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March — April 2016

The Avondale
Historical Journal
Official Publication of the Avondale-Waterview Historical
Society Incorporated

Trams on Rosebank Road, June 1955

As a number of folks know by now, when I can afford it I collect postcards and heritage photos. Mainly the former,
but recently on Ebay a collection came up for purchase, broken into individual pieces, of small photos taken in
Auckland of trams from near the time they ended here. I bought three, including this one. (The other two I’ve put
elsewhere in this issue.)
As soon as the photos arrived, I put the image online. To my surprise it was identified as having been taken just
down from the old Station Store at the Roberton Road corner, opposite the Layard Street junction, looking generally
towards the old railway station site. The trams were parked
up Rosebank Road from the terminus on race days.
Copies of Avondale Historical Journal and AWHS
A lucky find!

Next meeting of the
Avondale-Waterview Historical Society:
at St Ninians, St Georges Road
SATURDAY, 2 April 2016, 2.00 pm

Newsletter produced for us by
Words Incorporated, 557 Blockhouse Bay Road,
Blockhouse Bay.
The Society and AHJ editorial staff thank

Avondale Business
for their continued support and sponsorship of this

The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 2

An Adze’s Tale ...
Editor’s note.
My thanks to Don Gwilliam for the following article he sent
in for republication, one he’d submitted originally to the
Kamo Tales book last year (as seen below).
I’d thought it might be nice to try to get a photo of the piece
of greenstone his grandfather Mr Hall found near Blockhouse Bay Road. This would be an important part of our
district’s history. So, I looked up the online catalogue for
the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s holdings and put in
an enquiry as to whether I could pop by and photograph it.
It is an adze, officially, not an axe, something I was quite
happy just to mention in this opening note. Its catalogue
number is 56050, and it was gifted by Don to the museum in
2003. The museum’s archaeology curator, Louise Furey,
said it would have been used for planning or “adzing”
wood, and that it still had its natural surface, not ground
away for attachment to a handle. Not used for warfare.
However, because Don included the sentences “A weapon
to be reckoned with. There always was conjecture over how
many skulls it might have split to the brain in some far off
dispute,” Ms. Furey took that to mean that Don was saying
it was used as a weapon, and therefore she said that the
museum couldn’t permit an image of the adze to be shown
with the article while those sentences remained. I consider
that Don’s sentences only describe the discussion over the
years about the adze, not its actual use (Don and his family
are not, after all, archaeologists). Also, the article in this
form has already been published. To excise that sentence,
to me, would be a whitewashing of our heritage. Like it or
not — many items like this, dug up in the past, and
especially 19th and early 20th century Avondale, were often
speculated upon as to what part they may have played in
some forgotten battle. Rightly or wrongly.
I wasn’t even granted permission to quote directly from Mr
Furey’s email response to me, which I asked to do after the
refusal to allow the photo, so that correct verbatim
information from the museum experts could be published
The matter is disappointing. I won’t go into noting how
many instances the Museum still publish and display
incorrect information and speculation beside their visible
collection items, as I feel that would be too petty. What it
comes down to is — sorry, I tried to enrich this article of
Don’s with an image of the adze, along with further expert
info on it, but it didn’t work out.
As for where the adze was found—Don (in his following
note to me) described where his maternal grandparents
lived as being on Blockhouse Bay Road. Wises Directories
and the electoral rolls show that Henry William and Ada
Helene Hall lived on Blake Street (now St Judes Street), on
the right side from the Blockhouse Bay Road junction, from
c.1915 to c.1925, tenants of Eileen Elizabeth McLiver (who
also owned much of the land on the other side of the road
down to Chalmers Street). So the adze may have been found
somewhere just above where the railway station is today.

Dear Lisa,
You’ve done it again! Brought up food for thought and
information which has what I see as a possible link with
our own Avondale family. This time it is your article
about the mis-naming of the Te Kotuitanga reserve and
details of the Maori history of the area. Intriguing me is:
were the Hall family, and in turn the Avondale
Gwilliams, then finally myself, holders of a relic of the
ancient disputes or the actual canoe building which you
touched upon?
Enclosed is a short piece I wrote recently for a local
book of recollections, True Tales of Kamo, which was
launched November 2015 …
The little article doesn’t mention the site where the relic
originally surfaced. What came to me from my mother
is that my maternal grandfather, surname Hall, unearthed it digging a garden at their home of the time
near the Blockhouse Bay Road / St Judes Street corner.
The fire station was built across the road. My memory is
of the actual corner triangle being barren land with a
colonial house, where the Halls presumably lived, being
fenced from it. Guessing hard I put the date about WWI
to 1920s. The Halls later moved to a transitional villa/
bungalow, with a distinctive arched verandah, next
down from the landmark two storied grocery on the
Rosebank/Roberton corner.
By my mother's telling it must have been a hundred
years ago that the grandfather I never met, digging his
garden plot, unearthed the Greenstone head of a Maori
axe. A rather nice example oozing with evidence of
months of painstaking care and dogged workmanship.
One side was fully polished and the cutting edge keenly
honed. Much of the other side hadn't had as much time
lavished on it, but had been ground away to form a nest
for a stout handle to be lashed on. A weapon to be reckoned with. There always was conjecture over how many
skulls it might have split to the brain in some far off
This little publication is meant to deal with Kamo district. When I tell you that the relic came from the earth
to again see the sky in Auckland's Avondale, readers
will decide it has little relevance to Northland and I've
lost my way. But I haven't. One way or another the
Greenstone Axe, which is what the family called it,
found its way into my mother's keeping. No one held it
to be of much importance and the thing simply kicked
about, living in this drawer or that cupboard, acknowledged , but hardly revered or respected. Except that I at
least would admire the workmanship, ponder its history
and as I got to learn more of geology, wonder of how
the original chunk of Pounamu travelled to Auckland,
possibly from the west coast of the far south.
Eventually with death and resettlement the Avondale
family home had to be broken up. Rediscovered in the

