THE DUCK POND THROUGH THE YEARS
Based on the original article by Donal Duthie in the Friends Newsletter July 1996
updated and revised as some of the original photographs included in the article
are not able to be satisfactorily reproduced,
with some new images and material including the opening. (P C Tomlinson).
The Pond at the Wellington Botanic Garden has been through many transformations over the years, and is currently a focal point of the Main Drive. Those who promenaded up and down this walk, inevitably ended up at the side of the Pond. Usually the Pond was the centre of a green tranquil scene, but on occasions the water was not as attractive as it might have been. It would seem that this junction of Pipitea Stream and another little stream coming down from The Glen had always been a marshy depression, and the early gardeners simply cleared it out to make an ornamental pond.
In the book "The Botanic Garden: Wellington" by Winsome Shepherd and Walter Cook, there are three lovely photos of the pond C1880. The photo (above top) shows five children not sure whether to look into the murky water or smile at the photographer. It would seem that in 1880, as in 1995, there was concern for small children drowning in the deeper water, as the Pond is ringed by a seven strand wire fence topped with barbed wire. The Pond clearly shows through the black and white photo as little more than a slough. One suspects that the waters have recently been muddied by small boys in search of frogs, kura, eels or whatever. The grassy banks indicate that the rise and fall was not nearly as great as it is today. This can be accounted for by the development of Kelburn and Northland as residential suburbs. In particular the tar sealing of roads meant a rapid run off of rainwater through the storm water drains and into the Pond. These days it can be quite alarming to watch the Pond rapidly rise after a sudden downpour. There is a great surge of dirty water bringing forth much of the debris associated with roadside gutters.
The Pond has had numerous name changes over the years, and has been variously called "Lily Pond", "Frog Pond", "Swan Pond" and "Duck Pond". The great photographer, F.G. Barker, always called it "The Lake" on his postcards. Today it is generally referred to as just "The Pond". Around I910 The Pond had a small landscaped island complete with a shower fountain. The hill in the background had a number of Agave with neat rock banks.
In the 1920's a high stone wall built in association with the dam, raised the water level and made a better viewing area. A small island, different from the "fountain" one, had several nice Mamuku ferns.
In the 1940's card during the "Swan Pond" era, Mamaku ferns on the island had grown considerably. F.G. Barker who photographed this tranquil called it "The Lake". The banks were covered in lush growth giant Gunnera are growing well with their roots in water, and the huge leaves revelling in the afternoon sun. At times like this, The Pond is a beautiful sight.
photo above looks down on the viewing
area, showing the rock wall and the dam in the
foreground. Abyssinian bananas were very much
in vogue throughout the Garden at this time,
and two can be seen in the background.
In 1990 a redevelopment of this area was proposed. As a firsts step in November 1989 a topo plan was prepared.
In the July 1995 Friends
Newsletter, the following announcement
NEW LOOK FOR GARDENS POND
we enjoy the result of the largest
ever transformation at the Pond. This is
the first time that any development has
been done in a planned manner as opposed
to an informal ad hoc basis as in the past.
An out of town gardening correspondent has been highly critical of Pond developments, but appears to be a lone voice as it is obvious that the local community was highly enthusiastic. The Council have done a splendid exercise in relation to concerns expressed at the danger to young children toddling out into deep water while feeding ducks. A thorough investigation was done, submissions called and an independent assessor was assigned to arbitrate. The outcome will see a low barrier to protect children without impairing the vista down the Main Drive.
The pavilion was funded to th
extent of $20,000 by the Friends of the
Wellington Botanic Garden.
In the magazine Landscape New
Zealand (issue January/February 1997)
it is noted that the design of the pavilion,
instead of using the wooden bandstand which
once overlooked the pond as a design
reference , the 1875 tower building on the
jetty of the nearby Karori Wildlife Sanctuary Reservoir
provided a basis for the design of the
new building, providing a strong
visual feature from William Bramley
Drive. In keeping with
historical associations, benches with
iron castings from original seat
designs found elsewhere in the
garden were reproduced in the seating
around the promenade walls.
Oates expressed pleasure at the new feature as
he saw the pavilion not just as a focal point
at the end of the Main Drive but also as a
feature between the formal aspects of the Main
Garden and the informal trees and native bush
of the Glen.
October 1996 Friends Newsletter contained the
following report on the official opening of
the area -
redevelopment of this area has been very
successful and it remains a focal point of the
Main Garden. On a nice summer day the
seats surrounding the pool are all occupied,
and children delight in feeding the ducks who
make their home here. During school
holidays bread can cover the pond as she ducks
cannot keep up with the supply, and to avoid
attracting vermin, a grain vending machine is
to be installed with the aim to rationalise