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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 Artspace 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, honours our attachment to the maunga and connects with the Depot’s mantra ‘creating an environment that encourages creating’.

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.

Takarunga and Whare Toi

Since occupying Whare Toi in 2003, Depot Artspace 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 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 Artspace 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.

Takarunga is associated in tradition with Maori occupation extending over nine centuries. Archaeological evidence is found in the terraced pa site.

North and east slopes show terracing and storage pits associated with dwellings and kumara storage.

Fertile volcanic soils at the bases of land between Takarunga and Maungaika were swampy and supported cultivation of ti and taro.

The Maori history of Devonport involves a complex web of successive occupation, migration, and conquests so that today a number of iwi have associations with the area. The Maori occupation of the area predominantly concerns tribal groupings of Tainui descent.

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 Tamaki area.

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

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

Mid 18thC – Ngati Kahu “came under pressure” from Ngati Whatua.

Mid 18th C –  Ngati Whatua had “conquered and then settled” the southern Kaipara and Tamaki isthmus.

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

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

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

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

1841 – Mahurangi Block (including Devonport)is purchased by crown from Ngati Paoa. This sale was not concluded until 1853 by which time payments has already been made to Ngati Whatua, and the Kawerau hapu 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: manuka and flax.

Takarunga: Recent Discoveries:

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

A large proportion of this pa 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 Maori 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 pa. 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

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, Tamati Waka  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 kainga (compound) was known as Riria, after his late wife.

In 1851, Governor Grey granted him 110 acres between Takapuna Beach and the lagoon by Barry’s Point Road.  His  kainga,  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.

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