HISTORY OF 74 GILLIES AVENUE
VOLCANIC ROCK FOREST ORIGINS & BIRD HABITAT
At 196 metres Maungawhau/Mount Eden is the highest of the volcanoes in Auckland. At the base of Mount Eden, on the northeast side, there is a substantial area of native forest on a 19,000-year-old basalt lava flow, the largest surviving patch of volcanic material thrown up by the mountain. In 2001 Conservation Minister Sandra Lee said "What makes the site unique is that the trees, which include mature titoki, karaka, mahoe and pohutukawa, and the ferns are all growing through and over slabs and boulders of the volcanic rock," she said. "In addition, a rare plant community can be found at the site, distinct from that found on Rangitoto lava flows. The local native wildlife includes kereru, tui and other native birds. Several distinctive species of native snails are found here too. Lava flow forests once covered a significant part of the Auckland Isthmus, but 5,000 hectares of continuous forest has sadly been reduced to a few remaining fragments." This area is in the part of Epsom to the immediate south of the motorway, southwest of Newmarket
A remnant of this bush still exists on the lava flow in the Mountain Road to Gillies Avenue area in Epsom. The Withiel Thomas Park on Withiel Drive, across the road and 150m south from 74 Gillies Avenue, protects part of it from any building work.
Part of this rock forest around Almorah Road and Gillies Avenue is recognised under the Auckland City Council’s Schedule of Significant Ecological Areas. In this report it describes the “Almorah Lava Flow Forest” as covering 43 properties, including from 61 to 99 Gillies Avenue on the other side of the road from 74 Gillies Avenue. In the report, significant ecological areas are defined as ”areas that comprise major habitats of indigenous flora and fauna on the isthmus. These sites include identified sites of special wildlife interest together with other significant vegetation features and wildlife habitats”.
In 2001 DOC negotiated a settlement with ACC and the owner of the land at 47 Gillies Avenue through to 69 Almorah Road where DOC and the developer h divided the ownership of the 1.4-hectare site between them. 6,300 square metres of rock forest have passed into DOC ownership and are managed by the Auckland City Council, which agreed to meet the cost of eradicating weeds.
This same lava flow rock forest of puriri, kauri, rata, karaka, rewarewa, rimu and palms continues over the road at 74 &76 Gillies Avenue and carries northwards along the ridge to Highwic, interrupted by the motorway. In the garden of 74 Gillies Avenue native birds such as tui, kereru, bush wren, riflemen and Piwakawaka are joined by thrushes, kingfishers and house sparrows. This makes 74 Gillies Avenue archaeologically, ornithilogically and botanically important.
"Maungawhau", means "Mountain of the Whau tree". Whau (entelea arborescens) is a small tree that occurs in coastal forests. During the period of Maori inhabitation, the lower slopes of Maungawhau were used as gardens and living terraces.
Middens and other signs of pre-European Maori habitation of the area now known as 58 Gillies Avenue have been uncovered under the house at that site.
It is likely that some of the trees in the area may have been planted by the Maori inhabitants of Maungawhau. Both karaka and puriri trees are often found in association with village sites. Conifers are not found on this lava flow, but may have been present on the adjoining soils of Newmarket, if its Maori name "Okoare" (place where the young kauri grows) is a reflection of the vegetation present.
On the eastern edge of this rock forest in the valley between Mt Eden and Mt St John, the Rev Walter Lawry purchased Allotment 23 from the Crown in April 1845. . In 1850, he sold the property to Thomas Osborne.
“I do have info on the size of the original piece of land at Alpers Avenue which was acquired through the Rev Lawry for £70 in December 1850. It was approximately 7 acres in size. Thomas grew walnuts and got £20 a year income from the nuts. Also grown was garlic. He also had a small number of cows. On some documents he is noted as a market gardener. He must have grown other produce. His lower paddocks adjacent to Newmarket Road were used to hold cattle prior to being sold on market day. I don’t think Thomas was ever a rich farmer but more of an honest hardworking Irish man”.
In 1873, Osborne sold two acres, the entire Gillies Avenue frontage of his farm, to John Slatter. John Slatter died 28 August 1890 at Yararoo, South Australia. He originally arrived in South Australia in 1839 and moved at a date unknown to Auckland. From c.1873-1875 he was chairman of the Mt Eden Highway District. By 1899, one of the executors of Slatter’s will, land agent William Aitken, obtained title both to the part of Allotment 23 owned by Slatter and Allotment 33 on the other side of Gillies Avenue. The two acre part of Allotment 23 was surveyed and subdivided into seven sections, , with sections 6 and 7 sold in July 1899 to Archibald Hill. In June 1903, Alfred Kidd purchased these sections from Hill. The remainder of Thomas Osborne’s farm, garden and walnut grove remained in the Osborne family through his death in 1897, until c.1899-1905, when his son George subdivided the farm. Sections along the north side of Alpers Avenue, such as that at 21 Alpers Avenue, were sold for residential development at that point. The family retained the Osborne house at 11 Alpers Avenue until 1995 when the land was sold for a motel development.
Adjoining Allotment 21, Allotment 22 for 6 acres 2 roods was issued to John Kelly and Frederick Whitaker on 21 December 1844. This land was transferred to John Edgerley on 15 December 1851. On 10 June 1848 John Edgerley had already obtained a crown Allotment 30 of 5 acres adjoining this Kelly/Whitaker grant to the west.
John Edgerley was born about 1814, probably in Upper Arley (tStaffordshire) and worked as a gardener at Arley Hall. He migrated to New Zealand in 1834 on the sailing ship Emma Eugenia leaving from the Downs, arrived en route at Sydney 10 May 1835 and reached the Hokianga on 30 July 1835. He spent the years to 1841 at Horeke in the Hokianga as gardener/botanist for Lieutenant Thomas McDonnell, who had been appointed an additional British Resident in New Zealand - they had travelled out together. He brought plants with him from England and when Edward Wakefield visited Horeke in 1839 he found a flourishing garden. There are records in England of John Edgerley sending plant specimens and live plants to Kew Gardens, Mr A. B. Lambert for the Duke of Bedford and the Earl of Mountnorris. Auckland Museum has 8 letters written by John Edgerley to A B Lambert, J. Smith (curator at Kew) and Sir William Hooker concerned with the collecting of New Zealand plants for English collections, including “the Royal Gardens”. Subsequently Edgerley returned to England with both live and dried plants and was at Arley Hall again in April 1842. On 27 December 1842, he married Sarah Newnham at Upper Arley.
When John Edgerley had sailed for England in 1842 he took back a collection of New Zealand plants for Kew Gardens. In return the director of Kew, Sir William Hooker, undertook to provide him with a wide range of flowering shrubs (six casefuls) for setting up a nursery on land in Auckland. Edgerley requested the following plants: “Rhododendrons, camellias, arbutus or strawberry tree, laurustine, Portugal laurel, common laurel, azaleas, a plant or two of lilac, wisteria sinensis, tree paeonia, with a few plants of fuschias – corymbiflora if you can spare it, ribes sanguine, magonmlia grandiflora, deutzia scabra, box for hedging, with a few good roses, white moss if you can spare it, ajuba japonica, cedar of Lebanon, jasminum…acorns, chestnuts, hawthorn berries or any other seed you thought would germinate, also a small collection of good flower seeds with fir cones”. Although roses, flowering seeds and annuals had been imported by early missionaries, their planting concentrated on practical plants such as fruit trees, shelter trees and crops. Certainly this was the first importation of rhododendrums, camellias, azaleas, lilac and wisteria into New Zealand.
John and Sarah Edgerley travelled on the Tyne arriving at Hobart August 1843, then coming on to Auckland. It was possible that he squatted on, or leased, some land immediately in the Epsom/Newmarket area as in the police census of 1844; he was living in a raupo hut in that location despite not buying his crown grant until 1848. John Edgerley brought a collection of items out with him including a set of blasting tools, candlesnuffers, a tinderbox and a humane mantrap; these items are now in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
On 18 December 1843 John Edgerley served as a judge at the Auckland Agricultural Show at Mr Hart’s Exchange Hotel in Newmarket. At the same show the following year in March he won prizes for his rhubarb and cucumbers. In May 1846 he opened his nursery, Eden Nursery on the Epsom site with commercial sales of fruit trees. By 1848 he was advertising twenty four types of apple trees, six types of plum trees, twenty four types of cherry trees, four types of pear trees, five types of peach trees, seven types of nectarines and three types of apricot trees as well as a variety of other plants. Two uncommon New Zealand shrubs bear Edgerley’s name. Pomaderris prunifolia Fenzl var edgerleyi and Psuedopanax edgerleyi.
John and Sarah had two boys, John born 26 July 1846 and William born 4 April 1848 who were described as being “born in a little raupo whare at the edge of a clump of bush a little to the south of Newmarket”. A daughter Sarah was born in 1850. John Edgerley Sr died on 9 June 1849, the same year as a wooden house was built on the land for the family. By August his nursery was being advertised as available for lease. Danson and Aitkin advertised the sale of garden seeds, rhubarb and asparagus from Eden Nursery in July 1851 and the following year George Hanson was selling some of the varieties that Edgerley had brought with him from Kew Gardens. By March 1856 Edgerley’s widow Sarah had six cattle and ran a milk supply on the property.
In October 1869 John and William were declared tenants in common for their fathers holdings of allotments 22 and 30, giving their mother the right to occupy for her life as long as she didn’t remarry. Allotment 22 was split between William to the north and John to the South in 1885. William Edgerley may have built his home at 11 Edgerley Avenue at this point.
John Edgerley’s son, , John, was one of the first white people born in Auckland in 1846. According to his own record he was born in the raupo hut on the land at Epsom. He was apprenticed to the building trade, serving in the Remuera and Parnell Volunteers during the land wars, then moved to the Thames gold fields, Fiji and Melbourne. In Fiji he built houses for Missionaries and ran a cotton plantation. He returned in to Epsom in the 1860’s and in the early 1880’s he went into partnership with his brother William, settling on the land at Epsom and running a building business. Around this time the brothers built a villa on a high point of their property, incorporating John Edgerley’s 1849 house according to family lore and Dinah Holman in “Newmarket lost and found”.
William Edgerley erected a number of buildings around Newmarket. He was a member of the first Newmarket Borough council in 1885, serving for 22 years and from 1895 the Edgerley brothers were “conspicuous attenders” at the annual meetings of Epsom ratepayers, usually held in William Edgerley’s workshop on the edge of the property at Manukau Road. William sat on the Newmarket and Eden Licensing Committees, chairman of the latter. He married Louisa Hannaford and they raised six children, among them Kate Edgerley who studied and went on to teach botany at Auckland Girls Grammar from 1912 to 1939. In 1935 Kate Edgerley was elected the first woman president of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Assistants Association. The Kate Edgerley Prize is annually awarded at the Auckland Girls Grammar School in her honour. John’s wife Sarah died in June 1895 aged 83.
In 1903 William Edgerley sold part of his northern land to Mayor Alfred Kidd for £180, a plot that adjoined the property that Kidd had bought from Archibald Hill in the same year.
John Edgerley Jr was elected to the Epsom Road Board in 1901 and served until April 1920. Around 1917, John and William Edgerley sold land to the southwest and west of the homestead to allow the Kidd family to extend their gardens. From 1926, the Edgerleys subdivided the property to the east of the homestead creating Edgerley Avenue from the drive to their house. John Edgerley Jr died on 1 October 1942 aged 97 in the house at 11 Edgerley Avenue.
