Developers 3 : Tree Protesters 0
Although veteran protester Steve Abel occupied a truck-mounted crane to prevent it from being used in the cutting, the operation went ahead regardless in a rapid clear-fell operation.
After protesters tried to storm the fence, it looked like every available police officer in Auckland was called in. Beacon counted 70 police on site. Eight arrests were made.
It was a sobering end to a long occupation that at times had held out hopes of a positive outcome.
The issue has become a polarising one in Avondale, and the longer it went on, the more entrenched attitudes became. There is a significant amount of callousness to trees and the environment shown on social media.
The land vendor and the purchaser will be celebrating. Late last year consent was sought for 34 terrace houses on the site, but this was withdrawn.
Across town, Mayor Phil Goff must be relieved that this headache for the Council has at long last ended.
Local residents in Davern Lane, New Lynn, are surprised and angry that a tiny park at the heart of their street is proposed to be sold off for intensive housing development. Instead of a gorgeous 300m3 pocket park, they will have housing. It is this very sort of intensification that makes these small, local reserves even more important.
Many new developments have no significant open areas for kids to play, so a green space in a reserve within walking distance of home is going to become really valuable. Previously kids had generous back lawns but in the new Auckland, those are becoming subdivisions. With the climate emergency, driving to a super park will become less acceptable. On Davern Lane Reserve, a mature Pohutukawa and two other medium size trees will have to go to make way for houses. So much for Council declaring a climate emergency – they are helping create one!
Unfortunately for Council, the headaches will be coming thick and fast from all over Auckland, as they try to flog off land, including up to 70 reserves to balance the books for the Emergency Budget. Council calls it “asset recycling”. From the outside, it looks more like local parks being turned into salaries and wages, never to be seen again.
Whau Local Board member Jessica Rose says, “Originally the park was a Council requirement in the residential development of Davern Lane. It has mature pohutukawa and serves a purpose as the heart of the local community here. In line with good urban design principles, the green space serves as a shared backyard where children play, and dogs walk.
“I can’t see how in a climate emergency, a biodiversity crisis, with much higher urban density, that this green space could be less important now than it was all those years ago when it was a necessity to put in.”
Local boards have been de-looped from the proposals as they will feel a lot of the heat from residents. According to Jessica Rose “They've [Panuku] tried very, very hard to keep boards well out of this process. The photos above don't look like 'corrects a number of zoning errors or anomalies', nor does it fit the 'improve the quality or open space' narrative.”
To their credit, Whau Local Board members Kay Thomas, Jessica Rose, Warren Piper and Fasitua Amosa, joined Davern Lane residents for a day of action as the locals have been activated by the threat of their much-loved reserve being sold.
“Our neighbourhood is being galvanised into action, writing submissions, opposing changes, lobbying our elected representatives, trying to persuade the Council that even though it is surplus to their requirements that it is essential to ours”, says Davern Lane Residents Society spokesperson Tania Makani.
“Auckland Council calls it asset recycling, but the reality is parks being sold, trees being lost, and amenity being traded away”, she says. “It is income at the cost of community, and it means losing a part of the neighbourhood forever.
“Our neighbourhood has grown stronger over this having pulled together in protest but when the reserve is gone (probably for infill housing), what happens to the sense of community it encouraged and the relationships that were grown? Will that also be another treasure lost.”
Puketapapa Local Board member Jon Turner also commented on the issue: “It’s amazing that we can sell off parks but not touch shares in an airport”.
Photos supplied by Davern Reserve Residents Society.
The work of talented painter Anna Hiew is being featured in a touring exhibition of New Zealand's top 50 Level 3 Art Folios this year. Anna, who came first in Avondale College's NCEA Level 3 Art Painting course while in Year 13 last year, also gained a NZQA Outstanding Scholarship for her work, placing her in the top 0.3% of art students in the country!
