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History of Whare Toi / Kerr St Creative Hub

Whare Toi is nestled on the side of Maunga Takarunga (Mount Victoria), the largest of the North Shore volcanic cones and one of 14 now under the care of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA).  DEPOT has been kaitiaki/caretaker of Whare Toi since 2003.

In July 2018, Kerr St Artspace was re-named Whare Toi on Maunga Takarunga’s transfer to TMA. This name signifies our relationship with the Maunga Authority and honours our attachment to the maunga.

Transit housing in Devonport
According to Auckland Council records (it holds a B scheduling in the Unitary Plan), it was one of 13 buildings installed beside the school on the maunga for the Army during WWII, “including several dormitory blocks, a guard room, officers’ quarters, combined mess, old QM store, drying hut, vegetable shed, ablution blocks and an old band room.” The officers’ quarters is now one of the buildings used by the play centre just up the slope from Whare Toi.

The military camp was converted into transit housing in 1947, meant to last five years, but instead used through to 1964, when buildings started to be removed from the site, except for the old officers’ quarters, and this building, which became the Wikitoria Community House from 1979 to 1995.

As a Community House, recreational and creative activities took place and a crèche was housed there.
Whare Toi

Takarunga and Whare Toi

Since occupying Whare Toi in 2003, DEPOT has honoured its special relationship with maunga Takarunga. On the lower slopes of the maunga, and close to the walking path to the tihi, Whare Toi appears as a gateway to Takarunga.

The kaitiaki of Whare Toi ensure it is cared for and treated with respect by those who take part in creative activities, and that it continues to reflect the mutual kaupapa of DEPOT and Tūpuna Maunga Authority; that is, the maunga is sacred and its wairua is cherished.

Takarunga: The History and Use of the Maunga

Takarunga is elevated 81 metres above sea level and is the most elevated of the three cones of the Devonport Peninsula. For over nine centuries Māori have lived on Maunga Takarunga. Archaeological evidence is found in the terraced pā site. North and east slopes show terracing and storage pits associated with dwellings and kūmara storage. Fertile volcanic soils at the bases of land between Takarunga and Maungaika were swampy and supported cultivation of tī and taro.

Looking north to west from Duders Hill showing Devonport School and Takarunga, 1925 Photographer: James Richardson

Takarunga: Recent Discoveries:

(Notes from the work of Professor Susan Bulmer, Archaeologist)

A large proportion of this pā has survived, in spite of 150 years of European use and reconstruction as a signal station, a European fort, and a radio station. A brief archaeological excavation was done when the foundations for a new post office mast were dug on the northern edge of summit, adjacent to the reservoir. It was thought unlikely that any evidence of the Māori site would remain, as the summit has been flattened.

However, at a depth of 90 cm a digging machine encountered a black soil with midden, thought to have been associated with the former pā. It was very consolidated, possibly a well-used living surface, and the layer contained many pieces of charcoal, fishbone and shells.

Six features were found in the area then archaeologically excavated (2.4 X 1.7 m); a store pit, four postholes, and a long narrow trench, a drain or a bedding trench for palisading.

Eruera Maihi Patuone, Nga Puhi chief, from Hokianga

Eruera Maihi Patuone, Ngā Puhi chief, from Hokianga

Patuone lived in Devonport in his later years and is buried in the cemetery at the foot of Takarunga Mt Victoria.

His life spanned from the early European visits through to the arrival of missionaries, land wars and settlement. With his brother, Tāmati Wāka  Nene,  he  was  involved in  the  musket  wars, joining up with Hongi  Hika. In 1819 they were  allied with Te Rauparaha in a raiding party (taua) that ranged all the way down to Wellington.

Later he recognised the potential of colonisation and the advantages that trade with Europeans would  bring. In 1826  and the early 1830s he visited Sydney to arrange for shipments of spars. In 1840, he was baptised by the Rev. Henry Williams and was an early signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi.

On the North Shore, he first lived on the northern slopes of Takarunga and his kāinga (compound) was known as Rīria, after his late wife.

In 1851, Governor Grey granted him 110 acres between Takapuna Beach and the lagoon by Barry’s Point Road.  His  kāinga,  Waiwharariki  was  on the small hill presently occupied by the Assembly of God Church in Esmonde Road.

Eruera Maihi Patuone died in 1872 aged 108.

Grave of Eruera Maihi Patuone

Occupation Time Line

13th C 1200’s – (Modern) Devonport occupied by descendants of: Taikehu and Taihaua of the Tainui Waka.

Devonport was originally named Takapuna by Tainui in C. 1350AD.

Late 16thC – Taikehu and Taihaua of Tainui, “suppressed” by the Kawerau people then in occupation of the Tāmaki area.

From the Tainui: (Taikehu and Taihaua) and the Kawerau peoples, a tribal grouping known as Ngāti Kahu emerged.

18th C early 1700’s – Ngāti Whātua occupied: Kaipara, Northcote, Ōnewa. Ngāti Tai occupied Birkenhead. Ngāti Kahu occupied land east of the main ridge between Takapuna and Orewa. Ngāti Tai and Ngāti Kahu were in occupation of these sites when Pākeha first arrived in the district.

Mid 18thC – Ngāti Kahu “came under pressure” from Ngāti Whātua.

Mid 18th C –  Ngāti Whātua had “conquered and then settled” the southern Kaipara and Tāmaki isthmus.

Mid 18th C – Ngāti Kahu was able to remain on their ancestral land. Peacemaking “compacts” and inter-marriage with Ngāti Whātua facilitated this.

Late 18th C – Ngāti Kahuwho had remained in occupation of the Takapuna and Orewa areas came under pressure from Marutūāhu confederation of tribes who settled in these areas during shark hunting season.

Late 18th C – The northern hapū of Ngāti Paoa occupied Takapuna-Orewa area alongside Ngāti Kahu. Both shared Tainui descent.

1827 –  D’urville climbs Takarunga to survey surrounding district.

1841 – Mahurangi Block (including Devonport)is purchased by crown from Ngāti Paoa. This sale was not concluded until 1853 by which time payments has already been made to Ngāti Whātua, and the Kawerau hapū groups still in occupation.

1850 Devonport area was subdivided into small-holdings. Parts of Mt. Victoria/Takarunga were reserved for sale. South east slope of Takarunga was reserved for education use.

1870 – Common School for Boys opened – now Devonport Primary School.

1873 – Signalman Thomas Duder acquired grazing rights and cleared Takarunga of native vegetation: mānuka and flax.

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