Thursday, 14 August 2014

Mt Roskill’s Victory Estate

It is always fascinating to discover why the street you live in is given a particular name, and for residents of a block in Mt Roskill, Auckland, there is a marvellous history behind theirs.

It is a group of streets that was known as the Victory Estate – located up at the Mt Roskill end of Dominion Road in Auckland.

The subdivision was purchased by a syndicate in 1920, as reported in the NZ Herald newspaper. The land had been held for the past 50 years by the Wesley Training College who had possessed huge amounts of land in the area. It was described as “beautiful high green slopes …. Commanding magnificent views over Mount Eden” (New Zealand Herald, Vol. LVII, Issue 17412, 6 March 1920, p.9).

Ref: DP Plan 16857, North Auckland Land District, Plan of Auckland Suburb, IV Titirangi S.D., Mt Roskill Road District, 1923
The names of the streets in the Victory Estate were most admirable as they honoured names familiar to 1920s NZers, who had endured the First World War. The Belgian towns of Mons and Louvain, and the French town of Cambrai, were recognized, and military heroes on the side of the Allies were honoured: Sir Douglas Haig, Ferdinand Foch, Sir David Beatty and the controversial Sir John Rushworth Jellicoe.

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, view of Mons, Belgium, 1914, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19140910-41-2
Hardley Avenue, intersecting the streets, was named after the developer. Unfortunately, Jellicoe, named for New Zealand’s Governor-General (1920-1924) was later re-named Jasper Avenue, quite possibly due to the preponderance of Jellicoe Streets in existence in the isthmus, but none the less an act, the author of 'People & Progress' (see full reference below) called “incredibly insensitive alteration” and “historical vandalism”. Quite pertinent is an article in the NZ Herald (6 March 1923) proclaiming that Admiral Jellicoe had “signified by letter to the owners his pleasure in having his name connected with a suburb of beautiful Auckland”.

Ref: Russell Southsea, Sir John R. Jellicoe, Lord High Admiral of the British Navy, 1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19160323-37-1
The Victory Estate’s position in national town planning history was sealed in the defining of the 1923 Survey Regulations Act, which required a portion of land in a development to be set aside for a reserve. An article in NZ Surveyor outlines in the previous year, how developers Hardley and de Luen had taken a case regarding public spaces and roading requirements to the high court, after the Mt Roskill Roads Board declined their application to approve it. The case was declined, subsequently prompting a law ensuring new subdivisions would set aside 5% of the total land for public park-type areas. Indeed, this was seen as a crucial requirement for areas like Mt Roskill, where it was envisaged a working class population would settle – and subsequently did.

Keen to find out more?:

Author: Joanne Graves, Central Auckland Research Centre

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