The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 3
throw out the axe came home with me to Kamo. I confess I was no better custodian than anyone else had
been, the piece being shuttled place to place and at
times had I been asked where it actually was the reply
would have been, "Um, I will need to have a rummage."
But all that was to change, and abruptly too.
Our neighbours were a Maori family and the father had
considerable standing in his own Far North community.
At one time we became aware of night time meetings
attended by many visitors. Now and then came chanting, digging and probing of their section and what
seemed to be a spiritual service being performed. My
wife enquired, to learn that one of the children had become ill. Pakeha medicine and treatments had been of
no avail. A Tohunga had been consulted and he had
been working to find a remedy.
And he had discovered the cause of the distress. He was
seeking a piece of Pounamu which had no right to be
anywhere near Kamo.
We said nothing, but felt devastated. The right action of
course would have been to explain that the likely problem lay with us and was in our house. Should I have
shown the Tohunga so he could do what he needed to?
Instead I scurried about, secured and moved the axe.
Perhaps it had sensed harm in the air of its own accord
and subdued it? As quickly as the illness had come it
went away. The child came well and the family rejoiced.
All along I had been uneasy that I was not the most suitable custodian for the axe. I respected the lovely, unlovely thing and concluded it would be more comfortable amongst similar artifacts, available for any serious
student of our slowly melding nation to learn from and

understand. Because the relic came from Avondale soil
and hopefully someone in that district would unravel its
history or at least link it with battles or cultivation there,
I passed it to the Auckland Museum. The accession
certificate duly turned up.
Me? I've learned that legend and some beliefs are possibly way beyond my understanding. They might well be
great truths.
Don Gwilliam.
13th April 2015

Fun Nights at the Avondale RSA
Dance Hall, 1948
Dear Lisa
Your article in the A vondale Historical Journal of May/
June 2015 about the Avondale RSA Club brought back
memories of 1949/50s. After leaving Avondale College
at the end of 1948, I met my husband-to-be, Jim Jones
who lived at Blockhouse Bay, and together with his
brother Ron and his wife to be Olive Jones (no relation),
we used to go to the dances at the RSA. Olive lived with
her parents, Laurie and Berta and sisters Betty (Nancy)
and Marie Jones in a railway-owned house which stood
over the line and up the hill opposite the RSA, and we
joined many other young folk, mostly from Avondale
and Blockhouse Bay, as we trooped into the hall for a
night of fun.
Below: another of the tram images I purchased. This one
showing a tram on Parnell Rise, September 1955.

The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 4

From memory, the dances were held on Thursday
nights. Up on the stage, Gertie Hollier at the piano
pounded out the rhythm to the ever-popular Foxtrot,
Maxina, Gypsy Tap, 3-Step Polonaise, and of course the
Monte Carlo waltz, with prizes for the winners. Other
favourites were the Palaise Glide and Lambeth Walk.
Quite amazingly, when the music stopped at the end of
each dance, the hall became almost devoid of young
men as they dashed outside for a quick smoke or a swig
from the beer bottles they had stashed nearby in the buses. This was done pretty quickly, as the local cop used to
take a walk up from the Police Station when the dances
were held. Liquor wasn’t allowed in the hall.

Inbound tram on Queen Street, passing Myers Park (right).

pretty much standard fare at most of the dance halls in
those times.
It doesn’t sound very exciting when compared with the
activities young people have today, but to us it was a
really fun night out and we had good memories of those
simple pleasures.

As soon as the music started up for the next dance, the
boys swarmed inside again. After the supper waltz, we
moved into the supper room for a cup of tea, and round
wine biscuits, and either madeira or fruit cake. This was

The Avondale Historical Journal
Published by:
the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Inc. (since September 2001)
Editor: Lisa J. Truttman
Society contact:
19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland 0600
Phone: (09) 828-8494, 027 4040 804
Society information:
Subscriptions: $15 individual
$20 couple/family
$30 corporate

All the best,
Jean Jones.

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