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Sunday, July 14, 2019

NZ Strong lend a hand on the maunga

Last Saturday 6 July we were joined by nine professionals from NZ Strong, a major construction company headquartered in Mt Eden near the foot of the maunga. Assisted by seven FoM volunteers, the group planted 50 native seedlings on the steep southern slope uphill from Rautangi Rd, and another 10 shrubby plants (Coprosma rhamnoides and hangehange) alongside the lower track.

Gerard Drum
Team NZ Strong
The NZ Strong volunteers were keen, capable, smart people who came well equipped and ready for action. It was a great pleasure to work with them on a chilly morning. Two FoM volunteers had set out the plants and stakes the day before, and the planting was completed in an hour. We then made our way back towards Batger Rd and along the Batger track to Hall Park, where we enjoyed tea and home baking provided by FoM volunteers.

The planting day came about through NZ Strong's interest in our activities. Gerard, a services engineer at the company, initiated the contact and led the team. We had met Gerard twice beforehand to show him what we do and discuss how we might develop an ongoing association. Given their expertise as engineers, surveyors and site managers, we're hoping that NZ Strong can help with terracing and track edging – possibly making use of construction waste.

It's exciting to think that young people from a local company will have an ongoing role with FoM. Corporate groups in the past have helped FoM only occasionally and as a one-off. NZ Strong is making much more of a commitment, and that makes us feel invigorated and motivated.

Gerard, Keith and Sel

Sunday, May 5, 2019

"The History of Mount Eden" has launched

May Day, when Morris Dancers perform at dawn on the Maungawhau tihi, was a fitting date for the launch of The History of Mount Eden – the district and its people.

Published by the Epsom & Eden District Historical Society Inc. and edited by historian Dr Helen Laurenson, this remarkable book has been written by volunteer researchers and contributors over several years.

Dame Silvia Cartwright and Helen Laurenson
cutting the cake from the City Cake Company

Speaking at the launch at the Mt Eden Village Centre, Dame Silvia Cartwright remarked on paired photos of residents of Eventide Home (now Eden Village) in 1925 and 2015, illustrating changes in fashion and the longevity of many of Mt Eden's institutions.

But the book delves much farther back. The chapter by historian Graeme Murdoch on the Māori history of Maungawhau weaves knowledge and narratives into a fascinating story. Failure to reconcile the different iwi histories of Maungawhau was the main reason why the 2005 draft Conservation Plan for Maungawhau was never finalised. So this is a great achievement, blessed by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority and full of information and interest.

Several members of the Friends of Maungawhau contributed: Bernhard Spörli wrote the first chapter on Maungawhau's natural history, Sel Arbuckle contributed the section on birds and insects, and Keith Locke wrote the chapter on political institutions and organisations. FoM supplied a few photos and is profiled in the Community Services chapter.

A substantial book covering a lot of ground, the beautiful layout and detailed indexing makes it easy to dip into or read sequentially.

There are fascinating titbits – Tom the elephant* and the myth of John Batger's house, for example. And there are photographic gems, such as the one showing hundreds of Auckland Grammar School pupils sitting in the Maungawhau crater – in 1921!

The History of Mount Eden is available for $60 from Time Out Bookstore. Thank you so much, Helen, Eric and the EEDHS team for completing this splendid project.
Mary McIntyre, "Granny streaks on Maungawhau" (not in the book!)