Exploring a theme of death, decay and new life, Anna says of her work: "Though decay is commonly associated with an ending, these processes can also be inversely perceived as symbols of new life and beginnings. In our consumerist culture, where we want the newest things that stand the test of nature, decay is seen as undesirable. I wanted to diverge from this general narrative by showing it in an optimistic regard. This, I would hope, would be a testament to one of the simple yet incredibly complex wonders of our world - showing how such an important aspect of our lives is so easily overlooked and under- appreciated."
Anna describes a diverse range of mixed media that was crucial in exhibiting the beautiful features of fungi in order to achieve a positive portrayal. She used cotton, embroidery, hot glue, felt, clay, papier-mâché, rhinestones, sand, crackle paste, and beads. “And”, she adds, “Lots of trial and error!”
Avondale College's Director of Art Ms Emma Watt, and teacher Ms Sophie McMillan, attended the opening of the exhibition, which was held at Massey University's Art Gallery in Wellington in February.
The exhibition will be touring New Zealand, arriving in Auckland in May. Find out more about the exhibition: https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/ncea/subjects/visual-arts/top-art-exhibition/
This year Anna is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Geography at the University of Auckland.
The biggest and best celebration of our stunning environment is now in full swing! EcoFest West 2021 presents a myriad of opportunities to care for the places we love, explore nature at our doorstep, and discover skills and ideas for a better future.
Covering a wide range of topics, many of the 140 events are free or low-cost, whānau friendly, and accessible by public transport. Highlights include night walks in nature, guided bike rides, DIY workshops, stream clean ups and more.
To see full details of all EcoFest West events, which run from 20th March until 18th April, please visit www.ecofest.org.nz.
Here are a small selection of local events coming up in your neighbourhood this month:
URBAN FOOD FOREST DESIGN
Saturday 10 April, 10.30am-3pm
EcoMatters, 1 Olympic Place, New Lynn
Food forests can play a big part in the vision for local food security. Learn about the principles of food forest design, including site, aspect, soil and plant choice considerations with landscape architect and organic gardener Carl Pickens. Then join Carl and EcoMatters community garden coordinator, Meg Liptrot for a tour of EcoMatters’ 16-year-old food forest. After a shared lunch, get together for a collaborative design charrette helping develop a new concept for a food forest at Olympic Park. Hosted by EcoMatters and supported by the Whau Low Carbon Network, thanks to Whau Local Board and Auckland Council.
Booking required: Search “Urban food forest tour” at www.eventbrite.co.nz
Sunday 11 April, 10am-3pm
West Lynn Garden, 73 Parker Avenue, New Lynn
$3, under 2 years free
Come and take part in the Tree Trail and Butterfly Hunt. Information sessions start on the hour in the Butterfly House, set in 2.5 hectares of beautiful gardens. Fun activities for children. Bring a picnic.
Tree Trail (including 50 protected trees) and Butterfly Hunt to link trees and butterflies. Activities for children include butterfly hunt, making origami butterflies, pavement chalk art. Butterfly colouring and activity packs for sale. Sausage sizzle, drinks and plants also for sale. Brought to you by West Lynn Garden.
For more information, visit www.westlynngarden.org.nz or www.facebook.com/WestLynnGardens.
BASIC BIKE MAINTENANCE WORKSHOP
Wednesday 14 April, 7-9pm
New Lynn Bike Hub, 1 Olympic Place, New Lynn
A two-hour workshop covering basic bike maintenance, including an overview of parts of a bike, inflating tyres, puncture repair, chain lube, as well as brake/gear checks and tuning. Brought to you by EcoMatters. For more information, visit www.ecomatters.org.nz/on-bikes/bike-hubs.
Booking required: email@example.com
FORAGE AND FEAST: HEALTHY EATING AUTUMN
Saturday 17 April, 2-5pm
EcoMatters, 1 Olympic Place, New Lynn
Join naturopath Paloma Velásquez for health-boosting ideas using seasonal produce (including weeds!) to make a memorable plant-based feast. In this workshop you’ll go foraging in EcoMatters’ organic garden and then get together for a shared meal. Hosted by EcoMatters and supported by the Whau Low Carbon Network, thanks to Whau Local Board and Auckland Council. For more information, visit www.ecomatters.org.nz/campaign/love-your-food.