In 1942 the homestead was bought from the family by AC Wood who commissioned the Californian architect A B Crocombe to renovate the property. This was done in the “modern American colonial style” and was featured in the NZ Institute of Architects ‘Home & Building’ magazine in 1944 as a good example of modernising a villa.
Although the outbuildings, a laundry, a workshop and a woodshed have been demolished the house remains exactly as re-designed in 1943.
Born at Hounslow, Middlesex, England, Alfred Kidd had arrived in New Zealand in 1865 on the ship Ballarat, at fourteen years old, and worked in Mangere on farms for three years. On the opening of the Thames Goldfields, he moved there and “has seen it develop from a canvas town—there being only one wooden house then (Sheehan's)—to its present proportions.” He was one of the first arrivals and he begun to prospect immediately. For seven years he worked in most of the principal mines and before leaving he was an amalgamator at the Kuranui Battery. He left to take the position of steward and providore for the steamers of the Waikato Steam Navigation Company. He did this for three years and got married to Christine Whisker. With the opening of the railways taking the passenger traffic from the river, Mr Kidd came to Auckland and entered into the hotel keeping business. On his arrival he took over the licence of the old Provincial Hotel in Prince’s Street and the Anchor Hotel. He held the license for the Commercial Hotel, (the oldest licensed house, it is claimed, in New Zealand—dating from 1841), now de Bretts, on the corner of High Street and Shortland Streets from 1882 until 1903.
Mr Alfred Kidd started his political career by being a Parnell Borough Councillor. On the Auckland City Council, he was chairman of the Streets Committee, a member of the Library Committee and chairman of the Finance Committee. He was acting mayor during the term of David Goldie, as Mr Goldie was often ill. Then Sir John Logan Campbell made it a condition of his accepting the mayoralty that Alfred Kidd be acting mayor again. There are several press reports of the time saying it was scandalous that Kidd was not made mayor during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York as he had effectively done all the work under the previous mayoralty of Goldie, one of the reports pointing out that a factor in the decision was that he would not be able to entertain the Duke at the Northern Club as he was not a member. Kidd was elected Mayor in his own right for three years in 1902. He worked tirelessly to create the new electric tramways, new sewerage and roads. He followed very popular movements, promoting workers rights and opening up Maori land, and was then pressured to go into parliament, suggesting that he was the only man who could control, Richard Seddon the Prime Minister. At the time of purchasing the land at 74 & 76 Gillies Avenue, Alfred Kidd was one of the oldest sitting members of the Auckland City Council, having been elected in 1885. He had resigned in 1888, when his projects for developing 159 acres at Ellerslie in the southern part of Remuera, fell victim to a property crash and he filed for bankruptcy. However he paid his creditors in full and the bankruptcy was annulled then, after a brief period, he was re-elected, and held his seat until he became M.P. for Auckland in 1905. He held the seat until 1908, , and was Chief Whip - Seddon and Ward Governments. He ensured that the new Auckland Post Office was built, now the site of Britomart station and introduced several bills, including an important gambling bill that restricted gambling to racecourses
He was president of the Licensed Victuallers Association for many years. As a Druid, Mr Kidd was district president for thirteen years, and one of the founders of the Friendly Societies Conference. He was initiated into Freemasonry in the Sir Walter Scott Lodge, Thames in 1876. On leaving Thames, he joined the “Ara,” Auckland, and passed through all the chairs of that lodge; he was later on elected master of Lodge Waiuku. Mr Kidd also passed the chair in the Royal Arch Chapter and 18 degree. For two years he was president of the Board of General Purposes for the Grand Lodge of New Zealand, and was then elected grand senior warden. Mr Kidd was the possessor of several good horses, notably “St. Hippo,” whom he sold to the Nathan family. He was President and steward of the Auckland Racing Club. In addition he was Chairman Auckland Harbour Board, (in which role he laid the foundation stone of Admiralty House), Charitable Aid Board, Trustee Auckland Savings Bank, Board of Governors Auckland Grammar School & Auckland College, Board of Governors Veterans Home, Chairman Auckland Draining Board. He was a member of the Costley Trust Board and had held a seat on most local boards.
His money appeared to come from mining companies with successful land and stock market speculation, as he was a director of a great many companies. At one stage he was a director of twenty-two mining companies. In 1896, it was reported that although he had lost all his money in the property slump of 1888, had made over £30,000 out of a recent mining boom in Thames. It was reported that he was going to use some of this money to rebuild the Commercial Hotel. He also had financial interests in farming around Waiuku, then known as the Aka Swamp. He owned 2000 acres of land, said “to be second to none in the North Island”. In the late 1880’s he was in partnership in a booksellers and stationers called Kidd & Wildman based in the Victoria Arcade which competed with the main book dealers of the time, Champtaloup & Cooper, Upton, Waytes, Varty and Chapman . It was also a lending library and publisher and printed ‘Our Dealings with Maori Lands or Comments on European Dealings For the Purchase and Lease of Native Lands and the Legislation Thereon’ by L Mackay and ‘The financial depression: its cause and remedy’ by R D L Duffus among others.
Mr Kidd collected early NZ literature, described in a newspaper letter to the editor of 1886 as “the best private collection of books on New Zealand that is probably to be found in the city” and “the finest private collection of New Zealand literature (touching this colony, that is) extant” in an article in the New Zealand Graphic. Estimated to be over 500 books on Polynesian and New Zealand history in 1887, , he left a collection of 304 books, the earliest being dated 1773, to the Auckland University College in an inlaid wood bookcase upon his death. These books were mostly travel experiences but included political and botanical books with books in Maori.
He and his first wife, nee Christine Whisker born in Auckland in 1874 to Private Whisker , had three sons, Alf (b1875), Charles (b1882) and Frank (b1885) and one daughter Flora (b1879). . He and his wife were hugely popular figures and he was petitioned several times to sit for mayor before he accepted the post. Mr Kidd was well known for blushing, his immaculate dress sense and his interesting clever conversation. His eldest son, Alfred John Kidd, was born at Ngaruawahia, in 1875 and died at Waiuku in 1941. He was educated at St. John's College, and the Auckland Grammar School, and afterwards studied at the Agricultural College at Lincoln, Canterbury. On leaving the Grammar School he went to Te Akau station, where, in four years, he acquired a practical knowledge of stock and farming. After studying at the Agricultural College at Lincoln, Christchurch, he entered the firm of Messrs Hunter and Nolan, and obtained a further experience of stock. Mr Kidd then went to Waiuku, where he had purchased the estate of ‘Brookfield.’ and superintended the large interests of his father at the neighbouring property, ‘Arrowville’ of 2,000 acres. In 1901 this land in the Aka Aka swamp annually fattened about 500 cattle for the Auckland markets as well as running a dairy herd for which Mr Kidd built a creamery near the swamp property. Before the First World War the farms were shipping sheep for sale to Sydney and getting record prices. Mr Alfred Kidd Jr married Miss Elizabeth Ann Parker, of Waiuku, , and had a family of two children. His sister Flora married a son of Judge Gillies, Mr William F Gillies.
Mrs Christina Kidd died in 1904 and in April 1907 Mr Alfred Kidd married Miss Ethel Anne Bridgeman, (b1876), who was Matron of the Cambridge Sanatorium, at St Andrew’s Church Epsom. They took a month in Australia as a honeymoon.
Mrs Ethel Kidd was a highly active person in Auckland society. She was three times President Trained Nurses' Association, President Auckland Trained Nurses Association & Civic League, Dominion President Registered Nurses, Dominion President NZ Free Kindergarten Union for five years, Founder of Auckland Hospital Auxiliary and then President for 9 years and a member of Auckland Hospital Board for 10 years. She represented the NZ Council of Women at the Women's International Peace Conference in Copenhagen in 1924 and represented NZ at the Women's International Peace Conference at Budapest in 1937. She was made a JP in 1933, received the MBE in 1938 and was the holder of Coronation & Jubilee medals.
In 1910 Mr and Mrs Kidd travelled to England by way of ten days in Sydney, Cairo and the Pyramids, landing from the SS Otway in Naples, then travelled to Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo, Nice and Paris. They arrived in England in time to attend the Derby in May 1911. During this journey, Mr Kidd told a reporter “ I have travelled largely over the continent and I still hold that there are within our own dominion better sights and scenes than any I have seen on my travels”. In September they travelled through the Home Counties, then went to Belgium and Germany. They had intended to leave for New Zealand from Naples in October but changed their minds, possibly as they had let the house in Auckland for a longer period. They went on to travel in Ireland and England and passed November in Scotland. Over the Christmas period, the Kidds travelled in Yorkshire and Lancashire. In March 1912 the Kidds travelled to Switzerland, the Riviera, Paris, Berlin and northern Italy, then returned to England in order that Mr Kidd could attend the first levee at St James’s Palace and Mrs Kidd could be presented at the first court of the season. Mr Kidd was presented to HM the King on Monday 2 March by Sir William Hall-Jones, the NZ High Commissioner. On 8 March Mrs Kidd was presented to the HM the King and Queen by Mrs Lewis Harcourt, the wife of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Mrs Kidd’s gown was “of ivory satin with an overdress of d’Alencon lace arranged in paniers. The train was an old French design of gold and white chiffon brocade hemmed with graduated cloth of gold falling from both shoulders in a cascade, allowing the lace gown to appear through. Mrs Kidd’s bouquet was an early Victorian posy composed of mauve orchids, white lilac, pink rosebuds and blue forget me nots. It was tied with streamers of mauve and pink ribbons”. They left England in the Mauretania travelling to New York, and then travelled to Chicago and Winnipeg. They visited the Rockies, then met the Zealandia in Vancouver on 15 April and reached New Zealand on 7 May 1912.
The house at 28 Domain Road (now 74 & 76 Gillies Avenue) was advertised to let, furnished, in the Auckland Star of 17 February 1911 and described as a “Alfred Kidd’s, Esq., beautiful property in Domain Road Epsom” with “a house of nine rooms with all modern conveniences, stables, tennis lawn, good garden and about 2 acres of land”.
THE WHISKER FAMILY
Alexander Whisker was born at Markethill, County Armagh, Ireland, on 22 July 1819. He was the son of Catherine Jenkins and her husband, James Whisker. He enlisted in the British Army on 26 May 1838 and was posted to the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment of Foot. He married Flora Cook: it is not known when or where the marriage took place. A daughter, Mary Jean, was born while the regiment was stationed in Dublin on 10 September 1842, and a son, Charles, was born on 30 April 1844 at Chatham, while the regiment was awaiting trans-shipment to New South Wales for garrison duties. By March 1845 Whisker and his family were in barracks at Parramatta.
Whisker's stay at Parramatta was short. Reinforcements were needed to fight against Hone Heke and Kawiti's forces in New Zealand. No 3 Company of the 58th Regiment arrived in Auckland on 22 April 1845 aboard the Slains Castle en route for the Bay of Islands. The company was commanded by Captain C. W. Thompson, whose soldier-servant was Private Alexander Whisker. During May Whisker took part in three engagements, including the assault on Heke's pa at Puketutu and the subsequent retreat. Returning to Auckland, Whisker celebrated his survival in the local grog shops and as a result lost his soldier-servant position with all its privileges.
During this period Whisker kept a Memorandum Book in which he recorded, in a spontaneous style with misspellings and little punctuation, a detailed account of life as a soldier. He shared the predilection of his fellow soldiers for drinking, fighting, looting and complaining. He also, like them, accepted harsh discipline and living conditions.
