Hastings in the 1910s was seen as a progressive town and, in fact, was referred to as "Progressive Hastings" by its city fathers. Hastings was seen in New Zealand as a town with great future prospects.
A progressive town needed electricity, roads, high pressure water and a sewerage system which did away with the night cart.
Contracted engineer to the Hastings Borough Council Henry Climie came up with several plans in 1908 to generate power. One was to build a power station on the Tuki Tuki River and pump water from an artesian well into a reservoir on T Mason Chambers' property in Havelock North. There were obstacles in the way, however. The government refused to provide finance for lighting and electricity through the State Advances Board, but a bank offered to lend the £7000 ($1.1 million today) required. However, when the Borough of Hastings Electric Power and Loan Empowering Bill was introduced to Parliament, the government refused to allow water rights to local authorities, so the Tuki Tuki power station idea never happened.
Henry Climie then came up with a new plan, which involved two DC diesel engines. A power house was completed in July 1912 in Eastbourne St (pictured) and power generation began around October of that year. One of the first to be connected was the Methodist Church in Hastings St.
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The mayor at the time, James Garnett, made the newspaper, saying his house had installed an electric oven.
Havelock North was supplied with electricity from the Hastings Power House but, at one point when capacity was tight, applications had to be made to connect an oven, as one of the girls' schools found out.
The Hawke's Bay Power Board started supplying electricity from the national grid to the Hastings Borough Council in 1927. In 1936, the council sold its electrical undertaking to the Hawke's Bay Electric Power Board.