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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 1, Issue 5, December 1961

Poorman's Valley

Poorman's Valley

There are two theories as to how this valley received its name. The first one is that in the very early days of the province a number of assisted immigrants arrived and some eighty of them were temporarily settled in Poorman's Valley. Here they built themselves cottages, possibly of stone, and it is believed that the piles of stones to be seen in the valley today are the remains of this occupation. These immigrants were drawn from the poorer classes, and conditions in the valley were exceedingly hard, with the result that the settlers themselves called the place "Poorman's Valley". (The 1845 Census mentions "Poorman's Valley".)

An alternative theory is that during the early part of the Maori Wars a number of refugees came to Nelson from Taranaki, and some were placed in the valley. There seems no doubt that, whether the settlers were immigrants or refugees, they found conditions most unpleasant and, indeed, were close to starvation. It is on record that the people of Nelson were disturbed at their plight, and a considerable sum of money was collected to assist them. For some reason, this money, or very little of it, was used for the purpose for which it was intended and it was finally used at a much later date for the purchase of Trafalgar Park. (Actually the name was well established before the Taranaki refugees came down in 1860.)