Friday, January 27, 2012

The many names of Herald Island

  
 Detail from "Waitemata", 1840-1841, NZ Map 3566, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.

Updated 29 January 2012.

There’s an island in the Upper Waitemata which I’ve often wondered about. Seeing an article about a now-vanished small cinema of all things, I decided to look into the records. 

Right from 1840, the island between Hobsonville and Greenhithe on the Waitemata River has been known as Herald Island. But it had, of course, a Maori name (Pahiki), and since 1840 has gone through a series of other names before the second name, possibly applied in honour of a ship the HMS Herald, stuck. John Logan Campbell and William Brown were almost the first purchasers of the island from Ngati Whatua – if not for a bit of miscommunication between one of Campbell’s companions and Te Hira of Ngati Whatua over the remains of a meal in a pot. The chief was accidentally accused of being a thief, due to the other man’s lack of accurate Maori language, and Te Hira remembered the slight when Brown & Campbell later expressed interest in the island. 
“ … we came to an island called Pahiki … with only a narrow boat channel to get at it, and this choice spot Te Hira would sell. But it was ourselves, and not the land, he was ‘selling’; for Wepiha, getting hold of some of the other Orakei natives who had come with us, soon found out that Te Hira was in the sulks. He had been called a tahae (thief), and he was only leading us a dance, and he would not consent that any land should be sold, and it would only be a fool’s errand to go any further.” 
 (John Logan Campbell, Poenamo, p. 71, orig. pub. 1881, 1973 edition.) 

Detail from OLC 390 (1845), LINZ records, crown copyright

According to a letter from National Archives (now Archives New Zealand) to a Mrs M H Brands (dated 4 December 1981, lodged in Auckland library scrapbooks) Herald Island was subject to an Old Land Claim (No. 1198) by businessman Thomas Weston, as trustee for the infant Ellen Maria Wood (claim actually for S A Wood):
"Samuel Wood purchased the island for his daughter then still an infant, on 28 September 1844, and made Thomas Weston her trustee ..." 
See the map above, showing "Maria Island".

The first house on Herald Island, along with its landing place. Detail from OLC 390.

"The land", the letter goes on, "was purchased from chiefs of the Ngati Matua [sic] tribe resident at Orakei near Auckland for the sum of £22 10s. The native deed was dated 12 days prior to the date on which Wood claimed to have purchased the land which led to some difficulties in the giving of a government grant. By 29 September 1849, Mr Wood had spent some £250 on building a cottage, laying out a garden, an orchard and several paddocks, sinking a well, erecting a landing place etc. Mr Wood indicated his willingness to purchase the grant at the cost of £1 per acre -- of the area claimed, 87 acres 3 roods 7 perches, only 20 acres were granted on 6 November 1849." He got the rest in 1853, for around £38. 

According to a chronology by Diana Masters and Margaret Edgcumbe, Samuel Allan Wood was born in Dublin in 1813, had arrived by 1836, and was in the Bay of Islands by 1837. He was one of the first purchasers at the Auckland land sale in 1841 and ran a number of hotels until the early 1850s, including the Royal Hotel on Princes Street, then took on a land agency business. He died in 1884.



In 1845, one John Weavell was resident on the island. Weavell is still very much an unknown. Was he involved with timber milling undertaken by Wood on his nearby land claim at Paremoremo alongside Lucas Creek (Wood was unsuccessful with that claim, receiving only £45 compensation -- OLC 316). Or was Weavell simply on the island, at the house which existed in 1845 on the north-eastern point, keeping up some show of residency for Wood's claim to it? That year of 1845 is where we see the earliest references appear to “Wood’s Island”, anyway. According to Archives New Zealand, Weavell applied for a bush licence for the island in 1845 (again, why? Because of nearby timber milling just across at Lucas Creek?) Two years later,  a “bush licence” or license to sell liquor, was reported to have been granted to someone on the island. (Advertisement, SC 16.12.1853, see below) 

As for little Ellen Maria, whose name was not to be fixed to the island after all (another Maria Island, in Tasmania, was at that stage a prison, so perhaps Wood had second thoughts) was to marry into the Kinder family, be accused of murdering her husband in Australia, and become the subject of scandal sheets and Victorian-era gossip in the middle of the century. See Diana Master's booklet,  Maria Ellen -- The Other Mrs Kinder (2008).

Somehow, the Western Leader in 1969 obtained information that “Henry Charles Holman, a timber merchant” milled on the island under lease from Wood from 1847 to 1850. The only Henry Charles Holman I’ve found is a man who lived in Whangarei, but visited Auckland around this time with his ideas on preparing NZ flax for export (New Zealander, 7.11.1849) I’d say that from 1845 through to the 1870s, anything could be said about what happened on the island. It’s a wonder there aren’t more legends attached to it than there are already.

Updated (29 January 2012): Margaret Edgcumbe sent through the following passages from The Journal of Elizabeth Holman published in Tales of Yesteryear: including Oral Histories of Northland, ed. Madge Malcolm, Kororareka Press, Russell, 1994, pp. 18 & 20

About this time a Mr F A Wood (sic) wanted to let Wood's Island (Pine Island), up Riverhead. My husband leased it for 3 years and we went up there to live. In a few months I became quite strong. At that time the island was prettily laid out. Mr Wood had spent a lot of money on it. He bought some land in Lucas Creek, opposite, which was covered with bush. My husband leased this along with the island. He also put men to cut this for firewood, and he built a big boat and used to take the wood to Auckland, sold it and made a lot of money out of it. All the people for the Wairoa, Kaipara, came to the head of the river and made a smoke signal to my husband to send his boat and take them to Auckland. This paid him well.
He also built a number of small boats and sold then very readily to people about there. And the Deborah, Capt. Wing's brig, came up to Wood Isle and my husband loaded him with sawn timber, which we got from Lucas Creek. The vessel took this cargo to Sydney. With one thing and another, we did not do badly ... 

Mrs Ford and her children often came to the island to visit me but I did not go to Auckland all the time I was on the island. I did not like boating and unless it was a fine day, it was too far for me to return the same day, and I did not like to stay anywhere but the Fords...... I felt very lonely when my husband was away at night, I felt nervous about people landing on the Island. There were a number of sawyers around about us, they were a drunken lot. A man killed his wife in a drunken spree just opposite us. I did not like my neighbours....   etc etc etc .....so we went back to Auckland to live.
As Captain Wing only had the Deborah to 1846, and the Holmans would have spent some time after evacuation from Whangarei in April 1845 in various homes in Auckland, it is likely that the period Mrs Holman referred to, from her recollections put together when she was quite elderly and in 1897, was from c.1846-1848, with the Holman's reinstalled at Whangarei by 1849. If Henry Holman had a boat, it may have been the Charles, plying between the Coromandel and Auckland, 1845-1846. Margaret advises that one of the Holman children was born on the island in 1847. Holman may have succeeded Weavell as lessee, all while the island was profitable as long as the Paremoremo timber held out and Wood was still able to contend for title there. Once the Holmans returned to Whangarei, there they stay. Their brief break in Auckland was missed from Holman's obituary.

THE LATE MR H. C. HOLMAN.
Mr Holman who passed away at his residence in Auckland, on the 21st inst., after a long and eventful life, was a very old colonist, being one of New Zealand's oldest pioneers. He arrived in the Bay of Islands on the 29th of January, 1840, with Governor Hobson and Lieut. Shortland, and held the position of Government architect for a number of years. At the time the natives in the Waikato threatened to destroy Auckland if Governor Hobson hung Makito (the first native hung in. New Zealand) for the murder of Mr White and family of the Bay of Island, Mr Holman had command of the fortifications in Mechanic's Bay, also took a prominent part in saving the lives of the inhabitants of Whangarei, during the Hone Heke War. Excepting the last six years of his life he had resided in Whangarei, and his last remains were brought up from Auckland by the Wellington, and interred at the cemetery in Kamo, according to a wish expressed by him before his death. Mr Holman leaves a widow, two sons, and two daughters; his eldest son Mr H. R. Holman, still resides at Kamo and the remainder of his family are well known to the oldest inhabitants of Whangarei district. 

Northern Advocate 9.12.1893
TO BE SOLD, OR LET, HERALD, OR WOOD'S ISLAND. 
THIS beautiful ISLAND is situated about 7½ miles above the town, and comprises 100 acres of almost level land, part of which has been laid down in grass. The resident, some six years ago, held a very profitable Bush License, and was much resorted to by pleasure parties, and invalids, as also by the farmers and sawyers of the neighbouring mainland. And there remains a long neglected Garden and Orchard, formed walks, &c. Its waters abound with fish, and its adjacent deep creeks, and timbered lands with pigeon and duck. To a retired person of means, it offers a delicious, and salubrious retreat, with delightful water and forest landscape;— an ample field for floral and botanical pursuits, and the never-failing resources of the fishing-rod and the fowling piece. It is eminently fitted for sheep farming, as it would need no fencing, and would be easily covered with English grasses, which thrive well. To a person of enterprise and tact, willing to hold a Bush License, it would be a speedy fortune. For plans and particulars, apply to S. A. Wood. 

(SC 16.12.1853)

Margaret Edgcumbe also found the following on the ENZB site, from Overland from Auckland to Wellington in 1853, by Lt. F W MacKenzie, p.3.
We took a boat to-day and went ten miles up the river. We landed on an island called Wood's Island  --a pretty spot, where there had been a garden. There were a great many rose trees in full blossom, and also an immense quantity of strawberry plants in flower. The place was also covered with fine English grass, and there were a great many wattle trees, but all in confusion. It had evidently been allowed to run to waste for years. The boatman told us the island belonged to a person of the name of Wood. He thought it had been given to a Native half-caste daughter of his by a Native chief, and although he wished to sell it, he could not. 
This garden may well have been the work of the Holman family.


Detail from chart, "Waitemata River from Kauri Point, Auckland Harbour to its sources", 1954, NZ Map 3909, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.

