Old Jail Museum

Historic Police Station and Old Jail Museum

NZ’s First Police Force:

Petone was the first place in New Zealand to have a police forcePassengers on the Aurora, the first New Zealand Company immigrant ship to leave Gravesend in England on 18 September 1839, signed the Crown’s provisional constitution agreeing that a committee of leading settlers could make regulations for preserving the peace.  Upon Aurora’s arrival at Pito-one (Petone) beach on 20 January 1840, Richard Baxter was appointed as Police Magistrate, and he had two constables and two petty constables working with him.

Petone’s First Purpose-Built Police Station and Lockup:

For many years, the Petone police force worked out of houses in Nelson Street or the Hutt Road, before announcing early in 1908 that Petone’s first purpose-built police station and lockup were to be built on a site in Elizabeth Street “abutting the Petone Recreation Ground”.  By the time the new station was ready, the number of constables has increased to four, and Petone became the first Hutt Valley station to rise above constable in rank with Sergeant John Forster appointed in charge.  Until 1943, Petone was considered to be the station in charge of the entire Hutt Valley police force.

A courthouse was also built in 1913 in Elizabeth Street and was used for court sittings up to 1950.  In July 1952, police operations were transferred there as the police station had suffered from constant flooding since 1941 due to heavy rainfall (the lockup was fine as it was built on higher piles).  The old station and lockup were then moved behind the old courthouse.  The old station was used for storage, but the lockup was still being used as a lockup (until 1978).

New Petone Community Policing Centre:

In 1993, a new Petone Community Policing Centre was built, this was due to a large site becoming free along Jackson Street where Petone Central School used to be.  The school roll began falling in the 1980’s so this saw senior pupils amalgamate with the juniors at their other Petone Central School site in Britannia Street.  The old police station and lockup were then gifted to the Jackson Street Programme (JSP) (* with provisos - read more about this in the Old Jail Museum *).  The JSP purchased land next door to the new policing centre and moved the two buildings to its current site in 1994.

Historic Police Station and Old Jail Museum:

The Historic Police Station is now our office, and the lockup is the Old Jail Museum.

  • Information: our office holds information on Jackson Street businesses, self-walking tours, Petone facts, cycle trails, bus & train timetables, Petone accommodation, and much more.
  • Old Jail Museum: has an exhibition on Policing in Petone and other interesting Jackson Street and Petone stories…free entry! We can organise talks for groups, and the Old Jail can even be hired out by arrangement – it has previously been hired out for baby showers, children’s parties, book launches, and art exhibitions.  Every December it is transformed into an interactive Santa’s Grotto, which has a different theme each year - very popular with young and old alike!

We are open Monday-Friday from 9am, so come on in – we would love to see you!

Click for a Virtual Tour 

Take a look at this - a 3D walkthrough of the Old Jail! This is by a Petone company called HomePLan (https://www.homeplan.nz/ ) who contacted us as they were interested in doing a similar project for our eating establishments along the Street. What a great job 🙂