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Historical Society Incorporated

March—April 2007
Newsletter No. 26

Prepared by Lisa Truttman, President and Editor
Federation Conference 2007:
Welcome to an extended version of our normal Newsletter
this month. With the amount of news coming in just now, I
Pleasant Point, South Island
felt it was necessary to stretch out a little, just for this is-
I had a great time journeying via Christchurch heading
down to Pleasant Point for this year’s conference. The
Waterview Study weather was (mainly) extremely good — and getting a
chance to see some of the heritage sites in Christchurch,
It’s published! Pleasant Point, Timaru, Waimate, Fairlie and districts,
and Wellington was fantastic.
Many thanks to the Avondale Community Board for as-
sisting with printing costs for the first 50 copies. Distribu- Lifting some information on the conference business
tion of these to contributors, libraries, schools, Council from the Federation’s newsletter Keeping In Touch:
departments, Transit NZ, etc. is proceeding at the moment.
The phone has been rung off the hook with enquiries to “Saturday immediately after registration President Robin
buy copies of Jack Dragicevich’s book since we put out a Astridge opened the 36th conference, welcoming the at-
press release late in March. tendees to Pleasant Point. Brian Blanchard responded that
is was pleasure for their Society to host the weekend.
Copies are avail-
able at cost price, “Wynne HaySmith of Helensville made a presentation on
$28, plus postage behalf of our host 2008 Conference, Helensville Histori-
of $6 for one, $8 cal Society. Wynne gave a “run down” on what we could
for two. Or, you look forward to over the weekend of 4 -6 April 2008.
can pop into
Words Incorpo- “All settled down very quickly for the formal side of the
rated in Block- weekend, the AGM. At the election of officers all were
house Bay shops re-elected with two exceptions. The first was that long
and obtain a copy serving treasurer, Noeline Shaw, decided that after 16
from Brom there, years of devoted attention to Federation’s financial affairs
to save postage. that she would not seek re-election. The meeting noted by
acclamation her long term as Treasurer.
The Society will
not be making any
“The earlier resignation of Garry O’Neill from the Ex-
profit from the
ecutive saw Lisa Truttman (Avondale/Waterview) elected
production of this
to fill that position.
“The remit regarding travel costs from Waikato was
Primary School Reunion withdrawn as the Executive had appointed a sub-
committee to study this and report back next AGM. The
second remit regarding the marking of historic places by
The Avondale Primary School Reunion is on. The Soci- NZHPT was passed with an amendment that they, with
ety’s organising committee for this have been hard at work our assistance, investigate the possible management of
and done an excellent job with arrangements to date. Heritage Trails nationally. In business arising from 2006
there was a report from the Executive regarding the loan
Dates: 23 and 24 November 2007 scheme for publications. This has yet to be finalised but
Contact: Doris 828-0376 or Lisa 828-8494 for details and the “bare bones” are:-
to go on the registration mailing list. 1. That loans to the total amount of $6000 to be ac-
tioned – with any one loan a maximum of $2000. Other items ….
2. The loan be for publication costs only.
3. Maximum term is of 18 months.
It’s our 5th birthday this coming June. Any ideas as to
4. There be an interest charge of 5% per annum.
how we could make our June 2nd meeting just a little bit
5. There be a written loan form drawn up between both
more special would be appreciated.
Our guest speaker for June will be Ray Webster, talking
“When the loan scheme is finalized full details will be
to us about Kawau Island, its history and its present.
made available.
Some of you will have noticed that high fencing has been
“The AGM closed with a vote of thanks to VP Kenneth
installed around St Ninians Church building and ceme-
Stringer for acting as secretary.
tery at St Georges Road here in Avondale. This was
placed by Council in response to concerns about possible
“After lunch we explored the workshop, inspected the
contaminiation from lead used to paint the old building.
steam engine and observed the volunteer workers at Keans
As this building is Avondale’s oldest (erected 1859-
Crossing – the hub of the Pleasant Point Museum & Rail-
1860), the Society have been making enquiries at Auck-
way working area. Brian Blanchard then showed us some
land City Council as to what is to happen. We’ll keep you
old time movies in their cinema complex – we enjoyed
informed when we know more.
reliving Hop-a-Long Cassidy, Abbott & Costello along
with Selwyn Togood’s TV1 farwell presentation and the
Plans are underway for a Birkenhead Bus Trip later this
final trip of the Fairlie Flyer in 1968.
year, around October period. Costs to be advised in the
next newsletter. All those interested, please let me
“Afternoon tea saw us leave Keanes Crossing – some to
know— Lisa, 828-8494.
visit Richard Pearse’s Memorial and Hanging Rock Bridge
whilst others relaxed.
April Guest Speaker:
“A pleasant dinner was held at the Pleasant Point Hotel Ray Johanson,
after which we heard of a Rotarian project of building a Presidnt, Birkenhead Historical Society
small hospital in rural Latvia. Brian Kitchen (a Pleasant
Point member) has spent a total of nine months in Latvia Noters from his speech, reproduced here by kind permis-
as a volunteer on this project. sion.

