Thursday, 19 February 2015

Discover Rotorua Heritage – Meade Street

Meade St, namesake killed by experimental torpedo

According to the book “Rotorua streets: the stories behind the street names of Rotorua & district” by Philip Andrews, Meade St was named after a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, the Hon. Herbert George Philip Meade (1).

 Born in 1841 in England, Herbert, the 4th son of the Earl of Clanwilliam, had a short but adventurous life. During his navy career, records show he spent time in Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand (2,3,4).

In 1865, he accompanied William Mair, Julius Brenchley and Te Poihipi Tukairangi carrying letters from Governor Grey to Chiefs of the interior North Island and around Lake Taupo. As Meade travelled he wrote about his observations and experiences in journals which were later published as “A ride through the disturbed districts of New Zealand” (5). 

Pai Marire Worship (5)

The title may have had something to do with his capture by Pai Mārire (Hauhau) supporters at Tataroa on 27 January 1865. He was released, later painting a watercolour that depicts the ceremony to decide his fate. This painting features in the recently published book Tangata Whenua (5,6,7).
Meade’s party stayed at Ngae, Ohinemutu, Motutawa and Epiha from the 26th of December 1864 to the 2nd of January 1865 (5). He describes cooking, lounging on warm stones, tattooing, entertainment, a night of public bathing in the lake, the geothermal scenery and the famed beauty of the women of the Ohinemutu area (5).

Ohinemutu Geyser Mokoia Island and Lake Rotorua (5)

1 Meade Street taken from Fenton Street

Meade was killed in 1868 when an experimental torpedo exploded in his workshop (1). A Daily Southern Cross article from Papers Past gives a pretty graphic account of his accident, last words, death and the Coroner’s investigation.
The only explosions around Meade Street are of the nearby Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa (8).

The beautiful building on the corner of Meade and Fenton Streets is the Landmark Restaurant (9). This became a restaurant in 1976 and was originally a private home built by Charles Kusabs (10). Charles imported a Sunbeam car from England in 1908 and established Kusabs Motors (11). He was the first to carry passengers on the “Round Trip” to Te Wairoa and Waimangu (10,11,12).

As well as being the first to negotiate Mount Ngongotaha by car, Don Stafford points out in his book, “The new century in Rotorua”, that Charles Kusabs was expected to negotiate Eight by-laws for “motors” under the Motor Regulations Act, 1908 such as carrying a bell and driving under five miles per hour around corners (11).

1.       Andrews, P. (1999). Rotorua streets: the stories behind the street names of Rotorua & district. Rotorua: Bibliophil

2.       Great Britain: Colonist, Volume XI, Issue 1152, 9 October 1868, Page 4

3.       Fatal accident to Lieutenant Meade, R.N.:  Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXIV, Issue 3504, 8 October 1868, Page 5

4. 1861 England Census [database on-line]. Access Ancestry free at Rotorua District Library.

5.       Meade, H. (1870).  A ride through the disturbed districts of New Zealand. London: John Murray.

6.       Pai Mārire supporters: New Zealand History  

7.       Atholl, A., Binney, J. & Harris, A. (2014). Tangata Whenua: and illustrated history. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books.

8.       Pohutu Geyser Postcard Kete Rotorua

9.       Rotorua Hotels, Motels, Guesthouses  Kete Rotorua

10.   Charles Edmund Kusabs 1872-1948 Kete Rotorua

11.   Stafford, D. M. 1988. The new century in Rotorua: a history of events from 1900. Auckland [N.Z.] ; Rotorua [N.Z.] : Ray Richards Publisher and Rotorua District Council.

12.   Batchelor, J. (1956). Waimangu-Te Wairoa round trip, Rotorua N.Z. Rotorua: J. Batchelor.

This Blog was written by Sandra Quinn 

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