Hobsonville Point

History

Hobsonville Point has a fascinating history. The air base played a critical role in New Zealand’s efforts to defend our country and fight alongside our allies during WWII. At the same time our commercial aviation industry was being pioneered from the Point. Prior to 1929 the land provided richly for Maori and pakeha alike, offering up seafood, timber, kauri gum and clay for pottery.

 

MAori

The Maori history of the site relates to its strategic Upper Harbour location. The area has had a number of iwi interests over time. The local iwi are Te Kawerau a Maki and Ngati Whatua.

To Te Kawerau a Maki, the area was traditionally known as Onekiritea (originating from the whitish clay soils in the area), reflecting the knowledge that ancestors of Te Kawerau a Maki held with the land and its natural resources. The extensive tidal flats on the eastern and southern edges, known as Tahingamanu (which means the gathering of birds into a flock) were rich in seabirds and shellfish.

Settlers

The colonial history coincides with the earliest settlement of Auckland and the settlement around the Waitemata Harbour. In 1853, 600 acres in the peninsula area was bought from Ngati Whatua by the Crown. The area was named ‘Port Hobsonville’ after Captain William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand.

The land was mainly used for farming, however in 1863 a commercial pottery works was also established, centred on nearby Limeburners Bay. Eventually up to seven companies operated until the clay deposits ran out in the 1930s.

In 1924 Hobsonville was chosen by the government as a site for both land and sea based aviation. The Landing, a key feature of the site, was constructed in 1928 by hand and horse-drawn scoops. An access road, slipway and jetty were constructed in 1929.

RNZAF

In 1924 Hobsonville was chosen by the government as a site for both land and sea based aviation. The Landing, a key feature of the site, was constructed in 1928 by hand and horse-drawn scoops. An access road, slipway and jetty were constructed in 1929.

From the completion of the seaplane facilities, Hobsonville became New Zealand’s premier flying-boat base until 1967 when the flying boats were phased out.

By the 1930s, the land airstrip was too short for larger planes and Hobsonville eventually became a repair and equipment facility. The base has also since that time provided housing and support facilities for the nearby Whenuapai airbase.

In 2001 the NZ Defence Force began the gradual relocation of its operations from Hobsonville.


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