Campbell Lane opened in spectacular fashion on 29 April 2017 with hundreds of Hāwera locals turning out to celebrate this new thoroughfare. A free sausage sizzle, face painting and a performance by the Te Kotahitanga kapa haka group kept people entertained as they wandered through the architecturally-designed laneway.

The open-air walkway was designed by Boffa Miskell of Wellington, with most of the fittings (hardwood timber screens, waste bins and seating) supplied by Tauranga-based firm Streetscape.  The project began back in 2016 with the demolition of the Campbell’s Building on High Street. Catherine Groenstein wrote in her Taranaki Daily News article on 23 July that “the ground shook and concrete dust filled the air” as the building was pulled down.

The building had been erected for Malcom James Campbell in 1912, designed by prominent Hāwera architect John Duffill. The two-storey building allowed Campbell to expand his ironmongery and grocery business, as well as providing storage and accommodation on the upper floor. The building was listed in the Hāwera Town Centre Heritage Inventory (1998) and conservation architect, Chris Cochran, noted that it had “the rare attribute of never having been painted, so that the original architectural intention can be seen today”.

The date on the façade of the building was 1893, marking the date that Campbell first opened his business in the town. Campbell had arrived in Hāwera in 1872 and in 1881 married 20-year-old Mary Douglas. They would go on to have four children, two boys and two girls.

One of the Campbell’s sons, James, was elected mayor of Hāwera in 1933, serving until he died suddenly in 1939, aged 57. His widow, Marion, generously donated the ‘Wendy’ statue in King Edward Park in his honour. The High Street building was sold after Marion’s death the following year.

While the Campbell name disappeared from High Street with the demolition of the historic building, the family’s contribution to Hāwera has been honoured in the name given to the stylish thoroughfare that connects the town’s retail area to Cornish’s Car Park.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

Related documents:

Malcolm J. Campbell Obituary (Hawera Star 24 February 1930)

The story of the Campbell building (Taranaki Daily News 3 October 2015)

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