This shallow pool in the intertidal zone near Kawaroa Park was once thought to have been excavated in the 1880s (see plate 116 in J.S. Tullett’s The industrious heart: a history of New Plymouth, published in 1981) but the idea wasn’t officially suggested until a meeting of the Kawaroa Park Foreshore Beautifying Society in 1919 and there is no evidence of it on cadastral maps or plans before the 1930s. The confusion seems to have arisen because of a bathing shed mentioned in various old newspaper articles but it appears this was actually located further around the coast, in Candish Bay, nearer to where the saltwater baths were built.
An 1884 letter to the editor of the Taranaki Herald does indicate that the idea of an intertidal pool had been raised earlier, and a letter in the New Plymouth Harbour Board archive (ARC2003-518, Box 108, Letterbook 1901-02, p331, collection of Puke Ariki) reads:
21 December 1901
The Board has acceded to the request of the Bathing Club to make an excavation in the reef near Candish Bay [at the northern end of Dawson Street] providing the Railway department are agreeable to same.
C Rennell, Secretary.
But this probably refers to construction of the saltwater pools on the site of the present outdoor pool at Todd Energy Aquatic Centre, opened in 1903.
In 1924 Alice Brown Honeyfield donated enough money for the construction of a paddling pool for the children at Kawaroa Park (Taranaki Daily News, 2 April 1924). Tenders were called for immediately and the on 17 April 1924 (Taranaki Daily News, p.4) it was reported that Mr J. Russell (Moturoa) would begin construction "immediately". The pool was built down amongst the rocks and was ready for use the following summer. Mrs Honeyfield donated a number of objects to the town including the coastal walkway drinking fountain, Te Hēnui cemetery gates and the Fitzroy School war memorial gates.
Concrete perimeter walls were added to deepen the pool in 1934 (Taranaki Daily News, 1 June 1934), designed by New Plymouth Borough engineer Anthony (Tony) Thorne, who was the son-in-law of Victor Beal, chairman/president of the Beautifying Society for 30 years (plan ARC2014-041, collection of Puke Ariki). The work was carried out by Messrs. Jones & Sandford for the cost of £87.00.
In 1997 a seal sculpture named “Silky”, (Daily News 30 April 1997) carved out of Taranaki andesite by stone sculptor Wayne McVicar at the previous year’s Stone Arts Symposium, was purchased by New Plymouth District Council and installed in the paddling pool. It was designed to appear at low tide then disappear at high tide and can still be seen from the coastal walkway. The same year, artist Michael Smither painted his work Kawaroa Paddling Pool, which was purchased by a Sydney hotel.
Kawaroa Paddling Pool Annual Clean Up (Taranaki Herald 20 November 1965)
Call for coastal redevelopment to include Kawaroa tidal pool (Daily News 9 September 1998)