History

The following is an article copied from the "Franklin Times" dated Thursday, June 11, 1970
 
 
Schlaepfer Park Scouts Haven

 Years of work by a small group of local people will have its climax on Saturday with the official opening of Schlaepfer Park, an area in Helvetia completely devoted to use by the scouting fraternity.

 

Situated approximately half-a-mile off the Ostrich Farm Road, the park has been, unofficially, the local haven of theBoy Scout movement for many years. The grove of mossy vegetation which surrounds the area gives a Swiss Family Robinson effect to the small cluster of buildings which constitutes the scout camp site.

Dominating the scene are two bunk houses, equipped with running water and electricity. Nestled in the nearby timber is a swarm of small hutchies made by the scouts out of the nearby timber and ferns and nearby a crudely made wooden structure reaches aimlessly skywards.     

USED BY TROOPS

The scouting history of the area goes back to before the Second World War, but during the war when the scouts were not operating, it was used by the New Zealand and American troops in the area.  Following this, it was once again used for scouting.  Nearly ten years ago a committee from the local scouting organisation went to Mr Walter Schlaepfer (then owner of the land) and tried to arrange purchase of a small block. Mr Schlaepfer gave two and-a-half acres of his property from where the park is at present, to the scouts. However, the organisation met resistance from the Franklin County Council which would not permit a subdivision of this size.

BENEFACTOR

After representatives of the council inspected the area it was agreed that a subdivision of not less than five acres could be made. To ensure that the scouts had land of their own, a Pukekohe man, Mr H. Svendsen, bought the additional two and-a-half acres.

Mr Svendsen has been a supporter of the scouts in Pukekohe for over 25 years and his work has been a factor in the progress made by the organisation in this time. Since then generations of scouts have been through the park and nearly all have fond memories and praise for the area,

Since the actual purchase of the park there have been many improvements and additions made to the area. The provision of bunk houses, electricity, and run­ning water, add a touch of convenience to the scout's life.

Easy access is provided to the park by a well tended road which winds among the glistening tree trunks, finally coming to a halt at the arch like entrance to the park.  This entrance gate has gradually been completed as funds have become available and the time it took is shown by the plaque in the brickwork, dated 1964

IDEAL

A particular advantage of this park is it’s nearness to Pukekohe.  Scouts can cycle out to spend a weekend themselves without causing any inconvenience to their parents and despite its proximity to the town, the park is well isolated and almost completely covered in native vegetation.
 

The Rover Hut 

 Preparing the concrete footings and floor in preparation to move the Rover Hut to it's permanent site. The building had been used at the Jamboree that was held in Pukekohe in January 1972
February 1973, when a start was made on the building of the Rover Hut. The Svendson Hut (now the gear shed) is in the background.
 
Note: The Svendson Hut was demolished in September 2010 owing to it's sad state of repair - the building had been built of untreated timber and the borer had been having a field day. A new building will be erected to take the place of the Svendson Hut

The following is an article copied from the “Pukekohe Weekend”, dated Friday, July 16,1993

Large Donation clears way for Scouts

 Pukekohe Scout Group can now purchase a five acre block of land

 

 

ASB Bank Community Trust representative John Robertson, Papakura MP, hands over the $20,000 cheque to group leader Mary Nelson. Pictured from left are: Corrina Pasley, Ian Robinson, deputy group leader, John Robertson, Neil Lorimer, Mary Nelson, John Trigance, and Richard Seagar.

 

Thanks to a generous donation of $20,000 from the ASB Bank Community Trust, Pukekohe Scout Group can now purchase a five acre block of land adjacent to Schlaepfer Park at Paerata.  Mostly native bush, this land contains ideal camp sites, an attractive waterfall, glow-worms and bush tracks.

At a small ceremony held at Schlaepfer Park, ASB Bank trustee John Robertson, who is also MP for Papakura, formally presented the cheque to Group Leader Mary Nelson.  John explained that the trust was set up to help organisations in the bank's area.  "I believe the Scouts are doing a tremendous job. Keep up the good work," he added as he handed over the cheque.

Mary told the gathering that the donation had given the Scouts a tremendous boost.  She paid tribute to the committee and others who had worked so hard to bring the application to a successful conclusion.

"Schlaepfer Park receives strong community support from local Lions, Rotary and Pakeke Club members," added Mary.  She quoted the Keas' motto, 'I care - I share - I discover - I grow', and remarked, "That is what Schlaepfer Park is all about."

At the ceremony, guests lined up in Scout formation. The flag was broken by Scout Todd Pasley and the prayers were led by Mary Nelson.
 
High praise from mayor
Franklin Mayor Peter Aitken, who had previously inspected the additional land, said it would be a valuable acquisition for Schlaepfer Park and the community. He praised the ASB Bank Community Trust for its generosity.  Peter said his daughters Anne and Julie had camped at the park as Guides and his wife Gill had been a leader.


