Tucked away in an almost forgotten corner of Auckland Domain is a delightful mid-20th century reflection pond that has just been reopened after an extensive two-year renovation costing $208,000.
“This mirror pond is an important part of Auckland’s history that had been significantly damaged by tree roots. We appreciate the patience Aucklanders have shown as we’ve rebuilt it over the last two years,” says Auckland Domain Committee chair, Councillor Christine Fletcher.
The bluestone perimeter wall, mosaic floor paving and tiles have been fully refurbished and a much stronger concrete base has been put in. The pond has also been lined with a modern sealant to retain the water in the future.
“It’s taken time and a bit of investment but it’s always been an extraordinarily popular place for weddings, quiet contemplation and special events so we’re thrilled to reinstate this feature for future generations,” says Councillor Fletcher.
The original pond and associated statues were tendered in 1954 and officially unveiled on 19 October 1955. They were a bequest from Auckland benefactor Alexander Richard Dickey Watson and the area is now commonly referred to as Watson’s Bequest. The bequest and associated sculpture group commemorated the first 100 years of the history of the city of Auckland.
The pond was designed by Tibor Donor, celebrated Auckland City Council architect of the period, and the stonework was built by Scarborough Bros of Scarborough Terrace fame.
The accompanying statue group, the work of sculptor WH Wright, consists of three figures representing Auckland finding its strength, wisdom, and fertility. The pond was described as a free form, modernist-influenced pond designed to create a setting for the statues. It includes an elaborate mosaic that has been a feature of the refurbishment.
The statue group and pond were originally proposed for Albert Park but it was decided that the Domain was a more appropriate site. The cost of the 1955 construction was £8,231.
Watson's bequest, photographed in 1964