Wood sold the island to master mariner Hugh Clark for around £800, according to the Western Leader (4.11.1969). The only master mariner I’ve found around this period is a Captain Hugh Clark – who drowned in July 1857, along with his wife, daughter, and five of his crew (Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 5.9.1857) when his ship, the brigantine Helen, was wrecked off Pitt Island in the Chathams. Three young children were left behind in Hobart, Tasmania (Melbourne Argus, 14.9.1857). 

If so, this means Herald Island was probably leased out. Exactly who the lessees were is at this point unknown. But -- we do see the start to the island's reputation as an excursion destination.
A group of Aucklanders who didn’t quite make it to the opening of the Wade Presbyterian Church in May 1860, seem to have been early excursion visitors to Wood’s Island instead. A party of friends in town interested in the prosperity of the Wade district, had chartered the steamer Emu for the purpose of proceeding thither to take part in the services advertized for Monday, the 30th; but owing to the boisterousness of the weather the steamer could not venture outside the North Head. A considerable number, however, resolved on not being wholly baffled by the winds, engaged the steamer to go up the Waitemata as far as Wood's Island, where they spent the day very pleasantly, reserving their purpose to visit the Wade on another occasion. (May 4.) 
(SC 25.5.1860) 

A correspondent suggests that amongst the very many places near Auckland whose natural beauties point them cut for pleasant sites for picnic and pleasure parties none could be rendered more attractive than Wood's Island in the Waitemata, about seven miles; towards Riverhead. This beautiful little Island is, we believe, the property of Mr Stebbing, of Queen-street, who may perhaps think the suggestion which is now thrown out, worth consideration to improve its natural capabilities of a fruit orchard and pleasure ground, to vend milk, tea, coffee, lemonade, and non-intoxicating drinks there, and to make arrangements with the river steamers and other craft to call there at frequent intervals during the summer. That it would soon become a favourite resort of holiday-makers there can be no doubt whatever, and the public and the proprietor might be both mutually benefited by adopting some such course pointed out. All who know the locality are aware how well adapted and situated Wood's Island is for the purposes indicated. 

(AS 10.11.1873) 

(Update 19 February 2012: Margret Brands, Herald Island's current historian, pointed out to me two days ago that there is a family connection between Hugh Clark and Thomas Maxwell Henderson, of Henderson's Mill fame. According to Rootsweb, Hugh's wife Jane Jean Clark, nee McArtney, was the daughter of Ann Henderson of Dundee, who in turn was the daughter of James Henderson of Dundee, the father also of Thomas Henderson. So Jane was Thomas Henderson's niece. He must have felt the loss of his niece and her husband in 1857 as a blow.)

The Clark family’s agent F E Compton advertised that the island was for sale from 1872, for £150. (SC 17.9.1872) In May 1873,  Henry William Stebbing purchased the island by "agreement" for around £110 – a bargain price. The Stebbing family apparently came from Charleston and Mokihinui, according to one birth notice before the sale, and seems to have arrived in Auckland in 1868. Initially a storekeeper, Stebbing then became a publican, operating the Globe Hotel at Wakefield Street in 1868, then the Coach and Horses Hotel, Queen Street, from 1870. From 1873, he ran the Cosmopolitan Hotel, also in Queen Street, then the Eagle Hotel in Albert Street until September 1875. There followed a period of bankruptcy, from which he was discharged by June 1877. (AS 25.6.1877) By September 1879, he was mine host at the Oratia Hotel at Henderson (now the Falls Hotel). It looks like Henry W Stebbing died the following year. (AS 28.6.1889) 

Whoever he had as resident on the island, it seems to have lost its charm to visitors.
Yesterday the members of the various Masonic Lodges in Auckland had a water picnic …it was decided by the committee of management to abandon the trip to Motutapu, and turn the bows of the steamer up the harbour instead of down. This was clone, and the boat steamed up the Waitemata, until itarrived off Wood's Island, belonging to Mr H. Stebbing. Here the party landed, but the spot not being so attractive as could have been wished a move was proposed to the grounds of Mr Fordham, a gentleman living on the other side of the creek. Permission first being asked for and obtained the move was made, and the change proved most acceptable … 
 (AS 9.12.1873) 

In 1876, the Bank of New South Wales sold the island to Thomas Francois Gerard Constantine De Leau. (NA 8/225) One resident on the island around 1880 was identified in the newspapers as Mr Demoidrey, who assisted some whale hunters from Auckland with hospitality at his home there (AS 8 June 1880). De Leau himself was naturalised in 1871 (SC 30.11.1871), and was apparently a “French Shirt Manufacturer” based in Mount Street from c.1870, and corner Durham and Albert Streets from c.1875. He was president of the French Literary Association in Auckland in 1881. Ill-health led to him selling his shirt making business in 1888. He had died by May 1890. But, he seems to have had something to do with an immigration scheme aimed at attracting French speakers from Europe to Auckland province. 
The Provincial Council will be asked this evening to consider a message from his Honor the Superintendent in relation to the proposed settlement of people from Belgium, Alsace, and Lorraine, in the province of Auckland … A special settlement is not a heap of incongruous materials thrown together by chance, but the transplanting of a young shoot full of life and vigor. There is, however, one aspect of the subject which we think ought to weigh in this evening's debate. Mr De L'Eau, although occupying in Auckland a far from prominent position, is, we are informed, a man of liberal education and of good position in his native land. He is, it is certain, a man of considerable ingenuity and intelligence. Among other discoveries made by him is that of cheaply reducing the phormium tenax to a pulp suitable for the manufacture of all classes of paper, and by advices lately received by him from Sydney and Melbourne it is certain that, once properly introduced to the notice of paper manufacturers in Europe, this discovery will provide a new and profitable market for all the flax of New Zealand. He is at the present time in correspondence with scientific men in Europe as to more than one of our natural productions, concerning some of which he has received favorable replies … 
(AS 15.6.1874) 

The Provincial Council decided to back the scheme. (SC 29.5.1875) 

A sample of dried pulp, the product of New Zealand flax … manufactured by a process discovered and applied experimentally by Mr. De L'Eau of this city, lies before us … We undertake to say that if Mr. De L'Eau, with a couple of his bricks of white pulp in hand, were in London now, he could raise a company with any amount of money to supply the market. It is shown to be worth in England £25 to £30 per ton, and these figures are given guardedly, and merely on the evidence, not of a large quantity to test it fully, but of a very small sample, merely to show what it is … 

(SC 8.7.1875) 

Whatever he was doing on Herald Island -- De Leau didn't appreciate visitors. Once again, the excursionists were turned away.

Auckland Star, 24 December 1877

His plans must have fallen through, for De Leau had the island back up for sale in 1882. 

 Auckland Star, 20 March 1882

It was around this time that around 6000 shelter trees were planted all around the edge of the island's coastline. (Sales ad, AS 8.3.1889) 

WANTED, a Man, with or without family, to take charge of Wood's Island eight miles from Wharf.- Apply W. L. Roth, Victoria-street East.
(AS 22.5.1883) 

From now on, the island with its 6000 trees was called Pine Island -- and would remain so in the popular mind for the next 65 years. Even though, officially, it was Herald Island.

The most striking feature is the island formerly known as Wood’s Island, now known as Pine Island, which seems to block the entrance to the river, leaving it a matter of surmise to the visitor whether that forms the termination of the harbour, or whether it can be passed. This is a question which for us was soon set at rest, for our smart little yacht passing through a narrow entrance now rounded the end of the island, and were once again in wide waters heading up the river … 

The island contains an area of 100 acres, and a portion of it has for some time been under cultivation. There is a fair landing wharf alongside, and the steamers can come at low tide, and on proceeding up this we soon found ourselves in cultivated lands and an orchard, in which there were some splendid varieties of apples. It is needless to say that these were tested by the visitors. Proceeding further we found ourselves amongst newly-planted fruit, a fine crop of maize, and shelter trees of growth varying from three to one year of age. There was also a considerable crop of vines. These, I learned, had been planted for some years, and the vines had been fruitful. I can only say that such is not the case now, and it bears out my pre-conceived opinion that this place is not favourable to the growth of vines outdoors. So far as the apples were concerned, however, they were excellent, and there are some good pears, although it seemed to me that more attention might have been bestowed on this fruit. There were also some peach trees, but the fruit, like all others in the province for some years past, showed a marked deterioration. Proceeding about a quarter of a mile, we reached the homestead of Mr and Mrs Heims, pleasantly sheltered and surrounded by a belt of high tea-tree. Included were a poultry yard, with some choice fowls. 

We then took a tour of the island, but beyond what I have mentioned, and the fact that a double row of shelter trees has been placed around the island, there was nothing to specially attract attention. The soil, especially on the flat table land in the centre, seemed to be well-adapted for the growth of cereals. It was tea-tree land, and a recent fire which, unfortunately, in its progress had destroyed a number of shelter trees, laid it pretty bare. There are, however, numerous little bays, nooks and crannies in the island eminently adapted for picnic parties, and its admirable situation for marine residences should soon bring it into prominence. I was informed that since its last purchase for £450, £1000 has been offered for the island, and I can quite believe it, for the situation is unique. 

(NZH 16.3.1885) 

 Auckland Star 26 November 1877

In November 1887, the island up for private sale by George Cozens, after transfer from William Boylan. It was the start of a long process to find a buyer during the country's Long Depression -- but it was also the start of the main period of Pine Island summertime excursions and picnics.
Messrs Brown, Barrett, and Company entertained their employees on Saturday afternoon last, when they proceeded to Pine Island in the steamer Maori. The owners of the island kindly threw their house and ground open, and good sport was enjoyed by all. An excellent spread was provided by Messrs Brown and Geddes, and the party returned to town about 8 p.m. On the voyage down some singing and other amusements were indulged in, and cheers were given for Messrs Brown and Geddes (coupled with the names of Mesdames Brown and Geddes), for the liberal manner in which the entertainment had been carried out. Messrs Brown and Geddes responded, and the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" brought a very pleasant party to a conclusion. 
 (AS 9.1.1888) 

Messrs Tonks and Co. offer for tomorrow at noon the property known as Pine Island. It is in a splendid position and contains 100 acres, on the upper waters of the Waitemata. It is in close proximity to Auckland, being about an hour’s sail from the wharf. There is a good house, two orchards and garden, and about 6000 shelter trees. 

