in 1985 David Rendel became President, and he progressed the idea. The Wellington City Council backed the project, and it took shape. The arrangement was that OBRA would make the rafts and prepare them for the water (I remember helping to paint them in a small hut in Evans Bay), and the Council agreed to transport them, lower them into the water, and house them through the winter months. OBRA being very new did not have the funds to pay for them, and the Ilott family (Jack Ilott was a resident of Oriental Bay) with their usual generosity provided the necessary funding.

In 2014 the original rafts needed to be replaced, and OBRA approached Joanna and Noel Todd and Pub Charity, who very kindly provided the funding for them. OBRA then gifted them to the Wellington City Council, who now own them. Many Oriental Bay residents will remember the chilly day in November 2014 when the Mayor, Celia Wade Brown, launched the new rafts, and then swam out to one of them.


The rafts have been a huge success, and is an endeavour of which Oriental Bay residents can be proud. They have now been enjoyed for over 30 years. It was disappointing that recently young people tried to upturn one of them. The Regional Council took immediate action, and both sides of the raft have now been strapped to the chain which connects the platform to the seabed. It is to be hoped that they survive many more summers, and become a permanent attraction of Oriental Bay.

— Ann Mallinson, Bay View newsletter 71, May 2018

Catastrophe at Te Aro Baths

Neville Martin now lives in Khandallah, but spent his youth in Oriental Bay, where he regales us with some of his escapades and experiences (taken from his memoir Playing Against the Wind).

One anecdote which he recounts tells of the morning when a southerly got the best of the old Te Aro baths:

They were one of Wellington’s recreational jewels. Filled with saltwater (which helped the buoyancy), they had several diving boards and sundry other wonders. On the day in question I was gazing out of our front window at the squalls being driven across the harbour by a particularly vindictive southerly when gracefully, almost regally, something clearly not intended for a sea-going career hove into view. It was the baths, torn by the wind from their piles and any other attachments to terra firma and headed in the general direction of Petone. I can report that the good ship Te Aro broke up before reaching shore. There was no loss of life. The custodian, if he was present that morning, had made the eminently sensible decision to abandon ship before the voyage began.

The old baths were eventually replaced by the Freyberg Pool, a building singularly unimpressed by anything in Nature’s armoury — save, one suspects, the Big One. We were raised just out of the Second World War’s clutches — but not of its thrall. As I recall, the green belt behind the Bay teemed with German and Japanese soldiers. We boys mowed them down in pitched battle after pitched battle — and without the loss of a single life on our side. When it wasn’t the armies of the belligerent nations which demanded our attention, it was the losses of Wild West outlaws hiding in the tumbleweed on the empty sections which eventually were to sprout the high-rise apartment buildings of today’s Oriental Bay.

Digital technology enables children living in those apartments now to destroy armies of incoming aliens and carloads of Mafiosi at the press of a thumb. No need to get wet or risk scratches and cuts.

— Bay View newsletter 71, May 2018

Final Chapter of Church Restoration

The little wooden church on the hill has been Oriental Bay’s backdrop for more than a century. The structural part of St Barnabas went through a full-scale restoration in 2007 from strengthening the foundations to replacing the tower, along with a new entrance and heating. But the leaking main roof was left for the next re-paint when scaffolding would be needed for both jobs. So now, ten years on, both have been completed. The Friends of St Barnabas and parishioners have raised $65,000, with another $10,000 needed.

St B’s is a thriving church with a wide-ranging age group including a programme for youngsters during the Sunday service. The music tradition is thriving with Mark Dorrell leading an enthusiastic choir. Archdeacon Stephen King — who arrived in 2006 to lead the parish through the restoration — left last September, and Rev Annette Cater is filling his place until a permanent appointment is made.

— Bay View newsletter 71, May 2018

Photo: Don Bagnall

Photo: Don Bagnall