"Looking south from the foreshore of Mechanics Bay showing the Maori Hostelry (right), Gittos Street (left to right centre), Maori canoes in foreground," c.1860, ref 4-2740, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
Back in the 1840s and 1850s, commerce and trading links with Maori was a vital factor in the survival of early Auckland. It was at Mechanics Bay that trading took place, the developing Auckland lacking a true market place until the 1870s. The story goes that as it was noticed that visiting Maori, with no accommodation, were roughing it beneath waka sails and canvas, perhaps a place for them to stay and to trade was in order.
So, a nearly triangular reserve was set aside, granted to trustees led by the Colonial Secretary Andrew Sinclair. It fronted the beach at Mechanic's Bay, and served as an ideal filler in the space between the sweeping downhill curve of Alten Road, and Stanley Street. Upon it, the Government built the first of two native hostelries there. Another, slightly later, was built at Princes Street, Onehunga.
New Zealander 21 August 1849
1858/1859, "Looking east from Constitution Hill towards Parnell, showing the Maori Hostelry on Gittos Street later Parnell Rise (foreground), Stanley Street (left to right across centre), Livery Stables on Stanley Street (extreme left), and Mechanics Bay (left foreground)", reference 4-1117, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
One step of practical utility for the benefit of the Maories being of more real value than a hundred theories or speculations of fine-spun sentimentality respecting their capabilities and prospects, we look with unaffected pleasure on the erection of the commodious building in Mechanics' Bay which, under the designation of The Maori Hostelry is now open, according to Regulations which have just been issued, and which we subjoin. The main object is to provide a place of shelter in which the Natives may sleep during their temporary sojourns in the town we say the main object, for although, while we are awaiting the building of the regular market, which (under the auspices of the Government, and by the exertions of the New Ulster Agricultural Society) we hope to see speedily established at the very suitable site adjoining the junction of Queen and Shortland Streets, we are far from undervaluing the facilities which the yard and verandah of the Hostelry will afford for the sale of articles of native produce, we yet regard this as but a secondary advantage to be derived from the Institution …
The following code of regulations to be observed by those who may avail themselves of the advantage, has been issued from the Native Secretary's Office, and was yesterday posted in the Hostelry.
Persons occupying this building must attend to the following Regulations which will be strictly enforced.1 No Cooking will be allowed to be done inside the Building, nor within fifteen yards of the outside.2. The interior of the Building and the yard must at all times be kept clean.3. No Potato Peelings, Fish Bones, or other dirt may be thrown in the yard or within fifteen yards of the Premises, but a hole will be dug at some distance wherein to put all the refuse.4. Every party upon leaving the Building will be called upon to deliver the key of the compartment which they have occupied to a person appointed to receive it.5. Before leaving the Premises the part occupied must be properly cleaned by the party using it.6. No damage must be done to the Walls, Windows, or other part of the Building, and any person doing such damage will be called upon to make it good, or be excluded from the benefits accruing from the Institution till such damage is made good.7. The Yard and the Verandah in front are intended to be used as a market place where goods may be exposed for Sale, but no pigs will be allowed within the inclosure, nor will any refuse be allowed to remain.8. Dirt being one of the greatest promoters of sickness, it is expected that these regulations, which are framed for the comfort and convenience of the natives, will be strictly enforced by the Chiefs who may be present.9. The Police have orders to visit the Hostelry frequently during their rounds, and to enforce strict attention to these regulations as well as to take care that order and regularity be preserved.10. Any person disturbing the peace or tranquillity of the place by fighting or quarrelling will be immediately ejected.
11. The Natives will be admitted free from any charge whatever, C. A. Dillon, Native Secretary. February 1st, 1850
New Zealander 27 February 1850
On 18 October 1850, a Crown Grant for the site was taken out by Andrew Sinclair and others. This was finally lodged with Lands and Survey in 1885. (14A.458, LINZ records)
c.1860s, "Looking west from Selwyn (later Augustus Terrace) showing Mechanics Bay (foreground right), ... Maori Hostelry (centre right) ...", reference 4-380, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
Right from the start, the hostelry was provided with an income stream separate from whatever money collected from travellers who weren't Maori.
