In the days of early European settlement, there was a channel linking the harbour with a lagoon known as Basin Lake. The locals were keen to turn the lagoon into a dock, until the 1855 earthquake saw that plan left high and rather dry!
The earthquake raised Te Aro flats by two metres, leaving the lagoon resembling a swamp and the locals at a loss, until they seized upon the idea of an area for recreational activities – in particular, popular English pursuits like cricket and rugby.
The local governing body (which would eventually become Wellington City Council) backed the proposal and, with the help of inmates from Mt Cook Prison, the area was drained and levelled. By 1866, the Basin Reserve was officially recognised as the new capital’s main cricket ground.