Category Archives: Hauraki Gulf history

Cruising the Gulf

Many people started cruising the Hauraki Gulf in their homebuilt vessels after World War Two. The annual summer cruise became a feature of any families’ lives. Conditions on board were primitive. There was generally no standing headroom,the toilet consisted of a bucket and lighting was by a kerosene lantern. But the joy of cruising the islands more than made up for any lack of luxury.

Trimaran at Maraetai Beach
Small trimaran off Maraetai Beach getting ready to depart on the annual summer cruise during the mid 1970s. Note the lack of headroom and any toilet or galley facilities for the crew of 6 people.

The idea of building one’s own cruising boat had been popularised in the 1930s by adventurer Johnny Wray who, after losing his job in the depression, built his own boat out of scavenged materials. He used kauri logs washed up beaches for timber and fencing wire dipped in tar scraped off the road to staple the planks together. Wray sailed around the Gulf and across to the Pacific Islands. His boat Ngataki is still sailing in the Gulf, having being restored by the TIno Rawa Trust.

Boat designers Richard Hartley and Alan Wright produced boat building plans for the home builder with detailed instructions and full-sized patterns which could be cut out. Richard Hartley designed the hugely popular Hartley 16 foot trailer sailer which was promoted as being ‘For the man with limited means, who wants a boat for day-sailing and fishing with a guarantee of being home on time, this is the boat.’ 

Alan Wright Variant bilge keeled yacht at Waiheke
Alan Wright’s designs were very popular with the homebuilder including the Variant shown here beached at Waiheke Island. Wright offered plans for several variations of the boat including different keels and cabin tops which is why he called it the Variant.

Cruising is still a hugely popular activity on the Hauraki Gulf given the many sheltered bays and beautiful islands which can be visited.

Yachts anchored in West Bay Rakino Island
Cruising boats anchored off West Bay at Rakino Island.

Development of Auckland Port

The development of port infrastructure on Auckland’s waterfront has been underway since 1851. The shores in front of the CBD were initially very tidal and this made loading and unloading cargo difficult.

Container ship unloading at the Auckland port
The Auckland port is located on reclamations extending out into the Waitemata harbour. Shown here is a ship unloading at the container terminal.

By 1859 work had start reclaiming Commercial Bay in an ongoing process of reclamation which is still going today. A list of the reclamations, their dates of construction and sizes is shown below.

Flotilla of boats protesting aginst port expansion
A flotilla of boats took to the water to protest against continued port expansion into the Waitemata Harbour in March 2015.

More recently proposals for ongoing port development into the Waitemata Harbour by Ports of Auckland have prompted protests and an investigation into other options by the Port Future Study. Options canvassed include constraining the port to its current footprint, allowing further growth or potentially moving the port to the Manuaku harbour, Firth of Thames or Muriwai.

Steinlager 2 in Port Protest
‘Steinlager 2’ joined the protest against further expansion of the Auckland port into the harbour.

 

Reclamations in Downtown Auckland

Date Place Size (hectares)
1859 Commercial Bay between Fort St and Customs St 3.6
1872-79 Official Bay 7.5
1973-74 Hardinge St to Patterson St 1.5
1975-77 Queen St to Albert St 3.2
1875-77 Nelson St to Hardinge St 2.2
1876-77 Albert St to Nelson St 4.7
1878-79 Graving dock site at bottom of Hobson St 0.4
1879 – 86 Queen St to Britomart Pt (railway station) 7.6
1884-86 Cool store and power station site 2.7
1885-86 Freemans Bay 1.2
1886 Freemans Bay 2.5
1886-1901 Freemans Bay Victoria Park 9.5
1901-10 Mechanics Bay 6.8
1902-08 Hobson St 1.5
1904 St Georges Bay 0.9
1905-07 Freeman’s Bay 28.0
190910 Northern wharf and approaches 1.4
1911-12 St Georges Bay 0.8
1912-15 Mechanics Bay 13.1
1913-14 Fanshawe St 0.4
1913-14 Hobson St city Markets 1.7
1915 Graving dock site 0.4
1915-16 St Georges Bay 9.7
1916-19 East of power station 2.9
1919-23 Eastern reclamation No 1 7.0
1924 Princes wharf approaches 1.0
1924-26 Eastern reclamation No 2 5.9
1926-28 Western reclamation 9.5
1928 Eastern vehicular landing 0.2
1929-31 Eastern viaduct 0.6
1937-38 Westhaven 4.0
1938 Viaduct basin Nelson St 0.5
1937-45 Bledisloe wharf approach 1.4
1937-46 East of Kings wharf 1.4
1940-46 Western viaduct basin, Pakenham St 2.0
1951-54 Jellicoe wharf approach 1.0
1952-55 Eastern reclamation 4.6
1952-57 Harbour bridge reclamation 7.1
1958-60 Base of Freyberg wharf 2.4
1963-65 Viaduct basin 1.4
1967-70 Fergusson wharf 7.7
1969 – 73 Solent St 4.0
1970 – 75 Kings Bledisloe 8.5
1980 – 83 Bledisloe Stage 2 8.5
1989 – 90 Fishermans Wharf (Viaduct Basin) 0.2
2000 – 05 Fergusson Extension Stage 1 6.6
2005 – Fergusson Extension Stage 2 (ongoing) 3.3

 

The Last Scow

Scow Jane Gifford
Scow ‘Jane Gifford’ taking out a party of school children on the Waitemata Harbour.