(AS 24.1.1888) 

The sales and auctions didn’t work. Cozens decided to try simply leasing the island for a period from February 1888. He tried selling it again in March 1889. Then William Boylan came back into the picture, offering to sell or lease the island in September 1889. (Ad, AS 14.9.1889) In June 1890, Cozens finally did sell the island, to builder Alexander George Lee (with the title in his wife Eliza’s name). 

According to a letter written in 1949 by Auckland City Library (lodged in their Auckland scrapbook collection), Lee “built a large house, introduced sheep and commenced a profitable business in giving permission for excursions to be run up to the Island.” 

 Auckland Star 22 December 1894

Indeed, in the early 1890s, the island became a popular spot by which to hold organised rowing races. But, there were also tragedies. 

BOY DROWNED AT PINE ISLAND. 

A sad bathing fatality occurred yesterday at Pine Island, which cast quite a gloom overall who had gone to that locality to spend the holiday. Amongst the excursionists by the Stella and Invincible were Mrs Reston (wife of Mr G S Reston, chief gaoler at Mount Eden Gaol) and two of her sons, one being James Mather, 16 years of age. After dinner the last mentioned, in company with two of the sons of Mr Smith, of the s.s. Clansman, went to bathe in the sea, but after he had swum out a little, he cried out that he was getting cramped, and he appeared to be sinking. The other lads not being able to render any assistance immediately raised an alarm, which brought some persons to the spot, unfortunately, however, too late to be of any use in preventing the lad from being drowned. The accident took place, it is stated, only a short distance from the shore. As soon as it became known, Mr Christian, mate of the Stella, and several others went to the spot and dived for a considerable time trying to recover the body, but without success. The vicinity of the accident was dragged for some hours, with the same result. About 7 o'clock, however, as the steamers were leaving, two young men cruising about in a boat, noticed the body lying on a ledge, washed in by the tide, and it was then brought along the beach to the steamer, and brought to town. On its arrival at the wharf, it was taken in the Ambulance waggon to Mr Reston's residence, pending the customary inquest. A singular coincidence in connection with yesterday's accident in that three years ago yesterday the deceased was in company with a son of Mr Flannery, chief warder at Mount Eden Gaol, when the accident occurred by which young Flannery was run over by a dray near Helensville and killed. The inquest on the body will be held tomorrow, commencing at 10 a.m. at the deceased's father's residence at Mount Eden. Two other inquests being held by the coroner to-day prevent it being held any earlier. 

(AS 27.12.1895) 

After the Lees took out three mortgages between 1890 and 1896, all three were discharged when the Lees sold the island to the Devonport Steam Ferry Company Ltd in 1897.


Group portrait of the teachers from Holy Trinity Church school, Devonport on a picnic at Pine Island (Herald Island), 1897, ref 4-3062, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries

Other uses were thought of for the island, with a sudden downturn in excursions by the ferry company. For a brief time in 1898, it was proposed that the island could be used to store explosives. (AS 20.4.1898) L L McDermott, nightsoil contractor for Auckland City, made an appeal to the council for another depot – and suggested the island. He had “… made inquiries from the owners of Pine Island with a view of securing the same as a suitable site for a depot, with the result that the owners are agreeable to lease for a period of 10 years. If your council are favourably impressed with the above-mentioned site, the cost of erecting a new depot, including steaming plant and water carriage, would have to he considered.” (AS 3.10.1902) The council later declined. (AS 31.10.1902) 

 
Herald Island, 5 October 1902. Amalgamation of images 1-W1534 and 1-W1535, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries

According to a Mr F Tubb, writing to the Auckland Library in 1949, a man named Bill Marsh “lived on the point facing Albany Creek in 1908.” 


In 1926, the Devonport Steam Ferry Company subdivided most of the island into 246 lots, with reserves. The following roads were dedicated in 1928 (NA 416/40): The Terrace, Coleman Avenue, Duncan Avenue, George Avenue, Holgate Avenue, Alison Avenue, and Ferry Parade.

The progress of development for the island after the Ferry Company sales was slow. The company laid out all the roads and named them (with associations back to the company and the Allison family of Devonport); shell footpaths were laid down (apparently all gone by 1970) and simple surface drains. Even so, according to resident P D Buffett (Western Leader, 17.12.1970), there were only two houses on the island when he and his wife bought their section in 1942 (price, possibly £30). Within two years though, more houses had spring up, along with a store. Buffett claimed he required a building permit for an old army hut he relocated to his section in 1945 (around £15), even though at the time there was no territorial authority governing Herald Island. 
“A number of other houses and baches were already on the island and none of them had been required to gain permits. However, the authorities somehow got wind of my building and I was asked to explain my actions. I was issued with a permit for the hut, which was already sited, and there was no further trouble. Funnily enough, other buildings still continued to go up without permits. The next permit was not issued until around 1950 when the Pine Island Boating Club was erected.” 
The island's first territorial authority of sorts may well have been a Pine Island Domain Board, apparently gazetted as being in control of part of the foreshore from 1949 (Note on DP 31409, LINZ records)

As at 1950, the island had around 100 permanent residents none of whom paid property rates, as Herald Island had not been included in the boundaries for the Waitemata County Council, all the way back to 1876. With no building permits required, development was “haphazard”, with no water reticulation, no electricity, and no drainage. They did have however two stores, a post office and a school, and a lot of community awareness. (AS 7.7.1950) They were finally incorporated into the Waitemata County 20 September 1953, with 198 residents. (“Boundary Changes Since Census 1926”, Auckland Scrapbook May 1966 -, pp. 160-161, Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries) Electricity was switched on for the islanders in 1955. (WL, 17.12.1970) The cable laying had to be done in the mud of the mangrove swamp separating the island from the mainland by workers from the Waitemata Electric Power Board, all pre-causeway; “a particularly muddy task” says the caption to an image of workers picking their way along the line of cable in Northwards March the Pylons (1975) p. 81. 

What started my journey into the background of Herald Island’s story was a couple of pages from the late Jan Grefstad’s unpublished Cinemas of Auckland (2000), where he wrote about “the only little island in the Upper Waitemata Harbour with its one small cinema.” This was the Harmony Theatre and Hall, made from a Nissen hut on property owned by Cyril and Hazel Thickpenny, owners of the Snug Harbour Store. It included a small projection room, with vestibule beneath, and took local residents six weeks to build. This was 1952, before electricity had come to the island, so the Thickpennys relied on a power generator – with the audience bringing along their own seats for the show from their homes. Thickpenny received an exhibitor’s licence a year and a half after opening. 
“Enthusiasm and excitement usually overcame any problems, like the time the full reel of the film fell off the projector and rolled down the floor, down the stairs and into the hall, startling the people in the back rows, a stream of film following the reel. Mr Gary Thickpenny, son of the proprietors, remembers with fondness a certain Mr Nitty Whiskers who was something of a hermit who lived on the island and loved cowboy movies. He always attended every one screened and usually sat on his own and talked or muttered to the actors on the screen.” 
The inside of the hall was decorated by artist Rix Carlton. In 1956, 100 dancers crowded the hall, moving to the music of Len Larigan’s Band. Hank Nabor purchased the hall and took over the licence in 1961, but the licence was cancelled in 1963, and the hall dismantled and relocated to a farm in Kumeu. Some of the Carlton murals ended up at Te Rangi Hiroa Park, Massey. (Grefstad, Vol II, pp. 147-148) 

Another hall, probably on the island's Domain, burned down before 1971. Residents complained that year of the sad state of The Terrace, the main access to Christmas Beach, while the Waitemata Council did say that they were working on things, and building a new $14,000 hall on the domain. Upgrading The Terrace though, they advised, would require a "substantial rise in rates." (WL, 4.5.1971)

The Herald Island Ratepayers Committee campaign long and hard for a causeway to be built connecting the island with the mainland. Eventually, in August 1957, came the news that they had been successful. A short causeway, a couple of hundred yards linking them with Hobsonville, was built for £9000. Their hope were at the time that there would be two causeways – the Hobsonville one, and the other linking them with Albany and the northern motorway. Only part of that dream was ever completed. State Highway 18, part of today’s ring route, spans the Waitemata River to the south of Herald Island. 
Situated only about 200 yards or so from the mainland and approached by a causeway wide enough for two cars to pass each other, Herald Island will now no doubt attract motorists as their goal for a pleasant Sunday afternoon drive … A road circumnavigates the island, which is still pleasantly wooded, and in summer its beaches will probably attract picnickers. 
 (AA Official Bulletin, July 1958) 


Proof that the island's community spirit is not yet faded into the background came when Herald Islanders campaigned alongside Whenuapai residents against Waitakere City Council's suggested airport idea for Whenuapai airbase in 2003 (WL 5.6.2003).

And lastly -- Herald Island and its shipping graveyard.
The shallow water round Pine Island covers the shattered hulls of another half-dozen or so old-timers. There lie the ship America, the barque Tobias, the barquentine Retriever, and the steamer Senator. Of the Senator it has often been said, that she carried more than her weight in gold from Sacramento down, to San Francisco in the old days. 
(EP 5.5.1934) 

The Herald Island Residents and Ratepayers Association lobbied for years for the removal of the wrecks off the coastline of the island. In 1991, the ARC finally did the clean-up.


 Western Leader 3 September 1991
A slave-trader and a former brothel are among the historic ships being dredged up from around Herald Island. Auckland Regional Council is "cleaning up" the graveyard of ships in the upper Waitemata Harbour. Some of the old wrecks dumped at the island have lain close to shore for more than 90 years ...