A Government Gazette was issued yesterday. The following is a summary of its principal contents. It is notified that a section of land exceeding six acres in St. George's Bay has been appropriated as Reserved Lands for the maintenance of the Native Hostelry in Mechanics' Bay to be vested in the Colonial Secretary, Attorney General, and Colonial Treasurer, for the time being, to be by them held in trust and administered for the benefit of this Institution …
New Zealander 17 May 1851
Gradually, though, these extra reserves were whittled away by surrounding territorial authorities. Come the very-brief Auckland Borough of 1851-1852, the Councillors were of the opinion that the hostel should be like any other charitable institution, such as the hospital, and come under their control.
Municipal Council meetingThe Native HostelThis reserve, consisting of 6 acres 1 rood 0 perches, is vested in official trustees, by deed of grant dated the 9th of May, 1851, for the maintenance and repair of the Hostelry erected thereon, as a Lodging House and Store, or Market-place, where her Majesty's native subjects and other poor persons visiting Auckland, may temporarily reside free of charge, with their goods and wares, and there dispose of such produce as they may bring from the country for sale. This Institution is one of considerable and increasing importance. If the Town Market is ever to be made a source of revenue, and the Council are to attempt to raise market tolls and dues, one step must be the suppression of native hawkers, and to this end the regulation of this Hostelry should be certainly under their control. It appears that two other sections, one in Auckland consisting of 2 acres 0 rood 14 perches, and the other in Onehunga, consisting of 2 acres 0 rood 9 perches, have been also set apart for the construction and maintenance of similar institutions.
Southern Cross 9 March 1852
But this didn't happen, and the hostelry remained a Government operation, overseen by the Native Department.
(In a letter by “One Who Will Have To Pay”, re criticism as to the design of the proposed Government House) The public might possibly endure a repetition of such petty triflings as the Maori Hostelry, with its verandah, erected as if only to be swept away by the first passing breeze …
Southern Cross 30 September 1853
In 1853, the new Auckland Provincial Council was advised by the Colonial Secretary that the Hostelry Reserves brought in £15 in income. They demanded that this income be handed over to the Council. A demand that is likely to have fallen on deaf ears.
1870s, "Looking east from Constitution Hill (foreground), showing Maori Hostelry (centre), Stanley Street (left to right middle) and Parnell (distance)," reference 4-2725, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
In 1861, a man named Ihaka was in charge (as Keeper) of the Auckland Native Hostelry, on a salary from the Native Department of £31 4s per year. (AJHR, E-05, 1861) During the 1860s, the hostel seemed to become increasingly redundant. This was the period of the Land Wars at their height. In 1864, at a meeting of those concerned for soldiers wives and children, John Sangster Macfarlane suggested that the Native Hostelry be used as there were rarely more than two occupants there at any one time. (Southern Cross 28 January 1864)
Still, the Auckland and Onehunga Native Hostelry Act 1867 formalised the hostelry reserves at Mechanic’s Bay – Lot 4 of Section 12, City of Auckland (half-acre), later part of which was taken for the creation of Beach Road, and Lot 19 of Section 9 City of Auckland, just over 2 acres (hostel site). 1870 saw the beginning of leases of the main hostel site between Alten Road and Stanley Street. Around 1870-1875 Custodians of the hostel appear to have been John Scott McNamara (until his death in 1875) and his wife Frances.
1877, "Mechanics Bay looking north east from the vicinity of Alten Road showing railway embankment, Fraser and Tinne's Foundry (right of centre distance), Union Sash and Door Company (extreme right) and Maori Hostelry (foreground), North Head, Mount Victoria and Rangitoto (far distance)," reference 4-528, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
From the AJHR, Report from Charles Heaphy, the Commissioner of Native Reserves, F-04, 1871.
