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Stolen finds for ‘Mr Masterton’

Times-Age columnist Gareth Winter found many surprises on his travels around every urban street in Masterton. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

The man who wrote the book on Masterton’s streets made a few unexpected finds during a lockdown trek around all the town’s urban streets.

Gareth Winter is the Times-Age’s gardening expert, the district council’s chief archivist, and an author of books on Wairarapa’s highways and byways.

He took the opportunity to take in Masterton’s 117 kilometres of urban roading during the closure of the Queen St archive, when not working at the Wairarapa Emergency Operations Centre.

“I grew up in Lansdowne – I had a paper run there, so I was walking along a lot of the streets I knew as a boy. It was quite strange thinking back to the people from then and remembering the things that had happened.”

But despite writing the book Street Stories: How Masterton’s Streets Got Their Names, Winter still found new ground to cover.

“I discovered a reserve I didn’t know existed at the end of Sussex St. I walked out and I was thinking ‘where the hell am I?’”

The idea came when he contemplated a few new routes on his usual walks around the district.

“I thought if I used a grid system, I could walk every street to the south … and when I’d done that I realised I could do the west, the north and the east.

“Fortunately, by the time it came to do Lansdowne, we had moved to Level 3.

“It would have taken a while just to walk there and back but I was able to drive and covered the whole of Lansdowne in two four-hour walks.”

Winter also managed to gather about 1500 photographs of manhole covers for the district archive, that reopened this week under Level 2 conditions.

These include some of the original covers, manufactured by borough council member JC Ewington up to 100 years ago, and those made by George Tinkler from the 1940s.

But a couple really stood out.

“I discovered we’ve got two stolen manhole covers. Two of them are marked LHCC, for Lower Hutt City Council. Somehow, we’ve ended up with them here.”

Wairarapa Archive, at 79 Queen St, is open by appointment only under Level 2 restrictions.


  1. I am from the Sim family we grew up on Sussex Street in the fifties when that Reserve would have been part of a Chinese Market Gardner named Wong Nam who also would sell produce there to locals.

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