One of the wrecks is believed to be the Principe de Lucideo, built in 1876. She was probably dumped in the 1900s between Herald Island wharf and Christmas Beach. The barquentine Retriever is thought to lie in the same area. She was abandoned in the mid-Pacific in an insurance scam before being towed to Herald Island in the 1920s.

Mystery surrounds two of the most interesting ships off Christmas Beach. One may be the Columbia, also called the Showboat, which was a "den of iniquity" at Auckland's waterfront in the 1920s. She had three decks, one for gambling, one for drinking, one for "loose women". The Showboat was sunk by unknown saboteurs in the early 1930s then raided and dumped at Herald Island.

Contractors have found kauri timbers and copper sheathing during their clean up operation. this suggests the America also lies off Christmas Beach. She was an Oregon schooner built in 1868 and weighed a massive 1345 tons.

(Western Leader 3.9.1991)

I doubt that Herald Island's stories have ended, or that this piece of the Auckland Region will ever be quite like the rest. The island, I reckon, will always be unique in its own way.

From Auckland Council aerial, GIS website, 2008

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Guest post: Signs at Judges Bay

 I asked Rendell McIntosh, Parnell Heritage founder and member, head of the team at Alberton, and a good friend of many years standing, if he would mind popping down to his Judges Bay to take snaps of the new Auckland Council-installed heritage interpretation panels there. Here are his images, and text from the email I received this morning. Cheers, Rendell!  
 
As part of the Auckland Council's $5m upgrade of Judges Bay a number of 2.5m high historical interpretation panels (5) have been placed around the historic central Auckland bay.  The interpretation panels were compiled and designed by the team at DallowBoss Design who have also developed a series of panels for Waiuku and Pukekohe. Local resident Rendell McIntosh assisted with providing relevant old images and associated text of the historical incidents/people connected with the area. An official celebration /opening ceremony was due to take place at Judges Bay on 22 January but due to a high level of bacteria discovered from recent tests in the water, (10 other bays in Auckland are also affected) the event has been put on hold.





Images show different aspects of the restoration programme including new changing/toilet/shower facility, new seating/pavement, new jetty with Parnell Baths in rear. It is hoped that two more panels will go up (near Fred Ambler Lookout and Pt Resolution) to complete a wonderful self guided tourist attraction. The John Logan Campbell Residuary Trust provided a grant to go towards the cost of the panels.

Make time to go down and enjoy the lovely bay and new amenities.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bledisloe Building


I had cause to visit the post office in the Bledisloe Building in the city a few days ago -- and realised, from this view, how things had changed over time. Even since the 1980s, when I first worked in the central city.

16 October 1927. "Looking south west from Queen Street showing Old Market Square (foreground), Elliott Street now Bledisloe Street (left to right across centre), premises of (from far left) Northern Automobiles Limited, Graham Brothers, Frank Grayson, signwriter, E Gates, bootmaker, Brooking and Sons, bookseller, a sign advertising Kaiapoi Woollens, Wellesley Street West and Foresters Building, on the corner of Albert and Wellesely Street (far right)." Ref. 4-5644, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.





The site, just to the north-west of that of the old Market Building,  was a collection of retail shops in the 1920s along Bledisloe Street (the southern extension of Elliott Street), off Wellesley Street. In front by that stage was the carpark left behind by the clearance not only of the Market Building, but also other Council-owned buildings leased for retail purposes. Those were the days of mayoral dreams of fancy civic centres, soon gone to nought. The Civic Theatre itself didn't exist. But in the late 1950s, the landscape changed. Plans for a combined local and central government administration centre at what is now Aotea Square began in earnest in 1946. Central Government, in the form of the Ministry of Works, was able to get into gear just a bit quicker than Auckland City Council.

13 August 1964. Bledisloe Building to the right. Note the three-storey building to the left, which can also be seen in the image further up -- a measure of how the new building filled up the frontage. The the-storey building was demolished, perhaps during the Aotea Centre development in the 1970s-1980s. Ref. 580-10668, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.

Designed by Francis Gordon Wilson (1900-1959) with Douglas Jocelyn "Jock" Beere (1913-2001), the 11-storey Bledisloe State Building (to use its full name) was completed in 1959 and occupied by government staff from March that year. The name was chosen as the result of a competition by school children. At the Wellesley Street end, the Maori anchor sculptures were installed.

I think from the 1990s, after the second-to-last big municipal amalgamations, Auckland City Council departments started to use part of the building as offices, an overflow from the tall Civic Building on the other side of the Aotea Centre.


But what started me thinking about the building was this -- metal letters now removed from the side of the entrance to the post office. Oh, sorry -- the Post Shop. For yes, this is what has happened: the Wellesley Post Office, often the reason why I'd visit the building, even now, is just a Post Shop now. Although the large postbox lobby is fairly well the same.


While the red signs are great to spot from a distance -- I do miss the metal letters. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, that way.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Glenmore: the gaoler's farm

A photograph of Glenmore Lodge, possibly from the late 1950s. MAC 026, ID 115013, Auckland Council Archives, by kind permission.

Some years ago, a friend came across the name “Glenmore” in Wises Directories of the 1920s and 1930s, referring to a patch of the New North Road landscape between Kingsland and the rise towards Eden Terrace and Upper Symonds Street. Basically, as I’ve explained to folks since, it was an area so-named, but not officially so, around the vicinity of what was once the Kiwi Bacon factory. Just lately, though, the name has come up again – a family historian asking where it was because a probate document listed an address as “New North Road, Glenmore” (in that case, it was in Eden Terrace more than Glenmore), and when Claire asked about early brushmakers in Auckland here, and I found a factory in Buchanan Street, “Glenmore”. So – here is the story of Glenmore, an ephemeral district named after a building which, sadly, no longer exists. 

A certain colourful ex-convict from Australia, Thomas Cassidy (link is for a Facebook page now only in cache), claimed land in Hokianga, for which he received in settlement from Governor FitzRoy £2053 worth of land in Auckland in the form of scrip, according to 20th century research by Basil King. At least part of that scrip would have been used to purchase around 110 acres of land in Section 5, Suburbs of Auckland: the northern side of what would become New North Road, from the line of the Dominion Road flyover today, to the slopes of Morningside. In 1846, he sold the lot to George McElwain, and exited the stage of Auckland history. 

George McElwain (c.1804-1866) is said by one family history site to have had two younger brothers: John (1922-16) and Walter Richard (c. 1827-1901). Given the age difference, it seems obvious why George was the pioneer brother, followed in the late 1840s to early 1850s by his two male siblings. The family came from Killan House, Ballymascanlan in County Louth, Ireland. John McElwain was in the government service until he turned 26, so it would appear that all three sons (there were also three daughters) were reasonably well educated at least (John was said to have been educated in Dublin.) 

The Auckland Historical Society noted that George McElwain was gazetted as Head Gaoler in 1841 (Auckland-Waikato Historical Journal, September 1983, No. 43); he testified in 1846, as head gaoler, that he knew a prisoner personally since 1842. (New Zealander, 5.9.1846) George McElwain also appeared in newspapers as a poundkeeper in May 1848. (SC 27.5.1848) Owning so much land relatively close to the city, I can understand why. 

The stocks, gaol and gallows of early central Auckland, when George McElwain would have been in charge. A much later sketch by Edward Bartley, published in the "Weekly Graphic". Ref. 4-2587, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries.

When was the stone lodge built? Tradition has it that it dated from 1846, the year George McElwain purchased the farmland from Thomas Cassidy. But Basil King (see later in this post) in 1959 found a tender notice in the New Ulster Gazette of 5 August 1861 for the erection of a dwelling “to house the jailer”. A wooden construction noted at the site of the Auckland Gaol at the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets, as “Original Head Gaoler’s House” as at February 1862, however, might have been the building referred to. (see Auckland-Waikato Historical Journal, No. 43, 1983, p. 13) Comparisons have been made between the lodge and William Edgecumbe’s Great Northern Hotel at Western Springs (1858), so there is a possibility that Glenmore Lodge indeed wasn’t built until much later than thought. Other stories link the construction in with McElwain’s superintendency of both the gaol in central Auckland and the stockade at Mt Eden, suggesting that prison labour was used. This, though, can’t be proved with certainty. Of course, it isn’t very likely that we will ever know details as to the early history of the lodge, unless a diary or similar primary documentation emerges from out of the past. 

In 1863, after 22 years serving as Auckland’s gaoler, it came time for McElwain to retire. However, while he had started his career as a public servant under the auspices of Governors and central government, his career end came during the period of the Auckland Provincial Council which now ran institutions such as the Auckland Gaol. In the mid 1860s, scrambling for income and grants to build such things as a railway and a new asylum, proved a parsimonious lot. 
PENSION TO MR McELWAIN. Captain Daldy said the consideration of this application had been fully gone into, but the government could not feel warranted in asking his Honor to grant a pension. Ho would therefore move, "That this Council whilst it fully recognises the long and honorable services of Mr George McElwain, gaoler to this province, does not feel justified in recommending his honor the Superintendent to send down a measure recommending the grant of a retiring pension to any one. And that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to his honor the Superintendent." … 

Mr. Foley supported the motion. It was well known that Mr. McElwain was almost as wealthy as any man in the province, and he certainly ought never to have made the application … 

Mr Kerr said it would be an act of great injustice to put off Mr. McElwain's claim. He had attended to his duties through good and ill health, and the safety of the prisoners in an insecure jail must have been a very irksome and laborious task. 

Mr. Wynn said the question at issue was, whether the Government should initiate the system of pensions. It once entered into they could not resist any application. It had been asserted by Mr. Cadman that every government recognised the principle of pensions but he forgot that such a thing had not yet been introduced in this province, nor had he been enabled to find that any other of the provinces had initiated it. He could not look at the necessity in the same light as the hon. members who had spoken in advocacy of the pension. It appealed to him that so long as the servant was well paid for his services he could not complain. When he became unfit for duty he would certainly have no further claim upon the salary than any other man. 

