You are on page 1of 4

May—June 2017

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

Musings on Avondale
and Waterview
by Bryan Trenwith

These days I look forward to my occasional drives through
Waterview to watch the progress of the wonderful civil engi-
neering that is changing the area by creating the new motor-
way interchange. I also look forward to seeing the new tunnel
boring machine which will emerge before turning around and
retracing its path back to Owairaka.

What a change from the days that are first in my hazy child-
hood memory of the area in the late 1930s. At that time
Waterview was a semi-rural area very much on the outskirts of
Auckland. The houses were cheaper there and so were the
rents. I lived in Fairlands Avenue which was unsealed with
power but no phone services. From memory there were 10
houses in the street. Mainly they were of almost identical
design being bungalows. That type of construction had
replaced the villas which were the typical of Auckland’s
earlier days.

The builder in Fairlands Avenue must have purchased sections
in various lots as they were spaced at intervals down the street.
Much of the adjacent area was still rural as there was a stable
and race horses were kept in the land behind our house at num-
ber 17. This land eventually became Tutiki Street. For many
years after the stables had gone a tethered cow grazed in the
Image originally courtesy Mrs Jo Marris
paddocks and Mr Hardley milked it twice a day.

The dominant feature of the area was the 1ZB radio mast which was at the end of Oakley Avenue. This was erected
after the first Labour Government had bought the station to be part of its Commercial Broadcasting Service. The
station had been a source of political controversy in the previous election and some of the broadcast talks by Colin
Scrimgeour, Uncle Scrim of the Friendly Road, were directed against the government. Scrim’s programmes were
eventually jammed by the Post Office on the orders of the Reform and Liberal Coalition Government.

All this controversy was well past by the time that I recall the mast set in the middle of a dairy farm which supplied
the area with milk. Each morning the milkman would arrive in his van and carry a pail of milk to each house. A billy

Next meeting of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society:
at St Ninians, St Georges Road

SATURDAY, 3 June 2017, 2.00 pm
The Avondale Historical Journal
Page 2
would have been left on the front verandah with it would be rotated down across the road when the
money beside it to indicate the amount of milk to be enemy approached.
left. From memory three pence a pint. The volume of
milk would be ladled out into the billy. Health and Looking down from the school the centre of the
Safety would have a fit if such a system existed today. Avondale Racecourse was for a time a sea of bell tents
Without any refrigeration the milk would have to be as an army camp was set up there. With so many men
scalded if it was to last the full day in the heat of sum- on the site the ground turned to mud and duck walks
mer. The advantage of scalding was that a thick layer had to be laid for access.
of cream could be separated off the top to be used as
required. It was at that time that I recall a platoon of new
soldiers marching down the Great North Road past
Telephones would not come into the street until well Crayford Street. There was a dentist in what I presume
after the war. Until that time if a call had to be made to be the site of the present first floor dental rooms. At
we walked to the nearest phone box which was outside the moment that the boys went past a dental nurse ap-
the Church of Christ which has now become the peared at the window. She was greeted by whistles
Avondale Lions hall at the corner of Great North and and shouts and she slammed the window shut in em-
Blockhouse Bay Roads. A supply of pennies was re- barrassment. The soldiers marched on singing
quired until I was old enough to tap out the numbers “Nursey Come Over Here and Hold my Hand.”
on the receiver cradle and beat the system. Eventually,
in the late ‘40s a party line service was established for However later in the war when our men were in the
the area. The Exchange was in the Telecom building main off fighting in Europe the Americans arrived.
in St Judes Street. We would have to listen for the Gone were the men in drab khaki woollen serge
Morse coded combination of long and short rings to uniforms and rather meagre army pay. In were the
identify our calls. smart cottons and gabardine uniforms of the
Americans and the possibility of silk stockings. Gone
There were also daily deliveries of bread from too was the reticence previously illustrated by the
Buchanan's Bakery in Eden Terrace. This was initially dental nurse.
delivered by horse and cart. The grocers also delivered
when required either by van or using a boy after Despite the stresses and loss of the war our soldiers
school with a bicycle. The grocery shops were all at a returned and Waterview was transformed. Jobs were
relatively short walking distance from each other and created for the servicemen with on the job training
they remain in various guises to this day. Daily making houses. They became carpenters, bricklayers,
shopping visits to the grocer were the rule. plumbers and electricians etc. The gaps between the
bungalows were filled by state houses. Looking back
By the time I started at Avondale Primary School in it seems strange that these houses were built without
1941 the war had begun. It was not long before the garages as it was thought at the time that if you rented
threat of a Japanese invasion was a real possibility. I a state house you could not afford to own a car.
do not think that many realised how close we came to
defeat and the extent of the damage done in Australia. What was open farm land became housing extending
Although it was known that Darwin had been bombed, in from Daventry Street. It is interesting that within
it was only after the war that we learnt that the town the last 60 years that this part of Waterview has
had been virtually destroyed by the air raids. Also changed from farm to housing and then infill housing.
there were bombing raids down as far as Townsville Much of that housing has now gone to make way for
on the East Coast of Australia and Sydney had been the motorway extension. In the future I imagine that
shelled by submarines in the harbour. Waterview will become a sought after location with its
great access to the city, airport and other facilities. The
To prepare for possible air raids we had special drills density of the housing will change again and it will all
at school. When the siren went we had to leave our be vastly different to the quiet backwater of the past.
classrooms and run to an air raid shelter. As I lived in
Waterview and it was too far to run home, I had to run
to one in Mrs Cunningham’s place on the corner of
Roberton Road and Henry Street. The shelter was a Editor’s note: the dentist’s office in the 1940s would
trench in the ground about which was about 1.5m deep have been the one over the chemist’s shop next to the
that was just large enough to sit down in. There was a old police station. W E Scott was the dentist there
corrugated iron roof over the top and that was it. around 1945. The present dentist’s rooms on Great
When the all-clear sounded we went back to school. North Road date from later in the century.

