The history of Eastbourne illustrates the concerns and issues of a small, isolated community which became part of a larger city. The Borough records show the development of housing, transport, infrastructure, and community facilities, and the personalities within the eastern bays of Wellington Harbour.
Eastbourne Borough Council was established in 1906. The initial Borough boundaries stretched from Burdan’s Gate north to Windy Point at the southern end of Days Bay. The Local Government Commission added the eastern bays from Days Bay to Point Howard in 1965.
The Borough was disestablished in 1989, due to nationwide local government reforms, and Eastbourne is now part of Hutt City Council.
Timeline of the Borough
||Establishment of the Eastbourne Borough Council, created by the Eastbourne Borough Act of 1905
||Purchase of the harbour ferry service with the steamers Duchess and Cobar
||Arrival of electricity and major improvements to the road to Eastbourne
||Purchase of the bus company
||Sewerage system laid
||End of the harbour ferry service
||Sewerage system upgraded
||The eastern bays join the borough, from Days Bay to Point Howard
||Council and volunteers cared for survivors from the Wahine
||Council chambers and public library built on the corner of Rimu Street and Marine Parade
||Opening of the Eastbourne Swimming Pool
||Disestablishment of the Borough - Eastbourne is now part of Hutt City Council
The first Council meeting took place on 8 June 1906. On 22 October 1906, a fire broke out in the Lambton Quay offices of the Council and the early records, including the first minute book, were destroyed.
How do I find out?
Where did my family live?
Look through the rate books for the family name. Each entry should have a street address or legal description which will locate the family home. If you look through several years, you can work out how long they stayed at that address.
How old is my house?
The building permit application should tell you when the house was built and who built it. There may also be plans, specifications, correspondence or details about additions and alterations.
Can I get a photograph of my house?
You may be able to find a bird’s eye view of your house in the aerial photographs. Council rarely took photographs of houses, but there are some general views of Eastbourne, Council functions and staff at work.
Was my family member employed by the Borough Council?
There are very few records for Council staff. Most references will be in the general correspondence or minute books so may only confirm the employment without other details. Names of councillors are recorded in the minute books.
The records of the Eastbourne Borough Council were transferred to its successor, Hutt City Council.
Some of the Borough’s record keeping systems began later than 1906, and some items were misplaced during its lifetime. This means we may not be able to answer all enquiries.
The records that can be found in our Archives include:
The minute books contain the high level decisions which Council made. They can tell you the issues of the day and who supported or opposed those decisions. Council Archives holds the Borough minutes from 1906 to 1989, with indexes for 1951-1985.
We hold the rate books from 1939 to 1981. The details contained in the rate books are the property owner’s name, street address, legal description of the property, property value, rates due and payments made.
The legal description will confirm the property location. This is important as we know that street numbers and names may change.
Source: Eastbourne Borough Rate Book 1939/1940 [ARCH42110]
These records contain building permit applications, plans, and specifications, along with any associated correspondence. Naming practice has changed over time and many of the early records only have the street and owner name (no street number).
The building records cover 1907 to 1992 but do not include the whole Borough.
Start by searching building records. If this doesn't show anything try searching the Archives.
Source: Plan of residence at Muritai for C.A. Cook - 424 Muritai Road [ARCH24347]
We hold correspondence from 1927 to 1982 from several different filing systems. Subjects include town planning, parks and reserves, roading and traffic, public works, correspondence with local organisations, and the bus company operations.
Correspondence helps explain Council’s response to the requests and issues that concerned residents - for example, an extension to the local hotel or a proposed new scout hall.
Source: Eastbourne Hotel, 1955-1956 [ARCH18017]
The Borough entered into a number of legal agreements including land transfers and encroachments, leases and local road maintenance agreements with other councils. Many of these subjects such as a licence to occupy land or responsibility for pipe maintenance are still relevant today.
Source: Deed between The Mayor Councillors and Burgesses of the Borough of Eastbourne and Florence J Rodie, 1928 [ARCH7899]
Our Aerial photography maps show a birds-eye view and are a visual guide to the Borough’s development, showing roads, houses and the changing shoreline.
There are two sets of aerial photographs for Eastbourne. The first set was taken in 1975 by NZ Aerial Mapping Ltd who provided most of the aerial photography for councils. An updated set was produced in 1987. Eastbourne has been included in the Hutt City Council aerial photography from 1995.
Rimu Street, Eastbourne, 1969
Maps and plans
In addition to building plans, there are a small number of town planning maps and valuation plans. Town planning maps show what activities were permitted in certain areas and are similar to the District Plan maps used today.
Source: Eastbourne Borough Approved District Scheme Planning Map, 1974 [ARCH78138]
How do I search?
Search our Archives online to get started. Try using a general search term in the Title field, then narrow the search by using another field such as a date range.
If you are only looking for building records use the Building Information Search.
The original records used to produce the online database are held in the Council Archives. If the records you'd like to see have not been digitised, you can make an appointment to visit the Archives. Digitisation can be requested, but it will depend on the format and condition of the original item.
- Library Heritage Centre
- Historical Society of Eastbourne (search the library catalogue or visit the Eastbourne Library)
- Eastbourne: a history of the eastern bays of Wellington Harbour, by Ann Beaglehole and Alison Carew, Historical Society of Eastbourne, 2001
- Cliff Bishop, Eastbourne Borough Council, Eastbourne Celebrates New Zealand’s Centenary, 1840-1940 (Sunny Eastbourne, the Playground Suburb), Wellington, 1940 [ARCH24608]