The history of Percy Scenic Reserve is a snapshot of the history and development of Petone as a whole. The Percy Gardens were a popular local attraction from the early 1900s onwards, while the reserve was officially opened to the public in 1949.
The Percy family who gave the reserve its name settled in Lower Hutt in the 1840s and operated one of their two flour mills in the park. The mill soon became a social hub hosting dances and events.
The Percy’s next door neighbour, Sir James Hector, was a giant in the scientific community. He went on to leave a great scientific legacy to future generations of New Zealanders.
In later years, three of the Percy’s grandsons looked after the native plantings, orchard and market gardens until they could no longer work the land. In 1939 they donated the park to the Crown for the purposes of a scenic reserve. The historic mill tragically burnt down in 1945 and now the site is memorialised with a replica waterwheel. From the 1950s the reserve was regularly used for a variety of cultural events such as dances and performances.
Today, the park is a place of recreation, heritage, and learning. There are beautiful lawns, gardens and walkways. The waterwheel and the mill pond tell the story of a young developing colony and the previous site of Sir James Hector’s home, ‘Ratanui’, connecting this place with Aotearoa’s esteemed organisations.
The research collection, within Percy Scenic Reserve, of unique plants from special ecosystems teaches us about the conservation and adaptations plants make to survive in harsh environments.
Help celebrate Percy Scenic Reserves 70th birthday by coming to our open day on Saturday 2 November, 2019, between 10am and 4pm.
Take a tour of our special plant collections, wander down some of our heritage walks, and share some memories of this iconic park.
The Petone Settlers Museum – Te Whare Whakaaro o Pito One and the Heritage Centre at Petone Library will also be having open days, so make Saturday 2 November, 2019, a Petone Day Out for the whole family!