The gates were erected in honour of the lesser known John Feldwick, a newspaper man who owned the former Southland Daily News for about 30 years. John left a £20,000 bequest in his will to the then Invercargill Borough Council, the equivalent of $2 million, which was used to create Queens Park as the public space we know today. There's still money in that fund 100 years later.
He died in July 1913, in Bournemouth in the United Kingdom of bone cancer and asthma.
It is uncertain why he was back in the UK - the family appears to have been from Surrey and arrived in Canterbury in 1858. But possibly it was for health reasons; it seems he made several trips back to England, and the last probably to get treatment for what must have become a painful condition.
Quite possibly it was also to see his nieces, the daughters of his brother Henry, who were by then in England, and he may not have known it would be his last trip.
The other confusion is that John had left the money for the gates. However, it is clear from a hand-written copy of his will dated December 20, 1912, that the endowment was to be used for the plantings, infrastructure and buildings in Queens Park that we see today. In the decade following his death, the council was approached to mark his gift with something. The original idea was a fountain. The council then had the Feldwick gates made with ratepayer money and private donations to mark his gift. No bequest money was used by the council for the gates. So the gates are a public monument to say thank you to John Feldwick, to mark his "munificence." There's a bronze bust of him inserted in the western main pier.
Per Stuff NZ Reporter Mary-Jo Tohill 29 Jan 2019