Whisker had remained in Auckland when the company was sent north again in May 1845 and so missed Colonel Henry Despard's disastrous attack on Heke's pa at Ohaeawai in June and July. He followed later and visited the battle site and the graves of his comrades at Waimate North. His company joined the force sent against Kawiti's pa at Ruapekapeka in December. Torrential rain, inadequate shelter, poor provisions and constant alerts made life miserable. Whisker's talent as a 'scrounger', and the daily rum ration, helped him to survive. Ruapekapeka was finally taken on 11 January 1846.
There followed several months of boredom in camp at Victoria (Waitangi) and Wahapu Bay. Whisker spent some of his time composing a ballad about the campaigns. Eventually the company returned to Parramatta and Whisker rejoined his family in late December 1846. While in New Zealand he had written regularly to Flora and had also composed a love poem for her.
On 10 July 1847 the Whisker family arrived in Auckland on the Pestonjee Bomanjee with a detachment of the 58th. Light duties allowed Alexander Whisker to supplement his pay with casual labour until his discharge on 31 December 1849.
Little is known about the rest of Whisker's life. The entries in his Memorandum Book end in April 1852 and are followed by songs and ballads he either composed or copied. He worked as a labourer on Kawau Island and then bought a property in Newmarket, Auckland. He was arrested and convicted for drunkenness in May 1852 and served 24 hours' hard labour. In July that year he was charged with conveying spirituous liquor into gaol and fined. His occupation is later described as a dairyman and then as a contractor. His family eventually numbered six sons and two daughters. Flora Whisker died on 1 November 1891. Alexander Whisker lived for another 16 years, dying on 25
November 1907 at his home in King Street, Newmarket, Auckland.
KIDD FAMILY PURCHASES 28 DOMAIN RD (74 & 76 GILLIES AVENUE)
When his first wife, Christine, became ill, Alfred Kidd purchased the land at 74 & 76 Gillies Avenue (then 28 Domain Road) and commissioned G S Goldsbro’ to design a residence to be built in the middle of the volcanic rock forest on the hillside of the former Osborne land, with the garden to be laid out on the former Edgerley property. Mr Kidd called the house ‘Hounslow’ after his birthplace. Kidd had held the licence under, and then bought the lease of, the Commercial Hotel from the Stitchbury family who lived at Clovernook, further along Domain Road. Mr Stitchbury was also a fellow City Councillor.
Mrs Christine Kidd’s newspaper death notice in 1904 noted her address as “Fairfax Avenue, Gillies Avenue Epsom” which implies that the property had its principal entrance from Alpers Avenue, and then named Fairfax Avenue, not Gillies Avenue. At 21 Alpers Avenue was a cottage that has stylistic similarities to 74 Gillies and other work by Goldsbro’. It dates from around the same period as 74 Gillies and links the Gillies Avenue property to Fairfax Avenue. This cottage might have been a gardener’s house or even a - rather large - gatehouse to a lower drive or a rental investment or for one of the four children from the first marriage. Investigations into the title do not show any ownership by the Kidd family however. The cottage was removed in 2011.
In 1915 the house at 74 Gillies Avenue was extended to accommodate the two sons of the second marriage, Malcolm James born in 1908 and Lindsay Robert, born in 1913. The renovations were undertaken by Wade and Wade architects. H L Wade had been articled with his father, H G Wade, and then made a partner with his father in 1899. By the early 1900’s he was in practise with Goldsbro’ but went back to practising under Wade & Wade. The southern and western verandas were enclosed as sunrooms.
In 1915 Alfred Kidd bought a further three quarters of an acre from the Edgerley family. Greenhouses and a further 10-foot rockery with a waterfall were built on the site.
A typical press notice of the time covered the opening of the garden for a party. In ‘Kai Taki the Nurses Journal of New Zealand’ 2 April 1915, described a garden fete “held at Mrs Kidd’s beautiful residence “Hounslow” Gillies Avenue. Mrs Kidd’s lovely grounds were ideal for the purpose”.
After a suitable period, following the death of Mr Alfred Kidd in 1917, the garden and house at 74 Gillies Avenue continued to be used by his widow for garden parties to fundraise for charity. In ‘Kai Taki the Nurses Journal of New Zealand’, October 1924, “On Sunday afternoon the delegates were the guests of Mrs Alfred Kidd, who had arranged to hold a garden party but owing to the rain, this was quite impossible, and Ms Kidd was a hostess at an ‘at home’ held in the pavilion of the Carlton Bowling Green. A stringed orchestra contributed an enjoyable musical programme and time passed pleasantly with tea and chatter”.
In 1918 the owners of Clovernook, a house dating from 1850 that was later destroyed for the motorway in 1965, sold part of their garden to Mrs Ethel Kidd to extend her gardens. Clovernook was originally almost 6 acres with a double frontage to Manukau Road and Gillies Avenue. Box hedges with formal gardens filled with pink and white camellias were a feature. A drive large enough for a two-horse carriage led from Manukau Road to the house on the Gillies Avenue side of the property. Sir George Grey gave trees to the original owner, Mr Charles Stitchbury. In the garden was a fountain surrounded by roses, urns and cam shells, also gifts of Sir George Grey. Lacrosse was introduced to Auckland on the paddock of the house. The current Clovernook Road was the right of way boundary between the Clovernook property and that of Highwic, so we can assume that the former Clovernook property that was bought by Mrs Kidd was attached to the original Kidd property. This was when the garden was at its largest and family lore tells us that it was over 5 acres.
In 1928 a small eastern section of the garden was sold to the Carlton Bowling Club for use an extra green. This section had held the stables for the house but a new garage built next to the tennis lawn with access from Gillies Avenue had probably superseded these. Also in 1928 Mrs Kidd sold most of the property adjoining Edgerley Avenue including all the land bought from the Stitchbury family in 1918. Also sold was the site of the Moodabe house, which according to records at the architecture school was originally commissioned from Horace Massey by Mrs Kidd in 1928. From the land sold to her husband by the Edgerley family in 1915, she retained a quarter acre section with a right of way to Edgerley Avenue.
CARLTON BOWLING CLUB
An acre and half was bought for the Carlton Bowling, Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club (founded in 1893, it is the second oldest bowling club in Auckland) in 1912 from the Osborne family. The land adjoined the Kidd property at 28 Domain Road but had access from Fairfax Avenue, now 13 Alpers Avenue.
A pavilion was built in 1915 at a cost of £1000, designed by TG Price and built by Snowden & Mason. In 1918 TG Price built the green keepers cottage.
In 1935 the pavilion was completely renovated and extended by Lippincott, the architect of Auckland University.
Roy A Lippoincott (b Harrisburg, PA, 1 July 1885; d Santa Barbara, CA, 28 April 1969). American architect, active in Australia and New Zealand. He studied architecture (1905-9) at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and on graduation worked for the firms of Von Holst and Fyfe (1909-11) and Spencer and Powers (1912), both in Chicago. In 1913 Lippincott became chief draughtsman to Walter Burley Griffin, becoming a junior partner and moving to Australia with Griffin in 1914, when he also married Griffin's sister, Genevieve. Lippincott participated in planning the new capital of Canberra and managed the firm's Melbourne office. It is difficult to distinguish his designs from those of Griffin, and Lippincott's own house (1917), 21 Glenard Drive, Heidelberg, Victoria, clearly reveals the influence of the Prairie school. In 1920, in partnership with Edward Billson, who also worked in Griffin's office, he won the competition for the Arts Building (1921-6), University of Auckland, and in 1921 he moved to New Zealand to supervise the construction of this abstracted Gothic-style design. Their entry to the Chicago Tribune Tower competition (1922), also with severely abstracted Gothic-style elements, received honourable mention. Lippincott established an independent practice in Auckland in 1925. His commercial works, notably additions (1927-9) to Smith and Caughey's Department Store, Elliot Street, houses, including the Lippincott House (1927), Remuera Road, and Scott House (1935), Paratai Drive, all in Auckland, and educational buildings, for example the Biology Building (1937-9), University of Auckland, became valuable models of Chicago school design for the architectural profession in New Zealand, which was still conservative. Lippincott vigorously advocated university training for architects in New Zealand and also advised on methods of earthquake-resistant construction. On the outbreak of World War II he returned to the USA and practised in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. His work of this period, which included the house for Donald K. Lippincott (1948) in Orinda, CA, was less influential than that of the years he spent in New Zealand when he helped counteract the insularity of architecture there by providing a direct link with a key phase of 20th-century American architecture.
In 2001 the property was sold to A & C Shaw Ltd for NZD5million and in 2003 the club moved to Rangitoto Road, Remuera then amalgamated with the Cornwall Park Bowling Club.
Around 1918, John and William Edgerley sold land to the south of the homestead to allow the Kidd family to extend their gardens. .
In 1926 Mrs Kidd commissioned the newly fashionable architect Horace Massey to design a two story house on part of this land to the south of the Edgerley homestead, benefitting from the Edgerley brothers subdividing their garden and creating Edgerley Avenue from the drive to their home. This new Edgerley Avenue finished just before the new Horace Massey designed house and the Edgerley homestead.
Massey (1895-1979) was born in Auckland and educated at Auckland Grammar. He was articled to architect Alec Wiseman and also worked with R.K. Binney and Hoggard, Prouse and Gummer. During the First World War (1914-1918), he was billeted for a while before proceeding to France where he served until the end of the war. During his time in England he took a great interest in local housing. At the end of the war he was one of 3000 entrants in the Daily Mail Ideal Homes Competition. He won the 500 pound first prize in the northern industrial section and was also awarded one of six New Zealand Expeditionary Forces scholarships to study for three years. He chose to study in London at the Architectural Association School and then returned to New Zealand in 1922 and became a partner in the firm Massey, Morgan, Hyland & Philips, who were responsible for much hospital work. Massey himself was an active member of the Auckland Hospital Board for many years. In the late 1920s Massey was in partnership with G.E. Tole, followed by a period on his own. Massey also designed many fine houses including the Geddes House, Remuera (1936-37), McArthur House, Orakei (1938) and Melvin House, Achilles Point (1942). He was involved with the New Zealand Institute of Architects and devoted time to the publication of professional papers. Massey was a prolific architect. One of his former partners estimated that he designed one in every five architect-designed houses in Auckland during the 1920s. During this decade he was responsible for a wide variety of designs including: Hawkes Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital (1925); rebuilding the Lyric Theatre, Auckland (1926); Whangarei Nurses' Home (1927); Holy Cross Convent, Epsom (1928); and Heards Factory, Parnell (1929). The next two decades his work included: St Michael's Church, Remuera (1933); Cintra Flats, Symonds Street (1935); Whangarei Public Library (with Morgan, 1936), A.L. Caughey home, Remuera (1937); Provincial Centennial Memorial, Petone (1940) and Auckland Crematorium (1943). In the 1940s and 1950s he was senior partner of the firm Massey, Beatson, Rix-Trott and Carter who were responsible for a wide variety of work including Pukekohe War Memorial Hall, Coates Memorial Church, Matakohe (1950), Auckland Crematorium (1952), Library at Takapuna Grammar School (1956) and Norwich Union Insurance Society Building, Queen Street (1963). Massey retired in the late 1950s and died in 1978 at the age of 83. Massey received both national and international acclaim for his designs. In 1922 he was awarded the second prize (with Morgan and Armstrong) for the Bengal Legislative Council Chambers in Calcutta. In 1933 he was commended for his entry in the competition for the design of premises for the Royal Institute of Architects in London. He won New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) gold medals in 1933 for St Michael's Church, Remuera (with G.E. Tole); in 1937 for Cintra Flats, Auckland; in 1938 for the Whangarei Public Library (with A.P. Morgan); and in 1940 for the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial in Petone. The Petone design was also the winning entry in a competition for the design of the building. At the time Massey was the only architect to ever have won four NZIA gold medals. In 1950 he was awarded the NZIA bronze medal for the design of his own home. Massey was also well known for his landscape design work and wrote several papers on garden design. In 1930 he prepared a plan for the reclamation of Hobson Bay but the design was never implemented.