The Native Reserves in this Province have been set apart in the following manner1. By contract made with the native sellers of the land.2. By the voluntary action of the Governor in setting apart Crown lands as hostelry and school sites, and lands for the endowment of such institutions.3. By agreement with friendly and loyal natives in lands taken under The New Zealand Settlements Act, 1863.4. By appropriation out of confiscated blocks for surrendered rebels.5. At the instance of the natives and by the Governor, on the recommendation of the Judges of the Native Land Court …
In order to show the degree of responsibility attaching to the Government in respect to these reserves, I have classified them as follows Class A. —Trusts under provisions of Crown Grants or legislative enactment,1. With a distinct and specified purpose.2. For the benefit of natives generally …Under Class A will be found the Hostelry sites in Auckland and Onehunga, with the Hostelry Maintenance Reserves at Mechanics' Bay and St. George's Bay. The particulars of rents, &c, of these reserves will be found under the head of Utilization …
UTILIZATION OF RESERVES. By the action of the Native Land Court the great mass of the Native Reserves in the Province of Auckland have been granted to the natives for whose benefit they were originally set apart … The Hostelry Maintenance Reserve No. 4, of Section 12, City of Auckland, has, until this year, remained unused. The footpath in common use from Auckland to Mechanics' Bay traversed its length, and access had to be free to a spring of water in the centre of the allotment. Upon offering, publicly, a portion of this land in March last for lease, objection was taken by the trustees of the adjoining estate of Hone Ropiha's to its probable enclosure. It appeared that the Crown had conveyed away a small street that had formerly given access (on paper) to Hone Ropiha's land in the rear of the hostelry reserve, which was then Crown land. The trustees claimed a right of way through the land, and as it appeared that they would suffer an injustice if the reserve were enclosed, a lane 12 feet wide was set out along the western end of the reserve to afford the required access. [This "small street" had been the lower reaches of Alten Road. The replacement lane became Commercial, later Churchill Road.] The ground lying between this lane and the spring was then offered at public auction on lease for 21 years, and let to Mr. J. T. E. Rogan for £14 a year. The Municipal Council have commenced the construction of a path outside of the reserve, it having already been intimated that rent would be required for the further use of the land. [Possibly the start of the footpath down Constitution Hill] When completed this path will afford good frontage access to the remaining part of the reserve, which I estimate may yield about £15 a year on a 21 years' lease. I propose that the sum of £40 shall be appropriated out of the proceeds of the hostelry lands for the purpose of leading the water from the spring to a fountain, to be constructed on the flat near the hostelry, where the water will be of benefit to the natives and the inhabitants of the neighbourhood generally. The lease of the part let contains a provision to prevent the contamination of the water. …The lease of the hostelry maintenance land at George's Point, Allotment 89, Section 1, will expire on the 9th June, 1573. Six and a quarter acres are here let for £13 a year. propose to divide the land into four building lots, which I estimate would yield an aggregate of £40 a year. The local authorities have lately taken down the native market sheds at the entrance of Queen-street Wharf. The hostelry site in Mechanics' Bay is too far from the centre of population of the city for the convenience of purchasers at a market. Therefore recommend that a quarter of an acre of the reserve at Point Britomart, near the Breakwater, should be set apart for a native produce market site. The surface of the reserve is now 40 feet above the beach, but earth is required for filling the intake, and the alteration of level for as much space as will be required at first will present no great difficulty.
Following on from the efforts of the Auckland Borough and Provincial Councils to take over the hostel, the 1870s saw the Auckland Harbour Board, for their own reasons, put the idea on the table.
The Chairman read a letter which he had written to Mr. H T Kemp, Native Commissioner, on the subject of providing accommodation tor Maoris who brought fruit, &c, to market in their boats, in which he stated that the nuisance caused by the Maoris in the centre of the town was such as to necessitate their removal from the Queen-street Wharf, and almost to compel the Board to place them on an equal footing with regard to accommodation with the Europeans. He had received an answer from Mr. Kemp, who stated that it was proposed to issue certain sanitary regulations, the non-compliance with which, on the part of the natives, would preclude them from the privilege of being allowed to use the allotment granted to then. In the meantime, those now occupying Gore-street jetty had been removed to Mechanics' Bay. The Chairman stated that there were so many complaints of the nuisance caused by the Maoris occupying the wharf, and the danger to property, that he had felt it his duty to write strongly to the Native Commissioner.
