Historic site: Kenepuru Drive Houses

"History, like a vast river, propels logs, vegetation, rafts, and debris; it is full of live and dead things, some destined for resurrection; it mingles many waters and holds in solution invisible substances stolen from distant soils."

- Jacques Barzun, Clio and the Doctors.

Image of Stevens family in the 1880s outside family home, 14 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua.
Stevens family in the 1880s outside family home, 14 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref P.2.209.

These houses are one of few remnants of old Porirua Village. The straightening of the Kenepuru stream and construction of the motorway interrupted the connection between these houses and the rest of Porirua. The last intercity houses were on Eastwood Avenue and these were moved or knocked down in the 1970s to reclaim more land for industrial use.

The first certificate of title (38/143) for this land shows that Thomas John Smith, a blacksmith or Porirua, owned the block of land on which the houses are situated as early as April 1885. The land comprised three roods and 32 perches, backed on to land owned by the original Porirua School and overlooked the old Porirua - Tawa Road.

In 1892 the land was sold to George Virens of Porirua, farmer. In 1920 it was transferred to Herbert Taylor, Ernst Whitehouse, and Andrew Waller as executors. In 1927 it appears the land was subdivided (CT 380/292) and separate sites created for the five houses.

It is unknown exactly when the houses were constructed. However it appears the school house (No.4) was constructed in 1891, and from outward appearances the other houses would share a similar date.

The Porirua School log book of 6 May 1891 states that ‘first pile of new house sunk’ and on 2 July 1891 "moved into new house during holidays (July 2-20)". In 1898 the log recalls the following "The school committee met this evening. They determined to build a chimney at the School dwelling house to accommodate a range, which the Board granted. ("We have been cooking in a camp oven for years").

In "Some memories of Porirua" H. Mabel Jackson wrote (p15) that the only residence for a teacher prior to Mr Pilkington arriving was a barn. Mr J.W. Pilkington was the headmaster at Porirua School from March 1889 - September 1911. The original school was situated just below the number 4 house.

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