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Newsletter for the Point Chevalier Historical Society

No. 56 November 2017

(Above) The W aterview Interchange, as it was on 13 A ugust 1956 the start of the Northwestern motorway, now
State Highway 16 to the left, Pt Chevalier and Great North Road to the north, from Oakley Creek bridge. 1370-280-
9, New Zealand Herald Glass Plate Collection, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.

All meetings 10.30 at 990 Great North Road, Western Springs (Horticultural Centre)
16 November 2017 Ted Dickens and his experiences at the Auckland Farmers store
15 February 2018 Edward Bennett on the history of the local area.
19 April 2018 William Mutch on life in the railway workshops (rescheduled from October 2017)
21 June 2018 Lisa Truttman on the history of Dixieland
Other 2018 meeting dates will be August 16, October 18 and November 15

Next issue due out February 2018

Contact Lisa Truttman (editor) : 19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland 0600, phone (09) 828-8494
or email
Pt Chevalier Historical Society Come 1912, with Thomas Dignan in the chair, the
Minutes of meeting Thursday 16 August 2017 Pt Chevalier Road Board members were dead set on
Auckland Horticultural Council Rooms encouraging progress and development for their patch.
There were already proposals to widen Great North
Meeting started at 10.30 am. Present: 25 people Road through to Grey Lynn, to back privately-run
Apologies: June Golding, Dot Tasker public transport schemes between the beach and the
city and to build a direct road between their area and
President: the Grey Lynn borough across Meola and Motions
Paid thanks to Heather Hannah for her continuing Creeks. Their version, however, would have been fur-
support and to all the people who have supplied Lisa ther north than the Meola Road extension today. In
with photographs to use in the Point Chevalier Times. fact, it may well have taken on the name of Dignan
Tabled brochures from Auckland City Council about Road. A plan of the proposal, held today in Auckland
suggested neighbourhood walks. Council Archives, shows it starting at the end of
Dignan Road (dedicated early in 1912), extending out
Guest speaker: Goy Yelavich gave a talk entitled A across the mouth of the Meola Creek, tipping stone to
gum diggers Son create a bluestone-lined embankment with a single
channel near the reef to allow the water to flow, then
Meeting closed; 11.45am over the volcanic reef to more stone-filling for the
eastern embankment across Motions Creek to reach a
Next meetings point somewhere near the end of Lemington Road
Thursday 19 October. William Mutch will speak there was a road reserve at the end of the latter front-
about his time in the Railway Workshop ing the creek which appeared on the 1920s subdivi-
Thursday 16 November. Ted Dickens will speak sion plans, and may have been a carry-over from that
about his experiences in retail at the Farmers. 1912 idea. If so, Dignan Road would have stretched
from Pt Chevalier Road in the west to Garnet Road in
Meeting Thursday 19th October 2017 the east, and then the journey would have gone further
Unfortunately only seven members attended this straight down and along West End Road through
meeting so with the agreement of the speaker we Coxs Bay, then up to Jervois Road and on to the city.
decided to reschedule his talk to our meeting in April
2018. Those present enjoyed a good catch up and a What remains of official documentation of the plan
pleasant morning tea. here in Auckland is that tightly-folded copy of Marine
Department blueprint dating from 1914, kept safe in
an envelope along with two letters in Auckland
Council Archives.
Meola Road Extension the road
made on rubbish The newspapers early in 1913 wrote that such an idea
by Lisa J Truttman had been brought up for years before by residents, but
1912 was when it finally started to become more than
Meola Road: today, travelling west, its a fairly just something on the wishlist. The then Minister for
smooth sweep down a sealed road, past Jaggers Bush, Marine, Francis Frank Marion Bates Fisher visited
the playing fields, MOTAT 2, Meola Reef Reserve, Pt Chevalier in late December 1912, and expressed his
and through to Pt Chevalier Road. Before the 1950s, interest in the proposal.
however, things were quite different.
The Secretary of the Marine Department subsequently
Linking Pt Chevalier with the rest of the Western wrote to the Road Board: " In regard to the proposed
Bays by road is a concept that goes right back to the bridge across Meola Creek, I have the honour to in-
earliest colonial era maps of the 19th century, when a form you that the matter has had to be deferred pend-
Government Road linked up with Surrey Crescent in ing an inspection of the place being made by the dis-
Grey Lynn to the east, came down the slope to cross trict engineer, and the Commissioner of Crown Lands,
Motions Creek and Western Springs, then stop dead and for certain information required from the Mental
at Meola Creek. That was sorted in 1871 by creating a Hospital Department. I am now informed by that
new road heading south along the eastern line of the Department that it will offer no objection to the bridge