Mr. Boylan suggested that the Board should offer to take over the Maori hostelry and endowment, and provide accommodation for the natives. He believed the property was a very handsome one. The Chairman said he would make the offer.
Harbour Board meeting, Southern Cross 26 March 1873
Probably not in response to this, but coincidentally all the same, the Native Reserves Act 1873 vested the hostel reserves in the Native Reserves Commissioner, and replaced the 1867 Act.
Beach Road continued apace, as reclamations began to add to the hostel's detachment from its historic roots. The beach upon which waka would rest while the visitors stayed and traded began to be pushed further and further away to the north.
The reclamation is now carried to within a hundred yards of the Maori hostelry, at which point the road is to debouch on the Parnell road. As the new thoroughfare approaches completion, the ridiculous mistake made in the route becomes more palpable. The road undoubtedly ought to have been carried nearly in a straight line to the junction of Stanley-street, close to the viaduct. The course now adopted makes a needless unsightly angle, besides adding considerably to the distance between Parnell and the city. On this thoroughfare will ultimately be one of the most popular in Auckland, the public advantage ought to have been consulted better than it has been. So far as we can learn, the considerations which have weighed to give the road its present direction are utterly unworthy of being entertained to the sacrifice of general utility.
Auckland Star 1 August 1874
There were three hostel reserves in the Mechanic's Bay/Parnell area. The other one was up on Campbell's Point. Unlike the Mechanics Bay area, it wasn't brought under firm legislation.
Replying to Mr Moss's question about 8 acres of a reserve near Dr. Campbell's house, Parnell, Mr Bryce said he was not quite sure which piece of land was referred to. There were three sections reserved for a Maori hostelry, one being two acres, and another less than an acre. The third, which is described as in the suburbs of Auckland, is six acres if that is the one referred to, it was vested in the Colonial Treasurer and Secretary and their successors.
Auckland Star 8 June 1882
While under the Native Reserves Act 1882, the main hostel reserve came under the Public Trust office, from the Native Department, the Campbell's Point land was fair game for exchange between departments, and with the Parnell Borough Council.
PARNELL BOROUGH COUNCIL.It was agreed that the Town Clerk point out to the Minister of Public Works that there was a piece of land near Dr. Campbell's (the Maori hostelry reserve) which the Council was willing to accept in exchange for that taken at Point Resolution.
Auckland Star 23 March 1886
Campbell's Point.—A letter signed by 22 ratepayers was read, bringing to the Council's notice the dangerous state of the cliff at Campbell's Point, and remarking that no steps had been taken to prevent a recurrence of accidents at the place in question. The letter previously received from the Public Trustee, who had been applied to have the property fenced, was to the effect that the land was a Maori hostelry endowment, and being private land the public had no right there, and there was no obligation on the owner or occupier to fence the land.—it was resolved that a copy of the Public Trustee's letter be sent to the Petitioners.
Auckland Star 13 November 1888
12 March 1903, "the Maori Hostelry in The Strand (now Parnell Rise) with a group of people standing outside and a gas lamp (left foreground)", reference 1-W1047, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
V W Devally was the custodian of the hostel in 1895 (AJHR, G-05, 1895). During the custodianship of the Devallys, a man died suddenly there, sparking an inquest.
SUDDEN DEATH.A MINER'S END.BODY FOUND IN THE MAORI HOSTELRYDEATH FROM BURSTING A BLOOD VESSEL.The dead body of an ex-Thames miner named Thomas Glyn, was found last night in one of the rooms of the old Maori hostelry in Mechanic's Bay, under peculiar circumstances. The building known as the Maori hostelry is in a somewhat dilapidated condition, and is generally used by Maoris visiting town as a sleeping place. The doors of the rooms are unlocked, as the natives either take the keys away with them or lose them, and as a consequence the hostelry is often made use of for a night's shelter by street loafers and others who cannot afford to pay for a bed. The place is in the care of Mrs Devally, who lives on the premises.
