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August 2015 A real champion for the world's most liveable city

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our west

Precious metal gives a new meaning to Kit cars

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Waikumete Cemetery has grave concerns

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Icon of the West - Murray Gray

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Craft to draught - it's all here!

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Our West is brought to you by The Trusts. For more information on The Trusts, visit our website www.thetrusts.co.nz Feedback on www.ourwest.co.nz or email us at info@thetrusts.co.nz


Going West Festival celebrates 20 years Working around the war related theme "Holding the Line" The Going West Books and Writers Festival celebrates 20 years this September. This year we have a line-up of outstanding home-grown authors, playwrights and songwriters in a packed programme of events. Stephanie Johnson who featured at the first ever Going West will be the Sir Graeme Douglas Orator this year, as part of the opening night celebrations on Friday 11 September. Features of the festival are new non-fiction by David Slack, Roger Horrocks and Geoff Chapple; new novels from Greg McGee, Stephanie Johnson and Anna Smaill and poetry by Harry Ricketts and Leilani Tamu. Rachel Barrowman will be talking about her just-published biography of Maurice Gee and biographer Lucy Treep will offer insights into the life of Maurice Shadbolt. As always, Going West hosts New Zealand’s first and still its best, poetry slam event.

The festival has also formed a partnership with Auckland’s new Ma ¯ori theatre, Te Pou at 44A Portage Road, New Lynn. Te Pou will present a development season of The Great American Scream by award-winning playwright Albert Belz and the theatre work, Sister Anzac, by Geoff Allen. It will also host community Wha ¯nau Day of storytelling. Going West organisers, in association with the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, have also announced that from 2017 they will be offering a writer in residency programme at Maurice Shadbolt’s home of some 40 years, in Titirangi. This differs from most residencies in that Shadbolt House is a family home allowing the winner to live there with his or her family. For more information the full Going West Books and Writers Festival programme will be online at:

www.goingwestfest.co.nz.

Looking for a new home Whau Local Board member and former councillor Derek Battersby bears a resemblance to "Father Time" these days as he scouts for a new location for a clock identical to the one that has hung since 1951, in New Lynn's brick clock tower. The two clocks, made by Ghent in the UK, date from the 1930’s. They’re now very rare but despite their age are excellent time-keepers and are reckoned to have another century of life in them at least. The full history of the second clock isn’t known but it “served its time” at either the Kiwi Bacon Co in Kingsland or at Cerebos Salt in East Tamaki and is now in the possession of The Precision Watch Co. in Totara Ave. The unofficial “Mayor of New Lynn”, Derek Battersby, would have loved to see the clock in the New Lynn railway station but now thinks it would be better on a plinth in the bus interchange outside the station. It would be ideal if it was on a brick stand like the one on Great North Road. But wherever it goes, Derek wants it to count down the hours in New Lynn.

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The second Ghent town clock at Precision Watch Co.


Kit's precious metal The 1913 Maxwell six cylinder "Top Hat Tourer" is one of the rarest cars in the world; there are only two left and one of them is right here in Henderson. By coincidence it's also owned by someone of the same name, Kit Maxwell. The house where Kit Maxwell lives with Rina, is pretty large by Henderson suburban standards but not so obvious that a casual observer would stop and think about it. Even less so, the apparently normal two-car garage that fronts a quiet suburban street. Except it’s not a two car garage. Like Dr Who’s Tardis it’s a lot bigger on the inside than it appears to be from the outside. It’s a six car garage big enough to hold four gorgeous veteran and vintage cars from different eras, plus a trailer for one of them and a car to tow it. There’s the incredibly rare Maxwell, the even older, red lacquer and brass trimmed 1909 Briton (with the engine currently in pieces), Buick’s 1929 Art Deco masterpiece and the supremely elegant 1951 Bentley that represented a turning point in the way Rolls Royce Bentley built their cars. They’re all in showroom condition but they’re not ornaments. “You mustn’t be afraid to drive them,” Kit says with Rina’s enthusiastic support. So they go shopping and touring in them. Even the two cylinder, 12 horsepower Briton, the first vehicle from the stable of the Briton Motor Company in Wolverhampton England, has regular outings: Kit and Rina have been known to load this horseless carriage onto the trailer, tow it to Central Otago and then go touring in it. They took the art deco-styled Buick to Napier for many years, for that city’s art deco festival and all in all they’ve put around 45,000 kms on the Buick alone. Every one of these cars is special as a survivor from the early days of motoring but each also represents a milestone in itself. The Briton is the first of the marque created by the earlier Star Motor Company. Interestingly, the first car Briton exported came to Auckland. After a chequered career, Briton finally went out of business in the 1940s. The 4.25 litre Mark 6 Bentley was the first car by Rolls Royce Bentley in which the company designed the coachwork. Up until this model, both Rolls Royce and Bentley cars came without bodywork, the purchaser being able to choose the style he or she wanted.