creek, linking with Great North Road. The old road crossing the tongue of land between the two creeks
became Old Mill Road, and the newer road Motions provided (a) that there is a clear passage-way under
Road. The forgotten almost-crossing is still a road the bridge on the Department's land, at least 15ft wide
reserve, the Motions Road Reserve beside the by 10ft high; (b) that there will be provision for pass-
Pasadena School playing fields. Had the road proceed- ing under the bridge into each creek through a span of
ed with a culvert over the creek, the road may well at least 30ft wide, with a clear space of at least 10ft
have eliminated the chance of a school being there at above high-water level, where the channel is deepest;
all. and (c) that it must be clearly understood that only the
right to construct and use the said bridge for the pur-
So, connection between Pt Chevalier and the rest of poses of ordinary traffic is granted. I shall be glad if
the bays remained considerably indirect. you will be good enough to let me know whether your
Board is willing to agree to these stipulations."
The plans apparently showed a bridge 19 chains in At this stage, I suspect that the bridge builder was
length, around of a mile, or nearly half the final Pt Chevalier farmer and contractor Herman Mattson.
length of the later Meola Road extension. The Road In 1904, he applied with plans to the Auckland Har-
Board and the Marine Department continued corre- bour Board to build a similar bridge across the Oakley
sponding with each other, the secretary for the depart- Creek (the one wrongly attributed these days to the
ment George Allport popping up to Pt Chevalier from Garrett Brothers, near the site of the Thomas family
Wellington to take another look in January 1914, and flour mill). Although there isnt even the traces of
confer with the Road Boards draughtsman/engineer documentary evidence that we have for the Oakley
Lockie Gannon. The plan was approved by Order in Creek bridge there is a possibility that Mattson may
Council on 28 September, and the Marine Department have had a contract at some time, either with the men-
wrote to the Road Board on 2 October advising them tal hospital authorities or with the Pt Chevalier Road
that it was all go, provided there was a 5 feet clear- Board, and he may have needed the access across the
ance between the underside of the bridges and the Meola Creek which, via Meola Road, gave him a
high water at ordinary spring tides. direct route between the lava field and wherever he
was using the metal.
Then, three days later on 5 October, the Minister of
Marine himself wrote to Thomas Dignan, then acting What we do know is that, by the late 1920s, the foot-
chairman for the Road Board. While he had tried re- bridge over the Meola Creek was considered to be old,
peatedly to bring the matter to a conclusion, with all it was used by Pt Chevalier residents as part of a
those at the Marine Department seeing no issues the shortcut, via Old Mill Road and Motions Road, to get
Public Health Department had expressed objections to Grey Lynn, and when it was raised in the press the
and, so it seemed, could not be swayed from their Auckland City Council engineer didnt say it was built
point of view. At that point the story of the Dignan by the old Road Board, or by them, but by a contrac-
Road extension ends. tor. In October 1928, at the behest of the residents
and yachtsmen of the district, the Council agreed to
Meola Road on the peninsula is even older than raise the small bridge by two feet, so that yachts could
Dignan Road, originally dedicated and constructed travel further up the creek. This was to be, had they
over the course of 1908-1909. Either around that time, but known, the first work on the line of the road to
or a bit before or after, some contractor constructed a become the Meola Road extension.
stone and wood footbridge that stood the test of time,
tide, and the increased water flows from the 1920s and Mayoral candidate Hubert Earle Vaile, at a speech in
1930s as Mt Albert and Mt Eden struggled to cope Pt Chevalier on 23 April 1929, harked back to the lost
with their stormwater problems by channelling flows Dignan extension project of 1912-1914.
down into the creek. No one seems to know who built
the bridge, set at an angle at the original end of Meola Dealing with civic schemes and policy, the candidate
Road, leading to the rocky lava field that had once strongly advocated the construction of a road from
been part of the first rifle range in these parts, and Ponsonby to Point Chevalier across Motion and
from the 1870s an income-earning reserve for the lu- Meola Creeks. If West End Road were extended to
natic asylum/Auckland Mental Hospital. Stone had connect with Point Chevalier in the vicinity of Dignan
come from there to build the Oakley Bridge culvert. Street the journey to the city would be enormously

Detail from plan SO

30611, dating from August
1939, showing the Meola
Creek footbridge. LINZ
records, Crown Copy-
(Above) From the Auckland Star, 15 May 1931 part of the first stages of constructing the causeway, building the
shortened bridge across Motions Creek. Looking west towards Meola Road, centre distance.