Booking required: Search “Forest and Feast” at www.eventbrite.co.nz
Sunday 18 April, 10am-12pm
Olympic Park playground, Wolverton Street, New Lynn
Adults $10, Child 5-12yrs $5
Nature journaling is sketching or writing your response to nature. This fun and relaxing practice helps you connect more closely with plants, trees, birds and other natural things. Bring a sketchbook, pencils, crayons, watercolours. Some paper and crayons provided. Brought to you by Lesley Alexander Art. For more information, visit www.lesleyalexanderart.com.
Booking required: firstname.lastname@example.org.
EcoFest West is brought to you by EcoMatters Environment Trust, with events hosted by a range of organisations, and is generously supported by the Henderson-Massey, Waitākere Ranges, and Whau local boards.
Everyone has a different story to tell about their place, and a different way to tell it. Over the next month you’ll be able to experience three different ways of looking at Avondale through guided walks as part of the Urban Walking Festival 2021 as well as participate in what according to Jon Turner is “the best bush walk in Tāmaki Makaurau”.
On ANZAC day you can take the opportunity to learn more about the long history of the armed forces in Avondale. Our host, John Subritzky, is passionate about local history and specialises in mechanised military transportation. Walk starts at 2pm.
Our second walk in Avondale is a Walking Wānanga on the 5th of May at 11am. Co-developed with local youth it focusses on the on the whakapapa, oral histories and movements of Tāmaki iwi through the Whau area and is led by Tamati Patuwai.
Local resident Rajeev is leading a photo walk through the Avondale town centre on the 8th of May. He invites you to bring your phone and, with his guidance and some photography tips, take photos of the town centre, recording the streets and people you love. This walk is ideal for people who want to learn to use their phone cameras better. Walk starts at 10 am.
Over in Lynfield on Saturday 24th of April Jon Turner is leading a four hour walk along the beaches and cliff tops of Manukau coast departing from Manukau Domain and finishing at Onehunga beach.
All of the walks are part of the Urban Walking Festival, an Auckland-wide festival, presented by Panuku, Auckland Development and Auckland Transport that revolves around local people celebrating their place, sharing what makes it special and advocating for what they love about it through walking and conversation. Originally planned for 2020 we are pleased to be able to present them in 2021.
For more details and bookings visit urbanwalking.nz or facebook.com/urbanwalkingfestival
ANZAC Day Feature
By John Subritzky
Avondale was a major military training area in both World Wars. As horsepower was king, it was natural that racecourses were used as training bases.
World War I
The predecessor to the Maori Battalion, the Maori Pioneers, trained at Avondale before sailing to Egypt. They initially garrisoned Malta, before being redeployed to Gallipoli in July 1915. That was a brutal experience with the contingent being reduced from 677 officers and men to just 132. After Gallipoli, they went to the Western Front. In 1916 they were reinforced by Pacific Islanders, including Rarotongans, Tongans, Niueans and some Samoans. The following year there were sufficient Maori reinforcements for them to revert to being the Maori Battalion.
Louis Netana (Nathan) was a farm worker from Maropiu, north of Dargaville, near the turn off to Kai Iwi Lakes. He was 21 years old when he enlisted on 12 November 1914 at Avondale Military Camp. After training at Avondale, the NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion sailed for Egypt on the Warrimoo.
The troops had a sense of history because they were, as they put it, the first Maori War party to travel over the seas in centuries. They presented a document to the Captain of the Warrimoo, signed by all the troops. It included this statement: “The hundred and forty fighting men of Tu, the War God, have reached Terra Firma – Egypt, the land which was trodden by your ancestor Moses in the days of long ago.” The 140 referred to the ideal size of a war party.
Louis served in Egypt, Gallipoli, Mudros, Lemnos and the Western Front. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He returned home and had a family. He died age 72.
The NZ Tunnelling Corp of Engineers also trained at Avondale. These men included skilled miners and tended to be older than other troops. In France they were involved in underground warfare, trying to avoid the German tunnellers, while digging tunnels to set explosives under enemy lines.
