Myers Park, Auckland
The palm-lined main path, upper part of the park.
|Location||Auckland, New Zealand|
|Operated by||Auckland Council|
|Status||Open year round|
Myers Park is a narrow park in central Auckland, New Zealand, running parallel to the upper part of Queen Street. It is characterised by steep, grassed slopes and canopied with a mixture of large exotic and native trees, including an alley of large palm trees. Benches and artwork (including a heritage marble copy of Michelangelo's sitting Moses statue) line the paths connecting to Queen Street, K Road, Grey's Avenue and Aotea Square.
Running downhill from the northern slope of the Karangahape ridge, the park was formed in 1914 out of an overgrown gully facing towards the Waitemata Harbour. The gully was the start of the Waihorotiu Stream, also known as the 'Queen Street River'. The stream was temporarily used as an open sewer, but it is now completely underground.
During his time as mayor, Christopher Parr established many of Auckland's parks, such as Victoria Park, Point Erin Park, Parnell Park (now Dove-Myer Robinson Park), and much land in the Waitakere Ranges. It was during this spate of development that Myers Park was founded. In 1913, the area of the gully was described as consisting of "slum shanties and rubbish tips", creating the popular impression that this was an example of slum clearance. In actual fact the area was actually comparatively empty of buildings, only 14 buildings were standing on eight acres of land and 12 of those were very tiny cottages. The site was ideal simply because there were so few buildings to clear from the site, all of whiich were sold for relocation.
In 1913 a former mayor of Auckland Arthur Mielzinier Myers gave the City £9,000 to purchase the land. Myer was responsible for a number of improvements during his time as mayor including Grafton Bridge and the Auckland Town Hall. He decided to move on from local politics to central government and was the Member of Parliament for Auckland at the time the park was proposed as part of Mayor Parr's City Beautication scheme.
Following Myer's intentions, the 2.4ha² of the wasteland was transformed into an example of a reform park designed by the City Park Superintendent Thomas Pearson, who had previously been employed by the New Zealand government to create the gardens at Rotorua, Te Aroha, Queenstown and Hamner Springs. The 'reform park' movement was a newly developed concept in the United States where rampant urban growth was raising many concerns and resulting in the systematic provision of safe spaces for children to play and green spaces to relax in.
The park was named for its benefactor Arthur Myers and opened by Mayor Christopher Parr on Tuesday January the 28th 1915.
Following the example of the department store owner John Court who had fitted out Victoria Park with playground equipment in 1912, Arthur Myers paid for the playground equipment and arranged for it to be imported from the US. The centrepiece of the park is the Kindergarten Building, which Myers also paid for in a further donation to the city. Sir John Logan Campbell had paid for a similar facility in Victoria Park.
Myers' brother Leopold (chair of the electric Tram Company) had married an American woman, Martha Washington Shinwald, who had been involved in the kindergarten movement in San Francisco. She and Arthur Myers carefully oversaw the creation of the Kindergarten Building which was designed by the architectural firm of Chilwell & Trevithick. The building was opened by the governor general in January 1916.
Of late, the park has attracted a certain degree of notoriety due to a spate of unsavory incidents. A number of campaigns  have begun to raise the profile and safety of the park with the intention that it recaptures its original charm and once again becomes a place for friends, families, and visitors to enjoy.
Myers Kindergarten Building
Myers Free Kindergarten building in Myers Park.
|Architectural style||Arts & Crafts architecture|
|Location||Auckland, New Zealand|
|Address||381 Queen Street, Auckland|
|Design and construction|
|Architecture firm||Chilwell & Trevithick|
In 1915 Myers also funded the construction of the Myers Free Kindergarten. It is a prominent example of Arts & Crafts architecture in Auckland, and was designed by Chilwell & Trevithick. The kindergarten was intended as a philanthropic gift to benefit the mostly poor families of the area. The building still holds a kindergarten today (KiNZ in the Park) and is, together with parts of the park itself, on the register of the Historic Places Trust.
Other Historical Features
- Pollock, Kerryn. "City parks and green spaces - Later urban parks". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- Myer's gift to the city (from City Scene, Sunday 29 October 2006)
- Stone, R. C. J. "Myers, Arthur Mielziner". from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- Make Myers Park Safe
- KiNZ Background (from the Kindergarten New Zealand, KiNZ website)
- "Myers Park Historic Area". Register of Historic Places. New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- Watson, John (9 October 2008). "Century-old kauri building in way of Q Theatre". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2011.