Last night about half-past ten o’clock Mrs Devally and her daughter heard a sound in one of the rooms of the hostelry as if some one was sick or vomiting. Mrs Devally called out at the door of the room, “You had better clear out or I'll get the police," thinking that the person in the room was drunk and might set the place on tire. She received no answer, and returned to her rooms on the western side of the quadrangle. Shortly after, her daughter (Mrs Judge) says that she saw a man come out of the building and go out on to the street. He had no hat on, and seemed to be in the act of putting his coat on. At eleven o'clock, Mrs Devally, before going to bed, took a light, and with her daughter went round the place to see that all was right, and the building empty. In one of the rooms the two women found a man lying on his back on the floor, dead, with his face covered with blood.
Mrs Devally roused her son Peter, who looked at the man, and then want up to Parnell and informed Constable Hutchison. He also aroused Dr. Orpen, who lives at the top of Constitution Hill. Dr. Orpen and Constable Hutchison examined the man, and the doctor declared life extinct. The face was covered with blood, and there were splashes of blood, evidently caused by expectoration, in one corner of the room. There was also a heavy gout of blood in front of the fireplace in the room, about two feet from the man's feet as he lay on a bundle of flax winch served as a mattress on the floor. The man's shirt sleeves were rolled up, his boots were taken off, and his coat was folded up in a corner as if he had lain down to sleep. His attitude was a peaceful one, and when the blood was washed off his face no marks of violence were visible.
Sergeant Gamble and Detective Grace were early on the scene, and proceeded to investigate the circumstances surrounding the man's death. Detective Grace soon ascertained the identity of the man, and found a document, in his pocket bearing the name of Thomas Glyn, certifying that the bearer was a qualified quartz miner, and signed by Mr Clark, of the Thames. The remains were identified as those of Thomas Glyn, a Cornishman, of about 45 or 46 years of age.
The deceased, it appears, was a miner at the Thames for many years. A number of years ago, Detective Grace was acquainted with the man at the Thames, where he bore the reputation of a hardworking and capable miner. Glyn also worked for some time at the silver mines at Broken Hill, New South Wales. His wife died some time ago, it is said, but there is a daughter living. Some months ago, deceased got out of work, and came to Auckland, where he has been wandering around ever since without work. He was looking bad some time ago when seen in the Waitemata Hotel by Mr Endcan, the proprietor, who noticed that one of his ears was injured, as if he had fallen heavily on the side of his head. It is not considered that there was any foul play in the matter, the police being of opinion that death "was the result of natural causes.”
Drs. Lindsay and King, besides Dr. Orpen, were in attendance at the hostelry last night, but as life was extinct the medical men could do nothing.An inquest on Glyn's remains was proceeding as we went to press this afternoon at the Swan Hotel, Mechanics' Bay. Dr. King made a post mortem examination of the body prior to the inquest With reference to the man who was seen by Mrs Devally's daughter to leave the hostelry about 10.30, it is believed that this was the man Glyn, and that after going out into the street he came back again and lay down on the spot where he died. The post mortem showed that there was a large cavity in the man's lung and that death was the result of the bursting of a blood vessel. A verdict was returned in accordance with the medical testimony.
Auckland Star 23 April 1894
In August 1898, given the squalid conditions as described above, the Native Affairs Committee recommended to the Government that it was best to provide "better accommodation for travelling natives at Auckland than that at present afforded in the native hostelry at Waipapa (Mechanic's Bay.) The Auckland Star was especially critical when it came to be time for a Royal Visit.
Our attention has been called to the very unsightly condition of a number of very old buildings in "The Strand," Mechanics' Bay and it is suggested that the City Council should take steps to have these rookeries removed. The old Maori hostelry is especially unsightly, and should be replaced by a hew building. The route of the Royal visit to Parnell next month will be past these ramshackle buildings, and it is considered that that fact should open the eyes of the city authorities to these hovels, which should have been razed long ago. Some of the land belongs to the Government.
