South Rakaia/Rakaia Reserve Board

Established: 1st July 1880, via the New Zealand Gazette.

History: In 1880, the South Rakaia Road Board set aside land for a recreation reserve which was known as the South Rakaia Domain until 1959.

In the July 1st 1880 Gazette, the South Rakaia Domain Board was appointed to manage the 155 acres and two roods of reserve land.

The first Board members included C N Mackie (chairman), G Robinson, C A C Hardy, W Hartnell, J Bruce, A Makeig and J N Sharp.

The domain quickly grew in popularity as a sports centre for Rakaia, and by 1887 the outside track had been adopted as a horse racing track.

Soon, the Rakaia domain was in daily use by one group or another.

Community events became commonplace at the Domain and included the inaugural 1885 Boxing Day sports competition, football, athletics, and much more.

In the synopsis of the Board’s annual report for the year ended 1905, much finished work was reported including footbridges and a new gate, painting, the swimming pool being deepened, and many more improvements.

Around 1921-1922 an Act of Parliament enabled the Ashburton Hospital Board to purchase land from the South Rakaia Domain and build a cottage hospital to serve Rakaia.

The Rakaia cottage hospital opened on the 26th of May 1923, and cost a total of £2888, 15 shillings and sixpence.

During the Second World War, a good few men were stationed at the military camp in the Rakaia Domain.

The local branch of the Red Cross would supply cake to the men at the Rakaia Domain camp.

In 1959, the South Rakaia Domain became known simply as the Rakaia Domain under the Reserves and Domains Act 1957. Since the 1980s, the Domain has continued to develop under the District Council and the Rakaia Reserve Board, who are responsible for the daily management of the land.

Historical information on this page is sourced from Rakaia: Our History by Janine Irvine and the Rakaia History Group.

Uses past & present: Guy Fawkes display, various sports, army camp, cottage hospital, swimming, athletics, and horse racing.