Maungakiekie Heritage Walk – Onehunga town centre


This 60-minute walk takes in key heritage and art sites around  Onehunga’s town centre.This is one of two walks developed for the Onehunga Art & Heritage Walk guide to show the enduring heritage that continues to shape and caharcterise Onehunga today.


1. Jellicoe Park – Corner of Quadrant Road & Grey Street.

The park has many historic features jellicoe.jpgincluding the three museums listed below. They contain a fascinating collection of artefacts, photos and books and are managed by the Onehunga Fencible and Historical Society. Open to the public free of charge. Telephone (09) 634 1613 for opening hours.

1.1 Blockhouse

Built in 1860. Occupied first by the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Militia and intended for the defence of Auckland during the land wars of the 1860’s. The Onehunga Borough Council occupied the building from 1889 – 1892.

1.2 Journeys End

A replica of an 1850 double unit Fencible cottage. These cottages were erected by the New Zealand Government for the use of Fencible soldiers at a cost of 121 pounds. Many descendents of the Fencibles still live in Onehunga. In 1959 Lieutenant-Colonel Soar and Mrs Soar, a grand-daughter of William Davies, chief officer of the ship, Berhampore, built jellicoe1.jpg’Journeys End’ as a private museum in their garden. In 1968 the Borough Council purchased the building, relocating it here with the contents donated by the Soar family.

1.3 Laishley House

Built in 1859 as a manse for the Congregational Church and named for the first minister, Reverend Richard Laishley. It was donated in 1985 by its owner Mr Amos Ben and relocated here from its original site at 44 Princes Street.

2. St Peter’s Scout Den – 55 Grey Street

Originally the Anglican Church of St Peter, built 1848. Extensively extended and remodelled until 1875. Shifted from Church Street in 1980. See 13.

3. Anglican Vicarage – 57 Grey Street, 1904.

An architectural gem reconstructed from an 1880’s building. It replaced the earlier vicarage on Selwyn Street built by Reverend Arthur Purchas in 1847.

4. Onehunga Presbyterian Church – Corner Grey Street & Onehunga Mall.

The congregation worshipped in a Fencible cottage on this site from 1854-1862 then moved to a church hall. The present church dates from 1890.

5. Onehunga Club – 303 Onehunga Mall.

Originally named Annendale, later Scotlands. Residence of Dr William George Scott, Mayor 1883-1887. Large lava caves are underground at the rear of this property. Next door at 280 Onehunga Mall the Prince Albert Inn, 1858 -1959 was built over a broad lava cave to serve as a natural cellar. Caves not open for viewing.

6. Church of the Assumption – Corner Galway Street & Church Street.

CatholicChurch designed by Thomas Mahoney and built by William Kemp in 1889. It is a similar style to St Patrick’s Cathedral in central Auckland. The cemetery is also of historic interest.

7. St Joesph’s School – 12 Church Street.

Catholic school opposite the Church of the Assumption. St Mary’s School established in 1848, with a roll of 43 pupils and renamed St Josephs in 1882. The building was replaced in 1923. The present school built in 1985 has a roll of 320 in 2003.

8. Onehunga Railway Station – Corner Princes Street & Onehunga Mall

Original site of the Onehunga Railway Station. Building relocated to 38 Alfred Street in 1962 and now used as a railway museum. A branch line still continues on to the wharf. First train 1873, last passenger train January 1973, ending 100 years on the Penrose and Onehunga branch line. (See H in Manukau Walk.)

9. Carnegie Free Library – 55 Princes Street

Listed heritage building. The library opened in 1912 New Zealand built with a grant of £2,000 from wealthy American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who established 2500 public libraries throughout the world. Now privately owned and used as a restaurant and bar. Superb decorative motifs on exterior and interior.

10. Former Post Office – 120 Onehunga Mall

Built 1902. The first Post Office was built of wood in 1885. The existing old Post Office building, at the corner of Onehunga Mall and Princes Street, was opened in 1902. The next Post Office opened in 1975 was at 145 Onehunga Mall and today New Zealand Post Shop is at 148 Arthur Street.