. In 1938 the Massey designed Kidd house was bought by Michael Moodabe. Cinema proprietor and entrepreneur, businessman, local politician Michael Joseph Moudabbber was born in Sydney, Australia, on 24 June 1895, the eldest son and fifth child of Ferris Moudabber and his wife Elizabeth Ann Akoorie. His parents had emigrated from Lebanon in the mid 1880s, leaving their four daughters in the care of relatives. They sought to make a little money with the eventual intention of returning home. They were unsuccessful as itinerant pedlars with horse and cart, however, and had crossed to New Zealand by 1899. Shortly after their arrival, at the suggestion of a member of the local Lebanese community, they changed the spelling of their name to Moodabe.
The family ran a small grocery shop in Grey Street, but in 1901 Ferris Moodabe died, leaving his wife almost penniless with two young sons. At a very early age Michael had to go out and work, although he received some schooling from the Marist brothers in Vermont Street, Ponsonby. A peanut cart was the start of his colourful business career. In the evening his mother would roast peanuts over a small oil-fired stove and the next day he would sell them up and down Queen Street and the inner city.
Michael Moodabe's first employment for wages was as a general hand at the men's outfitters E. C. Browne and Company in Queen Street. Later he worked as cleaner and caretaker at the King George Picture Palace, Queen Street. At the time the Globe Continuous Picture Theatre opposite was under the control of F. J. Rayner, a Canadian dentist. He offered 'MJ' (as he would be known for the rest of his life) a half share in the Globe for £500, which his mother was able to provide from money she had put aside from the grocery store. In 1924 he became a partner with Rayner in the renamed Hippodrome Picture Company, with the title of manager and a salary of £6 10s. per week. When Rayner left New Zealand in the late 1920s, MJ began to expand the company, now assisted by his brother Joseph (known as JP), and in August 1928 Hippodrome Pictures became Amalgamated Theatres.
On 31 October 1927, at Auckland's St Patrick's Cathedral, Michael married Alma Maude Vercoe, a cashier at the King George theatre.
When Thomas O'Brien and his beloved Civic Theatre went bankrupt in 1932, the Moodabe brothers took over O'Brien's other Auckland theatres, including the Princess (later the Plaza), the Rialto in Newmarket, and the Tivoli in Karangahape Road. These cinemas, and later the National Picture Theatre (formerly the King George), gave Amalgamated a strong base in New Zealand's largest city. However, the Civic was to remain out of their full control until 1945, when, against stiff competition from both the American company Warner Brothers Pictures and local cinema magnate Robert Kerridge, Amalgamated obtained a 50-year lease.
Late in 1936, in order to guarantee film supply, MJ persuaded the American giant Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation to buy a half interest in Amalgamated. By 1938 the company's circuit had grown to 65 cinemas, and attendances that year were said to be five million – equivalent to three visits by every New Zealander.
In September 1938, Michael Moodabe added a private cinema to the house in Edgerley Avenue, the first private cinema in New Zealand. This was designed by Surrey Alleman, who designed Garden Court Flats in Mission Bay and the Tamaki Yacht Club. During the thirties he designed Hampton Court flats in Wellesley Street West, which won the NZIA Gold Medal in 1931. He designed a number of private residences in the eastern suburbs including his own house at 20 Ridings Road Remuera, which is currently for sale, , as well as commercial buildings in Auckland and the top half of the North Island, such as the Otahuhu Civic Centre (1946), Kawerau Bus and Taxi Station (1957), Helena Rubenstein factory, Onehunga (1959), Taupo Police Station (1963). Northcote and West Tamaki Post Offices (1965), and Tappenden Motors, Stanley Street (1955).
MJ was a born showman. Short and heavily built, he possessed an open, effusive personality. He was rarely seen without a large cigar ('Here, have a good cigar' was his popular greeting to smokers and non-smokers alike), and he was described as 'New Zealand's Sam Goldwyn', after the Hollywood producer known for his colourful turn of phrase. A shrewd businessman and gifted publicist, he often deliberately created queues outside his cinema to stimulate public interest in a film. On one occasion he spread a load of sand outside a theatre to publicise a western; unfortunately, when it rained cinemagoers trudged much of it inside. From 1941 to 1947 he served as an Auckland City Councillor under Mayor John Allum, and in 1952 he was made an OBE.
In 1948 the house was extended with two new sunrooms at the north of the house on the ground floor with a terrace in between plus a new bedroom and large terrace on the first floor. At this date the distinctive ‘rolling wave’ ironwork was added to the two terraces and the property boundaries.
In 1960 a swimming pool was blasted out of the volcanic rock on the site at the rear of the house. When television came to New Zealand in 1960, the Moodabes arranged for Fox to buy the remaining half share of their cinema chain; the latter agreed on condition that the Moodabe family remain in management control.
In 1965 the Newmarket Viaduct was created, destroying the view down the valley to the sea and making Gillies Avenue into a motorway on and off ramp. It demolished several homes in Gillies Avenue and a whole street of houses below it. The noise caused many residents and the Carlton Bowling Club to move.
In 1962 the Moodabe brothers retired from the cinema chain they had created, leaving the executive management (with Fox's blessing) to MJ's three sons, Royce, Michael and Joseph. JP's wife, Dorothy, died in May 1967, and on 29 November that year, again at St Patrick's, he wed Leila Dunstan Macknight (née Maher);
In 1968 the house was sold to the Officer’s Club, the oldest club in Auckland founded in 1840, who installed a toilet block to the rear of the property, turning the drawing and dining rooms into bars and the former cinema into the club’s dining room.
In 2007 the then owners, A & C Shaw Ltd, requested demolition approval, which was given by Auckland City Council. On 30 December 2009 Auckland City Council wrote to A&C Shaw Ltd to advise that Building consent had lapsed on the demolition.
Neither The Newmarket Heritage Study, (Report to Focus Newmarket group, Dinah Holman, February 1996) nor Historic Places Trust’s submissions to Plan Change 196 make any mention of the Moodabe house. Under Plan Change 196, the zoning alters from 7a to 8c – highly intensive high-rise of up to six stories.
In 2010 the Moodabe house was sold by A&C Shaw to a Chinese development corporation for an undisclosed sum. This is not Runcorn Hotel Development Corporation, who owns the adjoining former Carlton Bowling Club and the former garden of 74 Gillies Avenue but a similar Chinese based company called Higate International Investment Pty Limited. Some of the 1940’s Art deco railings have been removed and discarded in the former site of the greenhouses of 74 Gillies Avenue at the rear of the site.
IMPORTANCE OF ARCHITECTURE OF HOUSE AT 74 GILLIES AVENUE
Both the house and the garden at 74 Gillies Avenue are equally important. The house was designed by George Selwyn Goldsbro’ of Fripp and Goldsbro’ who were the first architects to work in the Arts and Crafts style in New Zealand, along with Samuel Hurst Seagar in Christchurch. Goldsbro’ and Fripp designed in a derivation of Australian Federation architecture, introducing the use of shingles, curved bay windows and terracotta roof tiles to New Zealand, all of which they used in Mr Kidd’s new house.
The Kidd house was a one-story bungalow built on a slope with some ancillary rooms underneath. Three reception rooms - drawing, morning and dining room- rotated around an entrance hall and a northeastern veranda. Although the entrance was from the west, a long north south corridor bisected the house and led from the reception rooms to a large bedroom, a dressing room and a bathroom. A southeastern veranda surrounded these three rooms. On this floor there was a maid’s bedroom opening off a staircase hall that led to lower floor. This lower floor gave access to the garden, laundry, basement storage and a gardener's flat, consisting of a bedsitting room, kitchen and w.c.. A large lined attic ran the length of the roof and there was a capacious cellar. The kitchen had a southern window with pantry and scullery windows facing west with stained glass for privacy. The drawing room and morning room looked north into the lava rock forest garden but the morning room also looked east, as did the dining room, dressing room and principal bedroom, onto the flat cultivated part of the garden. These views to the east were across the valley and looked to Mr Hobson and Mt St John as well as a view down the valley to the harbour. . The scullery, pantry, maid’s bedroom and bathroom looked west to the street. Although surrounded by verandas on the north, east and south sides, the drawing and dining room curved bay windows broke through the verandas under their own gables to bring sunlight into these rooms. The house was weatherboard with the bay windows and the entrance gable having wooden tiles. The steeply pitched roof with four gables was of red brick tiles from Marseilles France and the basement was built from the volcanic rock of Mt Eden. The two projecting bays had flat rooofs lined with tin. The entrance porch was in the American “spindle” style while the garden side verandas were arts and crafts with simplified Chinese style balustrades. Windows were all double sashes with geometric stained glass around the front door and above the protruding curved bay windows of the drawing and dining rooms. The French doors onto the verandas had transom windows above and two smaller Victorian style bay windows – square of the morning and villa style of main bedroom – were placed under two verandas. An exterior staircase on the northern side and a staircase on the eastern side led into the garden from the verandas. There were four chimneystacks, double backed ones serving the drawing/morning rooms and main bedroom/dressing room with others serving the kitchen and the laundry. These chimneystacks were of brick without render and fashioned in Goldsbro’s trademark I shape. Inside the house the architect created detailed fireplaces in the drawing, morning and dining rooms with simpler designs in the dressing room and main bedroom. The ceilings were pressed paper of different designs in the reception rooms and hallway but wooden tray ceilings in the kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom.
IMPORTANCE OF GARDEN SETTING
It is difficult to date the Edwardian garden and confirm whether Mr Alfred Kidd or his first or second wives created it but the main design elements and planting were in place before Mr Kidd’s death in 1917 as there are photographs. This garden is very important – in its entirety - as it shows exactly the transition of New Zealand gardens from 1900 through the influence of the arts and crafts movement. For the first time, gardens were not created by being burnt or blasted out of the native forest then re-sown in exact versions of the English homeland but the native forest was incorporated as an integral part of the garden and even encouraged by under planting. Sir James Wallace’s Rannoch on Almorah Drive is a good example of a similar – but truncated by the motorway - version of this type of garden.
To incorporate native forests, into a garden layout, is very much a part of the English arts and crafts theory of ‘woodland’ as expounded by William Robinson, the founder of two influential gardening magazines, The Garden and Gardening Illustrated, in his “The Wild Garden” of 1870. These theories of a ‘natural’ landscape were taken up by arts and crafts garden designers such as Gertrude Jekyll and brought into New Zealand usage by educated amateurs such as Alfred Kidd. A fundamental part of these Epsom ‘wild’ gardens are the volcanic stone walls that are used as retaining and feature walls to delineate garden beds of natives and to create steps and pathways through the garden. As at the former Goodfellow house across the road at 47 Gillies Avenue, integral design elements included a drive that wound through the wood to reach the house, a clearing around the house where exotic trees and plants – hydrangeas, fuschia, begonia and roses –were planted and a sense of the garden opening into the house and the house accessing the garden wherever possible, though verandas and French doors.