The following is an extract from the booklet  "Do You Best - 50 Years of Scouting in Pukekohe"

The History of Schlaepfer Park

 
The Schlaepfer Park property was donated to the Scout movement by the late W. Schlaepfer and the late H.N. Svendsen in 1964. It is located off the Ostrich Farm Road and consists of two hectares, three quarters of which is native bush and the remainder is grassed.

Members of the Pukekohe Scout group enjoyed camping on the Schlaepfer farm as early as 1949. It was mentioned in the early minutes, that the Schlaepfer brothers were thanked for the use of their property.

In August 1949, Mr H. N. Svendsen, donated a pine tree and the Pukekohe Borough Council also offered some trees for milling, so that a hut could be built on the Schlaepfer farm.

The building was officially opened on 24 February 1951 and named Helvetia Hut but later changed to Svendsen Hut.

In 1950, the Scout Group's honorary solicitor, Mr Grierson, drew up an "Agreement of Occupation" between the Scout Association and Mr A. Schlaepfer. Dr Begg and Mr H. Curd were appointed the first official camp wardens the same year.

For the 1st Pukekohe Troop, a visit by Mr J. E. Colquhoun OBE, from Imperial Headquarters in London was a big excitement. He also inspected the Schlaepfer Park and the new hut.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Scouts from all over the Franklin district camped there on Labour Weekend. One of the largest gatherings was in 1956 when 120 boys from Pukekohe, Wesley College, Waiuku, Tuakau, Manukau Peninsula, Waiau Pa, Te Kohanga, Maramarua, Mangere East and Ellerslie were present. On this occasion, the Wesley College troop won the Lawson Shield for camp craft.

In 1953, a building from the Transit Camp at Rooseville Park was purchased for eight pounds ($16) and located opposite Svendsen Hut. This army building was demolished in the early 1980s.

There was a series of camp wardens in the 1950s : A. Schlaepfer, (1955), A. Ross (1956) and C. Recter (1957).

When a group committee meeting was held, Mr W. Cosslett offered to organise a building permit to construct a senior Scout hut. Under the direction of Scoutmaster, Cyril Arvidson, Scouts worked on the project and completed the task in about two years. Details about the source of the material and how it was paid for were sketchy, but when completed it was known as the Browne Hut.

February 24 1964, was a red letter day for the Scouting movement in Franklin. On that day, a special meeting was called by the group committee, to discuss a letter from Mr A. Schlaepfer in which he offered two and a half acres for Scout use. The resolution passed was simple "That the committee accept the offer and all responsibilities".

A few months later, the Franklin County Council gave permission for the Scout Group to acquire five acres of land, the remaining two and a half acres being donated by Mr H. N. Svendsen. National headquarters were notified that the area which would be known as Schlaepfer Park would be available to Guides and Scouts. It was on 1 April 1965, that Mr H. N. Svendsen presented the title deeds at the Group's annual general meeting.

Parents and the local Rotary Club constructed a fence around the park, the cost being met by the Rotorians. They also donated a gate for the park.

In May 1965, Mr E. Browne was elected camp warden, a position he held for 1 1 years.

Schlaepfer Park must have caught the imagination of the local community and even. National Headquarters. Captain Heaton of the latter, said he hoped an archway and a plaque would be erected.

An unknown firm constructed the archway and it was transported to the site by Franklin Transport.

Mr D. Wood agreed to pay the insurance premiums on the Scouts huts for 20 years. Mr Brian Schlaepfer connected water to the campsite from his own bore and Mr Ted Hogan donated the cost of building the fireplace at the Park.

Another major contribution was made by the Pukekohe Lions Club when they built and paid for the ablution block. The Spence family, Merilyn and Bill and Ian Gurney, constructed and built an altar in the bush. Venturer Scouts assisted.

On 13 June 1970, Schlaepfer Park was officially opened.

The year 1991, was a busy and exciting year for Schlaepfer Park. New bunk Huts were completed and improvements made to Browne Hut.

Scout Hut and Rotary Hut were the names given to the bunk huts, the rooms being Kotuku, Matata, Kahui and Onewai after the Scout and Cub packs.

A bronze plaque was unveiled by Ian and Yvonne Robinson which was covered by a new banner featuring the design of the new scarf badge made and presented by Yvonne.

About this time, it was suggested by the Friends of the Schlaepfer Park group that five acres owned by Tom Young and adjacent to Schlaepfer Park would be a worthwhile acquisition. It included a large area of bush, excellent camping sites and a waterfall. Valuable legal assistance was given by Brian Webb of Webb, Morice and Partners who charged nothing for his services. Max Adams valued the property at $20,000 and made no charge for his work.

The problem of raising the necessary cash was solved when the ASB Trust made a grant to cover the cost.

A report for 1995 made pleasing reading. It said the takings from campers amounted to $6,105, a record. Improvements continue to be made to roads, parking areas and access ways to the new camp sites. Weed control and eradication of opossums has encouraged the growth of new native seedlings. Existing trees have also shown improved growth.