Strathmore Park is situated at the southern part of what is known as the Miramar peninsular. The physical nature of the peninsular was noted by Kupe, who, with Ngahue, voyaged to New Zealand in 925AD.
Amongst the information reported back to Hawaiki by Kupe was that the area, now known as the Miramar peninsular, was an Island. The sea, he observed, flowed east and west of the island and interestingly enough, they encountered no inhabitants when they explored the coast line.
In approximately 1175 AD Toi and Whatonga arrived in New Zealand. Whatonga in search of his grandfather, Toi. It was Toi and his crew in canoe who were swept away in a storm during a canoe race off Hawaiki and eventually made landfall at Tamaki. Both adventures found that there were inhabitants who must have arrived in the intervening years after Kupe.
Whatonga and his party intermingled with local inhabitants in the Whakatane area. In time the Whakatane area became overcrowded. Whatonga and his three wives, one of whom gave birth to a son they named Tara began their move south. The party, now led by Tara, moved south to the Hawkes Bay area where they were involved in skirmishes and defeated the local tribe.
They eventually moved down to the Wellington harbour.The tribe settled around the Wellington harbour and were responsible for building many fortified villages in strategic positions.
At Palmer Head a Pa was built. No doubt a plentiful supply of fish and shellfish was present. The name given to the island, we now known as the Miramar peninsular, was Motu-Kairangi by the daughter of Tara, Hinekiri. The sea running Westward of the island was called Te-Awa-a-Taia and the Eastern side Te Au-a-Tane.
About the 1500's a series of earthquakes uplifted, what is now known as Rongotai, thus forming a peninsular. Some researchers put the date of the earthquake as taking place in 1490.
Cook on his voyage aboard Resolution in 1773 anchored a mile off black rocks at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. It is assumed that the black rocks he refers to is Barrettâs reef. Three canoes came out to investigate. Had Cook been accompanied by another vessel he may have sailed into the harbour. It seems that a southerly was brewing and he left for Queen Charlotte Sound. However, he makes no mention of an island. It is likely that the visitors to Cooks ship were descendants of tribes who had intermingled. By this time, too, many of the followers of Tara had crossed to the South Island.
The name Crawford is closely associated with Strathmore. An ex navel officer of Scottish descent would provide an important link between the historical link between Maori and the future development of the area. Crawford is recognised as being an explorer, scientist and a public servant. Crawford's understanding of the historical significant of the whole Miramar peninsular ensured that sites were identified and cooperated with historians in creating a history of Miramar.
His arrival coincides with the purchase of large tracts of country side. His estate covered the area of Kilbirnie and the isthmus and all of the peninsular. One of his feats was to drain the swamp area within the peninsular which eventually lead to the sale of land for building.
Strathmore Park was made up of three distinct areas. On this flat plain there existed market gardens. The hills to the south provided this sunny region sheltered from the cold southerlies.
The development of Strathmore Park depended on there being an adequate transport system. The commissioning of the tramline from the city to Seatoun in 1907 would make Strathmore park accessible to those seeking a place live.
One institution that did establish itself in 1919 was Scots College, a boarding school for boys. The area, it seems, was offered to St Patrickâs College as a site for a boarding school but the offer was turned down and taken up by the present owners.
Shortly after, houses were being built in Monorgan road with their western boundaries being the Miramar Golf Course. Development for private housing was underway in the area of Cavendish Square and Bentick Ave. in the late 1930's in what could be called the most desirable of settings.
During the war the hills were to become a major state housing area, quite distinct from those on the lower reaches. The construction was undertaken by a company called Stellen Construction Company. Building at this time suffered constraints due to the non availability of some materials.
Houses built during the war were constructed with wooden guttering and the down pipes were a fabricated wooden drain. Similarly there were no chimney pots either. No fences were built and many a dispute arose over boundaries. These aspects were attended to well after the war.
By the late 1930's Strathmore Park had a flourishing shopping centre on what was known as Broadway. The shopping centre boasted two butcher shops, two green grocers, two grocers, hardware store, bakery, chemist, hair salon, dairy and a bookshop.
With the advent of the population growth a bus service was inaugurated providing a service from the shops, the route being Strathmore Avenue, Sidlaw Street, Tannadyce Street, Beacon Hill Road, Tio Tio Road and back to the shops on Broadway.
The houses were largely filled by the families of ex servicemen during and at the end of the war. Amongst the casualties of the war there were war widows and their children who received priority for housing.
The first people to settle in the early 1940âs applied themselves in gathering up their lives and making the most of the opportunities that came their way. The Tramways, including the bus service operated by the tramways, provided work for many. The De Havilland factory at the airport provided work for skilled engineers. Many commenced their own businesses, carriers and taxi drivers whilst other found easy employment at the Shell installation in Miramar. Work was easily found, too, in the city as the combined service of trams and buses made the city that much closer.
At the conclusion of the war, the largest occupation of houses was taking place. Many of these ex servicemen found it difficult to settle and for some reason their tenure of the houses offered was short and many sought the new state house areas of Naenae and Taita in the Hutt Valley.
Amongst the servicemen to settle was Cyril Hurne-Miller, a NZ bantamweight boxing champion who was batman to Peter McIntyre, the official war artist. Sig. Hurne, as he was known, continued with a level of fitness after his return from the war.
Sig. would leave his Sidlaw street home at 5:30 am each morning and walk to the tram barns on the corner of Coutts and Freyberg streets in Kilbirnie to start the day driving trams. His physical conditioning saved his life when he was kicked in the stomach by a horse. A lesser mortal, doctors said, would have been killed.
When This Is Your Life featured Peter McIntyre, Sig. made a brief appearance. The studio audience well knew Sigâs. background and the presenter was taken aback, momentarily, by the applause Sig. received. Peter McIntyre retrieved the situation and announced that the programme should have been about Sig Hurne and not himself.
Also from Strathmore Park was Jonathan Hardy, (John Hardy), stage and screen star with the Auckland Theatre Company. He was also a fine sprinter, competing in Wellington Athletics in the 1960âs
During the war, at Palmer Head, there was a gun placement. This battery was in the confines of Army a fortified area and consisted of underground passageways that contained map rooms and ammunition. The tunnels are extensive and have since been sealed off.
The guns were used, but not in anger. They were used for target practice occasionally until the early 1960's. The targets were derelict ships that used to be anchored in Wellington harbour. The noise was impressive as the shells "screamed" their way to the target.
For twenty years the area of Strathmore Park remained unchanged until the 1960's when the redundant military camp and the hills overlooking the golf course became the focus of a new high density State housing area. Work on this stage commenced in 1958 with earth scrapers taking off the deposits of sand and soil down to bare rock.
By the early 1970's the area overlooking the golf course was housed and the names of the new streets were a departure from the ones of an earlier generation