Karen Astwood and Penelope Baines
Korokoro Stream Dams
The Korokoro Stream Dams in Belmont Regional Park, Lower Hutt, include the Korokoro Dam, a 1903 public waterworks structure; and downstream the Wellington Woollen Manufacturing Company Dam (1904), which provided water for their mill’s manufacturing processes. Designed by Petone Borough Engineer, Samuel Jickell (1856–1939), these are New Zealand’s earliest mass concrete gravity dams.
In the 1890s and early 1900s the Petone Borough Council explored establishing a water supply system sufficient in quality and quantity to meet the household, sanitary and fire fighting demands of the local population. The Petone Borough Council determined to proceed with tapping into the Korokoro Stream as their water source after numerous engineering reports and an aborted collaboration with Hutt Borough Council using the Belmont Stream. However, the Wellington Woollen Mill Manufacturing Company, whose mill was located near the stream mouth, took legal action against the Council over riparian rights. After several years the Council eventually succeeded in initiating a waterworks scheme, including constructing the Korokoro Dam, but had to compensate the mill by constructing a dam downstream for them too. Both dams were decommissioned by the late 20th century. The woollen mill was demolished in the early 1970s. The dams provide points of historic interest in the Belmont Regional Park, created in 1989.
The upper and lower Korokoro Stream Dams were completed in December 1903 and June 1904 respectively. These are relatively small dams, the Korokoro Dam being eight metres (m) high and the mill’s former dam is six m high. Each has an uncontrolled chute spillway, with the Korokoro Dam’s being curved and stepped. The first in a series of early 20th century mass concrete gravity dams, the Korokoro Stream Dams have a high level of original integrity compared with other contemporary dams of this type.
As New Zealand’s first mass concrete gravity dams, the Korokoro Stream Dams have special engineering significance, marking an important transition in dam technology and construction. The Korokoro Stream Dams were designed by, and constructed under the supervision of, notable engineer Samuel Jickell, who pioneered New Zealand mass concrete dam construction and later was the foundation President of the Institute of Local Government Engineers of New Zealand.
The Korokoro Stream Dams were added to the IPENZ Engineering Heritage Register on 13 May 2014. Read the heritage assessment (PDF 810KB).
Belmont Regional Park, Korokoro and Maungaraki, Lower Hutt, Wellington.
Access can be obtained through Cornish Street, Korokoro or Oakleigh Street, Maungaraki. Greater Wellington Regional Council's website has further information about access to Belmont Regional Park.