It was also known in the States as the Prairie Schooner, because its metre high wooden-spoke wheels were designed for the largely poor roads of the American mid-west of its day. Even today, it will go 80 kmh but with brakes only on the back wheels, stopping can be something of an adventure. Kit found this masterpiece when he was researching the family history and came across advertisements of it being up for auction, by the US IRS (tax department), in New York. It was in mint condition having been fully restored after spending 40 years from 1920 to 1960 in a barn. However, it seems the owner had fallen foul of the tax authorities and they were selling him up. As with all his cars, Kit knows the history right down to the original asking price. He knows that the Briton was originally used in the Dunedin area to replace a dairy farm inspector’s horse. The Buick was a sales rep’s car for Burns Philp and Co. At one time it was converted to a builder’s utility, with the back of the coach-work cut off and replaced with a tray. It was subsequently restored using the back end of another ’29 Buick. Perhaps the most remarkable story though, involves a 1909 Wolseley that Kit and Rina bought from the Ron Roycroft collection. They’d researched the car’s history which was displayed on a board when the car was on show in Palmerston North. The grand-daughter of the original owner saw this, realised her family’s connection and made contact. As a result, almost a century after it arrived in the country, Kit and Rina had the great pleasure of selling the car back to the original owner’s grand-son. Rina, an accountant, is from Amsterdam and Kit was from Dunedin, but today they’re Westies through and through. Kit worked for iconic West Auckland multinational, Ceramco, for many years, before buying and running an animal feed company in Kumeu, where he and Rina first met. They later owned and ran Kimberley Blankets, manufacturer of luxury merino wool blankets with an export market in Japan. These days they live in retirement indulging their passion of owning, maintaining and above all, driving, their various forms of precious metal.

The Maxwell is as American as apple pie but it is a right-hand drive car. That’s right, up until 1913 Americans drove on the left as we do here and the Maxwell is the last of its line built with the driver’s seat on the right side (pun intended). It is also fitted with an electric start, a remarkable innovation in an era when most cars had a crank handle used by the motorist, to start the engine. It’s called a “Top Hat Tourer” because its fabric, drop-head, roof stands 2.5 metres above the road and there’s room underneath for a gentleman to wear his top hat.

Kit's cars, (l-r) 1929 Art Deco Buick, the 1913 Maxwell Top Hat Tourer (or Prairie Schooner) and the 1951 Bentley Mark 6.


Waikumete Cemetery has grave concerns Is your family name Bosworth, Brierly, Chapman, McGregor, Moore, Oakes or Wilson and do you trace your history in Auckland back several generations? If the answer is yes to both questions, it is possible that you belong to family that the staff at Waikumete Cemetery are trying to find to ask what to do with a headstone that is in danger of toppling over (and perhaps hurting someone). Waikumete is the largest cemetery in New Zealand with a history dating back to the 1880s and the headstones in question date from the early 1900s and late 1800s. In those days there was a fashion for very tall and very heavy headstones of marble or concrete, that stood well over a metre tall.

The problem is, of course, that the gravestones Sheree Stout, the Head Sexton by one of the dangerous monuments. are from a long gone era and proving which modern families with the names Bosworth, Brierly, Chapman, McGregor, Moore, Oakes or Wilson, are connected with the stones could be difficult if the families themselves don’t have long memories or good records. That said, Waikumete is this city’s most valuable genealogical resources with records dating back a century and a half.

Cemetery manager Roscoe Webb says that because of the risk to people and also the risk of damage to the headstones themselves, his team either needs to find members of the families to see if they wish to get the stones re-erected, or the Waikumete team will have to lay them flat on the ground.

Roscoe Webb says the headstones were identified during a comprehensive survey of the whole vast area, which is the second largest public reserve in Auckland after the Cornwall Park complex. As a result of that survey every single grave site can now be located by GPS.

“We’d rather do that with the permission of the families if there’s any members of those families still around to ask,” he says.

Anybody who thinks they may have an interest in the toppling headstones should email info.cemetery@ aucklandcouncil.govt.nz or call 818 5615.