Equally important to the social use of this type of garden were flat open spaces that could be used for decorative pools, long borders, croquet or lawn tennis. The Goodfellow property had a tennis lawn dug out of the volcanic garden with a pergola overlooking it, including a long terrace formerly lined with hydrangeas. The Alfred Kidd property was able to utilise the former Osborne market gardens and Edgerley family fruit tree nursery for this purpose. And as this area was large, flat and had such good soil it proved an excellent site for the reflecting pool in a sunken rose garden, the fifty foot pergola, straight and winding paths with herbaceous borders, various specimen and exotic trees, two tennis lawns, many shrubs and urns. There were also greenhouses, goldfish pond, arbours, planted arches and a large rockery of volcanic rock covered in alpine plant and succulents.
PROPERTY HISTORY 1947 ONWARDS
After Mrs Ethel Kidd’s death in 1947, the property passed to her son Dr Lindsay Robert Kidd G.P. who continued to be active in Auckland’s social world and to open the garden for charitable and political fundraising. Dr Kidd was prominent in the care of the elderly and looked after several old people’s homes. He was also a designated medical examiner for the civil aviation division of the Ministry of Transport. For many years he was the honorary medical officer for the New Zealand International Grand Prix. He was on the board of the Pukeiti Rhododendrum Trust and many horticultural societies and was a friend of other horticulturalists such as Sir Russell Mathews at Tupare and William Cook at Eastwood Arboretum. He continued to add plants to the garden and planted the Dawn Redwood at the western boundary. This tree was only rediscovered in China in 1943 and the specimen at 74 Gillies Avenue is noted in S. W. Burstall's account (1971: 59) of northern New Zealand's historic and notable trees as being "prominently sited and the finest of this species seen in Auckland".
In 1953, the gardener's flat was extended with a new bathroom, the kitchen was renovated and a window was added into the east wall.
In October 1958, permission was given to build a bathroom into the sunroom at the northwest corner of the house at a cost of £495. Probably at this stage, the drawing room became the main bedroom with the former main bedroom becoming the sitting room of a staff flat, which consisted of a kitchen in the sunroom veranda at the south end of the house, the 1915 w.c. and bathroom, a bedroom and the former main bedroom. Until 2009, there was a wall in the corridor with a 1930’s door closing off this part of the house.
In 1960 three one-story flats were built next to the greenhouses on the land formerly belonging to the Edgerley family, as rental investments. They have their own road access to Edgerley Avenue
In 1964 a swimming pool was blasted out of the volcanic rock on the site of the former second smaller grass tennis court on the garden front of the house.
In 1965 the Newmarket Viaduct was created, destroying the view down the valley to the sea and making Gillies Avenue into a motorway on and off ramp. It demolished several homes in Gillies Avenue and a whole street of houses below it. The noise caused many residents and the Carlton Bowling Club to move.
In 1971, the gardeners flat on the lower ground floor was extended to be come a one bedroom flat with separate dining room, living room and laundry. Dr Kidd died in 1971. His widow, Mrs Mary Kidd, became President of the Auckland branch of the Plunket Society, chairman of the National Party Women’s organisation and the first female member of the Nature Conservation Council. She continued to use the house and gardens to fundraise for charity. She maintained a full-time gardener until 1980.
In 1976 the northern part of the garden with the three 1960 flats was subdivided into two separate titles of DP47180 Lot 1 1103 sq m and Lot 2 390 sq m with the remainder of the garden as DP108492 of 5417 sq m.
In 1985 the remaining property was subdivided again into two titles. DP108492 of 5417 sq m was divided into Lot 2 of 4421 sq m at 74 Gillies Avenue and Lot 1 DP108492 of 996 sq m at 18 Edgerley Avenue.
In August 1991 the basement gardeners flat was extended again to become a two bedroom flat with living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry and study. By extending the basement, a roof terrace was created above this new flat with access from the principal floor.
In a letter dated 15 June 1995 from Auckland City Council, the property is described, “the house situated at 74 Gillies Avenue is surrounded by many mature trees that contribute much to the splendid visual appearance of the property. A large number of these trees are protected under the general Tree protection Control…In particular there is a Dawn Redwood tree located on the subject site listed for protection in the Operative District Plan’s Schedule of Trees.”
In July 1995 the property was offered for sale and an article on July 26 described the house as “a notable Epsom landmark. For many years it was a high profile mayoral home, its stylish gardens a venue for civic and charity functions. In earlier years the grounds might have ranked among Auckland’s celebrated English garden settings. It is still outstanding with areas of sunken gardens and nooks but its features are now park like, thanks to the maturity and variety of its tree species.”
In a visit by John Wakeling, Arborist for City Environments Auckland City Council in March 1996, he describes the garden as “spectacular, there are superb views framed by large stately exotic trees – a copper beech and a Kashmir cypress are two of the most memorable. This is an historic house and garden in the original form.”
In an August 1997 report by the Auckland City Council the Landscape Significance is described, “this is an intact original Edwardian estate, which is now considerably rare in Auckland. Many of the trees on the estate are part of the first planting, or precede the formation of the landscape. They include several rare and unusual species, both native and exotic”. The report identified the following that met the criteria for a scheduled item;
two Puriri, (over a hundred years old),
Australian fan palm, (50-75 years old),
Canary Island date palm (Mr Kidd was chairman of Auckland Racing Club and was given this tree at the same time as they purchased the Ellerslie racecourse palms),
Dawn Redwood, (post WW2),
Camphor laurel (removed in 2006),
Copper Beech, (described as “the outstanding feature of the garden, it was planted by the original owner c1900 as part of the original garden design. The sunken garden is a feature beneath it”)
Because the zoning was 6a, the report says “it is possible to permit such development to the rear of the property whilst maintaining access from Gillies Road access point and protecting the house and the immediate landscape around the house”. The surrounds were defined as “all that part of the site within 39.81m of Gillies DP108492”. The owners of the property, the Kidd family, opposed the recommendation and lodged a submission in opposition to Proposed plan Change 80. The planning committee recommended that the house and surrounds be listed as a category B building and to schedule the eight trees. The trees were never scheduled.
On 13 May 2002, the property was sold to Regis Property Limited who proposed that the property at 74 Gillies Avenue be subdivided into two lots. As successors in title, Regis became the successor to the Kidd family submission opposing the listing of the house and garden.
CHRIS HOOK OF REGIS PROPERTIES
In May 2002 Regis Properties commissioned a full report of the trees, with map and photographs, on the Property from Clunie Associates. This was submitted to Auckland City Council on 24 May with recommendations to remove 6 generally protected trees and a 5m karaka plus the bamboo, the phoenix palm and Bhutan cypress.
In an internal ACC memo dated 26 June 2002 to Michael Wong from Boubacar Coulibaly ACC Environments approving the subdivision, it advises that the application is approved with conditions and the approval is based on the scheme plan by Dimension Surveyors of May 2002 and the soakage report by Soil Engineering Ltd of April 2002. Both of these documents have plans that clearly designate the building platform on Lot 2 as only 225sq m because of the existing large trees protected by the District Plan statutory rules. This building platform of 225 sq m is confirmed to Regis Properties in a letter dated 24 October 2002 by Marco Holtrigter of Soil Engineering.
Their contractors, Dimension Surveyors wrote to Auckland City Environments on 4 July 2002 “the entire existing site is a Heritage property in terms of plan Change 8 and the subdivision of the vacant Lot 2 will have no effect as lot 2 is considered to be “site surrounds” and will retain its heritage designation because of this.” And “any future development of either of the subdivided sites would require a resource consent in terms of the heritage rules.”
In an internal ACC e-mail sent from Ian Grant to Michael Wong on 15 August 2002, Ian Grant confirms that Chris Hook of Regis Properties had a conversation with George Farrant where Hook was “prepared to leave both Lots 1 and 2 within their scheduled surrounds definition”. The letter went on to say “This subdivision will allow funds from the sale of lot 2 to be allocated to the restoration and enhancement of the dwelling and surrounds on Lt 1” Apart from the rainwater drainage work necessary as a condition of the subdivision approval, no restoration work was undertaken on the house or grounds.
On page 12 of the report on District Plan Changes 20904, the council concluded that from the heritage perspective the subdivision could be approved, provided that covenants were placed on the title to ban construction of buildings on both sides of the house. This was due to two factors
- Given the substantial size of the dwelling a reasonable amount of “surrounds” on both sides of the house must be protected to ensure that the heritage values of the site would be preserved
- While it may have been desirable to retain the entire site as the “scheduled surrounds” given the land area of over 4000m this would have resulted in a considerable loss of development potential to the owner that could not be justified on heritage grounds alone”
On 11 October 2002, Lot 2 74 Gillies Avenue was renumbered 70 Gillies Avenue.
On 14 October 2002 in the Report on a non notified Discretionary Subdivision Resource Consent Application at 74 Gillies Avenue by Michael Wong Subdivision Consents Officer to R G Miller Team Leader – Subdivisions, it states “Auckland City Council Heritage Division Planner, Ian Grant has assessed the property for its heritage status and has informed: that the property is one of the few remaining untouched ‘Edwardian homesteads” within Auckland City. Heritage has assessed that there are historical, social, political and architectural design significance to the house and gardens on the site. There are a number of (statutorily protected under the District Plan rules) trees on the site.”
Consent was granted to the subdivision on 15/10/02 dividing the property as 74 Gillies with the house and 76 Gillies with almost the entire garden. . The definition of site surrounds was amended to read as “all that land in lot1 DP313509 (74 Gilles Avenue) and areas A, B and C of Lot 2 DP 313509 (70 Gillies Avenue) as identified on CT53356 and CT53357”(see pp12 of the report on District Plan Changes 20904). As part of the approved consent a new deep bore soak hole system was required to be installed to take all storm water from the existing house, carport and existing driveway on Lot 1 to be collected via sealed pipes.
In a report by Soil Engineering Ltd dated 24 October 2002, the building platform area was identified on 76 Gillies as being 225 sq m only.
In the fax sent to Chris Hook of Regis Properties by Megan Taylor of Customer Advice and Consents ACC on 6 December 2002 one of the conditions of consent was “the applicant is advised that there are trees on the property which come within the tree protection rules of the Isthmus district plan and these cannot be cut trimmed or have work undertaken below the drip line without a prior resource consent”. Mr Hook was asked to initial his consent to this condition, which he did and a letter was sent to him on 9 December 2002.
On 9 December 2002 the City Council approved the subdivision with a covenant to protect newly created “area C” in the new subdivision. This is the small north-eastern corner with native trees and volcanic rock walls. This area was protected with the understanding that the remainder of trees on the property, both the remaining volcanic rock forest in the south eastern corner and the mature exotic trees planted in 1900 on the eastern section of the property, would be protected by the statutory tree protection rules.
In a fax dated 9 March 2003 from Chris Hook of Regis Properties accepts that permission was not granted to remove the Kashmir cypress and Mr Hook writes, “Our plan is to enhance the quality of the environment, not remove trees just for the sake of removing them to maximise development options of the site”. Yet on 10 March 2003 five trees (firewheel, maple, pohutukawa, puriri, pine) were granted removal.
On 11 April 2003, Regis Properties received permission from Auckland City Council to build new stone walls of up to a metre a metre away from the house around the north and east sides of 74 Gillies Avenue, separating the house from the listed garden to the north. These were not built and the permission lapsed.
On 23 June 2003 Regis Properties sold the property to B & C Shaw Ltd
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW OF B & C SHAW LTD
On 25 August 2003 B & C Shaw Ltd received approval from Auckland City Council to add another floor to the scheduled house at 74 Gillies Avenue, thus ruining the internal plan through knocking down many internal walls and damaging the garden elevation by putting large dormers into the roof.
On 12 March 2004 Plan Change 80 became operative thus the house at 74 Gillies Avenue became a scheduled heritage item in Appendix 1 of the Isthmus section of the Auckland City plan with category B status but not the garden setting.
