The new three-storeyed Hastings police station completed in December 2019 was built on the site of the former courthouse, and next to its old site on Railway Rd.
Hastings was six years old in 1879 when on half an acre (.2ha) of land previously owned by Hawke's Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society between Lyndon Rd West and Eastbourne St West, a police station was established on Railway Rd South.
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Tenders were called in January 1879 by the Constabulary Office in Napier to build on the Railway Road site a four roomed house, watch house with two cells, a horse stable with two stalls and a storehouse.
The Hastings police station opened in July 1879, with the first policeman in charge being Constable W J Raymond. He was joined by Constable Edwin Lawliss in October that year.
Before this, from 1874, the Havelock policeman rode into Hastings twice a week and tied up his horse at the railway station and walked around to check that no breach of the peace was occurring due to drunkenness occurring at the Railway Hotel.
In 1890, Minister of Defence and Justice, Captain William Russell of the Hawke's Bay electorate, advocated with Premier Dick Seddon for a courthouse to be established in Hastings.
On the section next door to the Hastings police station, the first Hastings courthouse opened for sessions in January 1893, with the first case – a charge of attempted murder on his wife and bodily harm to his Aunty.
During 1896 Hastings developed a problem amongst its boys and young men congregating in shop recesses who smoked and spat and swore at passers-by. The Hastings Borough Council requested help from the police to solve this problem.
By 1898, with a population in Hastings of around 3500 people, the police force was increased to a sergeant and two constables.
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Of the 510 convictions made by police in 1910, 213 were for drunkenness and 45 prohibition orders issued.
A legendary Hastings policeman, Sergeant John Hogan (1867 – 1940) came to the area in 1910 and spent 18 years here.
Sergeant Hogan spent his time enforcing laws which seen quaint today, like the Hastings Borough Council bylaw of not being able to park a motor vehicle for more than 10 minutes.
A lot of his time was also spent dealing with drunkenness – which was then an offence, as was being "idle and disorderly".
The Hastings races attracted undesirables and Sergeant Hogan would attend with his men to keep the peace. Hastings was apparently the only area in New Zealand in 1920s where three men were prosecuted for their behaviour at a race day.
The Hastings police station was replaced with a new brick police station in 1928 – the same year Sergeant Hogan was posted to Rotorua.
With an increased population, Inspector John Bourke was promised in 1961 a new Hastings police station within two years but passed away in 1965 still awaiting the promise.
His successor, Chief Inspector Thomas Kyle, would see the opening of the new Hastings police station on March 26, 1968.
It was built by Bridgeman's, and at the same time J C Mackersey Construction was building the five-storeyed NIMU building. Mackersey's had the only tower crane in Hastings at that time, so J C MacKersey shared it with Bridgeman's.
MCL Construction Limited, which is descended from J C Mackersey, would build the striking new Hastings police station which was opened in December 2019.
Michael Fowler (email@example.com) is a contract researcher and writer of Hawke's Bay's history.