Many Avondale people were involved in the war effort. The Robertson family of Rosebank had five members involved in WWI. Fortunately, they all survived. Most notable among them is Dr Susan Annie Robertson. It would have been quite unusual for a woman to become a medical doctor at the time. Also, N.M. Robertson served as a Sister (nurse).
World War II
This was a different experience for New Zealand because the rapid Japanese advance through the Pacific in 1941 -42 made the threat very real. Japanese aircraft flew over Auckland on two occasions. They were carried on and launched from submarines. Perhaps the threat is why there are few, if any photos of training at Avondale in WWII compared to the many photos from WWI. Avondale was not only an important training base, but it was also part of “Fortress Auckland”. There was an anti-aircraft position between the racecourse and the Whau river. An anti-tank trench was dug near Portage Road, from the Whau River to Green Bay, to interrupt any possible Japanese invasion from the north.
In September 1940, the 1st Battalion, Auckland Regiment started training at the racecourse. It was notable that a group of young women called the Independent Younger Set assisted in the canteen at the racecourse during the training programme. This was a group of young women from Remuera, led by Helen Staveley, which formed in May 1940 with the aim to help all charities, the Metropolitan Patriotic Society, and the Red Cross. The NZ Herald reported that the group was “also engaged in raising money in support of the Queen of the Seas for the Sick and Wounded Fund. When the Queen Carnival is over the members of the new organisation will direct their energies elsewhere for patriotic purposes.”
In October, the 1st Field Company, NZ Engineers, used the course for training. They engaged in bridge-building exercises across the Whau River and advertised that they would build bridges on private property within 20 miles of Auckland if “any patriotic owner” either supplied all materials or required timber to be felled and sawn and ready to lend for such training purposes. They cut down pine trees at Waikumete Cemetery for this purpose. By 26 October, it was reported that several bridges were being built. Conversely, the following year they gave demonstrations of bridge demolition to the Independent Mounted Rifles Squadrons at Avondale and Parau.
The Women’s National Service Corps camped under canvas at Avondale 29 Dec 1940 -7 January 1941. This was the first camp for women to be trained in war service. 150 women attended. It is interesting that this early training for women was here in Avondale. WWII opened up many more non-traditional roles for women due to labour shortages. It was a change that continued after the war.
In May 1941 a three-month intensive training course began for new members of the Territorials for home defence service. Another intake of 180 men occurred in July. Then, heavy rain caused most men to abandon their tents and return home. Part-time soldiers!
Construction of the camp proper began in July. A roadway was built between the main stand and Ash Street using scoria. Footpaths were constructed using ash carted in from the King’s Wharf power station and the Auckland Gasworks.
By this stage, the Avondale Jockey Club (AJC) could not tell how long their racing would be disrupted for, so they approached Ellerslie for permission to use their course. Ellerslie agreed and the September 1941 meeting was the first that AJC held at Ellerslie. Today, for other reasons, the premier races are held at Ellerslie.
In March 1943, a holding camp is established for Japanese POWs following the Featherston riot/incident. No-one is quite sure how that incident escalated so quickly, but with seconds 31 Japanese POWs were dead, with 17 more dying of wounds. One guard was killed. The Featherston camp was closed briefly while an enquiry was carried out. The POW camp at Avondale was in the area now occupied by the BP Station and McDonalds.
Then the Americans arrived at the racecourse for a short, one month sojourn. It cannot have been very pleasant for the 700 men in the middle of winter. They were there while the US Naval Mobile Hospital Number 6 (MOB 6) was being built. This is now the site of Avondale College.
Next in, we had the NZ Navy establish their own transit camp for naval personnel. This reflects the severe shortage of accommodation in Auckland under the influx of troops.
In January 1944, there was a shift to accommodation for civilians. The Public Works Department (PWD) camp was set up at Avondale, due to housing shortage in Auckland but a need for workers in essential industries. First draft of 50 single Maori men from Rotorua arrived 3 January and were housed west of the main grandstand near the racetrack. By the end of February, the number housed at the camp was 90, with another 20 expected in early March. By early 1945, 151 men were housed there and that was enlarged later that year for a further 80 men, taking over the former POW holding area.
