Stokes Valley History - Part 3 Administration and Development

We continue with the third in our series of short articles on the history of Stokes Valley. This month we see that by the close of the Nineteenth Century, Stokes Valley was beginning to organise itself and find its place within the rapidly developing Hutt District.

Appreciation and thanks is extended to Poppy Watts from whose book Stokes Valley Through the Years this information has been lifted.

If you would like to purchase either or both of Poppy's books, please e-mail for details as to how you may do so:

Stokes Valley Through the Years [1953] by Milton and Poppy Watts $10.00
This Was Speldhurst (The Story of an Early Stokes Valley Family) [2001] by Poppy Watts $16.00

The Highway Board

In 1858 Stokes valley was proclaimed a district under the District Highways Act of 1856. Records of shortly that time, however, seem to indicate that the Valley came to be seen as part of the Western Hutt District. Under the Highways Act of 1871, various local Highway Districts were abolished and control was taken over by the Wellington Highway District Board. Stokes Valley was included on No 7 Ward and the first warden for that area was D Speedy of Belmont.

The minutes of early Highway Board meetings give the first records of public works for Stokes Valley:

4 June 1873: Proposed by Henry Burt, seconded by Henry Stilling - "That the tender of Mr P Sherin, for making bridges and culverts in Stokes Valley, be accepted for the sum of 40 and that J and I Russell's tender for same be declined."
3 June 1874: "That the tender of George Davison for clearing the Stokes Valley at 5/- per chain be accepted."
6 January 1875: "That the tender of George Southee to erect a bridge and form 40 chains of road in Stokes Valley for the sum of 41/15/-, with an addition of 8 agreed to be given by the inhabitants of the district, making a total of 49/15/0, be accepted."

On Tribal Borders

There is no record of a Maori pa having been situated in Stokes Valley, the nearest being at Waiwhetu. Stokes Valley was on the junction of the territory of the Ngati Awa, Ngati Toa and Ngati Kahungunu tribes.

View across Main Road to Glen Valley before the days of development

The Hutt County Council

Under the Counties Act of 1876 the Hutt County Council came into being, its first meeting being held in the Courthouse at Lower Hutt on 4th January 1877. From that time Stokes Valley seems to have become a forgotten land, there being no references of any importance in the minutes for many years.

In 1912 a letter from Bould, Manager for Dr Knight, requested permission to erect a gate across the Stokes Valley Road. Permission was not granted. However. a letter from C. Chittick in 1914 asked the Council to remove the gate from the Stokes Val1ey Road and this was agreed to.

A petition was received from residents of Stokes Valley in January, 1923, praying that the main road between the Upper and Lower Taita Gorges not be straightened as proposed by the Council, as it would cause great inconvenience to residents in the locality. The Council resolved to supply a plan of the deviation to the petitioners to remove the misapprehension which seemed to exist on their part.

In July, 1926, in reply to a letter from the Stokes Valley Progressive Association the Council agreed to the proposal not to erect street lights and that the money so saved be spent on the maintenance of roads.

In 1927 the first reference to the major water scheme for Wellington and the Hutt Valley advises that the Hutt County Council emphatically protests against the absurd and iniquitous
provision of the Bill drafted...

A request from the Progressive Association in November 1935 for the tar sealing of Stokes Valley Road met with the reply that it was not financially practicable at that time.