The first New Zealand scow was built in 1873 by the Mieklejohn family at Omaha, inspired by the timber scows which operated on the Great Lakes in North America. They were ugly, clumsy square boats with flat bottoms designed to draw little water and to beach squarely on the beach. They also carried all their cargo on deck making loading and unloading easier.

Over 130 scows were built in New Zealand over a period of 50 years. They were a common sight around all the beaches and bays of the Hauraki Gulf. They were used to transport timber, sand and all manner of goods.

The remains of the last scow trading on the Hauraki Gulf under sail, Rahiri (formerly called Daphne) can still be seen on Blackpool Beach, Waiheke Island as shown in the feature image.

Scows Jane Gifford and Ted Ashby
Two restored scows still sail the waters of the Hauraki Gulf, the ‘Ted Ashby’ shown on the left which is based at the New Zealand Maritime Museum and the ‘Jane Gifford’ which is based at Warkworth.

The scow Jane Gifford can still be seen sailing on the waters of the Hauraki Gulf. She was built in 1908 by Davey Darroch at his Ōmaha boatyard and named after the Scottish immigrant ship which had brought Darroch and his family to Auckland in 1842. She had a busy and varied life carting granite, shell, road metal and general cargo.

By the 1950s the Jane Gifford had reached the end of her working life. In 2005 Peter Thompson and Hugh Gladwell set up the Jane Gifford Restoration Trust and purchased the old hulk for $10. Through fundraising and volunteer labour they restored her to her former glory.  The Jane Gifford can now be seen tied up to the wharf at Warkworth. She operates a full schedule of sailings for schools and members of the public.

 

Hauraki Gulf book in Best Books of 2016

The Story of the Hauraki Gulf features in the Listener’s Best 100 Books of 2016 and in the New Zealand Herald’s Best Books of 2016.

“It’s big, beautifully illustrated, packed with information about pretty much every aspect of the gulf, from the early Polynesian navigators who first found it to the environmental activists involved in repairing the damage done by centuries of settlement, and perhaps best of all it is full of personal stories about the individuals involved in its multi-faceted history. This is a book that, like the gulf itself, is surely destined to endure.” Jim Eagles, NZ Herald. Read full review.

“With its lovely maps and photos and prose as clear as glass, the book just kept opening up. This is a wonderful book.”  Geoff Chapple, NZ Listener. Read full review.

“This is a beautiful tribute to a stunning part of New Zealand, and one that we should all have on our shelves.” Boat Books

Story of the Hauraki Gulf 2016 cover
Cover of forthcoming book ‘The Story of the Hauraki Gulf’ showing (top) Tiritiri Matangi wharf, (left) Bean Rock Lighthouse and (right) Classic yachts Ngatira (B2) and Waitangi (A6) racing in the Waitemata Harbour.

The Story of the Hauraki Gulf is a social, cultural and environmental celebration of an extraordinary place. It brings together the many fascinating strands of history to provide a rich insight into the Gulf today and its possible future.

“I hope that the stories in this book will prompt readers to recall their own species stories of the Hauraki Gulf, and of other treasured locations. Because it is only if we remember our stories, if we tell our stories and if we act on them that we can ensure that out special places will endure.”

THE BOOK HAS A LIMITED PRINT RUN. MAKE SURE YOU DON’T MISS OUT. CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY NOW

The book, authored by Raewyn Peart from the Environmental Defence Society and published by David Bateman Ltd, is printed in high quality coffee table format with over 300 historic and contemporary images. The wonderful photos of the Hauraki Gulf highlight what an extraordinary place it is.

Classic Yacht Thelma in 2013 Auckland anniversary regatta
Classic yacht Thelma competing in the 2013 Auckland Anniversary Regatta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hauraki Gulf Book off to the Printers

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 3.49.53 pm
Title page of ‘The Story of the Hauraki Gulf’. The image shows two children swimming off Hobbs Beach, Tiritiri Matangi Island.

The Story of the Hauraki Gulf is almost ready to go off to the printers. The designer Nick Turzynski has done a fantastic job of bringing all the images, the text, and the personalised stories together into a great looking format. I can’t wait to see it all the material professionally printed and bound.