Monthly Archives: September 2013

Ten Historical sites in Auckland

Fort Britomart (Image courtesy of Te Ara the Enclyclopedia of New Zealand)

Fort Britomart (Image courtesy of Te Ara the Enclyclopedia of New Zealand)

I live in Auckland which is a fairly new city in terms of history having been founded in 1851 when it was officially declared the capital of New Zealand. The capital has since moved to Wellington and we tend to view Auckland as a bustling modern metropolis, however evidence of its history is everywhere if you know where to look. As a result of my research for my historical books, I’ve been made aware of these historical sites and I realise that a lot of Aucklanders probably pass them on a day to day basis unaware of their historical significance:
1. Albert Park was the site of a Victorian military camp encircled by a solid basalt perimeter wall. The only remains of the wall are behind the Old Choral Hall in the grounds of Auckland University. The park is also the site of a complex system of tunnels constructed during World War Two
2. Point Britomart – once the site of a raised promontory into the Waitemata Harbour on which was built Fort Britomart. It was cut down in the early 1880’s and the rubble used to reclaim land in Commercial Bay, now site of the Britomart Station.
3. Fort Street was once called Fore Street as it followed the original foreshore but this was changed to Fort Street as it provided access the entrance of Fort Britomart via a long flight of stairs called Jacobs Ladder.
4. Freeman’s Bay refuse destructor on the foreshore of Freeman’s Bay was where the city’s rubbish was taken to be burnt and the energy used to power the city’s electric street lights – we now know this industrial building as Victoria Park Market and the tall chimney of the incinerator is a prominent landmark.
5. Mission Bay was named after Bishop Selwyn’s Melanesian Mission which he built from stone gathered from Rangitoto. The mission station was transferred to Norfolk Island in 1867.
6. Sylvia Park – originally the equine stud farm of the Morrin brothers who emigrated from Canada in the late 1800’s. Their name lives on in Morrin Road, Panmure and Morrinsville.
7. Portage Road, Otahuhu – this route between the Waitamata and Manukau Harbours was used by Maori to transport their canoes from one side of the coast to the other, and thus trade with the fledging settlement of Auckland.
8. On Redoubt Road, Manukau, within sight of State Highway One at the Manukau interchange, is the site of a fortified position or redoubt constructed in 1863 at the outbreak of the Waikato War.
9. Meremere pa just behind the power station on the left as you head south on State Highway One is the site of a fortified pa which was bombarded by the steamships from the Waikato River until it was abandoned by Maori and occupied by the British Army in October 1863.
10. Rangiriri – the site of one of the fiercest battles of the Waikato War on 20/21 November 1863. State Highway One cuts through the battle site and cars whiz by with many occupants unaware of the conflict that took place there 150 years ago.
This list is by no means exhaustive and I wonder how many historical sites you are aware of in your town/wider area?


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