History of the L&P Bottle statue in Paeroa
L&P is firmly rooted in an interesting local story that perhaps every Kiwi knows as a talking point and that every foreigner will find quirky and memorable.
The L&P bottle statue is one of those landmarks and tourist destinations where these two expressions apply: “You can’t miss it,” and “World famous in New Zealand.”
Where is This Famous L&P Bottle Today?
Constructed to sit at the entrance of the small town of Paeroa, NZ, the L&P bottle was erected back in 1969. Today, it’s still a talking point in the community and throughout New Zealand.
Most search parameters on the internet for Paeroa will return the result of the iconic bottle, but there is so much more to explore in the area than this tourist destination.
In the Maori language, Paeroa means ridge and long, referring to the Coromandel Peninsula.
Perhaps it also refers to the longevity of the bottle landmark.
Paeroa is a small community nestled within the Hauraki District, where State Highway #2 & #26 intersect and open into a gateway of stunning natural beauty. Hauraki has a long mining history and is now a destination for nature enthusiasts, cyclists and walkers.
How Did It Happen?
The L&P bottle has been an integral part of the Paeroa landscape for over fifty years and still draws a crowd. The L stands for lemon and P for Paeroa, which has produced marketable and bottled mineral water since 1907. Its beneficial spring water attributes have an even longer history.
The spring water has origins that link back to 1904. A gentleman named Arthur Wohlman analyzed the spring water and found a high magnesium bicarbonate content. Touted for its health and curative benefits, this ensured a long water bottling history.
The landmark bottle started as a conversation among local Paeroa business owners who casually sipped L&P while discussing ideas. On their agenda were ideas on promoting the small town to tourists and other investment opportunities around 1968 to early 1969.
Also notable is that Paeroa and Lemon won the distinguished prestige of receiving the British Bottlers Institute Diploma of Excellence in 1969, the only non-British product entry.
During the 1970s, the company eventually produced the water artificially off-site to keep up with demand and filtration innovation. During this decade, several company transitions occurred, and big names like Schweppes, Oasis Industry, and Innes Tartan LTD added to the L&P history.
Who Can Know the Truth?
The sole survivor able to accurately describe how the statue’s bottle design came into being is a community elder named Cliff Pett.
Back in 2020, Cliff told a reporter the story again and how an idea became a legend. He was also very adamant about rectifying a persistent rumor. The bottle, Cliff clarified, is not made from an old rocket. He even insisted that the town council erect a plaque to dispel the myth.
Although humankind has been sending rockets into space since 1926, when the business group met, a very famous rocket launch was in the headlines. The Apollo 11 took flight in 1969 and may have been on everyone’s mind. Considering the shape of the bottle and the look of a rocket, it’s easy to see how a myth links the two.
However, cement is the key ingredient in the bottle. Steel-reinforced cement rings anchored on a circular base sit on the eastern end of the main street, where it has drawn a crowd since 1969.
Initially, the group didn’t foresee the bottle as a permanent structure. Instead, the town created it as a muster point to broadcast Christmas music.
Construction met minor obstacles, and eventually, the strong cement structure was ready to be wrapped in chicken wire and then plastered. Although minor cracks in the facade plagued the statue, repairs continued until the crew achieved a satisfactory finish. Irish craftsman Jim McGall designed the crowning cap.
What Makes the L&P Story So Unique?
Paeroa was but half the size it is currently but was perhaps always destined as a meeting point. The early Maoris arrived in the region during the 1600s, and early settlers found solace in the landscape during the mid-1800s and recognized the spring’s benefits.
At one time, the land became a cow paddock, yet still, locals ventured to the spring for the curative benefits of the water.
This unique and even historic parcel of land was first owned by local hotel and shop owners James Coote and Alexander Hogg, who sold a 13-acre section to none other than the Father of Auckland, Sir John Logan Campbell, in 1887.
In 1896, a sawmill owner set up an operation at Hape Creek close to the spring, and locals still frequented the land to fill a bottle with spring water and cure specific ailments.
As a parcel of land, ownership transitioned from many until Robert Fewell and Frank Brinkler, who managed the sawmill in 1908, saw the huge opportunity in the spring water business and purchased the land. In 1910, Paeroa Natural Mineral Water Company became an incorporated business.
They built a loyal clientele and shipped water to Auckland and further afield quickly. L&P has become a well-loved brand in New Zealand.
Here are a few answers to common questions about the big L&P bottle Paeroa.