shortened and an extension of the waterfront road through to West End Road at Coxs Bay. That part
would be automatically accomplished. didnt quite happen today, of course, the main route
is to travel along Garnet Road to the top of West End
Vaile was unsuccessful in his candidature but this Road, where the earlier Dignan extension would have
seems to have got the City Council thinking. In mid taken the driver. But, that was just a minor detail in
December 1930, we find reports from the Auckland the enthusiasm everyone had for this brand new
Harbour Board where a plan had been submitted to Western Highway. In February 1931, Council
them for approval earlier that year to provide direct received approval from the Marine Department to
access between Garnet Road, Grey Lynn, and Meola proceed.
Road, Point Chevalier, by means of a roadway along
the foreshore. Approval was granted, provided that The work, though, was described in May 1931 as be-
the usual clearance of five feet above high water mark ing not one of urgency. At that stage, with the tip-
was included. Days later, the press had prominent ping continuing off Garnet Road, work began on a
headlines about the new western road and the smaller than was intended bridge at Motions Creek.
Meola Creek Causeway. Mayor George Baildon One just a third the size, to be followed (it was hoped)
claimed credit for coming up with the idea (Baildon by another bridge over the Meola Creek. In August,
had also been Mayor of Grey Lynn Borough during Council began moves to apply to take over the
the Dignan extension project, just before Grey Lynn Asylum Endowment land which was right in the mid-
amalgamated with Auckland City in 1913), and an- dle of the planned roadway. Memos described that,
nounced that, for around two years, the Council had possibly, they could put a rubbish destructor there, to
been tipping clinker from the Victoria Park rubbish take the place of Harkins Point, so the land acquisition
destructor onto the old Garnet Road rubbish tip with would pay for itself.
the ultimate purpose of forming a causeway across the
tidal flats. That may be but Council archive files The year 1932 arrived, and the work at Garnet Road
indicate that it was in July 1930 that the Works Com- continued. A letter written to the A uckland Star by
mittee asked the City Engineer to report on Baildons MPH chided those who were critical of how long
proposal. I think he got the idea from his political the roadmaking process in Auckland (including the
opponent. ideas for a Harbour Bridge) was taking.

At that stage, the cost of the road, 3380 feet long with Your correspondents on the above subject are in a
two bridges, 54 ft width with footpaths 6 ft wide, was great hurry suggesting to the business men who con-
11,000 to 12,000. Just like the Dignan extension trol our municipal affairs that the time is now oppor-
project, the intent was to have a direct connection with tune to put this work in hand. Why, this roading
West End Road in this case, a new road cut diago- scheme was put in hand in Mr. Baildon's time, also
nally from the end of what was then West End the Meola Road connection, and it is simply wonder-
Avenue (now William Denny Avenue) via Fife Street ful the progress that has taken place. I advise all
(Above) From the Auckland Star, 20 May 1936 the tipping site off Garnet Road, Walking upon it in its
present state, one feels like some Mogul emperor of fabulous wealth, treading a carpet strewn with gems

