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September—October 2018

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

“Auckland Airport Scheme: The Aero Club’s Proposal for reclamation with stopbanks on the
Avondale waterfront. The heavy black lines show two suggested banks, which would connect a low island
with the mainland and furnish 226 acres. The dotted lines show how the area would lend itself to develop-
ment by reclamation in shallow water.” (NZ Herald, 13 September 1929)

For around four years, Avondale residents held onto hopes that their suburb would end up right next to a
modern metropolitan airport. It was not, of course, to be. More inside.

Next meeting of the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society
will be Saturday 6 October 2018
at 2pm, St Ninians Hall, St Georges Road, Avondale
The Avondale Historical Journal
Page 2
island, and its proximity to Rosebank Domain
Pollen Island’s would-be enhanced its attractiveness as an airport site. The loca-
tion allowed for safe approaches for airplanes with
aerodrome any wind condition, and seaplanes could operate there
as well.
Lisa J Truttman An Association is formed to fight for an airport in
In October 1927, a new Auckland Aero Club was
However, over the course of 1930 and into the first
formed. This club would eventually operate from a
half of 1931, more options for an airport were put for-
leased property at Mangere, which they would come to
ward, and a South Auckland committee was set up to
own (and, for a time from the 1930s until 1947, was
push for the Auckland Aero Club’s leased location at
one of Auckland’s limited domestic aerodromes). In
Mangere to be chosen. This spurred a number of
May 1929, Councillor George W Hutchinson put the
Avondale residents to meet in May 1931 and set up an
motion to Auckland City Council that a study be
Avondale Development Association, headed by Paul
undertaken into “what areas are available in close
Richardson as president, W G Webster as honorary
proximity to the commercial centre of the City that
secretary, W H Bracey as honorary treasurer, and a
would be suitable for the purpose of a commercial air-
committee consisting of W Woodhead, W H Bracey, S
port.” In July that year, the Minister of Defence
Gibson, F W Webster, and A J Morrish (Arthur Mor-
introduced the Local Authorities Empowering
rish, publisher of Avondale’s The News.)
(Aviation Encouragement) Bill, which passed into law
four months later. This allowed local authorities to
“As rules had not been formed, the evening (21 May)
pass bylaws regarding aerodromes, conferred on cer-
was spent in an informal discussion regarding the
tain councils (including Auckland) a limited authority
scope of the association s activities during the coming
to borrow money (up to £5000) to establish an airport
year. The need of propaganda to press the claims of
without seeking ratepayer approval, and that local au-
Pollen's Island as a suitable site for a commercial air-
thorities to could combine to establish airports.
port; the advantage of the Whau River for aquatic and
speedboat events; the development of Rosebank Park
In August 1929, the Auckland Aero Club favoured
for recreation purposes, and the need of a jetty at
Pollen Island as a site, and expressed this to the City
Blockhouse Bay, were some of the matters discussed.
Council. By the following month, however, this option
The association, it was stated, hoped to enlist the sym-
was joined by four others, including one at nearby
pathy and co-operation of residents in all parts
Meola Creek/Westmere. Pollen Island was an attrac-
of Avondale, and did not aim to confine its activities
tive proposition for a number of reasons. One of which
to the development of any one part. The committee
was the cost of the land. In September 1929, it was
will meet on Wednesday to draft rules and submit
reported that in a letter from the Aero Club to the City
them for approval at the next meeting, which will be
Council, they reminded them that the island’s relative
held the following week.”
remoteness from the city (nine miles from the Chief
Post Office) meant that land in the vicinity would
The Association also got in behind the tram extension
probably cost between £20,000 and £30,000 for at
to Avondale, expressing concerns that it should be
least 100 acres. Being beside the water, it could fulfil
pushed on with without delay, despite any difficulties
the dual roles thought essential then of aeroport and
with getting across the Oakley Creek at New North
seaplane base. The 70 acre island could be enlarged
Road, or constructing the line across the overhead
through reclamation to a total of 226 acres, rendering
bridge at Blockhouse Bay Road, heading to Rosebank.
the mudbank between the island and Rosebank Penin-
They staged deputations to that effect to the chairman
sula dry land. The club told the council that not more
of the Auckland Transport Board, JAC Allum. They
than £700 would need to be spent on the surface,
were also the ones who suggested that Avondale’s
£2900 for stop-bank construction and floodgates, £300
Brown Street be called Rosebank Road, but also that
for clearance of mangroves and £450 for extension of
New Windsor Road be called Roskill Road, and
the bank. Say, around £5000 – a bargain!
(curiously) St Georges Road be called Taylor Street
“for its full length”.
An 800 yard runway in every direction could then be
provided, except for one 20 degree arc, that could only
But, even when the Association triumphantly celebrat-
be 500 yards, but that could be sorted at a later date, by
ed the opening of the tramline to Avondale in 1932,
reclaiming land seaward.
their minds were still fixed on that airport on Pollen
Island. The NZ Herald reported on 1 February
The Council’s works committee investigated. They
1932: “Recommendations concerning the suggested
reported in March 1930 that no part of the island was
commercial airport on Pollen's Island, and the utilisa-
more than four feet above high-water mark, and at the
tion of unemployed labour to prosecute the scheme,
time a large portion was covered by spring tides. A
were made to the Mayor, Mr G W Hutchison on
good permanent road existed within half a mile of the
Saturday by Mr D B Russell, advocate engineer for
The Avondale Historical Journal
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the proposal. The representations were made in con- Three of the main supporters for the proposal to have the
junction with the opening of the Avondale tramway city’s airport at Pollen Island:
extension and visiting local body officials were
motored to the island to inspect the site. A special bus (Left) Paul Richardson of Roberton Road, first chairman of
service was provided by the Auckland Transport the Avondale Development Association, and former
Board to convey residents of the district between the member of the Avondale Borough Council.
Avondale tram terminus and Pollen's Island. (Centre) A rthur Morrish, Elm Street, editor and publisher
of West Auckland’s very first newspaper, The News,
“It was pointed out to Mr Hutchison that the island published at Avondale from 1914.
was at the foot of Rosebank Road, Avondale, and
therefore only 2¼ miles from the new tramway termi- (Right) David Bruce Russell of Canal Road, engineer. Born
nus. If the scheme were proceeded with the stop- 1862 in Auckland, he excelled in early life as a baritone
banking would provide a road bringing Te Atatu 2½ vocalist, and went to live in Mexico in the 1880s. Returning
miles nearer the city and Helensville seven miles near- to NZ in 1911, he served as Resident on the Cook Islands
er. The island belonged to the City Council, so there just after WWI, then he took up causes in the 1920s and
would be no expenditure on the purchase of land. The 1930s such as the Pollen Island airport, the Whau Canal,
and another bridge over the Whau River linking Rosebank
bulk of the expenditure necessary would be absorbed with Te Atatu (a forerunner to the North-Western motor-
by labour, and 300 men at present unemployed were way some 30 years after his campaign). He married one of
ready to undertake the work. The matter was in the John Bollard’s daughters, and died 30 August 1940. He
hands of the City Council as the body controlling and his wife Marion lie buried at the George Maxwell
relief works in the area. Memorial Cemetery, Rosebank Road.