Mr. Rowe thought the granting a pension to Mr. McElwain would not introduce the system of pensions, as regarded servants of the Provincial Government within recent years. The fact of Mr. McElwain being so long a servant of the General and Provincial Governments would constitute the difference. 

Captain Daldy said Government had considered that the payment of a pension to Mr. McElwain would entitle other Government servants to look for the same consideration after several years of service. 
 SC 25.3.1863 

The vote was 15 for Daldy’s resolution denying McElwain his pension, and four opposed. Thus, McElwain, after his long years of government service, received but a thank you in return. 


 Southern Cross 2 May 1867


When George McElwain died, between 10 and 11 pm on 30 September 1866 at Glenmore Lodge, he left Glenmore to his widow Louisa according to Basil King – but it is George’s brother Walter Richard McElwain who held title to the property to the early 1880s. He was married there in early 1866. (SC 19.1.1866) His death announcement in 1901, indicates that not only was Walter McElwain an absentee landowner of Glenmore for most of his life, but that by then the family had started the George McElwain legends. 
We regret to record the death of one of our old and much respected citizens, Mr W R McElwain (youngest brother of the late Mr. George McElwain), of Glenmore Lodge, Rocky Nook. Arriving in Auckland as far back as 1858, he resided in the town until taking up land in Waiuku, where he carried on farming till within a year of his death. The last year of his life was spent quietly at his home in Rocky Nook. He leaves a wife and family of two sons and two daughters. The youngest daughter is away in Melbourne at the present time. The deceased's brother, the late Mr. George McElwain, was private secretary to Governor Hobson in the early years of this colony. 
 AS 3.1.1901 

Governor Hobson’s personal secretary was, actually, James Stuart Freeman. 

Daniel Pollen appears to have lived at Glenmore on New North Road, most likely the lodge, from around early 1869 to mid 1873 (Southern Cross and Auckland Star ads). By 1881, we see the lodge is the home of Richard and Jane Monk. (AS 6.6.1881) But these people must have only rented the property from Louisa and her brother-in-law Walter until a tangle of mortgages and agreements saw the property go to Thomas Morrin and William Stephen Cochrane in 1884. They left the names of Auckland’s commercial apparent best and brightest on the streets in the Glenmore subdivision of 1885: Morrin, (William) Aitken, (Samuel) Hesketh, (Robert Charles) Greenwood, (William) Buchanan, and (John C) Richmond. The inclusion of these names was likely not just recognition in the polite sense, but reflected real interest in the development by these lawyers, land agents, and merchants.





Auckland Star 14 November 1885

 Auckland Star 13 January 1886

By 1896, photographer John Carnduff Morton (c.1853-1936) owned the lodge and eight sections of the Glenmore subdivision both on which it stood and immediately around it, a total of half an acre. (NA 77/295) According to the Auckland Libraries’ photographer’s database, he originated from Edinburgh where he had set himself up in business “near Edinburgh” in 1880-1881. He arrived in New Zealand in 1881, working in Dunedin until 1883, then as assistant to Josiah Martin in Auckland until 1890-1891. He had his own business, the “Balmoral Studio” on Karangahape Road from that point, but used his home at Glenmore Lodge for bridal party photography. It would be interesting to find out if any of Morton’s photographs at the lodge still exist. 


Auckland Star 15 June 1897

Morton started to carve up his land from 1907. By 1921, the New North Road frontage was becoming filled by brick and wooden shops, blocking off the lodge’s historical association with the New North Road. (DP 15507) 

 Detail of DP 15507, LINZ records, crown copyright

In that year, the lodge and remaining quarter-acre of land was sold to commercial traveller Albert Asmuss and Mrs Evelyn Estelle Kelly. They didn’t own it long; in 1923, the lodge was sold to Frank Rawle (NA 345/72). From 1932, the house was administered by the Public Trustee. 


 Detail from NA 470/76 (1928) LINZ records, crown copyright

Beverley F Parminter's recollections, as a grand-daughter of Frank Rawle (her father was also named Frank) were published in the Auckland -Waikato Historical Journal, April 1988.

"I have recollections of the house, which was renamed Alstone by my grandfather, whilst the family were in residence. The interior was beautifully furnished with many antiques which grandfather had collected; tall dressers holding fine china in the dining room; grandfather clocks, venetian mirrors, velvet covered furniture in the lounge, we were not allowed to frequent as children. Tapestries, beaded pictures and tall mirrors on the walls going up the stairway. The stairway itself was most elegant with a beautiful kauri balustrade.

"Other memories include, the wooden slatted venetian blinds, the bath on legs in a large bathroom with an enormous gas califont, and the many quaint, gargoyle charactered earthenware garden ornaments. The old conservatory, later a fernery, my sister and I peeping through the windows upstairs with their wide stone ledges, the old orchard with its lichen covered trees, and sitting on the verandah in the sun on the old stone buttresses ...

"A conservatory was removed and the house converted into three flats, one of which was lived in by my aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs G Steed, until the house was sold ... after my grandmother's death ..."

In 1958, an Auckland second-hand dealer named Edward Cursons purchased the lodge; a month later, he sold the site to Rodney Augustine Farry. 

The lodge in the 1950s, from the MeGehan Collection, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries, ref. 255A-78

The 20th century romance with Glenmore Lodge, lasting a fleeting five years, began with a campaign by Fred McGehan, a Mt Albert resident (and a local borough councillor at a later point) who proposed that a number of landmarks in the borough be preserved, and urged the Mt Albert borough council to move toward that end. Four houses were slated for registration by the council in September 1957 out of six proposed by McGehan: Allendale, Alberton, Ferndale, and Glenmore Lodge. Some research was undertaken into Glenmore Lodge at the time. Articles appeared in the Auckland Star, and also the local paper the Sandringham Star, edited by Dick Scott (who later wrote In Old Mt Albert in the mid 1960s for the borough council).

MeGehan later wrote in the Auckland Historical Journal (October 1962):
"The house is typically English in design and solid in construction but it is far from elegant. It has two storeys, with four bedrooms upstairs and seven rooms downstairs. Built of stone, the main outer walls are about 2 foot thick and the roof is of slate. Over the years some additions have been made but the house remains substantially much the same as it was 100 years ago. The exterior doors are of French design, with two sections opening outwards. It is said that this was a precaution against Maori attackers, narrow entrances being less likely to give admittance to a mob.

"In 1922 the old home still had a large frontage to New North Road and its trees, mostly Norfolk pines and Moreton Bay figs, were one of Auckland's finest landmarks. Ax rates became geavier, further subdivision was found necessary. Experience bushmen were called in to fell the trees. There are houses now where once the orchard was planted and all that remains of the farm property is the Lodge itself. It is partly hidden from view down a right-of-way behind some shops."
The most detailed research at this point was carried out by Basil King, secretary for the Auckland Regional Committee of the National Historic Places Trust in 1959, these being the early days of the formation of the NZ Historic Places Trust, a time when there was still a blending of the Trust with elements which later coalesced into the formation of the Auckland Historical Society (Auckland Star 1.9.1959). But this registration presented problems. 

The owner of the lodge from May 1958, Rodney Augustine Farry, had other ideas for the lodge, ideas which the borough council’s protection order prevented. He wrote in complaint to the council (text of letter published in the Sandringham Star, June 1961): 
“I am in the most unfortunate position of owning Glenmore Lodge, a property over which I have no jurisdiction as it is on the list of historical landmarks. Approximately two years ago I applied for a permit to have the Lodge converted into flats. I was advised to submit for your approval plans for such a scheme. These were duly forwarded to you and the permit declined because of your refusal to allow the structure of the building to be altered in any shape or form. 

“At a later date I applied for a permit to have the building demolished. This request was also refused. “The Council then approached me for an option to purchase the said property. This option was arranged at £4,500, which has since lapsed. Recently I received notice from your Town Clerk that extensive repairs to the house were required if I wished to keep the house tenanted. At considerable expense and trouble I had all tenants find other accommodation so the house is still vacant. 

“I consider that I have been most lenient and just with the Mt Albert Borough Council in connection with this matter. I suggest that you either purchase the property at the reduced price of £4000 or remove it from the list of historic landmarks and give me the freedom enjoyed by other property owners. I have spent several hundred pounds on the property since purchasing, plus cost of having plans drawn for flats etc., and at the reduced price of £4000 I am showing a loss. 

“Being the owner of this property I have had personal experience of the tremendous interest taken in this building by hundreds of New Zealanders, and if your Council decides to purchase this property and preserve it as an historical landmark, I will instruct my solicitors to forward the deeds to you, payment in full to be made twelve months from this date, free of interest.” 
 In response, the Mt Albert Borough Council declined the offer, and as the house was by then in a “generally rundown state”, the old shell and lime mortar crumbling, it was removed from the council’s protection list. The Auckland City Council were approached by Farry two months later with an offer to buy, but the council’s Property and Health Committee decided to take no further action. The city engineer A J Dickson, by then in the midst of planning the Dominion Road motorway which would end the intersection of Dominion and New North Roads, create the flyover and alter the lodge’s neighbourhood to a landscape of overpasses and light industrial zones, said that he understood that the young Auckland Historical Society were still trying to preserve the building, but their hopes suffered from a lack of finance (NZ Herald, 1.9.1961).

By later that month, the building was declared doomed, with Mt Albert Borough Council ordering its demolition. By now, it had been badly vandalised, with windows smashed and the interior damaged “beyond repair”. While the council had ordered repairs in July that year, it was felt that, as the Auckland City Council’s works were planned to pass through part of the property, there was little point in the old lodge remaining (NZ Herald 19.9.61).