“Sunday morning saw us all gathered at the Pleasant Point Birkenhead was a part of the very large Mahurangi block
Railway Station Museum where we spent a delightful hour of land that was bought by the government in 1841 from
viewing the exhibits (and spending at the shop!). Alf, who Ngati Whatua, and Ngati Paoa etc. This is still a con-
had given up his morning for us, loaded us aboard the tested purchase. It is claimed that some of the sellers
Model T Railcar replica and we traveled to Keanes Cross- were not the owners. The block was an artificial division
ing and back with a couple of photo stops on the way. of land, conforming to no logical tribal areas but drawn
together by surveyors working for the British govern-
“This ride concluded the official weekend and after fare- ment. Payment for the block was 400 blankets, 60 cloaks,
wells left on our respective journeys home.” 200 pounds cash, 60 gowns, 2 horses, 2 head of cattle,
200 pairs of trousers, 30 coats, 100 caps 4 casks of to-
Peter Blaiklock’s Bus Tours bacco, 6 bags of flour, 2 bags of rice, and 1 bag sugar.
This area was covered in Kauri trees and other native
Phone Peter or Jean to book: (09) 817-6268 bush in the hollows and on the hills reaching up from the
steep cliffs on the edge of the Waitemata Harbour from
Manukau Heads Trip Little Shoal Bay around to upper reaches of the Hellyer’s
Sunday 20th May Creek.
Meet at Iona Hall, Donovan St, Blockhouse Bay,12 noon
$21 each The main routes north were in these times from Devon-
port which was still an island with the main landing jetty
This is virtually, contact Peter or Jean as soon as possible. being opposite the Masonic Tavern, Stokes Point-
Car parking available at the hall. These really are an enjoy- Northcote, or to Riverhead and walking over land to Hel-
able day out, seeing the sites and chatting to friends. ensville. Crossing the harbour was by cutter or rowboat

for many years, in all weathers depending on the tide river as Birkenhead is from Liverpool, prior to this
where you were landed. Birkenhead was known as the North Shore of the
Waitemata River, present day Chelsea was known by
In 1844 following surveys, lots were put up for sale, in its Maori name of Wawaroa.
Birkenhead, Northcote and Birkdale. N.Z Co had op-
tions on large blocks of land, these were not taken up 1868: North Shore Road Board formed, very Northcote
and mostly was given by the government to the Catholic orientated.
Church. This was then sold to fund some of their
schools; Thomas Hellyers took over the area on the 1875: Census, 160 people living in Northcote and Birk-
edge of the creek towards where Glenfield is today. As enhead.
a sawyer, and also had a brew house.
1880: First Zion Hill Methodist Church opened.
Ships crews in long boats for fresh water supplies used
Birkdale lagoon. 1882: The first Birkenhead Wharf was built, about 100
yards to the East of the present wharf at this time there
1850s: Henry Hawkins was the first major farmer in the
was a very busy commercial centre on the roadside just
area. Starting a plant nursery.
above the wharf site. The slope of the road from the
wharf was very steep causing many problems for the
1853: Lt Col Robert Wynyard commander of the 58th
horses. Substantial additions added to wharf in 1888 by
regiment who later became N.Z’s 5th governor general
A.H.B. Present wharf was built much later.
was granted a 207 acres block of land for a payment of
207 pound seven shillings and ten pence; he later sold 1882: Phones came to the north Shore but not to Birk-
this land to Mr Cochrane. enhead we had to wait sometime to get ours.
1854: Inland Birkdale lots put up for sale. Very poor 1883: Chelsea Sugar works construction commenced,
soil… MAINLY CLAY. Bush to be cleared and land bricks were made on site, and there were 3 large dams
fenced. Not an easy task. for the water supply the catchment area is now the
Chatswood housing estate.
1856: Major Collings de Jersey Grut was granted land at
Duck Creek [CHELSEA]. He came out under the 1884: The paddle steamer Birkenhead was built for
Whittaker Scheme, and found that whilst they were voy- ferry Co.
aging out to N.Z. the rules had been changed, he had
expected to have the 423 pounds he had paid in fares Sugar works opened, this was a life -changing event for
converted to land on his arrival. This eventually was Birkenhead with a major industrial centre starting op-
granted and he took up the land in Chelsea. They eration in a rural community. They had their own 3
brought 5 servants, 2 cows, and 3 horses, and an enor- wharves. Raw sugar, coal, and passenger, and lighter
mous amount of luggage in mahogany boxes, a piano, slipway. There was a big settlement on the hill above
the family silver, and the most modern farm equipment the refinery with a small Church. They assisted many
they could buy. The family lost their 2-year-old girl by workers with housing loans on cottages in Birkenhead
suffocation with smoke while burning off green tea tree at very reasonable rates of interest. Over the years hun-
when clearing the land. He later sold to Edward Mat- dreds of residents worked there, many were landowners
thews. And moved north to Orewa, he and his wife are who tended their blocks before and after work at the
buried in Silverdale Cemetery. refinery, Ash from the works was spread on the local
1857: William Brassey farms in the lower Birkenhead
area. The Tizard Family also. Alexander Wilson later 1886: Birkenhead and Northcote Fruitgrowers Assn
leased this and William Thompson [Thompson & Hills- formed. Some of the crops grown were, apples (until
OAK BRAND] also farmed. They started to make jam hit by the codling moth) pears, peaches, plums, grapes,
in large amounts at their house in Hinemoa St when the water and rock melons, Cape gooseberries, lemons,
ferry service was disrupted with boat problems. The flowers, other vegetables, and large numbers of straw-
cannery business was later set up over in Freemans Bay berries were also grown in Birkdale and Northcote.
in Partnership with Mr Hill an accountant. Charles Fitz- Some growers set up a few small canning factories.
patrick farmed near Kauri point [Fitzpatrick Bay]. Some land owners also kept cows and poultry and pigs,
and horses were used before tractors arrived.
1863: The name BIRKENHEAD first appears in notices
for land sales held by Samuel Cochrane, because the Birkenhead Road Board formed.
area reminded him of his hometown, being across the

