Annual General Meeting 2024 of Remuera Heritage

A successful Annual General Meeting for Remuera Heritage was held at the Remuera Library on 17th May 2024.

Guests included Deputy Mayor and Orakei Councillor Desley Simpson, Sarah Powrie, Penny Tucker and Troy Churton of the Orakei Local Board. Penny Tucker spoke about her grandmother Winifred Macdonald who was the first NZ woman to get a Rhodes ‘grant’ in the 1920s (calling it a scholarship would have got more people protesting on the street about wasting resources on women). She lobbied for and became one of the founding members of the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). She broke an arm falling off a ladder building Centennial Street at the Auckland War Memorial Museum because she had no fear of actually building things. She helped establish the Howick Historic Village and secured the preservation of its Fencible Cottages. She helped design Aorangi because it made her angry that women were not supposed to talk about policy – so she fixed it. In addition, she was a key member of the Historic Places Trust (President of the Auckland chapter) and wrote extensively on many issues, including injustices of the Waikato Land Wars on which her Oxford thesis was based. Winifred was the editor of the Journal of the Auckland Historical Society for many years.

Sarah Powrie Sue Cooper Desley Simoson Penny Tucker at RH AGM May

Bryan Haggitt and Sue Cooper


THE TOWER now King's School

Remuera Railway SStation South end with signal box

Jean Batten-1934_1 NZHistory

Remuera-Stream with planting- Waitaramoa

Nau mai haere mai, tena koutou katoa; welcome to our members, Councillor Desley Simpson, Sarah Powrie, Penny Tucker, Troy Churton and friends of the society.

Last year I talked a lot about planning and Auckland Council’s Plan Change 78 on housing intensification and the removal of the Special Character Area Overlays from Remuera properties. Hearings are now delayed for one year into 2025/26 apart from those regarding the City Centre. Councils are now allowed to choose whether to support, remove or make planning decisions optional in this area but it’s still unclear what Auckland Council will do.

Remuera Heritage supports the Character Coalition in its efforts to employ experts in planning, heritage and legal matters. The Chair did identify areas of concern in Remuera, but Remuera Heritage has now engaged Graeme Burgess, of Burgess and Treep heritage architects, to work through a street by street analysis of Remuera.

They have met with Auckland Council and it is clear that PC78 was driven by a planning perspective, not by a heritage or special character approach. Burgess and Treep are using work done by the late Jeremy Salmond under Plan Change 163 in 2005-2008 who did a site-by-site analysis of Remuera. The current Auckland Unitary Plan also allows for the development of nearly one million houses in Auckland over the next 20 years.

The planning scene is very complex and it’s still a matter for the experts in planning, heritage, and law. The political context is also very complex. Members of the Character Coalition have met with most of the Auckland MPs to put our case. They are sympathetic but are constrained by Wellington.

I’d like again to note that two Remuera residents’ groups have taken the initiative to engage with neighbours to submit against the upzoning and have been successful. The Seaview Road Residents Group, led by Christine Caughey and the Remuera East Residents Group, led by Mark Andrews and Al Stokes, have engaged with their neighbours and founded a community street group to submit against their rezoning under PC78. I support them in this huge effort.

Events in 2023/24

We had the usual great number of events in 2023/24.These included:

  • Allan Davidson on his book, In This place, From this Place – a history of St Luke’s Presbyterian Church from 1875-2022, along with some Scottish refreshments at the back of the church.
  • In April we joined Parnell Heritage on a visit to the Parnell Returned Services Club where restored honour boards and memorabilia such as flags and photos from the Remuera Returned Services Social Club are now on display and stored permanently.
  • A visit to Te Roti, the former Winstone Macdonald house at 20 Orakei Road. Built in the early 1900s in the Arts and Craft style, it has been adapted for modern living while retaining heritage features. Penny Tucker who grew up in Te Roti will be talking later this evening. Our special thanks to Arthur and Mei Burns for hosting us.
  • We had two visits to heritage-listed Cotter House in June and for the Xmas party, thanks to Tom Bowden and Kim McWilliams for their great hospitality.
  • For the Auckland Heritage Festival, with the theme of Love, Peace and Protest, Rebecca Washer created maps of short walks around Remuera that identify heritage listed homes, demolished buildings, notable trees, natural and cultural heritage sites.

