A public meeting had been called in April 1902, to discuss a fitting method of marking the retirement of the may
or, C A Pownall. Pownall had been may or f or over eight years, his terms (he alternated with Ge orge Heron) being marked by progress in developing the town. He had successfully overseen the introduction of the drainage scheme and the high pressure water supply, as well as guiding the b orough to accept responsibility f or the park.
Some of those attending the meeting wished to present Pownall with a suitably inscribed plate, but the ex-may
or made it clear he would prefer his mem orial should be of a public nature. Those at the meeting came to the view dec orative gates at the south-western entrance to the park would be a suitable mem orial.
As usual a committee was f
ormed – the Pownall Mem orial Committee – and they decided on ornate iron gates. They wrote to Wellington foundry Luke and Sons f or a pattern, selected a design and, aside from a slight disagreement about the size of the gateposts, the w ork proceeded smoothly, being completed about the same time as the band rotunda.
A combined official opening f
or the rotunda and the gates was held on June 3 1903. A large party of dignitaries gathered to dedicate the gates. May or James C oradine said the citizens had gathered on many previous occasions but this was undoubtedly one of the most auspicious because the gates were dedicated to a gentleman who had done tremendous good f or the town. He commented on Pownall’s absence from the ceremony, saying it was no doubt a reflection of his modesty. The may oress unlocked the gates which were declared officially open amid enthusiastic cheering.
AW Hogg spoke next, also paying tribute to Pownall, and mentioning two other previous may
ors – Caselberg and Renall – both also progressive. He said the people of Masterton should be proud of their park, and the council deserved every credit f or the excellent condition it now displayed.
The visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1953-54 was a never-to-be-forgotten moment for a generation of New Zealanders. The first time a ruling monarch had visited the country, the visit coincided with a time when members of the
British Commonwealth were looking towards a bright post-war future, another golden Elizabethan Age. Huge crowds flocked to see the new monarch wherever she appeared. Masterton was no different. A large crowd gathered at the railway station on January 15 1954, where the Queen inspected a guard of RSA members before travelling to where more than 2,000 schoolchildren had gathered. The Times-Age reported she seemed thoroughly at ease with the children, “reserving a special wave for a party of crippled children at the lower end of the grounds”. Wairarapa College
From the college the royal party drove through town to the park, where special floral displays in red, white and blue had been planted. The huge crowd roared its approval as the Queen was greeted at the band rotunda by the official party led by Mayor Ted Coddington. “Flags were waved and there were unprecedented scenes of enthusiasm.”
The crowd watched as various local body representatives were introduced to the Queen and Prince Philip, then responded with enthusiasm when called upon to give three cheers for the royal couple. “They were given right royally by the huge assemblage.”
The party left the park, travelling to the hospital, then to the Empire Hotel for a private luncheon.
When councillor Len Frances wanted to mark the occasion by renaming Masterton Park in the Queen’s honour, suggesting it be called Queen Elizabeth Park, some thought the name too cumbersome and ‘Queen’s Park’ was chosen instead. However, the subject was raised again, this time the name ‘Queen Elizabeth II Park’ was put forward. Again, this name was considered to be too unwieldy and Queen Elizabeth Park was finally settled on.