Eventually the Workers Camp encompassed 3.5 acres, including 122 huts, two mess rooms, recreation hall, cook house, vegetable preparation room, washhouse, latrines, shower block and administration building. Each hut had electric light; separate dining facilities provided with contract catering. A large recreation hall was completed by March, the Maori War Effort Organisation handling “the social side of the camp life.” The men were taken to Westfield each morning in trucks and returned in the evening. They worked in the freezing works primarily, but also phosphate works and New Lynn tanneries and brickworks.
Things were winding down in 1945, but activity still continued until early 1948. In February 1945, the racecourse was used by Avondale Technical and Intermediate students, until the schools’ playgrounds were cleared of debris and rocks. Auckland City Council began negotiations to buy racecourse land off Racecourse Parade and at the western end by Whau River for recreational purposes. This was acquired by the end of the year, and a lease agreement arranged for central playing areas on the course, which continues until today.
Well after the war finished, plans began in July 1946 to shift the workers camp out. In December, work was completed in preparing the new Mangere workers camp, to replace Avondale. On 8 February 1947 the workers camp at Avondale was finally evacuated and the site could be restored for the racing club.
Official History of the Public Works Dept, Archives NZ files, Papers Past articles and parliamentary papers.
Lisa Truttman: https://timespanner.blogspot.com/2016/12/avondales-racecourse-and-second-world.html
Long Range Desert Group
Brendan O’Carroll is the only living link between the veterans of the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) who have now all passed away, and us. Local historian and author, Brendan, is acknowledged as the foremost authority on the special forces LRDG of WWII. He has now completed eight books, including two recently published.
One of the first Special Forces in the Second World War, the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), was formed to do reconnaissance hundreds of miles behind enemy lines in Libya in WWII. The distances were so vast that aircraft reconnaissance was impractical.
The first units of the LRDG were made up of NZ volunteers. Its first volunteers answered a call for a ‘special mission’ which specified men, “who do not mind a hard life, scanty food, little water, lots of discomfort, and possess stamina and initiative.” Almost 1,000 volunteered from troops stationed in Egypt. 120 were selected – the best of the best.
These were self-reliant, hardy men, who were good with vehicles and had soon adapted to desert conditions. Most had never endured a sandstorm, suffered the extremes of heat and cold, or even seen a snake or scorpion before.
The LRDG was comprised of individual patrols; W, R, and T being the New Zealand patrols with their vehicles bearing Maori names starting with that letter.
Their most significant intelligence gathering role was the ‘Road Watch’ that entailed the constant observation, day and night between 2 March and 21 July 1942 of the Tripoli –Benghazi road (Via Balbia) - 643 km behind enemy lines.
Later the LRDG trucks also carried heavier armament that enabled them to operate more offensively. Using ‘hit and run’ tactics they would ambush Axis convoys and supply dumps, attack any targets of opportunity, and then would melt into the desert. The LRDG came and went so quickly that the Italians called them Pattuglia Fanatasma (Ghost Patrols).
Appropriately, the insignia chosen for the LRDG was a scorpion within a wheel. With their role like that of a scorpion being a potent symbol of power in a small unit; hiding, watching, and waiting, capable of striking suddenly and with deadly effect. The sting in its tail was in its firepower combined with the element of surprise.
Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, commander of the Afrika Korps, during the desert campaign commented: “The LRDG caused us more damage than any other unit of equal strength.”
After the success of Brendan’s first book, “Kiwi Scorpions”, he was given access to veterans. He eventually interviewed or corresponded with 37 LRDG veterans. These wonderful men were pleased that someone had shown an interest in their ‘forgotten’ history and kindly provided Brendan with numerous previously unpublished stories and photos along with the loan of badges and insignia to photograph. In fact, while Beacon was interviewing him, a packet of original photos arrived via courier!