1888: The Birkdale wharf [now Beach haven] was built, 1959: Harbour bridge opens and ferry boat’s stop run-
this was large enough to drive a horse on and turn on ning to Birkenhead, and Northcote Buses started to dis-
also had a large shed and jib crane, Growers used to play CITY in destination and not wharf. Nowadays they
bring their produce here for transport to the Auckland show Auckland. Employed as a bus driver by B.T.L. in
Markets by the Bradney and Binns Co vessels. October. THOSE WERE THE DAYS.
The Birkenhead Borough Council was formed holding Chelsea sugar carted by N.Z. Express trucks, over to the
their meetings in Zion Hill Methodist Church Hall. city not long before a by pass was built to save traffic
Meetings were held at a time of the month to coincide going through Highbury shopping area, replacing the
with the full moon, as there were no streetlights and few sugar lighters.
Much of Birkdale’s land was sold for housing over the
1894: Birkdale School opened, Birkenhead pupils still next few years. Beach haven shops built and the start of
attended Northcote School. many sub divisions, including W.G.Archers, in Sunny-
haven Ave.
3-October: First phone service. Telephone exchange
located in the old Birkenhead South Post Office. 4 NEW primary schools, an intermediate school and
1901: Population had reached 1087, with 252 0f them
ratepayers. Roads were widened and tarsealed and footpaths laid.
The large drains were covered over.
1914: W.W.1. Many local lads joined up.
1961: Parade of homes held in Levesque St Birkdale.
1919: Birkenhead School opens, delayed by influenza
epidemic. 1967: Harbour Bridge extended to 8 lanes.
For many years after large numbers of state houses were
1920: First MOTOR CAR in district was a Citroen.
erected some land agents were anti the use of the name
1923: Beach Haven was surveyed sections sold from 40
pounds each …and was a very popular holiday area for
Auck City residents, very bad road access to this area 1979: Birkenhead Historical Society formed.
for many years.
Villa donated by Farrington Family. 1994: Relocated to
1926: A major milestone… Electricity was switched on Mahara Ave site, owned by North Shore City.
in the Borough.
1997: Farrington house opened.
1933: Birkenhead Transport formed still owned by the
same family to day, after buying out shares from local
Mid-winter lunch
and heritage visits, Tauranga
1934: Gum diggers were still working in the Verrans
Cnr Area. Water pipe line put across harbour from Pt June 2007
The Federation are holding a mid-winter lunch, along with
visits to some of Tauranga’s heritage sites, Saturday 30 June
1939: W.W.2 Commenced. Kauri point ammunition
2007. Cost is $40.
depot sited there because it was very isolated and had
deep water for navel boats. Over 3 hundred local men Mid Winter Dinner at Armitage Hotel 12:00 p.m. to 1:30
enlisted. Many never returned. p.m. Visit Monmouth Redoubt and Robbins Park 1:30 p.m.
to 2:00 p.m. Tour the Elms Mission House and the grounds.
1954: Contract signed to build Harbour Bridge. 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Visit the Mission Cemetery 3:00 p.m.
to 3:30 p.m. Tour Brain Watkins House and have afternoon
1957: My family settled in Birkdale from Northcote. tea 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
We lived at 41 Lancaster Rd surrounded by orchards.
Please advise if you are interested in attending.
1958: Mechanical unloading of sugar boats introduced
at Chelsea, horses and sacks still used for raw sugar un-
til then.
Next meeting, 2 June 2007, 2.30 pm,
Lions Hall.

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