Monday, April 30, 2012

War, water and birds at Western Springs

Seeing as I was in the vicinity on Saturday, heading for MOTAT, I took a detour in search of a plaque in the park.

The Council put this plaque up, actually next to the main area which had been a motor camp from 1933, an American rest base 1942-44, and an emergency house transit camp from 1944-1961. A pity only the rest base is commemorated -- the Western Springs transit camp was the first of the areas set up from 1944 by the Council to address the chronic need for emergency, intermediate shelter for the city's citizens (the one at Titoki Street at the Domain started later).

Anyway, here's a plaque at least. A bit sad for the wear, corroded in places, and right next to a loo.

There are still patrols here, in a way. These days, a black rooster strolls past, utterly unconcerned by either people of proximity to a children's playground. Nice bird -- I wondered where he came from. An escapee from the zoo?

Motion's Creek Weir, at the edge of Western Springs lake. No fishing.

Peering out from the green ...

... a pair of painted pukekos on the back of another loo.

The men's have cormorants ...

... while the ladies have another pukeko and black swans.

The day's weather wasn't all that clement, the feathered residents going to ground just before the showers broke. I thus headed off, back to my route to MOTAT.


  1. Me again, just dropping in to add some personal colour and reminisce about my dad.

    He was born in 1930 in the brown bungalow that is now in the middle of a caryard, halfway up the hill before the Great North Road/Surrey Crescent intersection. The house was built by his father, a boatwright from Portsmouth. His grandmother lived in the house behind, and his aunt and uncle lived next door. Great Uncle Bill was a chef for the New Zealand Steamship Company who left the sea in 1939 and taught my dad how to cook and manage a kitchen. Bill was called up at the start of the war, and dad as the eldest child took over the three family kitchens while his father drove the trams. The family women started working in the laundry at Surrey Crescent, with dad ultimately doing the buying every couple of days for almost 40 women who were too busy washing American undies to do the shopping. He delivered by handcart. Dad spent his earnings every weekend at the Western Springs camp PX on Hershey Bars and other delicacies, which he on-sold at school come monday mornings.

    He went to Mt Albert Grammer and won a scholarship to study Accounting at ATI when he was 15, but to his everlasting regret his mother made him go off to work to support the family, as a glazier's apprentice.

    I mentioned a few weeks ago that he hung glass in the MLC building, but he was also chorister in Uncle Toms Choir at the Baptist Tab, was married to his first wife Rose at the Tab by the eminent Dr Hodge, National Service conshie who did his time as a medic, reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant (and buried a bottle of illicit, confiscated Whiskey somewhere on the Desert Road). He and Rose had five children, moved out west to Ranui and Henderson before moving to Paerata to be the hostel managers at Wesley College, where he served under Hiwi Tauroa, who would become Race Relations Conciliator. He then became catering manager at St Cutherberts and had a catering business, doing weddings and other functions around Auckland. Rose died of cancer, and dad ended up marrying my mum, taking on her two daughters, and having me in 1977.

    In a couple of weeks my partner and I will have our second child, brother or sister to Charlie Emerson. I wish my kids new my dad, but its good to remember his stories so I can pass them on.

    Posted in memory of Hugh Alfred Carpenter. A Good Man. 24 November 1930 to 17 April 2004.

  2. Cheers, Jono. What a cool, cool comment post! Thank you very much for sharing these memories with us here at Timespanner -- and all the very best to you and your partner with your newest kiddy.

  3. Hello. I enjoyed reading this blog and seeing your photos. I have just added your link to my website post

  4. Hello Helen, I am an expat, a WA blogger, I am researching the Western Springs Transit camps where my mother spent a year or so living in the camp. I am writing an embroidered novel about life in that period of time. When visiting Auckland earlier this year I came across and have a copy of a 7 page document by Mr. C.J. Melton Clarke from the National Library. I am looking for information on life in the camp. If you could direct me in the right place I would appreciate the help. Rae x

  5. Email sent with text of my notes on the site.