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Wairaka's Waters | Water Supply | Pumping Station

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Story of the Auckland Asylum springs at Pt Chevalier, site of the Mt Albert Borough Council pumphouse, and the 1922 Mt Albert typhoid epidemic.
    W    airaka’s   W    aters :   The Auckland Asylum    Springs    Lisa J Truttman   August 2007  2   (Above) Building 33, the formerMt Albert pumping stationbuilding, built 1904, designed byHenry H. Metcalfe. Photo takenby the author, 17 September 2006.(Right) The Takapuna PumpHouse, Killarney Park, besideLake Pupuke. Note mirror-imageplacement of door and windows,and compare with photograph ontitle page. Photo taken by theauthor 18 February 2007.Title page map detail from 1892 Map of Eden County, NZ Department of Lands and Survey(copy in Avondale-Waterview Historical Society Collection, also available as NZ Map 4785,Special Collections). This is one of the earliest maps of the asylum springs.Insert photograph of the Mt Albert pumping station on title page by very kind permission of Dick Scott, author of   In Old Mt Albert. This was scanned from a published image of a 1911montage of the first Mt Albert Borough Council, 1911, opposite p.64 in the 1983 reprint of Mr. Scott’s book. The srcinal image, and the montage, has not yet been found. My sincerethanks to Mr. Scott, and those who have hunted on my request for the srcinal image.Printed by: Words Incorporated, 557 Blockhouse Bay Road, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland    3 Introduction This work arose from out of a fascination for two topics: the story of the OakleyCreek as it flowed alongside the area of Waterview, past the site of a long vanishedflour mill near the present-day interchange of Great North Road and the North-western Motorway, and the story of the Auckland Lunatic Asylum, an institutionknown by many names since the first building was completed in 1867.Quite by chance in September 2006, while walking with a group from the Friends of Arataki and guided by the convenor of the Friends of Oakley Creek, Wendy Jon, Iwalked past a lovely brick building on the Unitec grounds (Building 33), and stoppedto take a photograph. I have a deep love for old buildings, and often take a photographthen think nothing more of it. Then, towards the end of that year, after an approachfrom a researcher (Marianne Simpkins) who was keen to find out as muchinformation as possible about the history of the area around a building on the Unitecgrounds (an old former pumphouse) which developers intended to convert into arestaurant – I looked at the photo again. And realised I had been looking at the old MtAlbert pumping station. During that same walk, I’d spoken to those with me about atyphoid epidemic which was centred on the springs we were then walking beside, anoutbreak that happened in the early 1920s. Looking at the photograph I had taken, Iknew I wanted to find out more about the pumphouse, the outbreak which closed itdown, and about the waters it is so intimately associated with.This paper is the result.My thanks to Marianne Simpkins who inspired me to do something about finding outmore; the staff at Auckland City Archives and Unitec; those also at SpecialCollections and Auckland Research Centre at Auckland City Library (Central); NorthShore City Libraries (Takapuna); and my friends who have listened patiently to metelling them how engrossed I have been with the story of an old brick building and aseries of water springs for months and months.  4 “When she was thirsty, she demanded water, stamped her foot, whence water gushed out of the ground.” – Text from a sign beside Te Wai Unuroa o Wairaka, Unitec.The story could begin around 30,000 years ago, for without the volcanic eruptions inthat period which formed the cone known as Te Puke o Ruarangi, Te Wai o Raka, TeAhi Ka a Raka, or (as it is now known) Owairaka, 1 the waters perhaps wouldn’t flowas they do as groundwater, part of a basalt aquifer called Mt Albert West, 2 towardsthe mouth of the Oakley Creek.It could begin in the twelfth century CE, when the tohunga of the Tainui canoe is saidto have lived in the area of the springs on the grounds of present-day Unitec,controlling an area called Te Ahi Ka a Rakataura which extended to Three Kings,Eden Park and the Meola Reef. 3 Puhi came on his journey north from Whakatane,commanding the Mataatua Canoe and founding the Ngapuhi iwi, after engaging in aquarrel with his brother Toroa. Sometime later, some say after an affair of the heartthat had gone wrong, Toroa’s famous daughter Wairaka came north and settled for atime with her kindred at Mt Albert, 4 and drank from the waters she stamped from theground. From then on they were known as Te Wai Unuroa o Wairaka (the long drink of Wairaka). Today the waters, springs and stream flowing into the Oakley Creek, areknown as the Wairaka Stream.According to historian George Graham, 5 Wairaka’s name in turn came from that of the coastal village in Hawaiki where she was born, and means “waters entangled orenmeshed”. Considering the history of the waters here in Auckland, this deepermeaning is apt.The spring was highly valued, both for drinking and for rituals of thanks-giving andceremonials. According to Haare Williams, “It offered relief to the sick, and as well 1 Mt Albert – Owairaka Management Plan, Auckland City Council website,http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz, sighted 4 May 2007 2 Map, “ICS Study Areas and Aquifer Location”, Auckland Waterway, May 2005 (published byAuckland City and Metrowater) 3 Information by Haare Williams, Unitec, given to the author 2007 4 Letter written by George Graham to NZ Herald  , 21 March 1931. Copy via the Mt AlbertHistorical Society, sourced from Dr David Simmons 5 Letter, 21 March 1931
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