Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Few Facts About Auckland

As I am sharing with New Zealand what life is like in Auckland, I thought it might be nice to provide a few interesting facts.

There are air-raid shelters under Albert Park, with a capacity for 20,400 people. They were built during WWII, when it was feared we might be bombed by the Japanese. The excavation was done by up to 100 council staff, by hand, without the aid of excavating equipment. It was the last time council staff did any real work. One of the original seven entrances is still visible, at the top of Victoria Street East.

Auckland was founded and thus named by William Hobson, after his patron, Lord Auckland. What a brown-noser.

Here is Governor Hobson's grave, in the Grafton cemetery on Symonds Street. It is covered in moss, and there is a plastic rubbish bag affixed to the railings. It smelled of homeless people's wee-wees. I know New Zealanders aren’t ones much for pomp and ceremony, but that all seems a bit rude.

Lord Auckland never actually set foot here. Can't imagine he would have liked it if he had. Queen Street was one giant lavatory; in the early 1800s, inhabitants would hurl the contents of their chamber-pots into the street. Proper sewerage treatment was not established until 1914.

The Māori name for Auckland is Tamaki-Makau-Rau, which translates roughly as 'Isthmus of A Thousand Lovers.' What a brilliant name. I wish we would drop the 'Auckland,' and adopt this name instead. It would annoy the rest of New Zealand immensely, especially those with horrible names, such as 'To eat worms' (Kaitoke), 'Ugly face' (Matakinokino), 'A meeting of hunchbacks' (Karangahake), 'Pulling the breasts' (Kumeu), 'Lazy' (Mangere), or 'Short-Man Syndrome' (Wellington). I think 'Assembly of Shags' (Kahui-Kawau), would be a good name for the Viaduct.*

*From 'A Dictionary of Māori Place Names,' by A.W. Reed.


d-man said...

So what does Whakapapa mean then?

That was enjoyable.

To answer your question: I'm looking to move to St Heliers. Was meant to be happening in March. That deadline may have to be pushed out. Depends on contractors. And stuff.

stef said...

I thought the tunnels were built due to a feared Russian invasion circa 1900s.

Mrs Smith said...

Curiously, 'Whakapapa' isn't in my book, D-man. St Heliers will be nice; the shoes hanging from power-lines are designer ones.

Stef - I got the info from a pamphlet about heritage walks around Auckland. I admit, before reading the pamphlet, I knew nothing at all of their existence. I would love to have a look around.

llew said...

There is surely something clever that can be done with those bomb shelters.

Robyn said...

stef: The Albert Park tunnels were built in 1941. You might be thinking of the tunnels at North Head, which were building the 1880s in response to the perceived Russian threat. (Whatever happened to that, I wonder?)

llew: Every few years someone comes up with a new use for the Albert Park tunnels. The last idea was to put a travelator through so lazy students could go from Kitchener Street to Symonds Street without having to face the arduous climb up to Albert Park and down. But nothing ever seems to happen.

Cactus Kate said...


I thought that was a capping stunt put out by a mischievous young Craccum writer by the name I think of Robyn...