On 2 March 2006 George Bernard Shaw of B & C Shaw was convicted of removing a large protected pohutukawa tree on his property at Mt Smart in January 2005. The case received a lot of media coverage, not least because Shaw, facing a gaol term, cried at public meeting of the Maungakiekie Board. Because Mr Shaw had already been convicted on four charges of a similar type in 1997 and admitted to an unconsented removal of trees at a property in Alpers Avenue in 1993, , he was fined $80,000 plus another $20,000 to purchase 200 more trees with the condition that he must participate in the tree planting. He called in sick when he was required to plant the trees.
On 21 December 2006 B & C Shaw Ltd were given permission to remove a camphor laurel tree of 22m in height that had previously had removal consent refused. This enlarged the building platform again from the 225 sq m as approved in the 2002 subdivision.
On 29 March 2007 B & C Shaw Ltd put the adjoining site to 74 & 76 Gillies Avenue, the Carlton Bowling Club, up for sale but no one bought it.
On 10 September 2007 B & C Shaw Ltd submitted a proposal to Plan Change 196 to rezone the property at 76 Gillies Avenue from 6a to 8c, stating, “which has been excluded from the plan modification despite it being contiguous vacant land.” It further stated that the rezoning would “enable integrated site planning and redevelopment”. This is contrary to Newmarket’s Future Guiding Principles as outlined in section 32-report plan change 196 – “Retain and enhance the historic, cultural and natural identity and amenity of the area”. Additionally residential 8C - in the same report - is supposed to be applied only to residential areas already identified in the district plan as suitable for high-density development zoned residential 7. The neighbouring properties were all zoned residential 7a so it is logical that they would be proposed as changing to 8c. The garden at 76 Gillies Avenue was designated 6A deliberately to preserve its features, such as the large mature trees, and its relationship to the grade B listed house. Neither The Newmarket Heritage Study, (Report to Focus Newmarket group, Dinah Holman, February 1996), B&C Shaw’s submission nor Historic Places Trust’s submissions make any mention of the Grade B listed Alfred Kidd house on the adjoining land to 76 Gillies nor the fact that the “contiguous“ land was in fact an integral part of the Edwardian garden of 74 Gillies Avenue and still retains trees and garden layout relating to the Grade B listed Alfred Kidd house.
On 11 April 2008 B & C Shaw Ltd were granted permission to remove a Persian ironwood, variegated kermadec pohutukawa, Italian cypress, Arizona cypress, and prune Kashmir cypress, karaka, puriri, holm oak at 76 Gillies Avenue.
On 24 February 2009 I bought the property at 74 Gillies Avenue. The LIM Report makes no mention of the plan change in zoning to the former garden at 76 Gillies Avenue but states it is 6A and does not say that it is under consideration to change to 8C so I was unaware of this impending change.
In the decision of 26 February 2009 under amendments to Plan Change 196, submission 26/1 to alter the zoning from 6a – one residence per 1000 m - to 8c – highly intensive high rise of up to six stories - was accepted. This decision was not communicated to me by the Council as the adjoining property owner.
In 5 April 2009 I wrote to Morgan Poi and Allan Holms of Auckland City Council reporting that I had checked the Clunie report of 2002 and believed that 11 trees had been removed from the site including 22m camphor Laurel, 2m sweet gum, 10m firewheel tree, 9m Japanese maple, 7m lancewood, 12m pohutukawa, 18m macrocarpa, 14m pine, 18m cypress, 10m Macedonia, 10 m pohutukawa. I asked if they could check their records for tree removal permission. The Council officers checked their records and said that all the trees had been removed with permission so I cross-checked the permissions against the list of trees and found that in 2003 permission was given to remove a 13m puriri and a 9pm Japanese maple and 11m firewheel tree. Then in 2006 permission was given to remove a 22m camphor laurel. Then in 2008 permission was given to remove a 5m karaka, 18m holm oak, 18m cypress and 10m pohutukawa hybrid. Permission to remove had been given, in some of the cases, as long as trees were replaced on the site but I could not find new trees that had been planted. A 18m Monterey cypress, 7.5m lancewood, 10m rimu and a 10m macadamia had also been removed but I could find no permits in the property file. A list of these was sent to Morgan Poi who said he had to hand the list to Kit who had dealt with the original case. Alan Holmes of Auckland City Council visited the site as there was some trimming of trees to be undertaken and he gave approval to remove some dead wood and recommended Auckland Treeworks to undertake the work. He remarked casually that the owners of the land, George Bernard Shaw, has told him that he wanted to remove the Bhutan Cypress.
In a letter of 5 May 2009, Oliver Richards Data Steward of ACC Environments advised that Lot 2, known as 74A and 70 Gillies Avenue should now be known as 76 Gillies Avenue.
In September 2009 the NZ Government announced that changes would be made to existing tree laws, which provided statutory protection for all trees over a certain size, and that any trees not listed in the district plan would not be protected after 1 January 2012.
In researching the history of the house and garden through ACC files in February 2010, I discovered the zone change to the former garden of the house at 76 Gillies Avenue. I wrote to the Auckland City Council and the Senior Architect in Auckland City Council Heritage replied on 9 February 2010 “I have had no dealings with this site for a long time and have had no part to play in PC196. I was not made aware of any proposed zone changes on adjacent sites to 74 Gillies Avenue nor was the heritage team asked to provide any expert advice on the Plan Change”. On speaking to the council officer in charge of Plan Change 196, Alistair Cribbens said he had lived in the house at 74 Gillies Avenue, as he was a friend of the children of Mr Hook of Regis Properties. In a conversation with my neighbour I learnt of the history of the owner of the former garden at 76 Gillies Avenue and Carlton Bowling Club, George Bernard Shaw, and his prosecutions for removing protected trees. .
I engaged a Resource Management lawyer and found that I could not legally dispute the process as submissions had closed, but I could attach my claim to an existing appeal by Peter Buchanan. An Environment Court hearing was scheduled for April 15 (NV-2009-AKL-000199 Buchanan v Auckland City Council). On 13 April 2010 Peter Buchanan withdrew his application upon receiving a payment from A&C Shaw Ltd, thus the hearing was cancelled and I was unable to appeal the zoning change but I still had to pay the lawyer for drawing up the appeal.
Further I found that one of the property developer owners of 74 Gillies Avenue removed half the copper guttering from the house, removed the rare birds in glass case and chandeliers from the interior and removed all the urns from the garden. I was told by the tenants that when they moved in a team of men appeared in the lower garden, measured all the trees. All trees and shrubs under the statutory protected height were chopped down and then the pergola, rockery, urn stands, dovecot and all garden plants were bulldozed into the swimming pool.
The 2002 application to subdivide was approved based on a suggested maximum development area of 225 sq m and the knowledge that the land was zoned 6a with large trees that were statutorily protected. These three factors ensure that when the site was developed with new housing, enough of the original garden remained so that it still related to the house. Because 11 trees were subsequently removed from the southern boundary, the building platform became considerably larger than when the application to subdivide was approved. With the potential removal of the rest of the trees as they were not listed in the District Plan, the use of the covenanted garden as offset green space and under the new zoning, I now understood that development of 76 Gillies Avenue would use the maximum height of six stories, thus ruining the views of the house from across the valley and towering over the house and small remaining covenanted garden.
I submitted an application to extend the scheduling from the covenanted garden to the remainder of the garden and to schedule the individual trees, formerly protected by the statutory scheduling, to the Auckland City Council in March 2010. I also submitted requests to the City Council to assess the Carlton Bowling Club buildings at 13 Alpers Avenue, the Moodabe house at 14 Edgerley Avenue, the Edgerley homestead at 11 Edgerley Avenue and the Goldsbro’ Cottage at 21 Alpers Avenue for scheduling.
On 14 March 2010, I submitted a tree report on 76 Gillies Avenue written by Rhys Gardner, Honorary Research Associate N.Z. & Pacific vascular flora Auckland War Memorial Museum, to Auckland Council. This report stated “the visual amenity of the two "rock-forest" stands, and their value as part of the natural and historical character of this old part of the City, is in my opinion very substantial.”
On 16 March 2010, I also submitted applications to assess the Carlton Bowling Club buildings at 13 Alpers Avenue, the Moodabe house at 14 Edgerley Avenue, 21 Alpers Avenue and the Edgerley homestead at 11 Edgerley Avenue for scheduling to the Historic Places Trust.
In late March 2010, I had a meeting with Nicola Short of ACC Heritage and Alistair Cribbens of ACC Planning to discuss the protection of the garden and the listed house at 74 and 76 Gillies Avenue, in particular the zone change to the garden at 76 Gillies Avenue. I had assumed that this would be a helpful meeting but when I arrived in the room, I found that they had requested that the Auckland Council lawyer would also be present. They asked for a Historic Landscape Characterisation form to be completed. This was submitted.
In July 2010 the former garden of 74 Gillies Avenue, 76 Gillies Avenue, was sold by A&C Shaw to Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings, a China based development company with the principal director of Donghua Liu. Along with the former Carlton Bowling Club at 13 Alpers Avenue, the Boulevard hotel at 15 Alpers Avenue, house at 21 Alpers Avenue and the three properties at 11, 13 and 15 Edgerley Avenue, the deal for the entire site was in the region of $22million.
DONGHUA LIU OF RONCON PACIFIC HOTEL MANAGEMENT HOLDINGS
In October 2010 the small cottage, possibly by G S Goldsbro’, at 21 Alpers Avenue, upon which I had submitted a scheduling request in March 2010, was removed by Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings and a 4 story motel was built upon the site, entirely by Chinese labour.
In early December I noticed that a Chinese family with small children had moved into the derelict Carlton Bowling Club greenkeepers house. This was surprising as the house had been severely vandalised and when I had seen it in 2009, the bathroom and kitchen fittings had been smashed. From the exterior it did not appear to have been renovated as there were still boarded over and broken windows.
On 16 December 2010 the Governing Body of Auckland Council agreed that as an interim measure, Auckland Council would prepare a plan change, which would add nominated trees to existing schedules. Local Boards would be asked to nominate, by 31 March 2011, appropriate trees for consideration.
On 22 December 2010, deep drilling took place all over the development site, including directly under statutorily protected Pohutukawa and Bhutan Cypress at 76 Gillies Avenue. I contacted the Council helpline and spoke with Daniel Xu, who did not understand English. Two hours later his supervisor Galen Azed telephoned and arranged for Kirill to come out to look at the drilling damage. When Kirill arrived it turned out that he was from the noise team and was not able to report damage to trees. The Council offices then closed for Christmas
The council records only that an enforcement officer received a complaint on 11 January 2011. Upon the council offices re-opening after the Christmas break, I had contacted the arborist section about the drilling and Valentino Fernandez came to look at the damage and said that drilling had taken place under protected trees, which was illegal. However because he was unable to find the contractor, no action was taken.
I re-submitted the applications to extend the scheduling from the covenanted garden to the remainder of the garden and to schedule the individual trees, formerly protected by the statutory scheduling, to the Auckland Council in January 2011. Copies were sent to Noel Reardon, Manager Heritage and Veronica Cassin - Principal Specialist built Heritage and Jenny Fuller - Team leader Natural Heritage. No reply, not even a letter confirming receipt, was received.
During January 2011, I contacted my Councillors, Christine Fletcher and Cathy Casey, asking them to visit the site in order to see the potential development and to get the remaining trees at 76 Gillies Avenue listed. I also contacted the members of the Eden-Albert Local Board asking them to visit the site. As a result several board members visited the site and a motion with papers was tabled for the Albert-Eden Board on 2 February 2011.