“Mr Russell read a telegram from the Rt Hon J G
Coates, Minister in Charge of Unemployment, regret- waiting for was the consent of the City Council to ad-
ting his inability to be present and inspect the island, vance the material and facilities required to commence
and stating he had been informed that the Unemploy- the work.
ment Board would consider the project at the earliest
possible date. Mr Coates was doing all he could to “Mr Hutchison said the matter would receive earnest
further the scheme. Mr Coates had written to him as consideration. He had recently visited the commercial
follows:—"Presumably the Avondale Develop- airport at Wellington and felt convinced that the estab-
ment Association will act as the employer in this case, lishment of an airport was one of the works that the
as it is impossible for the Unemployment Board to act council would have to undertake in the near future.”
in this capacity. The required member of single men
will be supplied to you on the same lines as those Pollen Island was out of the running from mid 1932,
arranged with the Main Highways Board. If, therefore, due to the expected cost of the extensive reclamation
you are ready to commence operations, the board will that would be required, and concerns over the stability
issue instructions for the men to be to be drafted to the of such reclamation. The Aero Club shifted their pref-
work immediately." Mr. Russell said all they were erence to the Mangere site. Point England remained
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Page 4
quite attractive to the special committee called together extension which, when completed, would have helped
to discuss the airport site, even though the property bring the proposed airport at Pt Chevalier even closer
involved 60 different owners, all of which would need to the city by road. On the negative side, there was the
to have their property taken under the Public Works looming possibility of a harbour bridge project to span
Act. There were other concerns as well; the military the Waitemata Harbour. Such a construction would
authorities advised that Point England was subject to have posed real problems for flight paths in and out of
dense fogs and poor visibility at night, and the proxim- the Pt Chevalier airport.
ity of Mt Wellington for aircraft landing or taking off
was a possible risk. On 4 May 1938, the conference of local authorities
decided on the Mangere site. Pt Chevalier was, after
This set-back didn’t deter the Avondale Development nearly nine years, discounted (among other reasons)
Association members, however, who in February 1933 due to fewer obstructions at Mangere, and the increas-
set their sights on backing a proposed western water- ing residential development in the vicinity of the
front road, one starting in Freemans Bay and, by recla- Pt Chevalier site.
mation, end up at Devonport (and, by the way, include
a new airport at Pollen’s Island). The following month You would have thought that, after years of confer-
the New Lynn Borough Council also backed the idea. ences, letters, arguments, debates, reports and bids
In June 1933, the Association also put forward the sug- from here and there, it would all have been sorted. But
gestion that Rosebank Domain be developed as a … no. Before there could be major redevelopment of
sports park, even with facilities as a motor camp in- the Mangere aerodrome, war came along and the aero-
cluded, for visitors from the north (something that drome was requisitioned by the military authorities,
would have tied in nicely with their upper harbour becoming RNZAF Mangere. Whenuapai airbase, built
highway idea). by the government from 1938, served after WWII as
Auckland’s temporary international and domestic air-
And there, all reports about the Association end. Pollen port, sharing facilities with the military, especially
Island would not become an airport. Rosebank from 1947 when Mangere was closed as a domestic
Domain, soon after, was taken over by the motorsports airport. Then the whole business of deciding on the site
lobby. The Upper Harbour Highway today is not quite for Auckland’s airport began again, Mangere put in the
as they would have seen it, but close enough. running in 1948, and only being chosen (finally) in
1956. It was a further nine years until Auckland Inter-
By the end of 1937, only two contenders for national Airport was completed at Mangere in 1965.
Auckland’s airport were left: Pt Chevalier as the
Waitemata Harbour airport option, and Mangere for
the Manukau Harbour. By that time, Auckland City
Council were on the way to forming the Meola Road

Copies of Avondale Historical Journal and AWHS Newsletter produced for us by
Words Incorporated, 557 Blockhouse Bay Road, Blockhouse Bay.
The Society and AHJ editorial staff thank Avondale Business Association
for their continued support and sponsorship of this publication.

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
email: or
Society information:
Subscriptions: $15 individual
$20 couple/family

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