In 2008 he went with two friends to Libya for a month to find the lost LRDG battlefield of Jebel Sherif. The party was accompanied by a film crew and the documentary Lost in Libya was produced and shown on New Zealand TV. "Being the first New Zealander to see the battle site was quite moving. There was still ammunition lying around. Everything was still there. The desert preserves things," Brendan says.
The intense interest in the LRDG from around the world has surprised him. This has led to ongoing research and more books. In 2020 he had two books published by Pen & Sword UK. The Long Range Desert Group in the Aegean and The Long Range Desert Group in Action 1940-43. He says he still has two more books in him, which we are sure will delight enthusiasts.
The financial returns have never matched the thousands of hours of research, but Brendan’s greatest reward was meeting and recording the stories of these great men, that otherwise may have been lost to time. We can be grateful for Brendan’s work in documenting this elite force that was initially composed of kiwis and led to the formation of the Special Air Service (SAS).
Originating in the USA, pickleball is now a fast-growing sport globally, including New Zealand.
Best described as a mix of tennis, badminton and table tennis, it is a sport for all ages and fitness levels. Pickleball is played on a badminton sized court with the net set lower than a tennis net, and can be played as doubles or singles games. Players use a large paddle to hit the ball which is hollow, made of plastic, with holes in it.
Pickleball is an enjoyable social family game for the young through to seniors age where a mix of ages can play on court together. Auckland Pickleball Central recently organised the first National Seniors Pickleball Tournament with competitors ranging from 60 years to over 80 years. Other tournaments in New Zealand include a wider age group.
In Central Auckland pickleball is played indoors at Lynfield YMCA 10am-12 noon on Mondays and Wednesdays, and at Mt Albert YMCA on Thursdays 6.45-8.45pm and Fridays 10am-12 noon.
Venues have pickleball paddles available for newcomers to use but being an addictive sport, you will likely soon want to purchase your own. Players often take their paddles on holiday with them to enable them to play at venues at their holiday location, domestically and overseas - when international travel opens up for us again of course.
For other Auckland locations and times refer to pac.org.nz. For New Zealand wide locations refer to pnza.org.nz.
By Keitha Shalley, pickleball enthusiast
If you’re a regular traveller along Maioro Street you may have noticed the progression of an eye-catching new mural in front of New Windsor School, by artists TrustMe and Flox. The 80m mural was commissioned by the school Board of Trustees in partnership with Auckland Transport and the Whau Arts Board, and addresses the challenge of platforming New Windsor as its own distinct community with its own identity.
English and Te Reo text reflects the school’s central role in the community; ‘New Windsor’ serves as a place-marker for the suburb while ‘Te Kura O’ locates the school as a focal point within the suburb. The pohutukawa is used as a metaphor for learning, and over the span of the wall addresses its development from seedling, to sprouting, to budding and finally to blossoming.
Section 1 features large pohutukawa seedlings that overlap into seed pods bearing a resemblance to the Pasifika frangipani motif.
It ends at the first of two poutama designs which symbolise genealogies and levels of learning and intellectual achievement. Poutama is the stepping pattern typically found in tukutuku panels and woven mats.
Section 2 features the Te Kura O phrase in a unique font created by the artists. Underneath are the leaves of the Whau tree atop a pattern featuring the seed pod and the flower bud of the pohutukawa tree. Towards the end young pohutukawa sprouts emerge from the ground.
Section 3 connects with Section 2 via the full phrase “Te Kura O New Windsor” It marks the developing pohutukawa with large scale foliage overlaying the type. The whau tree flower also appears here before the section ends at the second poutama.
Section 4 Large pohutukawa blooms and birds fill the final section. The korimako (NZ bell bird) feeds on the nectar of the pohutukawa, alluding to the journey of New Windsor students as they leave the school, continuing to contribute positively to their community.
An event to honour lives lost in the March 15 terrorist attack was held last month at New Windsor School, organised by the New Windsor Hub team and led by Shalema Wanden-Hannay. The event also celebrated diversity.
New Windsor students and parents were invited to paint rocks with messages for the commemoration. Scarves were also part of the display.
Congratulations to the New Windsor Hub team for creating a memorable and meaningful event.