11. The Legendary Hard to Find (but worth the effort) Quality Secondhand Bookshop – 171 – 173Onehunga Mall

This is the flagship store and now has eight branches nationwide. Built 1890’s. Formerly occupied by Gordon Sai Louie & Co, a family business selling fruit, vegetables and Chinese supplies. Mr Sai Louie senior was a great social worker for the Chinese community. The business ran for over 40 years closing in 1988. A notable feature is the original gold sign writing on the window. When used as a dental surgery in the early 1900’s a patient died there under anaesthesia. This led to a law change requiring an anaesthetist’s presence during operations. It has been said that the building is haunted. The staff say that if this is the case then it is certainly a friendly ghost.

12. Church of St Peter – Corner Onehunga Mall & Church Street.

Major changes have taken place to this historic Anglican Church over the years. The original church constructed in 1848 has been relocated. See 3. Today we see the church tower built in 1930 and a modern church built in 1980. The cemetery contains headstones of many early settlers. Notable also are the graves from the HMS Orpheus, the ship wrecked at the entrance to the Manukau Harbour in 1863. The NZ Navy still maintains the Orpheus graves to this day. Elizabeth Yates JP Is also buried there. Elizabeth became the first woman Mayor in the British Empire in 1893. Her husband, Captain Michael Yates, was Mayor from 1888-1892. To read her story see the sign in the car park in Gerrard Beeson Place, behind the churchyard. A memorial stone to her was laid under the nearby oak tree in 1983 by New Zealand’s first woman Governor General, Dame Cath Tizard.

13. Mainstreet Seat & Table – Corner Onehunga Mall & Church Street.

In front of the church is the handcrafted ceramic seat by Karen Kennedy illustrating Onehunga’s heritage buildings. Installed in 1999, it has become an icon for the town. Chess is played on the matching table, which features secret messages for those who take the time to look underneath it.

14. ‘De Loo’ – 207 Onehunga Mall

Installed 2002. Artist Dave Vazey decorated this public toilet situated in the road way with art nouveau style wrought iron featuring the ‘tree of life’. This structure has now become an iconic part of Onehunga’s main street though some would have it moved to a rather less conspicuous spot.

15. Onehunga Mainstreet Pharmacy – 227 Onehunga Mall

Built in the 1920’s as a chemist shop and continuing the rich tradition of community pharmacy service combined with modern day ‘best performance.’ This recently restored building has a number of notable features. Above the parapet is a giant mortar and pestle and inside superbly restored original stained glass windows and photos of early Onehunga make it well worth a visit.

16. Bray Building – 239 Onehunga Mall

Built early 1900’s. This was the premises of Ivan Whale Cartage Contractors and Suppliers. The car park at rear was a head depot for a large fleet of horse-drawn drays and later, trucks. Today the building is being restored to its former glory.

17. Onehunga Primary School – 83 Selwyn Street

Opened 1901, now the home of the Onehunga Community House. It has a Category B heritage listing. The woodwork and cooking blocks opposite at 82 and 84 Selwyn Street were built in 1920. Famous former pupils of the school include: Sir William Jordan MP, Alf Allen Speaker at Parliament, Ramesh Patel 1972 Olympics, Ricky May entertainer. It was replaced by the present day Onehunga Primary School sited below. Inside notable wall panels painted early in the twentieth century by Mabel Upton can be viewed by appointment. Originally in the Onehunga Orphan’s Hall, they were donated by Gaylene Welch.

Other Places of Interest – Onehunga Community Centre & Library Mural at rear entry, 81 – 85 Church Street

Artists Manu Scott, Charlotte Graham and Nanette Lela’ulu came up with the concept for the mural. It has a map of Onehunga Town Centre as a background design. Young people from Penrose and Onehunga High Schools and Martin Hautus Pacific People’s Learning Institute then overlaid their own designs on it. Celebrating the installation of sculpture by Felipe Tohi on Onehunga Town Square.

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