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Newsletter for the Point Chevalier Historical Society

No. 57 February 2018

Image received via email from Benjamin Grubbe and used with his permission for the Dixieland presentation
during the Heritage Festival — shows the seaward side of the cabaret complex, featuring the ice cream counter and
bathing sheds. 1925-1935.

All meetings 10.30 at 990 Great North Road, Western Springs (Horticultural Centre)
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 March 2018

Contact Lisa Truttman (editor) : 19 Methuen Road, Avondale, Auckland 0600, phone (09) 828-8494
or email
Pt Chevalier Historical Society An Aerodrome beside the Point --
Minutes of meeting the proposal for Pt Chevalier Airport
Thursday 16 November, 2017
Auckland Horticultural Council Rooms by Lisa J Truttman
From the closing of the Kohimarama/Mission Bay
Meeting started at 10.30 am. Present: 25 people based NZ Flying School operated by the Walsh
Apologies: J une Golding, Ray Patter son, Dot Brothers and others in 1923, Aucklanders gradually
began to focus on air travel connections with the rest
Tasker, Lisa Truttman of the country, and even the world. One thing
President: Auckland did not have at that stage was an aerodrome
or airport. Back in the early 1920s, it was the govern-
Apologised for cancelling October meet- ment pushing things along, although quite slowly, and
ing. Guest speaker (William Mutch) has purely in the interests of defence. Sockburn in Canter-
bury was purchased, and renamed Wigram (becoming
graciously agreed to speak to us in April a still-prominent air base). Military officials turned up
in the region to check out likely spots for an air base
that would serve as both land and sea-based for air-
Complimented the Auckland Museum on craft. They considered sites at Orewa, Waiwera, Pol-
len Island, Motuihi Island and Point England in 1923
its performance (859,000 visitors this – but by September 1925 settled on Hobsonville.
year and a further 50,000 offsite interac-
Things seemed to settle down until there was word in
tions) August 1927 that an Imperial Airship Mission was
looking at flat sites in the Auckland region for an aer-
Reminded members that Motat has “good
odrome, with mooring mast, for their dirigibles. This
old days” on the 1st Wednesday of each didn’t come to anything at all, but it seems to have
sparked the idea that Auckland should have a land-
month. Each month a different period is based international airport.
focussed on with staff on hand to present
In October 1927, a new Auckland Aero Club was
key elements from that time. Entrance is formed. This club would eventually operate from a
leased property at Mangere, which they would come
free to gold card holders.
to own (and, for a time from the 1930s until 1947, was
Showed some of the brochures from the one of Auckland’s limited domestic aerodromes). In
May 1929, Councillor George W Hutchinson put the
Albert Eden Local Board on heritage motion to Auckland City Council that a study be un-
walks in our area. dertaken into “what areas are available in close prox-
imity to the commercial centre of the City that would
Treasurer be suitable for the purpose of a commercial airport.”
00 account $1095.94 In July that year, the Minister of Defence T M
Wilford introduced the Local Authorities Empowering
01 account $844.80 (Aviation Encouragement) Bill, which passed into law
Term Deposit $2000 four months later. This allowed local authorities to
pass bylaws regarding aerodromes, conferred on cer-
Condolences offer ed to the r elatives and tain councils (including Auckland) a limited authority
friends of Gwyneth Croffin and Cyril Bell. to borrow money (up to £5000) to establish an airport
without seeking ratepayer approval, and that local au-
Guest speaker Ted Dickens thorities to could combine to establish airports.
Subject: How it was working for the Farmers. In August 1929, the Auckland Aero Club favoured
Meeting closed 11.30am Pollen Island as a site, and expressed this to the City
Council. By the following month, however, this op-
Next meeting 15th February at 990 Great North tion was joined by four others, including “No. 2 Area:
Road, Edward Bennett speaking on the history of This is situated at the mouths of Meola and Motion
Creeks, east of Pt Chevalier Reserve, and contains 91
Point Chevalier acres. Access is obtained from the northern end of
Garnet Road, this point being 3⅓ miles from the
General Post Office. The area proposed should serve
for many years, as in its present form it permits
of two runways in the directions of the prevailing
wind, each of a length of 880 yards.” (City Engi-
neer’s report)
From that point, in terms of the idea catching the