The thought was that the Japanese might land on the
West Coast and to delay their progress a “tank trap”
had been placed on the Whau Bridge. This was a large
tree trunk which stood vertically and the idea was that
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 3
Another unknown Soldier – Sailor, have been quite upsetting for him to have my
mother and three kids arrive to upset a long stand-
by Tony Goodwin ing routine. To my knowledge, apart from his bed
and board, he received no payment from my
Grandmother, and I surmise he was living on a
The article by Rich Afford struck a chord with me. war pension.
My mother returned with her three children from
Lithgow, Australia early in 1945, and we lived My memory of him is of a quiet, well spoken
with my paternal grandmother at 43 Alford Street gentleman. I related to him more sympathetically
Waterview. It was a large property, and had been a than other members of my family who were in-
semi-commercial orchard in the past, sending ap- clined to regard him as “a mental patient.” His
ples and plums to Turners and Growers market. little room was very basic, a small table, chair,
Apart from our family, and my grandmother, there and bed and a candle holder, no electricity. He did
were two adult cousins, both working in the city, have a “Red Diamond” crystal set, and spent
and Harry Dance. many hours listening to station 1YA.
Harry lived in the “back shed” [along with the Following the death of my Grandmother, my
lavatory]. He had a small room, curtained off from parents were quick to order him to find some-
the main shed which was the laundry and copper. where else to live, and I really felt sorry for him,
We had little to do with him, and vice versa. He but have no idea what became of him. I can't find
had arrived here from the Auckland Mental any record of his military service, but surmise if
Hospital where my Grandfather was a senior at- he was at Jutland, he was in the Royal Navy.
tendant. His background was vague. Apparently
he was shell-shocked due to his experiences at the The old shed was promptly demolished to make
battle of Jutland, and had lived with my grand way for a new one – but we still had an outside
parents where he helped look after the orchard. He toilet!
would light the stove 6:30 every morning, cook
his breakfast, which involved scraping his toast,
which was my signal to get out of bed. It must

Image from the Battle of
Jutland, 2nd Battleship

The battle took place
over the course of 31
May to 1 June 1916. off
the coast of Denmark’s
Jutland peninsula. It
turned out to be the
largest naval battle of
WWI, and the only one
involving a full-scale
clash among battleships.

Fourteen British and 11
German ships sank,
among other craft in-
cluding submarines.
over 8,000 men died,
and over 1,000 were
The Avondale Historical Journal

Page 4
The Camp That Never Was — the Turkish War camp at Avondale
by Lisa J Truttman
Recently, I had the opportunity to return to Wellington to So, in late September 1922, faced with the possibility that
visit the Archives New Zealand reading room there. I they would have to rapidly remobilise an expeditionary
didn’t have much time to get info on Avondale and force, the Northern Command of the Defence Department
Waterview files this time, but I had a couple of files on began to send urgent telegrams discussing where a north-
the wish list I squeezed in because I was intrigued by ern command camp would be set up. Initially, the thought
their title: regarding a Turkish War camp in Avondale. was to use Narrow Neck and the Takapuna racecourse.
But then, on 26 September, the Colonel-Commandant
For some background, I’ll direct quote from the NZ changed his mind. Avondale Racecourse had become
History website online: “The Allies were alarmed by the available, the Jockey Club advising that they had no race
growing strength of the Turkish nationalists in early meetings planned until April 1923, and Avondale provid-
1920. The British and French realised that the Ottoman ed both better facilities for the required number of horses
government would survive only if bolstered by Allied (why were they still contemplating the use of horses after
troops, but they had no forces available for this task – all that had taken place in WWI?) and cheaper options for
their massive wartime armies were already demobilised. the required transport of supplies (Avondale, of course,
That left the Greeks, who saw the crisis as an opportunity close to the City via the railway). The Jockey Club were
to gain more land in Anatolia. This action was the cata- in the process of extending their facilities, so a full-on
lyst for the conflict modern Turks know as the Turkish military camp at that time had more accommodation than
War of Independence … the earlier camps during the main war. The idea was
“Kemal and his generals gambled, correctly as it turned approved on 28 September.
out, that the Greeks would be their only military opposi- But — then things were resolved in terms of the interna-
tion … Finally, in August 1922 the Turks carried out a tional crisis. “With the British bluff exposed, all parties
large, carefully prepared offensive that threw the Greeks entered into armistice negotiations to officially end the
into a headlong retreat to the coast. All Greek troops war with the Greeks and allow for the orderly handover
were evacuated from Anatolia by 16 September. The war of eastern Thrace and the Dardanelles. This agreement
was over, but the suffering of the ethnic Greek civilian came into effect on 15 October 1922 and was followed in
population of Anatolia had only just begun. Violent retri- November by an Allied invitation to negotiate a new
bution was taken against them in the wake of the Turkish peace treaty at Lausanne, Switzerland.”
nationalists’ victory.
So — two half-forgotten files in Wellington are all that
“The final challenge for the Turks was to reclaim the remains of a camp that didn’t happen here in Avondale,
Dardanelles and eastern Thrace in defiance of the Treaty after all.
of Sèvres and the Allied occupation troops who garri-
soned the neutral zone of the Straits. In what became
known as the Chanak Crisis, Lloyd George tried to rally
the British Empire in support of armed intervention to Copies of Avondale Historical Journal and AWHS
prevent this. His cabinet baulked at the prospect of war, Newsletter produced for us by
and only New Zealand responded favourably to the call Words Incorporated, 557 Blockhouse Bay Road,
for troops.” Blockhouse Bay.

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