Excerpt from “The Zoo War” (2008). This chapter revised July 2012.
The Aramoho Zoo (1908-1916)Lisa J Truttman
The Tea Garden by the river
It began with a very Victorian/Edwardian pastime – families, friends and loversenjoying blissful summer days strolling through immaculate gardens, listening to music beside one of the North Island’s mightiest rivers. Around 1891, a Mrs Haywood cameto New Zealand and settled in Wanganui on account of her husband’s ill-health. She issaid to have worked on laundry until she had saved enough money to set up a teagarden on land said to be formerly part of a farm owned by a Mr. Murray, part of section 22 on the right bank of the Wanganui River at Aramoho. On 29 September 1898, her Aramoho Tea Gardens was officially opened by Mr F. M. Spurdle (in theabsence of the intended officiator, the Mayor of Wanganui.) The occasion was cappedoff by a concert and dance for ticket holders.
By 1901, Mrs Haywood was able to promote a number of attractions to encouragevisitors to the Wanganui district to while away time at the three-and-a-half acres or sowhich was her tea gardens, including tennis courts, a pavilion, lovers walks, summer houses, shooting saloon, swing boats, orchard etc. A bus link direct to the gardens musthave been of great assistance to help attract the crowds.
For a time from late 1901 toDecember 1902, a Mrs Joseph Brown operated the gardens,
but Mrs Haywood thenreturned.
By September 1905, however, the gardens belonged to Mr. J. Shelley wholeased them to others to operate.
Two years later, the site was on the market again,
followed by the contents of the house and tea rooms in February 1908.
By early April 1908, a retired builder from Kilburnie in Wellington, John James Boyd,was the new proprietor of the Aramoho Tea Gardens, shipping his motor launch(perhaps the
up via the Stormbird to the Wanganui River.
Before the end of the year, he placed advertisements in the local Wanganui Herald for the purchase of “oppossums and other wild animals”
as Boyd reopened the tea garden – and so, bythe beginning of 1909, the first of Boyd’s zoos began.
The Rise of John James Boyd
John James Boyd (1850-1928), of Scots descent, came from Hull, Yorkshire.
Hearrived in New Zealand around 1873 as ship’s carpenter on the
, standingonly 4' 11''
with £25 in his pocket. By 1898, he had a sizeable portfolio of rental properties, built by his firm, from which he had made a reasonably-sized fortune, judging by the fact that between 1885 and 1898 he had been able to travel to Englandthree times. By 1917, he had an annual income of £7000.
“Without in any way attempting to establish a record, Mr. J J Boyd, a Wellingtonian,who returned last week from a 4½ months trip abroad, saw probably more than most people would do under similar circumstances. After completing the business which took him to England, Mr Boyd went for a jaunt over the Island and neighbouring Isles of Wight and Man, then across to Paris, where he saw the preparations being made for