interested to visit Westmere and see the great stretch When a road is formed on it, the causeway will lose
of filling in that has been accomplished during the its only claim to beauty. Walking upon it in its present
past year with the army of men (one man, one shovel) state, one feels like some Mogul emperor of fabulous
at work and the motor lorry arriving nearly every day wealth, treading a carpet strewn with gems, for there
with a load of ashes. Mr Bush submitted the plans is less earth than glass, of every conceivable colour,
long before the War Museum was started, and the pre- splintered and fused into strange shapes by the heat of
sent engineer has kept the scheme well in hand. What the destructor furnace, and now sparkling like dia-
surprises me is that the carrying firms and the com- monds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, every precious
mercial houses in general have not insisted on this stone that ever came out of Golconda. Art contributes
proposed roading scheme being pushed on with, for to this unexpected beauty in such a sordid place as a
the saving to some of the firms would be enormous in rubbish tip with fragments of gaily painted porcelain.
one year on petrol and tyres alone, to say nothing of All these will some day be covered over by concrete or
time. If the Harbour Bridge Association could be per- asphalt. Utility is, however, the greatest contributor,
suaded to take the matter up they would be sure of with tons upon tons of empty tins, all paper thin from
their ground with a good chance of seeing something their ordeal by fire and rapidly rusting away. There
attempted and something done. are, too, mussel and oyster shells galore, as in the
midden of some ancient Maori pa, showing that the
In 1933, the hon secretary of the Pt Chevalier ancient taste for "kaimatai," sea food, is not altogeth-
Ex-Servicemens Club wrote to the Mayor asking for er dead. It will be no pity when these are covered
the clubs members to be considered for employment over. The road will certainly be a boon to the people
at union rates on the road project. But, by that point, in Westmere and Point Chevalier, who, though sepa-
due to lack of funds and lack of conclusions with the rated by less than a mile of mudflats, have to travel in
Government re the endowment property, work had a wide circle of about three miles to visit each other.
mostly ground to a halt. Some clinker was still used
for filling at the worksite, but most was now being Tyler, then City Engineer, recommended in August
used for the Tamaki Drive project by late 1934. Shift- 1937 that a road be formed along all that tongue of
ing over to use stone meant trying to access the reef tipped clinker, ash and rubbish off Garnet Road to
and that still belonged to the Government, and would form, ultimately, part of the causeway. As it didnt
mean costly royalties. link up with Meola Road at all at that point, it was
given the name Phelan Street.
Two years later, there was still no road bridge over the
Meola and nothing further happening on the Grey In August 1941, the Grey Lynn branch of the Labour
Lynn side, but that didnt stop the journalist from the Party wrote to the Councils Works Committee urging
Auckland Star who wrote this description in May 1936 that the road way project be completed. The City
from having a sense of wonder about it all. Engineer advised much along the lines as he did to
enquiries four years before filling was done only as Auckland City, provided the Public Works Depart-
material became available, and it was on his lists as a ment could retain rights to use the quarries there.
post-war project. Finally, by July 1952, the Meola Road extension was
deemed complete, and awaiting formal dedication as a
In April 1942, approaches were made to the Works public street. In February 1953, the Harbour Board
Committee requesting improved access for Westmere agreed to vest the tidal lands at Meola and Motions
pupils of the new Pasadena School. The City Engineer Creek to the City Council, but legal discussions over
described how the pupils made their way to the school this, and the amendment of the citys boundaries, con-
in a memo written on 5 May that year: tinued over the next couple of years. Phelan Street
was formally renamed Meola Road in March 1955.
Pupils from Westmere attending the School converge
on Phelan Street and use the uncompleted causeway The shipbuilding firm of Roy Lidgard Ltd put forward
which is being formed by the tipping of Destructor a proposal to Council in December 1955 to convert
refuse to ultimately connect Meola Road, the Reef Reserve to the north into a marina develop-
Pt Chevalier. From this causeway they traverse the ment once it had passed into Council control,
narrow roadway which has been constructed from dredging a basin just to the east, providing a big
destructor clinker for the passage of refuse vehicles hauling-out area for boats, service buildings, grids for
through the Councils property between the causeway drying out, a jetty for refuelling, a chandlery and a
and Motions Road northward of the Zoological Park. store, with a milk bar and kiosk There would be
From here they use Motions Road whence they gain parking for 220 cars on the peninsula, at least six
access to the School by a well-constructed footbridge tennis courts and a club pavilion. A small beach
over Meola Creek near the Zoo back gate This would be created on the opposite side to the boat in-
route offers fairly good travelling, as is evidenced by stallations. They contemplated a tree-lined avenue
the fact that some of the pupils are able to cycle over running to the marine base and possibly a motel on
its entire length. The only disadvantage lies in the one side, with the other side free for development.
narrowness of the service roadway traversing the Needless to say, this did not eventuate, and today the
Councils tipping property, a distance of approximate reserve is a mixture of dog park and passive walking
mile. It is of sufficient width only for one-way track.
traffic, and there is the possibility of danger to pedes-
trians and cyclists meeting the trucks which carry In 1955, the area of the original Garnet Road tip was
refuse and covering spoil for the tip. expanded to include most of todays site of MOTAT 2
and part of Western Springs College as the land was
The City Engineer recommended constructing a path- vested in the Council, to fill in the broken ground for
way from the causeway to Motions Road. By 1943, development. Another part of the present college site,
however, this work hadnt been done, due to wartime and the TAPAC arts centre, was set aside for car park-
labour shortages. Meanwhile, the Westmere pupils ing space for the zoo. The rest, a quarry reserve front-
continued to wend their way across the unfinished ing Meola Creek, was vested 1959-1963 with
causeway, tracks and footbridges to school. Auckland City and filled.

