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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!)


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