Morrissey Street.jpg Morrissey Street sign (2021). Mike Gooch. Word on the Street image collection.

A recent publication explaining the origins of Hāwera street names suggests that Morrissey Street was named after local blacksmith and borough councillor Edward Morrissey.

However, Edward’s obituary, published in the Hawera Star on 28 April 1933, makes it clear that the street was in fact named after his father, William Morrissey, who had owned the block of land that was later subdivided. Morrissey Street was part of this residential development.

William Morrissey (1834-1904) hailed from Waterford, a county in Ireland. Trained as a blacksmith he spent a few years in Australia, returned to Ireland to marry then set out for New Zealand. He settled first at Charleston on the South Island’s west coast, before moving to Hāwera to set up his own business in the early 1880s. William died in 1904, survived by his wife Mary and nine children.

His son Edward, who followed him into the blacksmithing trade, took over the business with his brother John after their father’s death. Edward was a keen fisherman and musician – he played the cornet in the Hāwera Municipal Band – but his greatest contribution to the town was his 32 years of almost continuous service as a member of the Hāwera Borough Council. His only break, a month in 1901, came when he stood unsuccessfully for the mayoralty, losing by a mere five votes.

Although Morrissey Street may not have been named after him, Edward did live on the street. And no doubt he was one of the residents of the street that in 1925 so impressed a reporter from the Hawera Star. In a roundup of the town’s “beauty spots”, Morrissey Street was singled out for comment, the reporter noting that “each resident has planted a tree and a little bit of garden which is kept up with the seasons”. They went on to add that the town “owes a debt of gratitude to these people of Morrissey Street… the beauty of the street being ample compensation for any work done by them.”

The tree-lined street with its wide grass verges still presents a pleasant sight almost 100 years on from these fulsome tributes.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

Related plan:

Taranaki DP2817 Sheet 1 Morrissey StreetICS Pre 300,000 Cadastral Plan Index (Imaged by LINZ)

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