Story: Marine conservation

Arguing against a sewerage system

Arguing against a sewerage system

This article is from the New Zealand Times of 11 July 1879. John Plimmer, one of Wellington’s founders, argues for the rejection of a proposed loan to fund a sewerage system for the city (referred to here as the ‘drainage question’). He saw nothing wrong with pumping raw sewage into the sea. The idea of a boundless and resilient ocean was common at the time. It would be over a century before Wellington stopped pumping waste into Cook Strait.


Mr. John Plimmer has addressed a long letter to the Mayor and City Councillors on the drainage question, and as it is likely to cause some discussion, we print the document in full for the benefit of our readers:—

“GENTLEMEN,—It is with the greatest diffidence that I address you upon the drainage question of the City of Wellington; and it was not that I strongly disapprove of both the schemes which have been under your consideration, I should not venture to send you this letter and accompanying plans.

“Gentlemen, you allow all the washing of the slaughter-houses, tanyards, and gasworks, and many other matters, to run into the bay, which are more deleterious and disagreeable than anything in the city, and that without any means to prevent its spreading and lodging on the beach, and yet I hear of no objection; and, on the other hand, you demur at a few cartloads of debris from the city, with every precaution that it be not offensive. It is not these things which affect the health of the people. It is bad surface draining, putrid holes of water, and rotting vegetation, from which malaria and fever have their origin. What we want is good water, without limit, good surface draining, and cleanliness at home. Supply these, and put from you that sentimental nonsense of polluting the bay, and you will confer on Wellington a great blessing, and make it one of the healthiest cities in the world,—I am, Mr. Mayor and gentlemen, yours, &c..
“Wellington, 30th June, 1879.”

Using this item

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: New Zealand Times, 11 July 1879, p. 2

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Gerard Hutching and Carl Walrond, 'Marine conservation - The boundless ocean', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 14 April 2024)

Story by Gerard Hutching and Carl Walrond, published 12 Jun 2006, updated 1 Sep 2015