Auckland Star 28 May 1901
HOUSING MAORI TRAVELLERS. The Maori hostelry in Auckland has an annual income of £149 from native reserves, and as the up-keep costs about £30 there is a good deal of i money in the hands of the Public Trustee to the credit of this institution. The Government thinks that a new and commodious building should be erected in place of the present building. This information was given by Mr Carroll to Mr Hone Heke, who had a question on the order paper today, asking the Government if they would pull down the present structure and erect a better one. Mr Carroll also mentioned that as some of the natives were finding a difficulty in getting accommodation at the hotels the Government intended to erect a large hostelry at New Plymouth. Mr Heke asked the Minister to consider the question of a hostelry at Onehunga at the same time.
Auckland Star 5 October 1901
March 1903, "Showing the front view of the Maori Hostelry in The Strand (was Gittos Street, now Parnell Rise), with people standing outside," reference 1-W1540, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
MAORI HOSTELRY. A promise was made by the Government last year that a new building would be built to replace the Maori hostelry at Waipapa (Mechanics' Bay), Auckland, and that steps were being taken to erect a similar building at Onehunga. Enquiry made by Mr Heke as to why this work had not been proceeded with elicited from the acting-Premier the statement that the site of the Auckland Maori hostelry is very low and unhealthy, and that it is proposed to exchange the present site for one on higher ground. The Onehunga site, which is vested in the Public Trustee, is on swampy ground, and inquiry is being made for a more suitable site.
Auckland Star 5 September 1902
Tenders will be received until noon of the 2nd March for the Erection of a Maori Hostelry in Mechanics' Bay. R. KEALS AND SONS, Architects. 301, Victoria Arcade.
Auckland Star 13 February 1903
The scene as at 12 March 1903. The hostelry is the first major building at the bottom of Constitution Hill. Reference 1-W1046, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
Contrast the scene above with this one a year later, 21 March 1904. The new hostel can be seen on the right. Reference 1-W942, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
Deed 116 (LINZ records, crown copyright), dating from 1916, shows the development of the original hostel reserve, leasehold sites providing income for the Public Trustee. On 1 April 1921, the Native Trust Office was set up under the Native Trustee Act 1920. The hostel reserve passed from the Public Trustee's control to that of the NTO. In 1953 the Maori Trustee Office established under the Maori Trustee Act 1953. Now the hostel came under the Department of Maori Affairs.
Even though the second hostel on the site was only just over 50 years old -- it was termed "old", and visiting Maori, according to the NZ Herald (30 August 1955) stressed "the urgent need to give effect to plans to erect a £35,000 on the site." The description of the hostel in the mid-1950s sounds as if, apart from electricity, little had changed since 1903.
At present the hostel, with its drab interior, lack of facilities and fantastically low tariff, offends the self respecting Maori traveller. In spite of this, parties of country schoolchildren have been accommodated there for a week, creating among them a bad impression of city life and of the provisions made for Maoris in Auckland ...
... it has the appearance of a prison yard with its large asphalt courtyard lined with rooms on three sides. This central area is probably a relic of the days when the Maoris tethered their horses there.
There is no furniture in some of the 10 rooms. Others have only a table. The occupants pay 2s 6d a night for a mattress on the floor. Those who prefer a higher standard obtain the use of a bedstead for 5s. The tariff used to be 1s and 2s 6d and at one time Maoris stayed there free of charge.
The guests complain that they have to do their washing in leaky buckets under a tap in the open. They say there is rarely hot water. No provision is made for ironing clothes. The bathroom has a bath and washbasin, but the interior is shabby.
If the occupants want to make a cup of tea they resort to the community kitchen. They say electricity is used only for lighting, which is switched off from 11 pm until 6 pm.
The kitchen has a coal range which is virtually useless and an open fireplace where pots are placed on hobs. The only furniture is a table and forms. There are no cupboards and only a few shelves. A blunt and broken axe is provided for chopping wood ...
Water for cooking is drawn from a tap in the backyard. The only telephone is in the caretaker's house next door, so guests have to use the public telephone in the street.
Little wonder, then, that in August 1966, the second and last Maori hostelry in Mechanic's Bay was demolished. At the time, the site was set to be the terminus of a motorway extension. Today, though, it remains as a car park, under Maori freehold ownership.