Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Vice Regal Tours & Duties in Rotorua 1920-1950s


NZ Governors and Governor-Generals enjoy Rotorua sights

1920 – Sir Charles Fergusson & Lady Fergusson accompanied H.R.H the Prince of Wales on his official visit to the town.




As Governor, Sir Charles Fergusson, was welcomed on the 3rd February 1926, and was kind enough to open the annual bowling tourney. The party was welcomed at Whakarewarewa by Mita Taupopoki and then an extended tour of Whakarewarewa

“A smoke concert was held at Dixieland by the Mayor C. H. Clinkard in honour of the Governor-General”   Auckland Star 8th February 1926.  

On the 27th November 1929 Sir Charles & Lady Fergusson returned to Rotorua on their farewell tour.

Click here to read the article Papers Past







1930 – Governor-General Lord Bledisloe & wife were welcomed by Mita Taupopoki.

With Thanks from the Sir George Grey Special Collections,
Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19300507-45-1 

Entertainment at Dixieland was arranged by Rotorua Mayor Mr T. Jackson & Councillors. Despite the weather (rained lots) the couple were able to visit Tikitere, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Okataina and Ohinemutu. 

Lord Bledisloe also visited several primary schools in the district as well as the King George V Hospital and before leaving visited Sir Joseph Ward (NZ Prime Minister) who was in Rotorua for treatment. In 1931 His Excellency opened the Horohoro Native School.

In 1933 Lord & Lady Bledisloe were joined by Lady Norah Jellicoe, while here they attended the A&P Show and Lord Bledisloe presented the Ahuwhenua Cup (for the encouragement of Maori Farming) to Wiremu Swinton of Raukokore at a ceremony in Ohinemutu.

1935 – Governor-General Viscount Galway with his wife visited on the 6th June. 

Large reception at Ohinemutu where the Viscount was presented a Kiwi cloak, the couple then visited the Model Pa at Whakarewarewa and guided through the hot pools etc. by Guide Rangi. The following day the party visited Waiotapu and viewed the Lady Knox geyser.  Photographs published in the New Zealand Herald 10th June 1935.

Viscount Galway returned in 1939 to present the Ahuwhenua Cup to J.Edwards at Horohoro.

With thanks to the Sir George Grey Special Collections
Auckland City Libraries AWNS_19401127_p029_i001

18 November 1940 - Viscount Galway opened the newly reconstructed Wahiao wharenui, the original being constructed by Mita Taupopoki. The carvings from the original wharenui were preserved and used in the new one, however the tukutuku panels from inside were replaced with new ones made at the NZ Maori Arts & Craft’s Institute.  The reconstruction was to be finished and opened by the end of the Centennial Year.  Two others in Rotorua were scheduled, but did not open until 1943.  See Rotorua Morning Post 18th November 1940.

1941 - Governor-General Sir Cyril Newall & Lady Newall arrived 11th Oct 1941.
The Civic Reception for His Excellency was held in the Town Hall and included a Maori Concert.
He met with a parade of returned soldiers and visited the Bath House and Rotorua Hospital.
Guide Rangi showed the couple around Whakarewarewa, the party also visited Tikitere and Lake Okataina.  

In 1943 during this ‘business’ visit Sir Cyril stayed at the Okataina Fishing Lodge. 
Opened the ‘new’ Tawakeheimoa at Awahou in the morning and the ‘new’ Tama te Kapua at Ohinemutu in the afternoon. 

Governor General Sir Cyril Newall giving his address at the opening of the Centennial Memorial meeting house Tawakeheimoa at Te Awahou Marae, Lake Rotorua. Ref: 1/4-000237-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22431643

Centennial Memorial meeting house Tawakeheimoa at Te Awahou Marae, Lake Rotorua.
Ref: 1/4-000237-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
He also presented the “Boy Scout Assn. Gilt Cross to Arawa Troop of Boy Scouts, Patrol-Leader Rihari Haira in recognition of his prompt, courageous, and meritorious action in rescuing an infant from drowning”.  Evening Post, 22 March 1943.

1946 – Lady Mountbatten visited Rotorua and welcomed at Tama te Kapua.
During her visit she went to the Services Convalescent Hospital (now QE Spa) to speak with the soldiers, some of whom, she remembered seeing in hospitals in Italy.

She also ‘took the salute and carried out an inspection of the district St John’s Ambulance, Nurses and Cadet Units.

Thanks to the K Taylor Collection
Kete Rotorua

1946 – Governor-General Sir Bernard Freyberg, V.C. and Lady Freyberg stayed at the Okataina Lodge.  15th November – 26th November for a holiday after the official visit.

A Guard of Honour of 100 from the 2nd Cadet Battalion of the Rotorua High School parade inspected by His Excellency in front of the Municipal buildings.
Civic Welcome – outside the Municipal Buildings, where the Municipal Band played the National Anthem.  The Boy and Girl Scouts in uniform will supply the Guard of Honour at the Municipal Theatre at 2.30pm.

On Monday afternoon their Excellency’s visited the Public Hospital & Services Conv. Hospital and in the evening at Tama te Kapua a full welcome by Ngati Whakaue.

On Saturday their Excellency’s inspected a parade in front of Blue Baths – of Rotorua and Ngongotaha divisions of St John’s Ambulance.  Followed by a Private luncheon at Crowther House after which Sir Bernard opened the new social hall attached to Crowther House.

Sir Bernard and family made a number of visits to ‘take the waters’ and returned for a Civic Farewell in 1952.

1949 – Sir Willoughby Norrie & Lady Norrie visit with Governor of South Australia spent a fortnight in the district enjoying bathing in the hot pools.

1953 – Governor-General Sir Willoughby Norrie & Lady Norrie with their family arrived 12th May for their first official visit.
On arrival a reception at the Airport was led by 40 members of the Rotorua Pony Club, their excellences’ and children walked along the line patting ponies and talking to riders on both sides of the walk. The club presented Sarah and Annabel Freyberg with membership badges of the club. The children met up with the club again later at the A&P showgrounds.

The Civic Reception was held on the steps of the Town Hall and the Maori Welcome at Whakarewarewa that same day.  The next day the family went sightseeing.

1958 – Governor-General Viscount Cobham and Lady Cobham arrived on the 3rd March to the obligatory Civic Reception outside the Municipal Chambers, the Daily Post records that "there were 1000 citizens present in the bright sunshine".  In the afternoon Lord Cobham was a guest a the R.S.A.

"Rotorua welcomes Lord and Lady Cobham" When he visited Rotorua in 1935 as a member of the touring M.C.C cricket team, he never imagined that one day he might return to New Zealand as the Queen's representative... When he was last here, he said, he vividly remembered stepping back rapidly from a steaming couldron of sulphurous water when Guide Rangi told him the ground on which he was standing was less than half an inch thick" Rotorua Daily Post 3 March 1958. 

The next day His Excellency visited Rotorua High School to address some 4000 children, from all the schools in Rotorua and the Boy Scouts, Cubs, Girl Guides and Brownies also in attendance in uniform. His Excellency endeared himself much to the children by asking for a holiday for the children.  "Their Excellencies then left the dais and moved about among the children....his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Durden-Smith stole the show, "large groups of wide-eyed children who were fascinated by his uniform and the pendant aiguillettes" 

In April His Excellency paid a visit to the Easter Sea Scout Camp at Te Ngae. His Excellency and family stayed at Moose Lodge for a brief holiday in 1961.


Governor General Lord Cobham at the Kelliher art exhibition. Dominion post (Newspaper) :
Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers.
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22762499
With thanks to the Don Stafford Collection, Papers Past and DigitalNZ for the information and images.