Henry Stokes Tiffen (1816-1896) was born in England but came to New Zealand in 1842 as an assistant surveyor for the New Zealand Company. His first wife Caroline died during childbirth later that year in Wellington.
Henry returned to England to marry his wife’s older sister, Louisa in 1855.
When he returned to New Zealand it was as a Wellington Provincial surveyor. As Hawke’s Bay was then part of the Wellington province, Henry came to Napier in 1856 to control surveying in the district.
He had during 1857 invested in land he would call Greenmeadows (after the danthonia grass in the area) which was north of Puketapu Road and west of Guppy Road ‒ and right next to what would become Taradale. The property in fact extended over most of Taradale and covered the area of Avenue and Church Roads. It is assumed Henry gave the land for the Taradale School and the Presbyterian Church.
In the days before the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, the tidal Ahuriri lagoon came right up to the edge of Henry Tiffen’s property in Greenmeadows. He built a jetty which enabled him to travel down a creek that existed then called Salt Walter Creek into the lagoon.
Vines were planted by Henry the in Greenmeadows hills and this property is now the Mission Estate.
The Napier Park Racing Club was formed in 1886, on what is now Anderson Park, Greenmeadows.
Henry had a private racecourse on his land since the 1860s, and despite some views that Henry owned this land, it does not appear to be the case. He does not seem to have done very well out of racing and commented in
When the Napier Park Racecourse closed in 1961, its members agreed to hold its races in Hastings.
Napier City Council bought the site and named it Anderson Park after Napier businessman Haskell Anderson gave a £20,000 (2021: $910,00). Originally the area was planned to be for housing, but the generous donation from Haskell enabled it to be developed into Napier’s largest passive recreation space.
Henry passed away in 1896, and showing his generosity donated significant money to charity, and having no children of his own, and outlived his second wife, his estate was divided among 26 relatives.
Tiffen Park in the Napier Central Business District was a home of Henry’s and purchased by the Napier Borough Council in 1907. The upper car park was the site of the house, and the grounds are now Tiffen Park.
- Article: By Michael Fowler
- Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library B-K 437-411