Panuku blind to Takapuna history

A guest post.

The pipe-dreams of Panuku planners about the Anzac Quarter of Takapuna miss a vital point: history.

My first associations with Takapuna go back to 1936 when as an 8-year-old Hamilton child I first visited the bach newly built by my widowed Kikikihi-based aunt in Blomfield Spa, just 150 meters from Takapuna beach. A family move to Grey Lynn in 1942, in my third form year, by which time our aunt was living permanently in Blomfield Spa meant more regular visits to Takapuna Beach, especially during summer weekends: tram to bottom of Queen Street, ferry to Devonport, yellow bus to Halls Corner.

Grey Lynn, in those days, was just an extension of the amorphous mass of bungalows and villas that stretched from Freemans Bay, through Ponsonby, out to Point Chevalier, round through Mt Albert, Mt Roskill to Mt Eden and beyond to more sumptuous Remuera and further east.? A solid mass of formalised city-side humanity in which at weekends, shoes, long trousers and skirts were de rigeur.? ?

Across the harbour on the Shore, it was a different world, especially at weekends when informality was rife, dress was bare feet and shorts, and even in shops swimwear alone was acceptable, and apparent strangers talked to each other and laughed together.

Prior to the opening of the Harbour Bridge in 1959, the Shore was little more than a line of unconnected beachside villages, from Birkenhead to Devonport, round North Head to Cheltenham, Takapuna, Milford, Castor Bay, with Mairangi and Brown Bays distant north holiday home outposts, and behind them all, a hinterland of mostly open country.

Came the bridge and gradually that hinterland filled with the houses that produced new suburbs like Glenfield and Albany.

These developments saw the birth of two new cities: Takapuna and later East Coast Bays, later again merging as North Shore City in 1989, until their incorporation into the new Auckland (super) City in 2010.

But during all this, the beachside mindset of those previous village communities has remained little changed, and that is what the Panuku pipe-dreamers don?t seem to understand.? They seem to be intent on creating a mini-metropolis at the centre of a group of beachside communities, disparate by choice, who value their separate identities and the resultant ambience of their surroundings and facilities. Yes, they like those facilities to be modern, but they want a say in how any incremental updating changes are made.

The suspicion that Panuku (and by inference Mayor Goff and North Shore Councillors Chris Darby and Richard Hills who support Panuku?s plans) are trying to foist unwelcome and unwanted ideological change is supported by two things:

  1. Panuku has circulated 78,000 consultation circulars. As of December last year, the official count of households in the North Shore Parliamentary Electorate, bounded by Devonport in the south, Castor Bay in the north and State Highway 1 to the west, and? was 17,982 ? in other words, Takapuna and its immediately neighbouring ?villages?.? The total of 78,000 suggests that Panuku aims to dilute Takapuna opinion by canvassing neighbouring electorates of Northcote, Albany and East Coast Bays.
  1. Panuku?s proposal to sell off most of the present carpark at 40 Anzac Avenue for, in its own words, ?new homes, shops, eateries and offices? and to provide alternative parking half a kilometre or so away at the foot of Huron Street, makes no sense. If more central accommodation is needed, whether apartments or offices, the former Gasometer site in Huron Street with a larger footprint, and allowance for 30 storeys in height offers much greater numbers than 40 Anzac Street, with a height restriction of nine storeys. And we are mindful that while Auckland City may today have legal ownership of 40 Anzac Street, it does not have moral ownership of a carpark area purchased in 1964 by then Takapuna City Council at the urging of surrounding and nearby shop and business owners who agreed to pay an extra targeted rate for as many years as it took to pay off that purchase price.

Those of us who live in or near Takapuna by choice, do so because we share that beachside mindset of our predecessors. When we want to gather in large numbers, we know that we have our glorious stretch of Takapuna Beach, and the incomparable Gould Reserve,? the latter thanks to the foresight of an earlier group of city parents.

We want to be able to park next to the shops and other services in and around Hurstmere Road because we use our cars to get there. We don?t use bicycles for shopping and we don?t want to walk hundreds of metres uphill from Huron Street.? If Panuku is allowed to have its way, the benefits will go not to Takapuna businesses, but to Milford and Albany in the north and Devonport in the south where car parking is not a problem.

And if Councillors Darby and Hills continue to defy the wishes of the majority of their constituents, they will find their political lives will change for the worse at next year?s election.


Terry Dunleavy MBE, 89, is a writer of Hauraki Corner, is a former chairman of the North Shore National party. Returning to Auckland in 1971, his first and only choice for his family was a home in Takapuna.