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The Story of the Centre of Avondale

The Story of the Heart of Avondale is one told in the way of timeline, of events
happening, of people starting businesses in Avondale’s township, of others
formulating ideas to enhance their own lives or those of the rest of their

This project began in 1989, when I would spend my lunchtimes and after
work-hours in the City going to the Auckland Central Library and raking
through old Western Leaders, collected documents and maps, and photos. I
have had the kind permission of several library staff at Avondale Community
Library over the years, photocopying from their own local history archive.

I had intended to publish a history of Avondale, including Waterview and

Rosebank, in some format, in and around the sesquicentennial celebrations of
1990. But, with the Oral History prepared on tapes, and Ron Oate’s Challenge
of the Whau in 1994, I felt perhaps that I had little further to add, though I
noted that Mr Oate’s history ended in its detail at 1960.

However, I still collected what I term “Avondaliana”, Avondale collectibles,

information, photos, news clippings. My personal archive outgrew my initial
simple filing system, and now one area of interest overflows the others as it
will. I believed, and still fervently believe, that Avondale should have an
ongoing recorded history, a heritage for the future, for if not, when those of us
who have lived these Avondale lives of ours are gone – only fragments will
remain, whether of memory or of paper.

In late February 2001, I was approached by Duncan MacDonald, chairman of

the Avondale Business Association, to initially prepare a timeline summary of
Avondale’s history. After a time, given that I said that such was a huge task,
he asked if I’d be prepared to put together a history of the Business
Association. But the story of the Association is linked to and part of the story
of Avondale Central itself – that relatively small area bounded by Henry St to
the north, and just past the Hollywood Cinema, including St Jude’s St, the top
of Wingate St, Great North Road almost to the creek, Rosebank Road “East”
and part of Rosebank Road “West” down to Highbury St. It is an area of
coverage set by myself – while the Mainstreet Project is prominently in the
latter part of this history, it is not just about the Mainstreet of Avondale, the
Great North Road.

From March 1 2001 I began compiling my information from all sources I could
find, and from across all eras. I have discovered that I am not the only local
history buff out there, and have had the appreciated help of dozens of people,
businesses, and institutions. In September 2001 I started publishing the bi-
monthly Avondale Historical Journal, which kept up interest in the project, and
in the notion of starting a local Avondale-Waterview Historical Society. This
latter goal came to fruition on 5 June 2002. To date the Historical Society is
still going strong.

Some notes about the text:

I have used the abbreviation “ABA” throughout most of the text, in substitution
for “Avondale Businessmen’s Association” (pre 1990) and “Avondale
Business Association” (post 1990).

About currency: in the old currency, pre-decimalisation in 1967, 12 pennies

equalled 1 shilling, 20 shillings equalled 1 pound. I don’t try to “decimalise” the
older currency to make it easier for readers today to understand the worth of
items, buildings, wages etc, because simply doubling as they did in 1967 for
the changeover is silly when it comes to the cost. For example, that of the
Public Hall: £97 = $194? What does this mean really? It means very little,
when you look at average wage figures for 1867. The working man would be
lucky to earn that amount in a year, perhaps four years. This would make an
equivalent cost more like around $112,000. Historic works simply doubling
older currency are a particular bugbear of mine.

About the clip-art illustrations: most come from the archives of, an American website on the Internet which usually
charges for access to their material. They are meant to be here only to
represent a part of the spirit of the times related here. If some do resemble
Avondale and her locals, I’m glad. But I hope that the very least they do is
help you imagine the way things were.

If you see an error on reading this, please let me know. Even with the
geographic limitation set, this could never be the definitive and complete
history of the area. Feel free to contact me at the address of the Historical
Society. I hope to continue to put out articles and updates on information
coming to light.

I hope you enjoy Heart of the Whau.

Lisa J Truttman,
Avondale resident since 1963,
President, Avondale-Waterview Historical Society
July 2003.