A detachment of the 65th Regiment was sent from Auckland in response to settlers' concerns about trouble between two local Maori chiefs. Arriving in Napier in February 1858, the troops came ashore at Onepoto Gully. Main Street now marks the route taken by the men as they made their way up Napier Hill.
A temporary camp was established until barracks were built to the north of the Botanical Gardens. The regiment located a source of fresh water at the foot of the gardens and sank two wells.
Water and other supplies were hauled up to the barracks via the Military Track, which runs between the Botanical Gardens and the Old Napier Cemetery.
Regimental laundry and other washing were done in the vicinity of the wells, and this spot was dubbed "Soapsuds Gully".
The two wells were closed later in the 19th century during a typhoid epidemic. In 1964, members of the Hawke's Bay and East Coast Arts Society and the Superintendent of Parks located the site of one of the wells. The original wooden lining of the well shaft had rotted away. In January 1965, a cosmetic well head of limestone rock was erected to preserve this historic landmark.
Botanical Gardens, Napier Hill
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