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Hector the Parrot at Heritage Auckland 100 Years High Tea

Hector the Parrot is Back at Heritage Auckland 100 Years High Tea on Mothers Day

‘Hector’ the parrot will make an appearance at the Heritage Auckland historic Mother’s Day Tea this Sunday 11 May in the old Farmer’s store Hobson Street building. The tea event has some special guests attending including some Mums of 100 years of age, back to share in the golden age of taking tea in the historic roof top tearoom of the former Farmer’s department store building.

The Heritage Auckland’s building, celebrating its centenary this year, was first built as a warehouse for Auckland entrepreneur Robert Laidlaw’s mail-order company called ‘Laidlaw Leeds.’ The building was to house Laidlaw’s rapidly growing business and cost £38,000 to complete, opening in April 1914. In 1918 he was called up to WW1 and sold to the Farmer’s Co-operative Trading Company, but returned as general manager to spearhead decades of department store innovation.

He turned the building in to a retail store in 1920 and opened the famous children’s playground. In 1930, a bold deco façade was installed on the building and the stunning roof-top tearooms created, now the hotel’s Grand Tearoom.

At that time Hector ‘the parrot’ actually a sulphur crested cockatoo (and a female), was gifted to the store by an old lady unable to care for it any longer. Hector became an icon, yet had quite a temper, snipping at staff given the chance. The bird is purported to have lived to well over 100 years of age.

Not many Aucklanders of a certain age can recall the building’s past without a nostalgic smile over the playground pedal cars, Hector the parrot and Santa’s huge summoning presence on the corner of Hobson and Wyndham streets at Christmas.

To mark the building’s centenary, Heritage Auckland has created a special tea in the roof-top Grand Tearoom on Sunday 11 May, presenting the room as it was in its heyday with individual tables for families of all ages and friends to share together. Guests can immerse themselves in another era and come along in a chic hat to be in to win a prize on the day.

Hector of course is not the original but will be available for photographs and media interviews on Sunday. The Tea sessions are 10.30 and 2.30 PM.


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