Topic: Victoria Street - Patea (TDN 09/09/2017)

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Victoria Street (Patea) 

It is quite likely that every city - and many towns - in New Zealand have a street named after the long- serving English monarch, Queen Victoria. Her reign coincided with rapid European settlement of New Zealand and the establishment of many early towns.

The decision to name streets after the Queen was an obvious one. Patea was no exception, and so a stretch of road from Pembroke St to the main road was named after the English monarch. Curiously however, when the road resumed after crossing Egmont St the name changed.

The name that appears on early survey maps is the quirky Unthanks Rd. Norwich in England has an Unthank Rd, but it's possible Patea had the only Unthanks Rd in the world.

Unthank is an unusual and uncommon surname. At WOMAD in 2009 sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank performed a set of their folk-inspired music. Now known as 'The Unthanks', they released two albums this year featuring the songs of Molly Drake, mother of the English poet, Nick Drake.

Unfortunately we have been unable to determine exactly who had the honour of having a road named after them in Patea. If it was an early settler or soldier they have left no trace of their time in the district.

Not only has the original Unthank left no trace, the only evidence of the street name itself is on old survey maps. It appears that about 1930, but possibly earlier, the local council decided to change the name to Victoria St, unifying both stretches of road.

Whether it was merely a pragmatic decision, or perhaps the rather unusual name did not sit well with residents, we will probably never know.

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Victoria Street - Patea (TDN 09/09/2017)