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Centenary of the Opening of Cornwall Park - Banks

MAYOR’S OFFICE
AUCKLAND CITY

Moving Auckland Forward

Hon John Banks QSO
Mayor of Auckland City

26 August 2003

The Centenary of the Opening of Cornwall Park
2.30pm, Tuesday 26 August 2003
The Steps of the Cornwall Park Information Centre – Huia Lodge
Speech notes: Hon John Banks

I want to give much praise to The Cornwall Park Trust Board. Under the able leadership of my long-time friend Dr Ferguson, I acknowledge and thank present trustees, as well as former trustees of this august body.

Fellow citizens

Today marks a great day in our history.

I have just finished reading Professor R.C.J. Stone’s books titled ‘Young Logan Campbell’ and ‘A Father and his Gift’.

Both are truly outstanding accounts of a great man – a man who rightly deserves the title ‘The Father of Auckland.’

Professor Stone records: “He kept at the forefront of his goal to providing public open space for the rapidly growing city – a place where people would be able to escape the hustle and bustle of the working day world.”

Sir John Logan Campbell had enormous vision to leave the City with this magnificent Cornwall Park. This week we celebrate its centenary.

The story of this farm and that of Sir John Logan Campbell are inseparable.

John Logan Campbell, a Scottish-born doctor turned businessman, was one of the first European settlers to arrive in the newly formed capital.

In 1853, with his business partner William Brown, Campbell bought this estate that was to be One Tree Hill for 16,500 pound from a local farmer, one Thomas Henry.

Campbell had prospered as a shipping agent, importer of alcohol and later, as a brewer. However an economic downturn saw Campbell reorganise his business.

Campbell managed to weather the storm, although his debts were colossal. He was paying 13 pound interest a day on his many loans and mortgages but refused to sell this property.

He could have subdivided One Tree Hill but could not bear to see “the Queen City of Oceania park-less”.

Campbell was duly elected Mayor of Auckland for three months during a 1901 visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, who later became King George the 5th and Queen.

It was strongly felt by all “classes and sections” that Campbell should be Mayor because “even the future King and Queen of England might feel proud to shake by the hand one who had done so much to promote and consolidate their Empire in his part of the world.”

As first citizen during the royal tour Campbell wore Auckland’s first mayoral robes, the same robes I am honoured to wear today.

During the royal visit he announced his gifting of the park, and named it in honour of the royal couple.

Years earlier upon travelling to Europe, Campbell made two steadfast decisions. The first was that he would never return to the Old World and the second, and more momentous decision, is best expressed by Campbell himself:

“I am determined to give practical effect to what had long been in possession of my mind, the bestowal of a great park to Auckland – I never believed in handing down great riches to my children. I was in a position to endow my wife and now only child with an assured income irrespective of the One Tree Hill Estate, to secure their worldly comfort… I deemed that the land of my adoption and the people amongst whom I had lived and prospered had the first claim.”

Cornwall Park and Maungakiekie Drive were formally opened on August 26 1903 - one hundred years ago this afternoon on these Huia Lodge steps.

Shortly after two o’clock, a large assemblage of onlookers gathered at the Market Road gates to watch Campbell lead a mile-long procession of carriages to the plateau. After the speeches and the ceremony concluded, Campbell and the many gathered, went onto the summit. It was a great day.

Campbell said: “In giving the park to the public I have lived to receive the crowning happiness of my life.”

In 1912 Sir John Logan Campbell died. Around Auckland flags were flown at half-mast. A huge cortège went from his home Kilbryde in Parnell to the summit of One Tree Hill where he was buried.

God bless Sir John Logan Campbell.

As the New Zealand Herald headlined yesterday… “Thank you a 100 times, Sir John.”

The legacy has endured. Today we give thanks for his life. Today we give thanks for Cornwall Park.


Ends

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