Topic: Fitzgerald Avenue (TDN 24/02/2018)

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Fitzgerald Avenue 

Fitzgerald Ave wasn't always named as such. For many years it was called Kaponga Rd. In 1957, the town councilors decided it was time to change the names of several roads in Kaponga. They were well informed. Maurice Fitzgerald was one of the most prominent men in the early days of the settlement.

Originally from Ireland, he arrived in Taranaki via Canterbury in 1882 at the age of 26. Buying bush- covered land south of Kaponga, Fitzgerald worked to successfully clear the land and then farm there. He married Julia White and the couple had several children.

Fitzgerald was active in business and politics in the area. Most significantly, he was chairman of the Kaponga Dairy Company and Kaponga's representative on the Eltham County Council. In the years when roads were such a political matter, and crucial to the development of regions, Fitzgerald was also a member of the Waimate Roads Board. The community trusted his decision-making.

It would have been a blow to the community when Fitzgerald and his family moved on in 1909, to Mangaiti in the Waikato. As a measure of the esteem he was held in, about 150 people from around the Kaponga district made their way to the town hall for a function to farewell the family. He died in 1941, aged 85.

Prominent on Fitzgerald Avenue is Victoria Park. Significant work to clear the ground and develop a playing surface only began there after a Board of Trustees was formed in 1899 to take control. The ground was doubled in size in 1908 and a players' changing room was first built in 1914.

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