On 16 January 2011, in a telephone conversation with staff of Thresher Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, who had been contracted by Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings to assist them with their planning application, I learnt that their initial proposals do not include retention of any trees or historic buildings but Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings has proposed highly intense development of the site.
On 2 February 2011 Resolution number AE/2011/5 was tabled and approved:
a) That the Albert-Eden local Board requests that the trees located at 76 Gillies
Avenue (Lot 2 DP 313509) that currently enjoy general protection under the District Plan should, as a matter of urgency, be assessed and if found to be notable, scheduled in the District Plan.
b) That the chairperson’s notice of motion, and the Board’s resolution, be forwarded to the Planning and Urban Design Forum for action.
c) That the Albert-Eden Local Board requests that any large-scale development on
76 Gillies Avenue, and adjacent sites, are referred to the Urban Design Panel.
On 14 February 2011, after my telephoning to Noel Reardon, Veronica Cassin and Jenny Fuller to ask that the case workers make a site visit to assess the value of the built and natural heritage, Noel Reardon returned the call and said that over 1,300 trees need to assessed and over 400 buildings need to be assessed. He said that this very matter had brought the size of the assessment problem to his attention and assured me that he would be in touch later in the week.
On 15 February 2011 I sent information to Brian Rudman of NZ Morning Herald, the next day he replied that Wayne Thompson of the newspaper and Allan Matson would be in touch. I then e-mailed the Mr Sterling of the Listener, Mr Wilson of Metro and Virginia Larson of North and South. No replies were received from these.
On 20 February 2011 I wrote an e-mail to the Auckland Council Mayor’s office pointing out the conflict of interests of Alistair Cribbens involvement in the zoning change to 76 Gillies Avenue. As Cribbens confirmed at my meeting with Nicola Short and the Auckland Council’s lawyer in late March 2010, he was friends with the children of the property developer, Chris Hook, who had subdivided the property into 74 and 76 Gillies Avenue. He had also lived in the house at 74 Gillies Avenue for some time with Mr Hook’s children when it was owned by Mr Hook. Mr Hook had sold the land to B & C Shaw who had requested the zoning change. Because of the connection between Cribbens and Hook, I did not feel he had made an objective decision about the zoning change and had certainly not consulted the heritage division of the council over the four existing non scheduled heritage buildings on the development site nor the listed house and covenanted garden at 74 and 76 Gillies Avenue.
On 21 February 2011 the mayor’s office acknowledged the e-mail of 20 February and a hard copy of the information was posted as well.
On 22 February 2011 Christine Fletcher telephoned to apologise for not visiting the site, as she was very busy. Simon Wilson e-mailed and said that he would like to put a journalist on the story. On 23 February I telephoned the Herald to find that the suggested journalist Wayne Thompson was away until 6 March.
On 26 February 2011 I contacted Cameron Brewer by e-mail to ask for his support. He replied saying that he knew the Carlton Bowling club site and the proposed plan 196 well and asked which were the historic buildings on the site and to be kept informed of developments.
On 26 February 2011, I contacted the Council to ask them to investigate if the copper beech had been poisoned. The crown had lost its leaves, the remaining leaves were turning brown at the edges and there were black liquid marks around a hole in the trunk. The arborist said that the tree was suffering from heat stress and that it had not been poisoned.
On 8 March 2011, I wrote to Dr Blakeley, head of planning at Auckland Council asking him to investigate whether it was appropriate for Alistair Cribbens to have made the decision to change the zoning on the garden of 74 Gillies Avenue, bearing in mind his conflict of interests.
On 9 March 2011 I received a letter from the Mayors office, dated 24 March 2011, to say that process for plan 196 had been carried out in an acceptable way and there was no need to re-assess the change to the zoning of the garden of 76 Gillies Avenue. By telephone I was informed that Mr Cribbens had left the Council.
On 19 March 2011 the office of Dr Blakely telephoned to say that they were investigating the matter of Alistair Cribbens.
On 20 March 2011 a letter dated 18 March 2011 arrived from Noel Reardon saying that the Heritage department would be assessing the Carlton Bowling club buildings, the Edgerley homestead, the Moodabe house and the Goldbro’ cottage.
In March 2011 there was a fire at the former Carlton Bowling Club clubhouse, which was put out by the fire brigade. The Chinese family, who had been living in the green keepers cottage , appear to have left.
On 7 July 2011 Auckland Council gave permission to Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings to demolish the former Carlton Bowling Club clubhouse building and greenkeepers cottage at 13 Alpers Avenue.
On 12 July 2011 the Auckland Council gave permission to allow Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings to demolish the Edgerley homestead at 11 Edgerley Avenue.
On 5 August 2011 Archifact produced a report on the area for the Auckland Council and recommended that the Edgerley homestead, the Moodabe house and the former Carlton Bowling Club clubhouse and greenkeepers cottage be all listed category B on the heritage schedule. This was submitted to the Council
On 16 September 2011, the Prime Minister John Key and Auckland Council Counsellor Cameron Brewer attended the opening of the refurbished Boulevard Hotel in Alpers Avenue, owned along with the Carlton Bowling Club and the former garden at 76 Gillies Avenue by Donghua Liu. Despite assurances on Mr Brewers website that Mr Brewer is heritage conscious, e.g.re the demolition of the Spanish style houses in Turua st St Heliers in January 2011.
"This issue so early on in the council’s existence has demonstrated to everyone that a much greater priority must now be put on heritage. The public has had an absolute gutsful,” says Orakei councillor, Cameron Brewer. Through all the spatial, district and long-term planning we’re about to embark on, rest assured heritage will now be at the top of the mayor and councillors’ minds. The protestors efforts were not in vain. Turua Street has really been a metaphor of a wider public mood. This whole issue has shown that Aucklanders’ highly value their built environment and the character of their villages. After years of desecration of Auckland’s built environment, people have had a guts full. Turua Street has really been a metaphor of a wider public mood. For too long the Auckland public has been promised heritage only to then have the likes of developers, private plan changes, and the Environment Court move the goal posts. The uproar over Turua Street has shown the new council that the public expects so much more when it comes to local heritage. In all the spatial and district planning that’s going on over the next couple years, concrete protection of our valued character and heritage must be a priority,” says Cameron Brewer, councillor for Orakei and chairman of the District Plan & Urban Design Panel.
And despite Cameron Brewer’s website saying (taken from “what he stands for”)
“Having a strong and proactive advocate keen to protect what’s special about a local area is going to become increasingly important under the new and bigger council structure. As a New Zealand history university major, Cameron understands and respects Auckland’s heritage. Over the years he has worked closely with the likes of local historians, urban designers, The Historic Places Trust, council’s heritage officials, and even the RSA. He loves old buildings and hates what has been allowed to go up around Auckland in the past decade”.
Again Cameron Brewer’s website says
“The PM recently opened the refurbished Boulevard Hotel in Alpers Avenue, Newmarket. The Boulevard is stage one of a redevelopment project, which will transform the derelict site around the old Carlton Bowling Club. Stage two will be a five-star hotel and high-end apartments; Stage three will be three blocks of 80sqm-plus apartments, plus retail facilities and a school. Stage Two alone will inject $75 million into the local construction industry. Go Mr Liu”.
Mr Liu’s own comments on the day were,
“My vision is to create buildings and open spaces that fit with Newmarket’s already proud heritage and community and help promote New Zealand tourism to visitors from China and elsewhere,” Mr Liu, a New Zealand resident since 2004, said today”
On 11 May 2012 Auckland Council gave permission to Higate International Investment Pty Limited to demolish the former Moodabe house at 14 Edgerley Avenue despite the Archifact report stating that it should be listed category B.
A newspaper article in the Eastern Courier dated 27 July 2012 stated that demolition was about to start on the Carlton Bowling Club main building and that the “the developer would like to get the Alpers Avenue redevelopment started as soon as possible but the legal requirements for foreign investment are holding the project up” Apparently Mr Donghua Liu was waiting on approval from the Government to bring in NZD75million to undertake the project.
Although Auckland Council said that it would offer the building for removal, there were no acceptances and so in August 2012 the former Carlton Bowling Club was demolished.
On 3 August 2012 the Independent Commissioners of Plan Change 305 agreed that the trees on 76 Gillies Avenue should be protected. Two groups were identified, those at the Southern end of the property, which are mostly natives, and the exotic trees on the lower former flat garden of 74 Gillies Avenue to the east of the house. This was officially released on 5 December 2012. It was an extremely stringent and tough process, of the 2800 trees put up by the public of Auckland, the Council arborists narrowed the list down to 732 on 373 sites, for consideration by the Commissioners who only approved 460. However my Resource Management Act lawyer told me that no request for tree removal under 8C zoning, even protected trees, has ever been refused.
On 2 February 2013 I commissioned another RMA lawyer to keep an eye on possible developments on the site. On 19 February the lawyer wrote to Ms Crang, Team Leader Consents, requesting that the letter be placed on file in order that I be informed of any applications to remove any of the listed trees at 76 Gillies Avenue. On 25 February he received a letter from Mr A Calder, Senior Planner Consents, stating that there were no building consent or resource consent applications currently being processed in relation to this site. The letter stated that a copy of the letter would be put on the property file for 76 Gillies Avenue and would be read by the processing planner of any future application for resource consent. On 4 March 2013 the lawyer replied to Mr Calder asking for any draft plans or pre-application documents under the Local Government Official information and Meetings Act 1987. As suggested by Mr Calder, the lawyer undertook to telephone the office on a weekly basis to enquire verbally if there was any new information or applications lodged.
On 28 February 2013, a group of thirty from ADFA (Auckland Decorative and Fine Arts) visited the site to look at the house and the former garden.
On 6 March 2013, I submitted an article to the Eden & Epsom Historical Society for their journal detailing the history of the house in an abbreviated form.
On 23 March 2013 I noticed that the Bhutan Cypress also had large patches of dead branches and that the interior of tree was all dead branches plus the foliage was yellow green rather than its normal blue green. On investigation the tree had been marked with pink paint, the same pink paint on the surveyors pegs that had been paid out in November 2012 and there was a metal pipe sticking out of the trunk. I reported it to the Council and on 29 March 2013 after a reminder call, the arborist arrived to view the tree and said that the pipe had been there for some time, there was no odour of poison and that the tree might have been damaged by the digger going over its roots two years ago plus it must be suffering from heat. I pointed out that 60 feet away is another Bhutan cypress around the same age that is not suffering but the Council arborist was adamant “In the professional opinion of the arborist, the tree is old and in poor condition. It sits in volcanic soil, which is dry, and the tree is generally dessicated. There is some dead wood in the canopy and some branches have died, also pointing to heat stress”.
On 12 April Blair Doherty, information Advisor Auckland Council, wrote with details of pre-application meetings for the development of 76 Gillies Avenue that took place on 12 October 2012 and 12 November 2012.
