For quite some time now, I've been itching to photograph an old vineyard sign in Henderson, up on Great North Road's rise from the township. Until yesterday, I'd only see it while going past at speed in buses, and muttering "Damn," under my breath. Until yesterday, when I had the opportunity to pop into Henderson Primary School, and then thought "That sign's just up the road. Time for a stroll in February's heat up the hill."
The sign is one of the last remnants of Sunrise Vineyards, owned and operated by Mirko Ozich (1895-1964) born in Rašćane, Splitsko-dalmatinska, Hrvatska (Croatia). The property was purchased by Mr Ozich in 1932, in two parts: the western side from James Hepburn (NA454/68), and the eastern (including the site of the gate and adjoining shed) from a Mr Lawson (DI 27A.448).
So, for at least 32 years, the Ozich vineyard called Sunrise was a landmark for travellers making their way down the hill towards the Oratia Stream bridge and the Henderson township.
1940 aerial, Auckland Council website.
I've circled the total land holding owned by Mirko Ozich in yellow. The red square marks the location of the shed and sign.
After Mr Ozich's death, his family subdivided the property in 1978. At that point, Henderson Borough Council planned to widen Great North Road -- and a strip including the sign and two-thirds of the old shed beside it became council property (NA 566/202). To this day, that has remained as part of a road reserve owned by Auckland Council.
2008 aerial, Auckland Council website
Which means the sign is owned by Auckland Council now as well -- and would be great if, hopefully, it could be recognised as a heritage item, and restored to preserve the Ozich name as a local landmark and celebration of the vineyards which made Henderson's name in the 20th century.
I've contacted Auckland Council's call centre and left a message with the West Auckland heritage advisor. Hopefully, I find out more from the council as to their possible intentions. Meanwhile -- I'd love to know more about Mirko Ozich and his vineyard. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Additional: Grant Cole, president of the West Auckland Historical Society, has just mentioned a blog on the remains of West Auckland's vineyard heritage called Wine Out West. Worth a look.