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Historical Society Incorporated

May – June 2004
Newsletter No. 11

details. It is an idea I had before the Regional Gather-
Avondale Railway Station ing last year, and seemed to be met with some ap-
Museum Proposal proval, unofficially, from the societies.
I’d prepare the newsletter, and send it out to historical
Attached to this month’s newsletter is a page pre- societies and libraries on a quarterly basis at most.
pared by Society member Jim Gladwin on his pro- The website is a simple matter of putting up on a free
posal for an Avondale Railway Station Museum. I’d host online, and then updating when required. This
like you all to read this, please, and get back to me or way, not only would the formal Societies have con-
to Jim with your comments at the earliest. This is an tact with each other, but we’d bring in groups like the
interesting idea, but I’d like to know if the members research team at Judges Bay, Blockhouse Bay Group,
of our Historical Society would like to get in be- and Friends of Waikomete, to name just three. I’ll be
hind this, and take it further with Auckland City and consulting with the Federation and other Societies
other agencies. shortly.
It’ll be brought up as an item for discussion at the
next meeting. Research/Conservation Projects
— Lisa Truttman Avondale Heritage Walkway
Dorothy Maddock, Alison Turner and myself have
Report to monthly meeting, attended another meeting at Council regarding this,
and I’ve written up draft text for buildings, notice-
April 2004 boards and plaques. Our photograph collection will
also be a contribution towards this project.
General Report We’ve contributed archaeological information to the
project consultant Jane Matthews and to the iwi con-
2004 AGM and Convention of Federation of sultant, Ngarimu Blair. In return, we were given a
Historical Societies copy of Judge Fenton’s Judgement regarding Orakei
Dorothy and I attended on March 20. The Federation in the 19th century, which has very interesting Maori
Committee appointed me as Delegate for our Society. historical background for our area. The project has
turned up that Avondale’s earliest historical event
We took down $250 worth of Heart of the Whau and may have been a battle fought on the Rosebank Pen-
Challenge of the Whau combined, and sold $125 insula at a place called Rangimatariki, on the penin-
worth. sula’s tip, around 1792. Dorothy has found an old
Otahuhu Historical Society speech map showing this place.
I attended their monthly meeting on March 22, and We will also be looking into the matter of having our
spoke on “Early Days in Avondale”. My speech was important historical sites put onto the District Plan,
well received, and I sold a further three copies of and the process of doing that.
Challenge of the Whau and two of Heart of the Whau. Oakley Creek history
I have two upcoming speeches this month, on the 15th Dorothy is still working on this. She presented a talk
at Anne Maree Resthome in Blockhouse Bay, and on on her progress so far to the Society, notes from
the 30th at Anne Maree Gardens in Coronet Place,
Avondale. (Since the meeting, I also learned of an- Continued overleaf
other speech giving I will do in Waterview, May 3)
Next Meeting of the Society:
Auckland Regional History Network
2.30 pm, 5 June 2004
I feel that it would be good if the Historical Societies
within our region had a newsletter circulating, advis-
Lions Hall, cnr Blockhouse Bay and
ing of upcoming events, advertising museums etc., Great North Roads,
along with a website featuring each Society’s contact Avondale
May – June 2004 Page 2
which appear here.
Gittos tannery history
I’ve collected up a considerable file of info on the
family and their tanneries (four that are known) here
in Auckland, two of which were in our area. I’ve had
conversations with Ray Kealey (President of the
Hunting for the History of Te Auaunga,
Blockhouse Bay Historical Society) and Murray Git- Oakley Creek.
tos (great-grandson of company founder, Benjamin
Gittos.) I expect to pull together an article/report on My interest in finding out all I can about the Oakley
this within the next month. Creek comes from being shown the maidenhair fern
Victoria Hall history covered, concrete wall, down in the bush, very near
where the creek passes under the railway lines. Ques-
My draft has been sent to Bob Hume in Kerikeri, and
tions on why this wall was there led me to the Central
shortly I’ll be in contact with Terry Whitchurch to see
Library, where I was shown White's aerial maps from
if we can arrange contact with members of the Rose-
1940 -- the first such survey of the city. It showed me
bank Reunion of March 2002 regarding their memo-
that the wall was an old pier to a railway bridge, but
ries of the church. This project is now the longest run-
that answer only led to more questions. So I am work-
ning one, started in mid 2001.
ing on a history of the creek hoping to find out more
George Maxwell cemetery about: (i) the industry which has taken place along its
The St Judes parish is undertaking work to tidy up the banks, (ii) the various crossings that have been con-
cemetery, but this will not entail reconstruction and structed. (iii) illness and death among those living
repair of the graves there. The Society has agreed to along the creek, (iv) the changes made to the creek's
support a letter to the Parish Committee, asking if they course.
would be amenable to forming up a partnership with The earliest industry along the creek seems to have
the AWHS, and quite possibly the Avondale Commu- been the Star Mill, which John Thomas had built, in
nity Board and Auckland City Council, to start a pro- 1860, on land he had bought, bounded by Great North
ject plan to restore identified graves in the cemetery, Road, Cowley Street and the creek. Two books on the
including those of historical interest. Thomas family have been written by Trevor Price and
Oral History Transcription Project there is much information in them, but it is in small
treasures such as a letter in the papers of historian A.
Following on from the success in arranging for fund- H. Walker, from "Auntie Carrie" which need more re-
ing to have copies of the Avondale Oral History Pro- search. Auntie Carrie, writing in 1958, tells of the
ject’s tapes placed at Avondale Library, I proposed days of Garret's tannery, which was in the converted
that the AWHS support an Avondale Oral History flour mill, when sewage from the Mental Hospital
Transcription Project, involving my liaising with flowed into the creek and of an outbreak of typhoid
Manjula Patel, head librarian at Avondale to organise fever which claimed a life. There must be more that I
a quote for the work to be undertaken, and then the can find out about this incident, as there is about quar-
AWHS applying to Portage Trust for the project’s rying along the Mt Albert side of the creek. When did
cost. The Society agreed. that begin and end? Where was the rock used? How
The AWHS would receive a copy of the transcriptions many quarries were there? The questions go on. This
for our research archives. Going by what I have heard study will be limited to the lower reaches of the creek,
so far of the tapes, this would be an invaluable re- from where I live, about a kilometre upstream of New
source for us, and for Avondale in the future. North Road, to its mouth, alongside the north-western
Avondale Whau River Walkways Booklet motorway. I hope to get some evidence of past activi-
ties from the banks of the creek itself, for example of
Friends of the Whau proposed to the Avondale Com- the exact whereabouts of Thomas's Star Mill. It will
munity Board last month that a working party be set take some time, but it is proving to be a really en-
up to look at format and funding for a walkways grossing project.
booklet for the Whau River area. They asked that — Dorothy Maddock
AWHS be included in that working party. More de-
tails expected after May..
— Lisa Truttman