By Luke East
At around this time 110 years ago it was officially announced that the Te Awamutu Post Office, which was then under construction on the corner of Sloane and Alexandra Streets, would have its own clock tower.
The funds to purchase the clock itself were donated by former Te Awamutu cavalryman William Taylor. Had he not done so public contributions would have been sought. The clock was sourced from Timaru by the MP for Waikato, Henry Greenslade, who in 1910 began lobbying Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward, for an entirely new Post Office building for Te Awamutu.
Greenslade’s campaign for a new building was initially rebuffed but in February of 1911 Sir Joseph told Greenslade that “it has been decided to erect a new building instead of adding to the present one”.
At the time of its 1913 unveiling by the Postmaster-General, Sir Robert Heaton Rhodes, the clockface towered above every other building in the main street and continued to do so until the late 1930s when it was demolished, and Council planned to erect a new town clock (using the same clockface) at a new location. The land behind what was then the Police Station was first thought to be the best location as it was the town’s highest point, but the new clock tower was eventually erected on the roundabout at the intersection between Arawata, Alexandra and Sloane Streets – and there a town clock stood (in one form or another) until 1990.
The various Te Awamutu town clocks watched over generations of locals, from the early settlers who grew old here, to those who went off to serve in the first and second World Wars, and many more besides.
Former Te Awamutu Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Bernard Westerbaan says that a new town clock could be a great asset to Te Awamutu and suggests that “costings should be looked at and further upkeeps as well”.
For now, those interested in seeing the original Te Awamutu Town Clock will find it watching over Kihikihi where it has stood since 1960 – and sadly stood still for some time.