At the meeting of 12 October the owners of 76 Gillies Avenue were represented by Hamish Firth and Nick Mattison of Mt Hobson Group Planning Consultants, Paul Brown and Mathew Clark of Clark Brown Architects, Jeremy Godwin and Diana Zhang of Carter Atmore Law. The Auckland Council was represented by Ila Daniels Team Leader Resource Consents, Tania Richmond Consultant Planner, Gabriel Seo Urban Design Specialist Planner and Laura McCarthy Consents. The minutes stated that the site had been subject to previous pre-application and Urban Design Panel advice but that this was a completely new team of planners, architects and landscapers with an amended scheme. Firth advised that they wished to lodge the application before Christmas as fully notified and received the suggestion from the Council employees that this would be “quite tight” particularly in respect of attendance at the Urban Design Panel, which would typically involve two meetings for a scheme of this size. Firth advised that the client would not be undertaking any pre lodgement consultation with adjacent properties. The Council team suggested that this be reconsidered, in particular that they should present their proposals to the Eden-Epsom Community Board. Firth said there would be no subdivision but the Council suggested that they might subdivide off the hotel site. A meeting with the Urban Design panel was arranged for 13 December 2012. The Council employees raised the matters of consultation with Auckland transport, volcanic height controls and NZHPT authority to demolish structures or walls that predate 1900. Questions were asked about the site layout, movement/circulation, public/private realms, communal site amenities and the design response to surrounding historic heritage and character. It was requested that a site context analysis be provided for the next meeting focussing on design responses to the existing site conditions and that a computer model would be helpful given the podium concept and the varying topography. Firth advised that Certificate of Compliance for removal of trees and demolition of historic buildings had been submitted to the Council.
At the meeting of 12 November 2012 the owners were represented by Hamish Firth and Nick Mattison of Mt Hobson Group Planning Consultants, James no-surname and Mathew Clark of Clark Brown Architects, Jeremy Godwin and Diana Zhang of Carter Atmore Law. The Auckland Council was represented by Ila Daniels Team Leader Resource Consents, Tania Richmond Consultant Planner, Gabriel Seo Urban Design Specialist Planner and Omar Barragan Consents. The architects presented their plans. The council responding by asking the applicants to identify which of the recently listed trees they wished to retain and which they wished to remove, noting that there had been no objections during the recent listing process with Plan Change 305 although the owners had been notified. Concerns were raised about the proximity if the building platforms to the scheduled building at 74 Gillies Avenue and the impact this development will have on its setting. Further evidence was requested to show how the design responds to the heritage area. Concerns were raised in that the townhouses were five bedrooms but had small living space for large family dwellings. Concerns were raised about the podium design including the lack of material on the quality of the lower ground level, the access to podium level and the quality of paths through the podium, given that there is only 10m between facades. Concerns were raised about linkages between terraced dwellings, flats and hotel nor was it clear what access there was to Gillies Avenue. Concerns were raised that the hotel and apartment complex. gave little privacy to the townhouses on the eastern side of the development. Concerns were raised in that the development did not relate to the existing houses to the south and east of the site. Concerns were raised that the layout of the terrace housing – with fronts facing backs – compromised privacy, quality of private open spaces, and interface with communal areas. The minutes also said the current layout was confusing for circulation. No plans were proposed for the hotel development so Auckland council was unable to comment on it. Concerns were raised that the apartment building would be built right up to the boundary thus not relating to the surrounding housing. Concerns were raised about the disposition of the flats, in that the smallest units were given the largest outside areas. Concerns were raised about the lack of any communal space within the flats and that the internal common spaces were very small and that there is only one set of stairs and one lift for 14 flats on each of the five floors. Ila Daniels reported that she had made a site visit and recommended that trees along common boundaries could be retained, particularly those between the development and the viaduct and on the western boundary to mitigate against direct views into adjacent sites. Steve Reddish of Traffic Planning Consultants then gave his opinions on the new development. He said that as it was much more intensive than the previous scheme – 58 flats and 59 houses as compared to 90 flats – he had great concerns about the volume of traffic issuing onto Broadway, particularly as the previous scheme allowed exit from Alpers Avenue as well as Edgerley Avenue. He advised there was not sufficient space for either fire engines, rubbish trucks, removal and delivery vehicles within the site nor was there sufficient on site visitor parking. He felt the design of the garages for the residents to be impractical. The hotel needed to have a complete range of operational scenarios drawn up with consideration given to tour buses, taxis, patrons arriving in cars that need to be parked, staff parking and servicing requirements.
On 16 April 2013 my lawyer requested the minutes of the Urban Design Panel’s meeting on 13 December 2012. Blair Doherty replied the same day saying that according to the provisions of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, we should receive it in under 20 working days.
On 25 April 2013, Higate International Investment Pty Limited put up for sale, in the Chinese Property Press only, their three sites of 14, 16 and 18 Edgerley Avenue, which include the Moodabe house.
On 26 April 2013, I wrote to Roger Blakely, Head of Planning Auckland Council, copying in Noel Reardon, head of Heritage, Councillor Sandra Coney, The Mayor Len Brown and the chair of the Eden Epsom Community Board. I asked if both the Planning and Heritage departments were fully aware that
1. four historic buildings on this site were recommended for grade B status by a Auckland Council commissioned report by Archifact on 5 August 2011, copy enclosed, yet subsequently one building was demolished in late 2012, two demolition orders were allowed to stand and one issued after the date of the report?
2. the whole site was subdivided in the early 1840’s and has been associated with human occupation before 1900 and is, by definition found in the Historic Places Act 1993, therefore considered an archaeological site, which has yet to be assessed?
3. the proposed development removes trees that were evaluated under the strictest conditions and only just placed on the register of scheduled trees under Plan Modification 305 in November 2012?
4. The proposed development builds upon the entire former flat formal garden of the Grade B listed 74 Gillies Ave, thus destroying half the 1900 setting of the house, the opposite of what was intended when the garden was subdivided in 2002 as evidenced by Council files?
5. the scale and intensity of the development will tower over the one story house and block views of the house from the motorway and across the valley?
Roger Blakeley replied, copying in the same people, on 5 May 2013 saying that my questions regarding the scheduled trees and building and the status of the demolition orders have been answered. He said he was aware of my request for pre-application information and that within these minutes, the Council officers asked how the development would relate to the surrounding historic heritage and character and that Council officers identified to the applicant the NZHPT requirements. He finished by saying that “should Council receive an application for development then it will be assessed against the relevant district plan requirements.”
So my reply of the same day was while I was told of the status of the demolition orders, I was not told of the reasons for the decision to not implement the preservation orders on the four historic houses on the property, which ignores a report commissioned by his office and produced in August 2011 recommending that the buildings be listed. And that I would appreciate it if this decision could be explained, either by himself or his Manager Heritage
On Wednesday 8 May 2013, large mature trees over a hundred years old, that were not listed, were completely removed from the north western boundary of the property,
FOUR POINTS WORTH NOTING
To summarise, from 1848, and possibly from 1843, there was a garden with botanical specimens on this site for over 150 years. The garden is horticulturally important because the former botanist to the British Resident started it at the time of the founding of Auckland and improved by his children for 50 years, then the Kidd Family developed and maintained a showpiece garden for over 100 years. From 1903 right up to 2000, there was an annual garden party held for different charities, which included Plunket, Red Cross, Tree Society, Disabled Citizens, United Way and many other organisations, such as fundraising events for the National Party. The garden was last opened for the Holy Trinity Garden Festival in 2000. So the garden is socially, historically and politically important.
That when the Auckland City Council subdivided the garden in 2002 and created 76 Gillies Avenue, it was deliberately zoned 6A, despite surrounding land all being zoned 7A. This was explicitly stated to preserve the relationship of the garden to the house, and limit the scale of development close to the house. Under Plan 196 in November 2011 the surrounding 7A zoned land changed to 8c. No zoning change for 74 or 76 Gillies Avenue was originally in Plan 196 and it was not notified to me in my LIM report but Alistair Cribbens of Auckland City Council Planning (who is friends with the Hook family - whose Regis Properties bought 74 Gillies Avenue, then requested subdivision in 2002 - and lived in the house at 74 Gillies Avenue as a tenant for some time after 2002) agreed the zone change from 6A to 8C without asking advice from The Newmarket Heritage Study, Historic Places Trust or the Auckland City Council Heritage Division.
That jointly Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings and Higate International Investment Pty Limited own a huge property that has all become 8c - the Carlton Bowling Club site and most of the houses on both sides of the west end of Edgerley Avenue – under Plan Change 196. Retaining the trees at 76 Gillies Avenue and making the development relate to the protected garden and Grade B listed house at 74 Gillies Avenue will not ruin the chances of profiting from such a large and intensive development.
Despite the new owners of 76 Gillies Avenue being called Roncon Hotel Development Corporation, their intention (as stated to me by the Thresher Urban Design, who have been retained by Roncon to assist them with putting through their proposals at the Council) is to retain none of the existing trees or buildings but to build intensive high rise flats along the lines of those built over the Newmarket Railway Station. The site is to be developed built and sold on. They wish to build a five star hotel, a high rise retirement village, a school and three blocks of apartments as well as shops and parking on the site. This is a purely commercial speculation by Chinese nationals, not a long-term investment.
74 GILLIES AVENUE IN PUBLICATIONS
An image of the house was painted for Hilda Altman’s book, “Vanishing Auckland” of 1980. The text reads “at the opposite end of the social scale from the artisans cottages of the previous paintings, this spacious house with its large formal secluded garden was built in 1900 and has been in the possession of the Kidd family ever since. Still very much a comfortable home, it shows no signs of vanishing, yet. But one cannot help feeling some misgivings. Where are the families, which used to fill such house? Who nowadays can afford the upkeep of such places and, even if they can afford them, who in these do-it-yourself days will run them? They cannot all be taken over by business firms or institutions or educational establishments. The prosperous man’s family home is possibly in as much danger of disappearing as the workman’s cottage”.
The house was photographed for the book called 'The Bungalow in New Zealand' by Jeremy Ashford published by Viking in 1994. "the first New Zealand bungalows built by George Selwyn Goldsbro' and Samuel Hurst Seagar were built in the final years of the nineteenth century almost simultaneously in Auckland and Christchurch. Their work was well ahead of its time for New Zealand but in step with the rest of the world". The caption for the photo read "the Alfred Kidd house is of a similar style to contemporary bungalows all over the world".
It is also mentioned in 'The History of Epsom' by Graham Bush published by Epsom and Eden Historical Society in 2006. "Epsom was already well down the path of a staggering diversity of housing types and sumptuousness. There were the coteries of palatial mansions, now also manifesting themselves were distinctly less grand but still imposing substantial bungalow style dwellings, a typical example was Alfred Kidd's house in Gillies Avenue. Built around 1900 and designed by G S Goldsbro', it was reputedly among the very first bungalows built in New Zealand".
There is a photograph of the house and biographical information and a list of works of the architect in ‘Coolangatta a Homage: the Life and Times of Auckland's Most Admired Residence’ by Peter Macky and Paul Waite published by Livania Press 2010
Archifact:Alpers, Edgerley and Gillies heritage assessment and area assessment for Auckland Council 5 August 2011, [R1] Cyc NZ Vol.2 p116, [R2] WWNZ 1908, [R3] Obit. ‘Auckland Weekly News’ 30 Aug. 1917 p23 ‘Auckland Star’ 25 Aug., 1917 p6, [R4] DNZB (40), [R5] Bush, G. “Decently and in Order” 1972 p584, [R6] ‘N.Z. Herald’ 25/8/1967, [R7] Shipping Index, APL, [R8] ‘Auckland Weekly News’ Supplement Sept. 1901 p4, [R9] Obit. ‘N.Z. Herald’ 28/11/1904 - Christina Kidd, [R10] Obit. ‘N.Z. Herald’ 8/11/1947 p10, [R11] Journal of Auckland Historical Society No.2 April 1963 p32, [R12] Freeholders of N.Z. 1884, [R13] ‘Auckland Weekly News’ suppl. 4 Dec. 1902 p40, [R14] Main Scrapbook AIM. NZH Obit 8/11/1947 p10, [R2] ‘Te Awamutu Courier’ 7/1/1938, Kaitiaki V40 No7 p237 - obit - 155/12/1947.