Friday, 19 July 2019

Rotorua Police Station - 50 years in Fenton Street


The news for Tuesday 22nd July 1969 was dominated by the Moon Landing, but also in the news that day was the new Rotorua police station, which opened on Fenton Street for business at 8am. At that time the telephones and radios were changed over, and the doors of the old Tutanekai Street station (now the Pig n Whistle) were closed by Inspector E. C. Welsh.

Inspector E. C. Welsh closes the doors of the old Tutanekai Street station. Credit: The Daily Post, Tuesday 22 July 1969, 3


The new police station


The watch-house was located on the ground floor directly opposite the main entrance. The two-storey, 22-cell block building had facilities for both male and female prisoners, with proper meal, recreation and toilet facilities, and thermal heating.

Also on the ground floor were the uniform senior-sergeants, sergeants, and constables offices, and muster rooms, with a self-contained kitchen for night shift staff. The arm office was also on the ground floor to the left of the watch-house.

The Criminal Investigation Branch was based on the first floor, along with Inspector Welsh, the officer in charge of the station, and Superintendent B. R. Alty, the officer in charge of the Rotorua police district.

The top floor had a photography darkroom, a large recreation room, and the records and administration offices.

The site for the new Rotorua police station in Fenton Street in August 1967 (left), and construction work under way in November 1967 (right). Source: Policing two peoples: a history of police in the Bay of Plenty (Jinty Rorke, 1993)

Police Station, Fenton Street. Credit: The Daily Post, Tuesday 29 July 1969, p. 11.

Official opening


The new station, which was Rotorua's fourth station since 1886 and cost $207,000 was officially opened a week later on Tuesday 29th July by Minister of Police Hon. Percy B. Allen. Other dignitaries present included Mayor Murray Linton, Rotorua MP Harry Lapwood, F.O. Scott (Assistant Commissioner of Police, Auckland), S. C. Browne (retired Superintendent of Police, who had served in Rotorua), P. A. Byrne (Chief Superintendent, Auckland), W. H. A. Sharp (Assistant Commissioner of Police, Wellington), and Joseph Saunders (Superintendent of Police, Wellington).

The opening was preceded by a parade led by the Auckland Highland Pipe Band under Drum Major P. Faulkner. The parade featured members of the uniform branch, the Criminal Investigation Branch, the women's division, and the dog unit.

The Rotorua Aero Club also flew three Cessna aircraft over the parade.

After the official ceremony, members of the public were invited to view the station and tea and light refreshments were served in the canteen.

Click on the images below to see them full size.

The Daily Post, Wednesday 30 July 1969, p. 9.



Rotorua Photo News, No. 72, 30 August 1969, pp. 22-25.

Rotorua Police Station in the 1980s. Credit: The Daily Post.

An upgrade


There have been minor changes to the station building over the years. For example, in 1989 the station was painted lilac with eden green and chetwode blue highlights. A colour scheme, which divided opinion at the time.

The first part of a major redevelopment occurred in 2008 when the cell block was replaced with a $14 million custody centre.

In 2012 the Fenton Street Police Station underwent a much needed $18.5 million upgrade.

During the demolition and construction of the new building the temporary police station was located across the road in the former Spence's building. Some staff, such as the patrol group, road patrol group, dog handlers and tactical group worked from the existing Fenton Street site out of temporary buildings located behind the custody centre.

The newly renovated station was blessed at 5.15am on Monday 19th May 2014 by several iwi representatives. It had its official opening on 6th June 2014.


Police station under construction. Credit: The Daily Post. Photographer: Stephen Parker

This post was written by Graeme. Thanks to The Daily Post and Policing two peoples: a history of police in the Bay of Plenty (Jinty Rorke, 1993).


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