Topic: Stafford Street (TDN 11/02/2017)
Stafford Street is named after Edward William Stafford, Premier of New Zealand on three separate occasions between 1856 and 1872.
Born in Edinburgh on 23 April 1819, Stafford was a keen sportsman in his youth, excelling at horse riding, distance running, swimming and boxing. Attracted to the warmer climate, he left Scotland arriving in Nelson in January 1843. Widely read and interested in the events of the day, Stafford was involved in community and national politics.
He was a man of liberal views - keen on free education for all, self-governance for New Zealand and universal suffrage. At the age of thirty-seven, he became New Zealand's youngest-ever elected leader. His liberal tendencies raised the ire of many political opponents, but he was able to cobble together the first unofficial 'cabinet'.
The street named after him is split into east and west sections by Pukekohe Domain, also known as the 'Camp Reserve'. When the First Taranaki War started in March 1860, a military camp was established there, overlooking the river.
From 1904 the town's cricket and rugby clubs developed the domain into a suitable sports venue. It was the home ground of the Clifton Rugby Club from 1905 and cricket was played there for many years. Memorial gates were constructed at the main entrance in 1919, to commemorate the rugby club members who served in the First World War. In the early 1960s a grandstand was built by the rugby club and the local council.
Over time both sports were moved on to different venues - cricket established grounds at Manukorihi Park in the early 1960s and the Clifton Rugby Club amalgamated and moved to Tikorangi in 1995. The ground fell into disuse and in November 2007, after much debate, the grandstand was demolished.