In March 1962, Farry sold the property to Rosebowl Autos Limited (NA 1532/96), with the new owners probably considering that the old building could be demolished. However, public pressure on Mt Albert Borough led to them purchasing the property in May 1963, for around £3400. A photograph of the empty section after demolition dates from October 1963. There’s no indication of the existence of the old house on a subdivision plan drawn up for the council in April 1964 (DP 53674); and in 1965 the remainder was sold to Merv Clark Limited. Today, a commercial building occupies the site. 

The site of Glenmore Lodge 289 New North Road, photographed 24 October 1963. Ref. A472, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries

If the cafuffle over the building had been a bit later, perhaps it might have ended up shifted to MOTAT’s pioneer village, stone by stone, as happened with another stone house rescued from Epsom later that decade. But – for Glenmore Lodge, such was not to be.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Changing signs



It's been a bit of a journey, involving both the old Avondale Community Board and the newer Whau Local Board, stretching back to 2004 in one case, but -- now officially two of the local reserves have been renamed.
The saga of Gittos Domain (formerly Avondale South Domain) began when after informal discussions between Avondale-Waterview Historical Society and Blockhouse Bay Historical Society, AWHS went ahead and wrote a supporting letter to the Avondale Community Board recommending the name change in June 2004.

"Re: Renaming proposal for Avondale South Domain, Blockhouse Bay 

"It has come to the notice of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society that the Blockhouse Bay Historical Group are about to apply to the Avondale Community Board to begin the process of renaming the Avondale South Domain, and will be offering the suggestion of “Gittos Domain”. This is to advise the Board that this proposal and the suggested name has the complete support and backing of our Society, as resolved at our latest meeting on the 5th of June this year.

"To recognise Blockhouse Bay settler Mr. Francis Gittos and his family in this way has importance beyond the obvious one to the Bay, that of recognition of a family who had done much to help assist the community in which they lived and create lasting landmarks there. Francis Gittos made his mark in Avondale, too, while his family had an influence that extended beyond the boundaries of our city. The Gittos family came to New Zealand in 1841, settling initially in the Hokianga where Francis was born in 1843. They moved to Auckland in 1846, and here Francis’ father Benjamin was a teacher, shoemaker, and ultimately by 1857 a leather and grindery merchant, establishing a tannery in the Whau (Avondale) district in 1864-65 in the area presently at the corner of New North and Blockhouse Bay Roads, including Tait and Trent Street, and extending nearly to Pak n’ Save supermarket, Mt Albert. This was one of Avondale’s earliest industries and employers, having a staff at one time of up to 60, and lasting here until 1884.

"Francis worked for his father at the tannery (the Gittos family today consider that he may have been a salesman for the firm). In November 1867, Francis Gittos, then a member of the Whau Public Hall committee, proposed that "the members of the Committee procure as many books as possible for the formation of a library for the Hall," and thus started the idea of libraries in this district which continues on with our present day Community Libraries at Avondale and Blockhouse Bay. Francis Gittos was also a landowner in this area at that time, and served on the Whau Highway District Board, his farm in the vicinity of the present day Avondale Baptist Church. In 1874, he left the district for a time, but had returned by the early 1880s, buying land on Rosebank Peninsula and setting up a small tannery on the northern side. He came to live in Blockhouse Bay, near the corner of Donovan Street and Blockhouse Bay Roads ... and on 14th June 1890 leased from the Crown the Recreation Reserve in Avondale South (now the Avondale South Domain).

"There, he started another small tannery, beside one of the small creeks that ran across present day Lewis Street (I understand from Ray Kealey of the Blockhouse Bay History Group that Lewis Street was once called Gittos Street). He remained in Blockhouse Bay, as a tanner and settler, until 1920, and died in Mt Eden in 1924. Francis Gittos and his family in Blockhouse Bay helped raise funds for the building of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd (today located at MOTAT), the St Andrew's Church hall, and the Green Bay Mission Hall (later the lounge of the Blockhouse Bay Baptist Church. The tall, old pines that are a well-known and easily sighted landmark in Blockhouse Bay town are associated with Francis Gittos, and believed to have been planted by him.

"The Gittos family have been commemorated twice by the naming of streets in Auckland: Gittos Street in Blockhouse Bay (after Francis Gittos), and Gittos Road in Parnell (now Parnell Rise). This latter commemoration was in honour of Francis' brother, the Rev. William Gittos, a pioneer Wesleyan Methodist missionary and influential figure in the greater Auckland region. Both commemorations of this pioneer family have been lost to time. Therefore, in the interests of recognition of the contribution this family has made to the history and the making of the Avondale and Blockhouse Bay districts, the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society urge the Avondale Community Board and Auckland City Council to seriously and positively consider renaming the Avondale South Domain in honour of Mr. Francis Gittos and his hard working family"

New name tacked onto an old sign (down below, it still refers to Avondale South Domain), but this is still a victory. In 2009, the Avondale Community Board agreed to the namke change -- but then things went slightly astray. In the middle of last year, I approached the Whau Local Board both for this renaming ... and another at New Windsor Reserve.



In 2010, just before the end of Auckland City Council and the Avondale Community Board, Don Currey, son of Arthur Currey, a former landowner, wrote to the Board suggesting that reserve be so renamed as well. AWHS again supported this. But ... nothing had happened by the middle of last year. After I approached the Whau Local Board, however, things moved. The Aucklander took an interest.

And now -- a new sign.


Wish someone would have been kind enough to let our Society know about the installation, but -- at least there it is.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Street Stories 22: The broom maker


Thomas J Harbutt, from the Harbutt family history, courtesy Keith Salmon

In 1876, Thomas Jefcoate Harbutt and his familyarrived in Auckland via the Hero. An ironmonger by trade, he was born in 1830, in North Shields, Northumberland. By his first wife, Elizabeth Leslie, he had two sons and two daughters. Elizabeth died in 1864, however; Thomas remarried, this time to Annabelle Jennings in 1867, and the family then moved to the island of Jersey. Three more sons were born there, along with two daughters. The family apparently returned to Northumberland briefly: an illuminated address was provided to Harbutt in 1875 following the announcement of the leaving his native land for the distant colony.

August 12. — A farewell dinner was given in the Albion Hotel, North Shields, to Mr. T. J. Harbutt, who was about leaving his native town for New Zealand, when a splendidly-illuminated address, in a large gilt frame, was also presented to him. It contained at the top striking portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Harbutt, and
bore the following inscription : —

Thomas Jefcoate Harbutt, Esq.

Respected and dear Sir, — We, the undersigned tradesmen of North Shields, beg your acceptance of this address, on the occasion of your leaving this country for New Zealand, as a token of our personal regard and esteem, and as a mark of our appreciation of your unswerving integrity, untiring energy, and amiability as a man of business, which have not only caused you to be endeared to, and respected by, all with whom you have come in contact, but have also been very materially the means of improving the commercial position of this your native town ; and also as indicating our earnest hope that, in your new sphere of labour, you may meet with the success which cannot fail to crown the efforts of one who has given such proofs of his energy and attainments. 

Much of the personal information on the Harbutts comes from a series of family trees published on Rootsweb, a set of pages which provided answers to the origins of a number of streets in what was once Harbutt's Estate in Mt Albert.

On arriving in Auckland, the family initially settled in a store at Shortland Street, where Harbutt set himself up as a general grocer.



 Auckland Star 27 April 1876


WANTED, for the Brush Trade, three or four young Girls; also one or two Drawing hands; 1s 2d per lb. given for horse hair.—Thos. J. Harbutt, Brush Manufacturer, Shortland-street.
AS 18.10.1876


But soon, he started to specialise.


Auckland Star 14 April 1877

He shifted his brushware manufacturing business to the corner of Victoria and Kitchener Streets (or Coburg Street, as the latter was known in the days before World War I). At some point in 1877, he purchased land at Devonport, called "Rosebank", and set up the family home, father to two more sons and daughters each -- although here is an ad were at least part was up for letting.
To Let immediately, “Rosebank," the well-known Tea and Strawberry Gardens, six-roomed House, outhouses, and 4 acres of first-class volcanic soil.— Apply to Thomas J. Harbutt, Brush-works, Victoria-street.
 AS 25 August 1877



 Auckland Star 11 September 1877

Harbutt did extremely well with his business. Locally manufactured brushes and brooms, using both local (horsehair and wood for example) and imported raw materials were of course cheaper than the imported versions from either Australia or as far afield as America or England. He apparently sold his products wholesale to the likes of hotel chains, for example -- and here, he had done well, setting up business just as the likes of John Logan Campbell, Louis Ehrenfried, Hancocks Brewery and the Seccombe family were on the rise and accumulating their hospitality empires.

Upon the manufacture of brushware "Veritas" writes "Sir, —I was sorry not to observe amongst the exhibits at the Pastoral and Agricultural Exhibition of local industry brushware, now so well made here, and on asking the manufacturer I was informed that the support and patronage given to his goods, admitted quite equal, if not superior, and as cheap as imported, is so small that he is thinking of leaving, and has already had to discharge a number of hands, many of them after learning a new trade; this is greatly to be regretted because this industry has given employment to a number of girls and boys, and must tend to develop local talent. I trust, sir, the trade will do all they possibly can to encourage Mr Harbutt's manufactures, and retain this industry within the province his goods being admittedly better and cheaper than imported." 
 AS 10 November 1877 

NOTICE 
THOS. J. HARBUTT 
Has pleasure in intimating to his friends, Wholesale Merchants, Importers, and the Trade generally, that it is not his desire to change his locality, nor give up the Wholesale Manufacture of Brushes now carried on in Coburg-street, Auckland, but rather, from the very hearty expressions of sympathy and support which more recently has been given him, his firm determination is to keep pegging away, and with health and continued perseverance, to wait patiently the good time coming. The industry has taken good root, and he feels sure will not need transplanting. This notice he feels is due to the trade, as from a recent friendly paragraph in the public papers it might appear he had definitely decided to leave, and this might operate against him in their future orders. His best efforts are being put forth to make his Manufactured Goods a success, and equal to anything in the market, and he never was better prepared to receive and execute all orders entrusted to him, T.J.H. would take this opportunity of announcing that he intends gradually adding the Wholesale Manufacture of Painting Brushes, Household and Market Baskets, &c, &c, in addition to the Household Brushes now made in his commodious premises, Coburg-street, Auckland. 