  • Remuera Short Stories – this was our first event where we invited members to talk about special objects and collectables and memories of life in Remuera. Sue Johnston talked about the “Nail in the Coffin”, Robyn Bridgman talked about attending Remuera Primary School during World War 2, Angela Caughey about growing up in Remuera during the Great Depression in the 1930s and John Ryan about his collection of majolica pottery. We want to do this again this year, so let us know if you’d like to talk about something – it only has to be 5-10 minutes long!
  • An informative and entertaining visit was had to the Freemasons’ Museum and Library in March. The centre contains a memorial to long-term Remuera resident Norman Berridge Spencer, who was initiated into the Remuera Lodge in 1921 and by 1932 was Master of the Lodge. In 1959 he was the first New Zealander to be awarded the Order of Service to Masonry (OSM), the highest honour the English Lodge, headquartered in London, is able to bestow. Moyra Cooke completed a biography of Norman Berridge Spencer which is now on our website

Future events

We have Boris Bogdanovic from Heritage New Zealand talking about his fascinating career as a Historic Architecture & Cultural Heritage Specialist in heritage conservation. Bring along your friends and family if they are interested in a career in heritage conservation.

The Auckland Heritage Festival is on again in September/October 2024. The theme is Pacific Connections but as yet we have no viable suggestions. We are able to do whatever heritage-related topic we prefer but the issue is a venue for a talk and display.

We are always on the lookout for interesting events and visits: if you have any ideas, please let the committee know.

Heritage properties

‘Remuera’s Century-Old Homes’ campaign to capture and share the stories of some of Remuera’s many historic homes and buildings continues.  We have identified residences and buildings that have a special place in our built heritage, where the house and/or its people have made a meaningful contribution to the story of Remuera, Auckland and in some cases New Zealand. Stories completed include those on state housing in Remuera and architects Lillian Chrystall by Rebecca Washer and Claude Megson and Henry Kulka by architect Giles Reid, and houses Binswood and Capri on Remuera Road, 37 Bell Road, and 488 Remuera Road by The Heritage Studio – 488 was the site of the Remuera Hall and Congregational Chapel from the 1860s and was home to antique shops from the 1960s to 2000s e.g. Dixon’s Antiques.

Remuera Heritage has continued to support the restoration of Remuera Railway Station. Auckland Transport did some urgent remedial work on the exterior during the Christmas rail shutdown period, but the restoration of the interior remains as elusive as ever. My thanks to Jenny Scott and Rebecca Washer for trying to advance this worthy cause.

Publishing – print and digital

Sales of the Great Feast at Remuera booklet continued and have generated interesting conversations about its significance and the actual location of the feast, probably where Dilworth School is today. We are looking at printing another edition of the booklet. People are now really interested in local history as part of the new Social Sciences curriculum which includes NZ and local history. I have been invited to address St Kentigern Girls Middle School on this. Also, U3A Remuera, St Paul’s Church, Sir Edmund Hillary Retirement Village, St Aidan’s Church and Remuera Lions.

We published a new digital exhibition on Jean Batten, Remuera resident and New Zealand’s greatest aviator, with many images of her whole life, including at Ladies College, her speaking tour of New Zealand after her achievements and overseas honours.

We’ve also been looking at the history of flooding along Shore Road and the storm which caused the death of David Lennard last year at Auckland Anniversary weekend. The 100 year old history of what was called Waitaramoa by Māori, William Swainson, and Sir Edwin Mitchelson amongst others includes reports of frequent flooding and landslides.

Currently, there is a proposal to change the name of the multiple parks on Waitaramoa Hobson Bay – including on Hobson Bay, Shore Road, Shore Road Reserve, Shore Road East, Thomas Bloodworth Park, the Remuera or Ōhinerau or Portland Streams and Waitaramoa Reserve and Portland Reserve in Remuera. The proposed name is Hobson Park Waitaramoa. This would align with the name of Waitaramoa Hobson Bay which consolidated the different named parts of the coastline. Special thanks to Bryan Haggitt for this and the story on Parnell Cricket Club.

I continue to post on the Remuera Heritage Facebook page – we have 600+ followers and friends which is great. I’d really like it if someone could also post on Instagram for us as it reaches a younger audience.


Finally, I would like to thank the wonderful committee for their commitment and company:  Stuart Hayman, our secretary, Gavan Jackson, treasurer, Bryan Haggitt, Jenny Scott, Brian Cooper, Rebecca Washer, Sue Johnston & Sue Jackson of Remuera Library, who provide us and this wonderful venue and great refreshments!

Also, thanks to the Orakei Local Board for their ongoing support – Scott Milne, Sarah Powrie, Penny Tucker, Margaret Voyce, David Wong and Troy Churton for his planning and resource consent knowledge, plus our wonderful Councillor Desley Simpson.

We would welcome some new members on our committee – the society is at a stage in its development where we need some more committee members. We want to maintain our focus on protecting our Remuera heritage and our informative and social programme of events. I hope you will consider getting involved. We really do need your help.

Sue Cooper, Chair

17 May 2024