History of Cannons Creek
"History is a novel for which the people is the author."
- Alfred de Vigny, Réflexions sur la Vérité dans l'Art.
Cannons Creek Shopping Centre, 1960s.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref A.1d.16.
Cannons Creek takes its name from the stream flowing through the area from Cannons Head. From the earliest times the stream was valued in the area because it is water from a spring rather than formed by collected rain-water which most local streams are. Who the creek was named after is a matter of some debate, some say it was William Cannon a sawmiller in the Tawa area in the 1860s, or perhaps it was a local scrubcutter who worked in the area in the last part of the 19th century. Certainly the name was in place by the time it was mapped in the 1880s.
Mexted Family haymaking.
Photo from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref P.2.343.
Farming in the area was mainly by four families the Sievers, Mexteds, Mahers and Windleys. The families ran both sheep and diary herds there until gradually the land was taken for housing from the 1930s on. The main growth of housing didn’t really begin until the 1950s post-war baby boom caused a housing shortage throughout New Zealand.
Mary Sievers (nee McKeown) (left); Mary Amelia Sievers (nee Amey) (right)
Photos from Pataka Museum Collection, at Porirua Library ref (left) P.1.212 (right) P.1.216
Mary McKeown married Dick Sievesr and Mary Amey married Dick's brother Arthur. Dick, Arthur, their wives and another Sievers brother moved to Porirua c1914 to farm what is now known as Cannons Creek. To reach the farm from Porirua village they had to travel up Takapu North Road (now Champion Street), and turn left into Thompson Street (now Thompson Grove). Their farm was situated at the end of this street where the Holy Family Catholic Church is now. Arthur and Mary Amelia later moved into town to live on old Main Road (now Kenepuru Drive) and later built a house at what is now 4 Arawhata Street.
Some street names for the area come from the old families such as Sievers and those who bordered on Cannons Creek like the Mungavins. Many are old English and Welsh City and County names; Cardiff, Gloucester and Norfolk. Many more are named for colonial ships from the early years of New Zealand; Warspite, Driver, Astrolabe etc.
The two small lakes next to the shopping centre were formed in the 1960s when the landscape was transformed for the growing housing estate. The lakes drain through “fish ladders” which are steps in the river that allow fish to move up and down stream.
Today “The Creek”, as it is commonly called, is the very centre of the vibrant Pacific Island Community that gives Porirua so much of its life and uniqueness.