AS 30.11.1877 

The Wellington Post notice the receipt by Mr Jeffs, of a sample of brushware, manufactured by Mr T. J. Harbutt, of Auckland. The Post says “They are really a first-class sample, and the prices are extremely low—about two-thirds the price of English goods." 

AS 30.3.1878 
Hundredth Trip of the s.s. Hero.
PRESENTATIONS TO CAPT. LOGAN AND PURSER COGSWELL.
A LARGE number of the most influential citizens assembled in the large room of the Insurance Buildings this afternoon, to witness and assist in the presentations to Captain Logan and Mr Cogswell, of the s.s. Hero, which steamer has just concluded her 100th consecutive passage to this port … His Worship read a letter from Thomas B. Harbutt, dated from the Brushworks, in which he begged to forward a coat-brush as a token of his esteem for Captain Logan, and stated that when he came here two years ago with Captain Logan he little thought that he would be able to present such a specimen of local industry. (The brush is very beautifully made, is engrossed with Captain Logan's name, and will do great credit to Auckland's industries.)
AS 3 April 1878
 
Knowing the admirable character of Mr Harbutt's establishment we have much pleasure in giving publicity to fill in an omission from our report:
"Dear Sir: I seem to have been unfortunate in not attracting the notice of your reporter at the late Cambridge Show. The "Herald" gives me three words, but you ignore my existence, which we little manufacturers feel sore about. You can do good service to such by a word in season. I employ now above 35 hands, young and old, and send goods all over the country, but I want the home trade here as well, yet find it the more difficult to secure, although the goods are acknowledged to be of value. I intend to show at Ellerslie Exhibition, when probably he may have a better opportunity of judging.—Yours respectfully, Thomas J. Harbutt."
AS 28 October 1878

(Second annual show by Auckland Agricultural and Pastoral Association) Brushware.—Mr T. Harbutt exhibited upwards of 50 varieties of brush ware and secured 1st prize. 

AS 14.11.1878 
Melbourne Exhibition 1880
Harbutt, Thomas J., Wholesale Brush Manufacturer, Victoria-street, Auckland— Brushware, made of bristles, hair, fibre, whisk, &c.; made by persons taught the trade within the last four years. 
 AS 20.10.1880


Thomas Harbutt was, it would seem, among the first, if not the first of the late Victorian employers in the city to institute the great tradition of the age, the Company Excursion.

We were glad to see that Mr Thos. J. Harbutt, brushmaker, on Saturday last set a very good example to the employers of Auckland in giving his employees an invitation to spend a day with him at the North Shore, which was responded to in a very unanimous and hearty manner. The party had a line and delightful day of it. They commenced their day's pleasure by leaving Auckland in the 10.30 boat, and after enjoying the pleasant trip across, assembled at the Devonport Hall, specially engaged for the purpose, and ridding themselves of their surplus clothing, started off for a ramble. After a pleasant walk upon the beach, and climbing hill and rock, they returned to the hall, to find that in the interval busy hands had been at work to meet the demand of their keen appetites. The hall had been tastefully decorated, and the tables bore evidence of a full supply of good things. Dinner over, off they went attain, evidently bent on enjoying themselves, and engaged in racing, cricketing, &c, returning to the hall at six for tea, to find that there was still a plentiful supply. After tea, the hall was lit up, and a number of musical pieces, duets, &c, were gone through in a very creditable style. During the evening a variety of games were played, and before breaking up a very warm and hearty vote of thanks was awarded to Mr Harbutt and family for the very excellent manner in which they had entertained their guests. After spending a pleasant day, the party returned to the city by the 9 o'clock boat. This is the first annual gathering of the kind in the trade, and we hope it will not be the last; for it must be gratifying to all to see such a good understanding between workpeople and employers. 

AS 4.11.1878

Three years later, he was the chairman for the inaugural meeting of the Devonport Steam Ferry Company, and served on the board of directors. (AS 9.3.1881)

Auckland Star 3 October 1881

In September-October 1881, he changed his business once more. Selling off the brushware manufacturing side (AS 1.10.1881), he concentrated, from that point until his death, on brooms. Specifically, brooms made from American broom corn.


Auckland Star 3 October 1881 

I wondered what on earth would have been the reason to discard around 50 product lines, items which were used in those days to clean debris and dust in flour mills, other factories, hotels, shops, the domestic household ... just for brooms? The answer? Brooms were  more profitable by far.
… in the last year the country imported… brushware and brooms, £17,675. Of this last item, a large portion is for articles of the broom class, which could be very easily produced at home— the cultivation of the "broom corn" as a regular crop being a profitable occupation for the farmer, extensively followed in the United States, and now being introduced into New South Wales, and the manufacture of the brooms from this material a very simple process. 
 BOP Times 23.12.1879

He did add to the broom product lines, however, something called a "combination scrub and mop wringer."
PRELIMINARY ANNOUNCEMENT THOS. J. HARBUTT has pleasure in announcing to the public and his numerous Business Friends that he has joined MR A. EASTON in his PATENT COMBINATION SCRUB AND MOP WRINGER and will, in the future, carry on the wholesale manufacture of the same, at his Corn Broom Factory, Basque Road, from whence all orders will be promptly attended to. Patents have been scoured for the whole of New Zealand, as well as Victorla. New South Wales, England, America, &c. December, 1885. 
 AS 2.1.1886

Thomas Harbutt becomes the focus of this particular Street Stories post from June 1883, when he purchased just over 31 acres of land on Allotment 58 in Mt Albert from Bombay farmer Wright Lindsay. The land was split into two parts, thanks to the Kaipara Railway line which was opened in 1880. Three acres of future residential land fronting New North Road was separated from a farm of just over 28 acres, which came to be known as Oakleigh (after, I'd say, the Oakley Creek forming one of the boundaries. Oakleigh wasn't all that original though -- the other "Oakleigh" was in Waterview, beside the Star Mill site, known by that name from the late 1870s.)

There, Harbutt built a residence -- possibly at around No. 4 Woodward Road today (more later this post), and fathered still more children: three more daughters and a son.


Diagram from NA 36/177, LINZ records, crown copyright

Those who travel to Mount Albert cannot but be forcibly struck with that dangerous railway crossing at Morningside. It is somewhat singular that Mr Harbutt, at the recent meeting of the Mount Albert Highway Board, pointed out this danger, and urged that a bridge be constructed. The people will be somewhat aroused now to hear that yesterday morning, at about a quarter to nine, Mr Harbutt’s son had a narrow escape at that place. He was riding to town, and on coming up to the crossing and seeing the train, he at once drew back about 20 yards to allow it to pass, but as soon as the train came up, the horse was frightened, and instead of backing, he rushed forward to the train. The boy kept him back as much as he could till the train passed, when the horse bolted after the train, and came up so close that a carriage struck it a blow upon the leg, but not doing much injury. The boy and horse had to leap about 10 feet, which just saved them from a horrible death. It is time the railway authorities rectified this matter, or in the future some fearful accident may be recorded. 

AS 28.10.1884 

Initially, it appears that Harbutt used the 28 acre farm to raise income from it through renting or leasing.

TO LET The Oakley Dairy Farm at Mount Albert, now occupied by Mr R. J. Souster, containing 28 acres of good Land, and valuable water supply. The live and dead stock to be purchased at a valuation, for Cash.— Full particulars can be obtained on application to Mr T J Harbutt, Eden Terrace, or Mr F. A. White. Queen-street. 

AS 16.11.1887 

It was described in a later ad as a “first class farm, 4 miles out, 28 acres, volcanic, fine creek, 8-roomed house and outbuildings."

AS 12.5.1888 



Auckland Star 14 August 1883 

In 1883, Thomas J Harbutt introduced his "Kapai" brand for the corn brooms he manufactured, importing the raw material from America, via his son Lawrence who lived there in the early and the late 1880s (one of Lawrence's children, however, was born in Auckland in 1885). Lawrence (1861-1937) appears to have written a pamphlet which met with some interest from Queensland -- part of his father's efforts, I would say, to save money, make more profit, and pay less for importing broom corn from a closer source.

"Hints for the Culture of Broom Corn,” by L. Harbutt, Kapai Corn Broom Factory, Auckland, N. Z., is the title of a pamphlet which gives all that is to be said upon the subject it treats of. Broom corn grows in Queensland quite as readily as any other sorghum, and there is no reason why its manufacture should not become one of our industries. Mr. Harbutt has established a factory at Auckland and is prepared to buy any quantity of the broom-brush from Queensland growers at from £16 to £30 per ton for good samples, and a higher price for choice parcels. We should be glad to see him come over to Queensland and start a similar factory here, for most assuredly he could by a little publicity of his intentions obtain any quantity of brush to work upon. In the United States there are no less than 625 factories engaged in making brooms and whisks, employing 5206 hands turning out brooms to the value of $6,600,000 annually. We have in past years referred to this subject and given instruction as to the method of growing the plant and preparing the broom, but we shall avail ourselves Mr Harbutt’s pamphlet to again, in an early issue return to the matter. In the meantime we would mention, upon the authority of Mr James Warner, Survey Office, Brisbane, who kindly forwarded us the above pamphlet that he has received from Mr. Harbutt a small packet of the right kind of seed, and that it will be sown in the garden of the Acclimitisation Society with a view to future distribution. 
 The Queenslander 2.7.1887 




 Auckland Star 14 June 1884

From 1884 to 1889, Harbutt was even a feature at Eden Terrace. Somewhere along Basque Road, just down from the Upper Symonds Street shopping precinct, he had his second factory.


Auckland Star 13 November 1884

From 1884-1885, Harbutt gradually withdrew from his Devonport property and sold bits off, as he increasingly made Mt  Albert his home.

