Monday, July 15, 2024

Wellington fountain turns 50

Wellington’s iconic Carter Fountain turns 50 this year, celebrating five decades of being a significant landmark in the Capital’s harbour.

The fountain, built in 1973, was donated to the city by local businessman Hugh Carter, who named it Carter Fountain and dedicated it to his parents.

Tragically, Mr Carter slipped from his launch which he had sailed from Picton for the opening ceremony and drowned in Wellington Harbour aged 55, just days after the fountain was dedicated.  

Archive records show the costs of the fountain at the time were roughly $80,000 from Mr Carter, and the Wellington Harbour Board and Wellington City Council supplied $10,000 plus ongoing maintenance cost.

Hugh Carter was a prominent director of companies in New Zealand including JC Williamsons, the Australasian theatre company. He was also a Rotarian in the Rotary Club of Wellington along with his cousin, the late Sir Roy McKenzie, also a well- known benefactor in New Zealand.

According to family members, he dedicated the fountain to his parents George and Ella Carter, who had previously gifted the Oriental Bay Garden by Point Jerningham to the city.

But with his tragic passing just a few days after the official ceremony for the fountain, with Sir Francis Kitts as Mayor at the time, it appears to have been agreed between the Council and the family to call it the Carter Fountain.

The family says it is good to recognise the legacy left by the Carter family, through the terraced gardens as you head around Point Jerningham into Evans Bay, the origins of the floral clock at the juncture of Mercer and Cuba Streets and the years that brought joy to many citizens and visitors to the Capital, and of course the features of the fountain that have been brought to the fore in nearly 50 years. 

The fountain has been non-operational for a few months for scheduled maintenance and repairs, but after some much-needed TLC it is back and pumping almost as good as new this week.

Latest Articles