West Auckland Pearse plane has to wait for its first flight Finding out whether Canterbury's Richard Pearse could have beaten the Wright brothers to achieve powered flight, will have to wait for another year. After a gloriously powerful ground run at Wings Over Wairarapa when “The Pearse Plane” tried to take off, the engine lost power again when the scheduled first flight was attempted at Whenuapai in April. Richard Pearse himself had reliability issues with his engine back in 1903 and they continue a century later, in the reproduction of Pearse’s first plane built by Kelston engineer Ivan Mudrovcich. Ivan believes that the more modern materials he used for the engine cylinders are not as rigid as the cast-iron drain pipes Pearse used, meaning that they get distorted and lose power.

He’ll spend the winter re-building the engine and possibly look to a first flight next year. Ivan is so convinced that Pearse flew in March 1903, at least nine months before the Wrights, and possibility even earlier, that he has spent a decade painstakingly building a new version of Pearse’s plane and engine. He doesn’t claim it is a replica because Pearse did not leave behind complete sets of plans and he’s had to piece the design together from written descriptions, letters and pictures in patent applications. All the same, Ivan believes that all the important details are as they should be, it will fly and when it does, it will provide solid evidence for the claim that a Kiwi was the first person to fly a powered plane. Our West has been following this story for two years and hopes to be there when success is achieved.

The Pearse plane at Whenuapai airport.


A real champion for the world's most liveable city You can't keep a good man down and this one keeps "Bobbing up" all over. Needless to say we're talking about Sir Bob Harvey the irrepressible former Mayor of Waitakere, President of the Labour Party, Chairman of the award-winning Waterfront Auckland and much else besides. In the week that it was announced he was stepping down from leadership of the waterfront, Sir Bob revealed he was taking up a new role as Champion for Auckland with the role of seeking overseas investment. It’s a perfect role for the man who once described himself as the “ATM machine” for the Labour Party and who has spent decades persuading people internationally, to invest in making Auckland and New Zealand an even better place to be. Sir Bob will be especially helpful in developing relationships

with China where he is so highly regarded he’s been made an honorary citizen. More recently he’s led the waterfront to the title of “best waterfront in the world” and has helped find organisations willing to invest over $1 billion in and around the Wynyard Quarter. An immediate goal is to help Auckland win the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize that he regards as being “like an Oscar for the cities across the world”. The prize was won last year by Suzhou, China and in 2012 by New York. Sir Bob, the man who gave the Starship Hospital its name, still lives in Glen Eden with a beach house at Karekare.

A Knitsey Tree sprouts out West A Knitsey Tree sprouts out West. At least Knitsey is the name they go by in other parts of the country, but a Knitsey Tree by any other name would still look as colourful and quirky. This Pohutukawa Knitted Graffiti tree on the roadside at Hobsonville Point was a community engagement project by a group of around 20 knitters led by Titirangi artist and weaver, Alison Milne. Reflecting the old eco city principles of art from everyday items, is the massive “Estaurine”, also at Hobsonville Point. It was created by Louise Purvis from industrial galvanised steel gabions loaded with red scoria to depict a network of fresh water streams meeting the sea. Both were commissioned by former Waitakere City arts manager, Naomi McCleary, who is advising the Hobsonville Point development on incorporating stunning works of public art.


Major awards for Lopdell House and Te Uru Titirangi's two outstanding buildings, Te Uru Gallery and Lopdell House have shared what might be a unique distinction of two separate buildings next door to each other, carrying off major awards from the New Zealand Institute of Architects. Te Uru, the architecturally stunning and nationally important new art gallery on the Titirangi Ridge has won Mitchell and Stout Architects the Public Building Award at this year’s New Zealand Architecture Awards.

Of this the judges said “Sharp, refreshed and skillfully adjusted to new uses, Lopdell House is now ready to act as a focus of the Titirangi community for another generation," the jury said. Both buildings are proud testament to the sense of community and utter determination of the West Auckland community to bring Lopdell House back to life and create a purpose built space for the little art gallery with the big reputation that is now called Te Uru.

This award marks the new gallery out as the single best new public structure completed in New Zealand in the last year. The New Zealand Institute of Architects judges were lavish in their praise, saying “The social effect on the local people is this building’s greatest achievement. It is surely rare for any new project to be so immediately valued and appreciated by its community”. They went on to say “The transformational power of modern architecture can hardly be better illustrated than in this dramatic addition to the Titirangi village.” In the same awards, Mitchell and Stout won the Institute’s Heritage Award for their restoration of historic Lopdell House.