imagination of Aucklanders (and seeming like a
chance to make good money in potential real es-
tate sales for possible airport sites in the region)
it was all on. The main contenders, where most
of the investigation took place, were Pollen
Island, Pt Chevalier, Point England and Man-
gere Aerodrome – but there were dozens of other
suggestions. Reading through the files at Council
Archives, I wondered if the poor town clerk and
city engineer, on opening up yet more letters
from enthusiastic residents groups and land
agents, ever thought, “Oh no, not another one
…!” This article is just a very summarised report
on the volumes of correspondence, and hundreds
of newspaper column inches devoted to the topic,
dating from 1929 through to 1939.
Pollen Island (which was owned by the Council)
was discounted in mid 1932, due to the expected
cost of the extensive reclamation that would be
required, and concerns over the stability of such
reclamation. The Aero Club shifted their prefer-
ence to the Mangere site. Point England re-
mained quite attractive to the special committee
called together to discuss the airport site, even
though the property involved 60 different own-
ers, all of which would need to have their property
taken under the Public Works Act. There were other
concerns as well; the military authorities advised that NZ Herald 16 February 1938
Point England was subject to dense fogs and poor vis-
ibility at night, and the proximity of Mt Wellington
for aircraft landing or taking off was a possible risk. You would have thought that, after years of confer-
By the end of 1937, only two contenders were left: Pt ences, letters, arguments, debates, reports and bids
Chevalier as the Waitemata Harbour airport option, from here and there, it would all have been sorted. But
and Mangere for the Manukau Harbour. By that time, … no. Before there could be major redevelopment of
Auckland City Council were on the way to forming the Mangere aerodrome, war came along and the aero-
the Meola Road extension which, when completed, drome was requisitioned by the military authorities,
would have helped bring the proposed airport at Pt becoming RNZAF Mangere. Whenuapai airbase, built
Chevalier even closer to the city by road. On the nega- by the government from 1938, served after WWII as
tive side, there was the looming possibility of a har- Auckland’s temporary international and domestic air-
bour bridge project to span the Waitemata Harbour. port, sharing facilities with the military, especially
Such a construction would have posed real problems from 1947 when Mangere was closed as a domestic
for flight paths in and out of the Pt Chevalier airport. airport. Then the whole business of deciding on the
site for Auckland’s airport began again, Mangere put
On 4 May 1938, the conference of local authorities in the running in 198, and only being chosen (finally)
decided on the Mangere site. Pt Chevalier was, after in 1956. It was a further nine years until Auckland
nearly nine years, discounted (among other reasons) International Airport was completed at Mangere in
due to fewer obstructions at Mangere, and the increas- 1965.
ing residential development in the vicinity of the Pt
Chevalier site.
A message from the Pt Chevalier
Pt Chevalier Guys & Girls Sailing Club
from 1930s—onwards.
We will be celebrating our Centenary in 2019
Reminding you all that OUR NEW DATE for the and so are starting to make plans.
Annual Reunion is
Do you have any photographs relating to the
sailing club (either in its current or former loca-
SATURDAY 10 MARCH 2018 tion) and do you know of any stories /articles?
Do you know if any of your members have
Pt Chevalier RSA links to the sailing club in former times?
from 1pm till whenever. We may put out a digital and/or hardcopy book-
let of some description and are also looking to
Please tell friends & family as some phone and mo- gather first hand accounts of any older former
bile contacts are no longer valid. members.
Enquiries to: Alison Turner (09) 825 0300 Celebration weekend will be: Friday 15th
and Ray Patterson (09) 416 9103 March - Sunday 17th March 2019.

Flicks and Lunch at Ryder’s Cinema, Avondale, Kirsty McDonald

happening again 10 April 2018. 10.00 am, $26 a Secretary PCSC
Interested? Contact Alison Turner 825-0300

Membership of the Point Chevalier Historical Society

Membership is open to all with an interest in our area’s history, and costs only $20 per person ($30 for two or more in
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
Your membership fees mean that we can keep publishing the Point Chevalier Times.
Your support would be appreciated.

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