By 1945, estimates for the cost of completing the The following comes from the NZ Herald, 3 April
roadway to Pt Chevalier had risen to 20,000. Further 1956. Household refuse, which is mostly organic
work still had to wait for loan finance and manpower. matter, is buried by a bulldozer and covered at the
end of each day with ash, clay or earth. Baits are laid
In late 1948 however, some progress began anew. regularly to poison rats, and in hot weather, when
Now the City Engineer was A J Dickson, and progress necessary, spraying is done to kill flies.
was made at a rush, compared to the previous 18
years. Approaches were made by Auckland City Meantime men with practical minds, capable hands
Council to the Harbour Board for the right to reclaim and time to spare have proved that all that is dumped
parts of the seabed to form the road. The Public is not rubbish. At the Auckland City Councils Meola
Works Department, in charge of the reef reserve, and Road tip at Westmere one man who collected and sold
the Marine Department were also approached regard- on a general basis, earned 18 a week over a period
ing the reclamation proposal. The majority of the rec- of many months. Another who specialised in rags and
lamation was to the east, south of the causeway, form- old bags and sacks cleared 13 a week. Another who
ing what is today Jaggers Bush Reserve and the Sed- dealt only in scrap iron averaged 11 a week.
don Fields. Motions Creek was realigned to the east of
its former bed. This triggered the drafting of special The Meola Road tip has three well-known identities.
legislation, the Auckland City Council and Auckland At least, they are familiar to many casual salvagers.
Harbour Board Empowering Bill in August 1950 On five days a week they watch and wait for every
which passed the following month, on 29 September lorry that brings in rubbish, and experience has
(it also involved reclamation at Parnell Baths). taught them which lorries carry what and the kind of
rubbish that is worth sifting. Having gathered their
By November 1951, discussions were underway re- salvage be it bolts, screws, old clothing, leather
garding the handing over of the reef reserve to
waste or a hundred-and-one other articles they load and successful. Nothing wrong with that, the man
their pushcarts or bicycles and repair to their back- said, as he flashed a perfectly good shifting-spanner
yard depots. he had just picked up while looking for a lid for his
One elderly man was a regular customer. Tea chests, Look at that length of iron, he said, pointing to the
boxes and strapping wire went through his back gate ground a few feet in front of him. I know of one stock
as salvage and emerged through the front as bird- car in Auckland whose bumpers were made from iron
cages, which he sold to a city store. gathered here. See that refrigerator case over there
they make good coalbins, if theyre in good order.
A man with little spare cash was determined to satis-
fy his sons desire for a bicycle. He made frequent Another man not familiar with the comings and go-
visits to the tip and, by a deliberate process of collect- ings at Meola Road was quite alarmed at the waste of
ing and assembling was able to present to his boy a good wood, some of which goes off with the salvagers
bicycle complete in every essential detail. but much of it up in flames. It would be ideal for use
by woodwork classes at technical schools, he said,
Salvagers, regular and casual, can vouch for the or as fuel for fires in the homes of old pensioners.
lack of thoroughness in unpacking at some city stores.
One tipster found 12 brand new cups beneath a All-in-all, a visit to the tip leaves the observer with
layer of packing paper at the bottom of a large box; an impression of carelessness, waste and a dangerous
another a glass vase and a pair of mens shoes in a disregard for the most elementary principles of hy-
cardboard box. giene. The City Council sees a menace to health in
washing clothes in the kitchen, but not in scavenging
But the chief danger to health lies in the fact that from rubbish tips.
sometimes the scavengers are children and sometimes
they can pick up tins of fruit, fish and medical foods, By 1959, most of the tip to the east had closed, and
packets of aspirins and bottles of medicine the land was beginning to be redeveloped as sports
fields, after settling. Tipping continued at the western
A Herald reporter wandered around the steadily part into the mid 1960s, and on the reef reserve into
rising plateau at the Meola Road tip on a recent the 1970s.
afternoon and talked with a man who had been busy

(Below) Image from 4 March 1964. Looking west along Meola Road, W estmere, A uckland. 580-9660, Sir George Grey
Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
The Waterview Interchange, as it was on 13 August 1956 the start of the Northwestern motorway, now State Highway 16 to
the right, Waterview and Great North Road to the south. 1370-280-8, New Zealand Herald Glass Plate Collection, Sir George
Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. If you wondering about the lines across the image, some of the acetate nega-
tives in the 'New Zealand Herald Collection' have deteriorated resulting in image distortion., according to the library.

Membership of the Point Chevalier Historical Society

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the same household). This entitles you to vote at our meetings, and to receive mailed copies of the Point Chevalier
Send cheques to: Pt Chevalier Histor ical Society, C/- 119C Hutchinson Avenue
New Lynn, Auckland 0600
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