The Hataitai Land Company
Looking from William Street up towards Mt Victoria. This area was initially developed by the Hataitai Land Company - Waipapa Road, Hataitai Road, Rakau Road and neighbouring streets.
Taken from Evening Post article, 18 March 1955 and company records:
Half a century's operation of a suburban development company is drawing to a close with the offering for sale of the last four sections of the Hataitai Land Company in Hataitai. Completion of the sale of the sections, all in Alexandra Road, will usher the company out of existence after selling 950 sections since its inception in 1901.
The story of Hataitai's development as one of Wellington's handiest suburbs is the story of the foundation and the subsequent operations of the Hataitai Land Company. Early in 1901 the newly-formed company purchased 180 acres in Hataitai for £18, 545. This land comprised "part sections II and III Evans Bay Land District" and "sections IX Roseneath Land District". The area acquired by the company was bounded by Te Anau Road to the north, Evan's Bay Road to the east, Waitoa Road to the south and Alexandra Road to the west. Sales of sections from this area had aggregated £204,000 by the end of March 1949. Total development costs of the 950-odd sections sold were more than £90,000. Forty £500 shares launched the company, but throughout its operations no more than £170 was ever paid up.
At the inaugural meeting of shareholders in 1901 a discussion was recorded on the possibilities of providing better access to Hataitai, than to Kilbirnie and back along Moxham Avenue, as it was at that time. One suggestion was for a tram tunnel through Mt Victoria; another was a road over the Town Belt to Hataitai; a third suggestion was a road linking Hataitai with Roseneath. A special committee was established to explore the possibilities.
An interesting item recorded in the company's minutes for 1901 was payment of the first rates demand. The rates levied on the 180 acres by the Melrose Borough Council totalled £136/14/5.
As the subdivisional requirements for roading over the area were initiated in 1902, the company offered to pay two-thirds of the cost of tunnelling Mt Victoria if the Melrose Borough Council would contribute a third. The City Council was offered 15 acres of the estate as a recreational reserve if it would connect Hataitai with its tram service. Both these offers, however, were declined. Subsequently the company decided to initiate a petition from Kilbirnie ratepayers urging the council to drive a road through the Town Belt connecting Kilbirnie and Hataitai with the city. This proposal lapsed because of the "preposterous" contribution sought by the council from the company.
An 'advertorial' in the Evening Post in February 1902
described the proposed new subdivision in glowing terms:
The purchase of the well-known Jenkins Estate by a local syndicate a few months ago caused some stir among those who prefer a suburban residence with a fair-sized plot of land to the cramped and crowded houses of the city...The main plan of the property showing the road lines is in course of completion and the best means of direct access to the property is now being discussed by the proprietors... The gentle slopes of a large portion of the estate will lend themselves admirably for building purposes, while the major portion is quite flat and splendidly sheltered from prevailing winds....The property affords many beautiful views..there being scarcely any part of the property from which a good view cannot be obtained of one or more of our beauty spots.
By the end of 1902, Arawa, Hataitai, Moana, Kio, Tainui, Konini, Waitoa, Huia, Matai and Waipapa Roads had been completed and the first sections were ready for sale. They realised between £125 and £150. There were 44 acres in the first subdivision of the company (nb: EP article of 1902 says the Estate covered 220 acres), although about 12 acres were taken up in roads. The land realised £900 an acre.
Early in 1903 the company bought section II, Roseneath, for £1045 and paid £360 to the Melrose Borough Council as its contribution to the cost of Grafton Road. This provided a new access, via Grafton road and Hataitai Road, for the new suburb to the city. Later that year the Melrose Borough Council ceased existence and its activities were taken over by the City Council. The company continued its negotiations with the council and in the end persuaded the local body to tunnel the hill. Total contribution of the company to the tunnel was £9854, almost seven-eighths of the complete cost.
Another "red-letter" year for Hataitai, following the completion of the tram tunnel, was in 1907 when gas, water and electric light were connected to the suburb. By 1909 there were 137 houses already erected on land sold by the HLC. It was not until the next year, however, that the company paid its first dividend of 10 guineas a share.
Discussions took place on several occasions in the years immediately following between the company and the Hataitai Electors Association on the desirability of a traffic tunnel from the city through Mt Victoria. The company paid several sums to the association for the cost of surveying a tunnel, and for the preparation of plans and specification. In 1920 a note on the minutes records £25 was paid to the association "for propaganda to ensure a favourable vote for the tunnel loan." Meanwhile the company itself was endeavouring to obtain a transport service for residents of Hataitai. The City Council was first offered £1000 to extend the tram service to Waipapa and Arawa Roads. In 1926, however, the council placed buses on this route and the company paid the corporation £100 as a contribution of the cost.
In 1928, until the depression of the early 30s, the company encountered an unprecedented demand for Hataitai sections. In 1928 sections sold for prices averaging £350. During the best year, 1930, 31 sections were sold. Sales enabled the company to pay out dividends amounting to £125 a share in 1929 and £100 a share the following year. There was a slump though in the early 1930s. The Directors' Annual Report for 1934 said that "owing to the economic conditions ruling in the Dominion, no sections have been sold during the year." The following year they reported "a resumption of sales after a cessation of about three years, but unfortunately the greater portion of this amount is absorbed by taxation." The roading pattern of the whole estate was completed in the early 30s but the sale of sections continued gradually.
Sales have continued during the past 20 years [to 1955] at a slow rate, but gradually housing has now encroached on previously vacant land until Hataitai has assumed its present near-complete look, with only a handful of vacant sections left as building sites. Real popularity came to the suburb after the completion of the traffic tunnel. This brought Hataitai homes within minutes of the city by private car.