History Trail

24    Brick Works

The location of New Zealand's first brickworks was on the site originally purchased by Canon Percy Williams. Description of the location puts it as "being adjacent to the Horotutu Stream, near where the current carpark and fire station are located". Since the property boundaries have changed variously since it was first occupied, the description covers a wide range of possible locations; from the edge of the Paihia School grounds to the boundary between the Village Green and the carpark.

By the time Percy purchased the land titles the brickworks had long ceased to function. Required materials for brick making, such as sand, water and clay, were readily available. Lime for the mortar to lay the bricks probably would have come from sea shells. Unfortunately, like a lot of Paihia's past, there is very little visual evidence left.

The brickworks produced bricks for local building projects; one of which was the house of William Williams that used to exist at Horotutu about where the Village Green meets Marsden Road near the stream mouth. The bricks surrounding the well head are likely to not be from this source, as the well was established after the brickworks had gone.

Despite the lack of written evidence of the brickworks, excavations undertaken by a Department of Conservation archaeologist in 1994 unearthed significant evidence of the brickworks. The excavation was done because of public concern that some of the history of Paihia was threatened by the construction of the carpark and the placing of the Horotutu Stream in a culvert beneath.

The excavations located extensive sub-surface features relating to the brickworks. Included were; areas of shell and fragmented brick laid on paths or other surfaces; post holes, some with posts still in situ; an intact section of wooden box-section culvert; and a retaining wall made of kanuka timber extending for 35 metres on the southern side of the stream.

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