Thursday, December 22, 2011

Evolving Auckland

Back on 29 November, I was invited to the launch of Evolving Auckland: The City's Engineering Heritage at the Auckland Library. So often there are disappointments when it comes to professionally-produced books about Auckland's local or other history just lately -- but not with this book.

Be under no misapprehension that I've been paid to include good words on this book here on the blog -- I paid for my copy at the due price the night of the launch (just before proceedings, actually, thanks to John La Roche, as there weren't too many copies available at that point), then found a corner of the carpet to plonk myself down on, and started sifting through it. After the first few pages, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed with this. Actually, it couldn't be pried from my hands ...

Edited by John La Roche, written in chapters by him and a team of experts in engineering history, this contains a broad range of topics within its 335 pages, so therefore can't be mistaken for any kind of be-all and end-all on any of them. But it will give you a taste of that broad range. In quite a few instances, more a feast than a taste of detail and endeavour. It will give you enough information to appreciate what exists around us today -- and if you're inclined, the lists of resources at the end of the chapters will lead you on for more.

Chapter topics include:
  • Auckland's water supply, wastewater and North Shore sewerage
  • Development of Auckland's Ports
  • Roads and motorways
  • Ferries, trams and railways
  • Bridges - Auckland Harbour, Grafton, Mangere, Newmarket Viaduct and Tamaki River
  • Telecommunications, Musick Point Radio Station, Warkworth Satellite Earth Station and COMPAC Submarine Telephone Cable System
  • Walsh Brothers Flying School, and Auckland International Airport
  • Albert Barracks Wall, Albert Park Air Raid Shelters, North Head defences, Stony Batter on Waiheke Island, and the Mt Eden CAC Shot Tower
  • Auckland Gas Company, City Destructor and Electricity
  • Glenbrook steelworks, Chelsea Sugar Works, Winstone's Lunn Avenue Quarry, Kawau Mining, and the Cement Works of Northland
  • Heritage Buildings: Auckland Town Hall, High Court, Civic Theatre, War Memorial Museum, Chief Post Office, City Art Gallery, and Sky Tower.

Copies available from Wily Publications.

Jono in the comments below has reminded me of the IPENZ database -- an excellent site for heritage info.


  1. I corresponded with John La Roche and met him at Ruapekapeka when IPENZ honoured the first Maori site to make its Engineering Heritage list. Any of your readers interested in engineering heritage should check out their online database at

  2. Thanks for that, Jono -- I'll add that as a live link to the post. Darn good website, that! Cheers.