Portage Awards again offer overseas residencies

proud sponsor

Te Uru has again secured the opportunity for winners in this year's Portage Ceramic Awards to study and work overseas. One residency is at the Peters Valley School of Craft, a notfor-profit education centre in Layton New Jersey. It offers intensive adult workshops in blacksmithing, ceramics, fibre arts, fine metals, jewellery, photography, woodworking and special topics from May through September. Peters Valley was founded in 1970 in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The other residency is at Denmark’s Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center. Guldagergaard [prounced 'Gool-aya-goh] is an artist in residence centre for ceramic artists. It is operated from former private home of the owner of a tulip and fruit farm In 1997 the international ceramic research centre was established with the goal of offering international artists-in-residence well equipped studios and technical staff ready to help to put their visions into clay.

The Space Between by Louise Rive. Image courtesy of Te Uru Contemporary Gallery.


icons west of the

Murray Gray

When the Going West Books and Writers Festival starts in Titirangi on 11 September, it will be for the 20th time, and the last for its iconic founder Murray Gray. Murray Gray is a Westie in his soul and a love of literature and music fights for ownership of his heart. One might say there is a mix of black sand and ink under his fingernails. He’s also one of those enviable people who have managed to craft an extraordinarily rich and rewarding life out of “going with the flow”. He may not quite have been a Hippie but he lived the philosophy more completely and genuinely than many who dressed in muslin and put flowers in their hair. To listen to Murray reflecting on life, is to have a fireside chat with an amused and tolerant observer who relishes the richness of the mind rather than the richness of money, who has loved and lived his life in his own way and on his own terms, laughed at much, and regretted little. He’s also a superb cook and lived with Naomi until recently, in a converted and ancient barn in Oratia that, with its nooks and crannies, unexpected staircases and rooms, and time-worn “wiggly-woggly” timbers, could have been the inspiration for the world of Narnia. It was a house that defined Murray’s persona; laid back, warm, welcoming and bohemian. Teacher, roadie and stage manager, lighting maestro, publisher, bookseller and the central player in Going West for two decades, he is also one of those people who’ve had a knack of being in the right place at the right time, as seminal events in our history have unfolded. He was there when outstanding rock band of the ‘70’s, Th’ Dudes, were on the cusp of making it big. Th’ Dudes were, of course, the launch band for Dave Dobbyn and Murray was their lighting engineer and roadie. He was stage manager for the great music and counter-culture festivals of Nambassa and Sweetwaters. He was there when Keri Hulme’s Mann Booker prizewinning “The Bone People” came out. Working for a publisher who was agent for the book, he and his then partner personally took cartons of books to sell individually to people they knew. These people then sent copies overseas and “sold” the book to their friends. It may not have been the only contribution to “The Bone People’s” success but it was one of them. And he was there when his good mate Bob Harvey was thinking of standing for Mayor of Waitakere and wondering how to “get rid of the bogan image” of Westies. Indeed, it was the start of one of those coincidences when several events collide to create an unintended outcome. That conversation happened in close proximity to another, when a customer at the Under Silkwood bookshop Murray was running in Parnell, told him how she had read Maurice

Gee’s book, “Going West” and how brilliantly he had described the train journey from Henderson to Auckland. Turning both conversations over in his mind, it occurred to Murray that West Auckland had a “profound literary heritage” and associations with some of the great names of New Zealand writing, among them CK Stead, Alan Curnow, Maurice Gee and Maurice Shadbolt. It would be a brilliant idea, he thought, to hire a steam train and create a literary event in which the train took people to a variety of stops in West Auckland, where it would be met by authors willing to discuss their works and give readings. It was then that Naomi came into his bookshop and ever ready for a chat, Murray described the idea. Naomi was so captivated she promptly replied, “If you want help, I’m your girl.” On that first festival, Maurice Gee himself greeted the 200 or so passengers at Henderson Station, book in hand. “I have not stood on this station for 30 or 40 years” he pronounced and proceeded to read the opening chapters of “Going West”. For the first 10 years, Going West was unique in that it was focussed on New Zealand writers and based on a steam train that wound its way to Helensville using stations, chapels and other ad hoc venues for the literary events. There was wine, there were wonderful New Zealand words, there was the adventure and the romance of the age of steam. Unfortunately (depending on the point of view) the Waitakere City Council had pushed hard for a revival of suburban train services, and they suddenly came to pass. That was good for the commuting public but with regular trains, it was no longer possible to run a “privateer” steam train at weekends. In response, Going West, became a month long, West Auckland-wide, festival spread across a wide variety of venues. But it is still unique in that of all this country’s literary festivals, it is the one that focuses on New Zealand authors and their works. This is a fact deeply appreciated by the writers whom Murray describes as essentially lonely people who often don’t know how well their works are received. As such, Murray Gray and the people around him, have created one of the most important events in this country’s literary landscape, and one of the annual demonstrations that West Auckland is one of most important centres of New Zealand culture.

Murray Gray, Icon of the west, the west salutes you.

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