NZ Map 4497-6, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries


Auckland Star 13 November 1886

Things weren't easy for Harbutt from the late 1870s, as the Long Depression began to bite, however. As seen above, there were rumours early in the piece that he might have packed up his business altogether and left, due to circumstances. In 1886, he appealed to the City Council against rates demands he had some difficulty meeting due to cashflow problems (AS 15.1.1886). Later that year, things came to a head, and he let some of the leases go which he had built up around the city.

Still, what was the product contribution made by the 16-year-old Sydney, Thomas' son, to the Sunday School Industrial Exhibition of 1886? I think you would have guessed -- brooms. (AS 23.11.1886)


Auckland Star 27 February 1889


In 1888, Thomas Harbutt moved back to the city, and the following year set up the Kapai Corn Broom Company -- a firm which was to last into the middle of the 20th century, well past the founder's lifetime.


Auckland Star 22 October 1890


Kapai Corn Broom Company shed near graving dock, as seen from bottom of Hobson Street, early 1890s. Ref. 4-585, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries


The Kapai Corn Broom Company, Ltd. (Thomas J. Harbutt, managing director), Manufacturers of Corn Brooms, Bass Brooms, House Bellows, etc., corner Victoria Street East and Coburg Street, Auckland. Bankers, Bank of New Zealand. It is now nearly a quarter of a century since Mr. Harbutt concluded that the manufacture of corn brooms (known as ordinary American brooms) should be undertaken in this Colony, in order that the people might save the excessive freight on the imported article, and that the wages of those engaged in the manufacture might be paid and retained in the Colony instead of being, so to speak, sent away to America. In order that no loss might arise from want of knowledge of the industry, Mr. Harbutt sent one of his sons (Mr Lawrence Harbutt) to San Francisco to thoroughly learn the trade in all its branches.

This done, Mr. Harbutt set his inventive genius to work on improvements which seemed to him to be necessary, and he produces brooms of a quality which cannot be equalled by any over-sea importations. Indeed, considering the superiority of Mr. Harbutt's brooms over the imported corn brooms it is surprising that any of the latter should still come to the Colony. The output of the Kapai Corn Broom Company amounts to about 100,000 brooms per annum, and the turnover would be doubled if this first-rate local article were bought by the public. Mr. Harbutt was awarded the silver medal at the Wellington Exhibition of 1885, and a bronze medal at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition, London, in the following year, and these honours prove the excellence of his goods. Many other articles are manufactured by the Kapai Corn Broom Company, but only a few can be mentioned here, such as the spiral chimney sweeper, a long-handled cobweb sweeper, a long-handled scrubber for verandahs, dairies, etc., and the ordinary house bellows. All these and many others were recently exhibited at the Auckland Exhibition, where they deservedly gained first prizes. At present the raw material is imported, but it is Mr. Harbutt's opinion that at least a thousand acres of good land might be profitably set aside for the growth of the corn required by his factory alone. 


Assuredly the Kapai Corn Broom Company should be encouraged by all who wish well to the Colony, as only those who have watched the growth of the industry can form an idea of the energy and perseverance exerted by Mr. Harbutt and his sons in bringing it to its present state of thorough-going efficiency.

From 1889, Thomas Harbutt started making moves to have broom corn grown not just in Australia, but here as well.

Mr Harbutt, the well-known corn broom manufacturer of Victoria-street east, purposes bringing three of his sons from America to take up land at Te Puke or the Victoria Valley for the purpose of growing corn for the manufacture of brooms. At present Mr Harbutt has to import his broom corn from America, when the article might be produced locally. 

AS 22.4.1889 

PLOUGHING. 
Then, he may have considered that, as he had so many acres at Mt Albert, scoria dotted but still arable, he might give it a bit of a go there -- just to show the New Zealanders it was possible.

Tenders wanted for Ploughing about 10 to 15 acres Land at Mount Albert—Apply T. J. Harbutt, Corn Broom Factory, Victoria-street: or, at his residence. Mount Albert, before 9 a.m. 

AS 24.8.1889 

As a trial crop, Harbutt's Mt Albert broom corn turned out to be a success, despite some recollections handed down from descendants of the adjoining Woodward family that it failed. It certainly convinced Te Puke farmers that it was worthwhile to take part.

T. J. Harbutt, of the Kapai Broom Factory, Auckland, went to Te Puke last Friday week to ascertain the capabilities or that district for growing broom corn, of which his celebrated brooms are composed. He returned to Tauranga last Friday, and tells the local paper that Te Puke is extremely well adapted for growing this crop. He endeavoured to induce the settlers there to take up the culture, which many of them promised to do. Mr J C. Galbraith has agreed to assist in this direction. Mr Harbutt will therefore send some choice broom corn seed, brought from America by his son. Mr Harbutt recommends that settlers sow only a few acres as an experiment, and that the sowing should be in October or November. Enough seed to sow 40 acres will be sent to Te Puke, and along with it will be sent a corn broom planter, which puts in two rows at a time. 

AS 21.9.1889 

Corn Broom.—This industry is gradually making its way, several consignments of brooms having been sent South lately, and two during the past week. There is every possibility of this industry being still further developed, as a member of an American firm who has been on a visit to this city was so impressed with the prospects of the Corn Broom Manufactory that he has entered into arrangements to join the firm, and proposes introducing steam machines to make and sew the brooms. The millet itself is also to be grown here, two sons of Mr Harbutt having taken up a block of land at Te Puke and the land is now being prepared for the crop. That millet will succeed here was proved by a patch of 10 acres previously grown by Mr Harbutt at Mount Albert. 

AS 16.7.1891 



Auckland Star 4 August 1900

By September 1900, "Harbutt's Plasticine, billed as "the new modelling material for artists, schools, and home amusement: The Child's Delights", was available for sale at that most fashionable of retail outlets, Smith & Caughey's. (AS 11.9.1900)


Thomas Harbutt died in 1903.

Mr Thomas J. Harbutt, who died at his residence, at Mount Albert, yesterday afternoon, was a native of North Shields, where his earlier business experience as an ironmonger was gained. He came to Auckland about 28 years ago from Jersey, and introduced the broom manufacturing industry into this part of the country, establishing the Kapai Corn Broom Company, of which he was manager till his death. He was 73 years of age, and he had done service as member of different local bodies, such as the City North Licensing Committee, Mount Albert Road Board, and Mount Albert School Committee, besides which he was for many years honorary choir master of the Beresford-street Congregational Church. His death was accelerated by a fall from a trap he sustained some weeks ago, He leaves a widow, fourteen children and five grandchildren. His third son is secretary to the Auckland Liedertafel and six of the elder members of the family are in Australia. 
 AS 28.8.1903 

He also served on the board for Pt Chevalier School as well. (AS 19.5.1892)





"Mrs Harbutt", photograph by Herman J Schmidt, 1912, ref 31-69474, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Council Libraries
The image above from the Sir George Grey Special Collections is that of his T J Harbutt's widow Annabelle, who remained at Mt Albert, living at the corner of New North and Woodward Roads, until her own death in June 1928. For a total of 44 years, therefore, she was a part of the community at Mt Albert, often taking part in activities at the local Methodist churches. A man included in another photograph in the series resembles her son, Sydney.
Detail from DP 15058, LINZ records, crown copyright

The Harbutt's home appears to be the wooden house indicated here, in a 1921 survey plan organised by her son, Sydney Jefcoate Harbutt (1870-1956).


 Aerial from Auckland Council website, 1940

 It is possible that the large building in the above aerial from 1940 is the same one, shifted back towards the railway line, possibly to make room for the later retail premises which dominate the corner (once known as Harbutt's Corner) today.


Aerial from Auckland Council website, 2008

Hopefully, the Mt Albert Historical Society will be able to explore the possibility further, and see if it is correct. If it it -- this would mean the house is one of the oldest in Mt Albert, that although shifted is still on its original land, and is associated with a family with connections both to the local heritage of Mt Albert, but also significantly Auckland's commercial and industrial history.

Photo taken 26 April 2012



Detail, DP 18277, LINZ records, crown copyright

As far as the streets are concerned:

Harbutt Avenue: (DP 17247, 1932, named possibly by the subdivider, Sydney J Harbutt) Obviously named for the family.

Jersey Avenue: Sydney Harbutt's birthplace, along with five of his siblings. Sydney J Harbutt didn't live in Mt Albert -- he organised the subdivision of his mother's property from Otahuhu.

Newcastle Terrace: Newcastle, a main centre in the Harbutt family's home county of Northumberland. Sydney J Harbutt's grandfather, another Thomas, was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, according to the Rootsweb pages.


Jennings Street: Possibly one of the last subdivisions of the Harbutt Estate. Jennings was Annabelle Harbutt's maiden name.



Detail from Deed 1256, LINZ records, crown copyright

Also, even a bit of Avondale history is involved with this: in 1922, Annabelle Harbutt transferred (NA 31/176) part of the Oakleigh farm area to the Avondale Borough Council for use as a quarry (top of detail above). Another quarry site was in operation immediately below that as at 1924, apparently used by private contractors. These two quarries, plus a small part of the Woodward farm above at Allotment 60, and a strip of land fronting the Kaipara railway below, came under railway proclamation in the late 1940s.

Detail from DP 40792, LINZ records, crown copyright

Right through to the late 1980s, this area was earmarked as part of a proposed rail line linking the Rosebank Peninsula industrial area with the main Western rail line, to ease transport of goods and raw material from the peninsula to the rest of the region and the country. The rail line would have passed through what is now Harbutt Reserve, Phyllis Reserve, across Oakley Creek to Heron Park, then out along the north-eastern edge of the peninsula, through reclamations which also never came to be.


Aerial from Auckland Council website, 2008

Instead, today, we have the above named reserves -- starting with this one, Harbutt Reserve, mostly likely named because the main access is from Harbutt Avenue.

It would be nice to have a sign here about the origins of the name, the family, and the brooms.