Showing posts from June, 2024

A Bridge Too Far? [Auckland Harbour Bridge Part 1]

Sunday, 31 May 1959 marked a turning point in the history of Tāmaki Makaurau. After a century of dreaming, campaigning, planning, and politicking, a bridge finally connected Auckland City to the North Shore of the Waitematā. Throughout that time, ten formal proposals were submitted to local councils or the Government, at least as many bridge and tunnel designs were sketched, and endless amounts of ink were spilled arguing the topic on paper. However, the history of a bridge across the Waitematā does not begin with an ambitious Pākehā proposal published in a newspaper; rather, its origins are a narrative passed down through the generations from the earliest Māori who called the Tāmaki isthmus home. Image: Whites Aviation. View of Westmere with Meola Reef stretching across the Waitemat ā at low tide, May 1946. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 580-ALB22-026.   A long time ago, there was a war on the Waitematā between two iwi of the night-dwelling, fairy-like patuapaiarehe. One iwi

Portal to a brighter day [Auckland Harbour Bridge Part 3]

From 1955 to 1959, Aucklanders watched as a bridge gradually began to take shape across their harbour. The Waitematā, beautiful and usually so serene, was transformed into a stage for one of the largest and most complex construction projects in New Zealand’s history. Those on the quiet North Shore were particularly affected. Where residents of Northcote Point might once have looked over a tranquil harbour scene to the city on the opposite shore, their view now bustled with building activity. For those who lived in close proximity, excitement about the construction might quickly have worn off, but for plenty of Aucklanders, the project’s progress was a matter of ongoing fascination. In 1957, a watchman at the Northcote building site reported that as many as 50 sightseers would clamour to the area during weekends. Much larger numbers visited on the city side. Image: Jack Kirk. Aucklanders look on as the pick-a-back span is moved into place, 1958. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections,

To Cross the Waitematā [Auckland Harbour Bridge Part 2]

 Opened in 1959, the Auckland Harbour Bridge is a distinctive and crucial piece of infrastructure. The incident in September 2020 when a truck was tipped over by a strong wind gust, causing damage to the bridge structure and creating traffic chaos, showed how reliant we are on our main harbour crossing. Currently, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport are looking at alternative harbour crossings. Some of the suggestions mentioned in the media, including a proposal for a tunnel under the harbour are not exactly new ideas. In fact, the first proposal for a harbour bridge dates to 1860, and the topic was raised many times in the century that followed. Auckland’s traffic woes and the debate about how efficiently to move people across the Waitematā Harbour is an age-old issue which can be seen in various documents held in the Archives. Image: St Mary’s Bay looking towards Auckland Harbour Bridge, 1981 (Auckland Council Archives, Auckland City Council photographic department