Greymouth looks to 150th

By Tui Bromley

Plans are afoot for the town of Greymouth to celebrate its 150th birthday on July 22 next year — six months ahead of Hokitika celebrations.
Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said that was the date that the steamer Nelson crossed the Grey River bar in 1864, and pioneer storekeeper Reuben Waite disembarked to set up a store on the riverbank, now the site of Cafe DP1 on the corner of Mawhera Quay and Waite Street.
Seventy gold diggers disembarked at the same time, including the Watson brothers, who did not have to go far to strike it rich. At what is now known as Watson’s Creek, about 4km south of the Grey River, the two Watsons and two friends found over the next nine months enough gold to bring in £7830 — $3.4 million in today’s currency.
Hokitika was founded on October 1 that year, when pioneer storekeepers John Hudson and James Price set up their store on what is now the corner of Revell Street and Gibson Quay. Hokitika is planning a whole year of celebrations, however these do not start until December 20 to coincide with the first crossing of the Hokitika River bar, again by the steamer Nelson.
Greymouth resident Peter Kerr suggested in a submission to the Grey District Council 2013-14 annual plan that the 150th anniversary was approaching and should also be commemorated. Mr Kokshoorn agreed.
“It’s an important part of our history, the beginning of the town and it should be marked with a special celebration,” Mr Kokshoorn said.
The council meeting on Monday will discuss the formation of an anniversary committee, chaired by the Mayor, to draft a programme of activities to mark the occasion.
In 2010, the West Coast celebrated the 150th year of its foundation, following the signing of the Deed of Purchase with Poutini Ngai Tahu on May 21, 1860.