How Brightwater got its name
"Bright water for me"
According to some sources, Brightwater was named after the bright, clear waters of the Wairoa River. In part this may be true, but it seems more plausible to attribute the naming of Brightwater to Alfred Saunders.
Alfred Saunders was an early settler to the region, arriving in Nelson on the Fifeshire on the 1st February, 1842.
He was an ardent supporter of the Temperance Movement, which aimed to restrict the consumption of alcohol, and formed a Nelson branch of the Temperance Society in 1842. He also resided in Section 34, known as the ‘Teetotal Section’, due to the abstinence shown by the residents who lived there. This was located opposite St Paul’s Church.
In 1851, Alfred Saunders purchased the Richmond Flour Mill from Mr Elliot. Alfred had ongoing problems with the Mill, which used steam power. Whilst struggling with the expensive and inefficient steam engine he would sing the well-known Temperance song
“Bright water, bright water, bright water for me.”
When he built his own water-powered flour mill in River Terrace in 1855 he consequently named it Brightwater Mill. The area was then part of Spring Grove but by the 1880s had officially become Brightwater.
In October 1876 a new post office was opened near the Wairoa Railway Station (later to be known as the Brightwater Railway Station). It was named Brightwater Post Office, as there were already post offices in the North Island with the name Wairoa. The establishment of the post office seems to have been the deciding factor in the official adoption of the name Brightwater for the area.
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Updated October 12, 2021.
Sources used in this story
- Brightwater School. (2013). 125th Reunion of Brightwater School 1888-2013: Brightwater History & District Schools. Brightwater School. p. 31, 37, 85-86.
- Lash, Max D. (1992), Nelson Notables 1840-1940: A dictionary of regional biography. The Nelson Historical Society. p.128-129.
- Post Office notices.(1876, October 26). Nelson Evening Mail. p.2. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NEM18761026.2.5
- Stringer, Marion J. (1999). Just another row of spuds : the pioneer history of Waimea South. Marion J. Stringer. p. 123, 548-549.
- Nelson Provincial Museum. Saunders, Mr Alfred. Reference number: 68108 Tyree Studio Collection.
- Brightwater Flour Mill, c1900. Waimea South Collection on Kete Tasman.
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Further sources - How Brightwater got its name
Broad, L. (1976 ). The jubilee history of Nelson from 1842 to 1892. Capper Press.
- Batchelor, B. & Brightwater School. (1976). The flour mills of Brightwater. Brightwater School.
McGibbon, I.(1990) Saunders, Alfred, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
- Tasman District Council. (2016). Tasman District street and place names.
The Cyclopedia of New Zealand. (1906). Brightwater. The Cyclopedia of New Zealand :Nelson, Marlborough & Westland provincial districts (5). Cyclopedia Co. p.130.