Kauri Point

During the 1930s the Navy was ordered to vacate the Narrow Neck location of the armament stores that had been there since 1927. The site was selected by the commander of the NZ Division of the RN, and NOCA. The site was named Onetaunga (moorings beach) but was wrongly identified as Kauri Point.

 

During the 1930s the Navy was ordered to vacate the Narrow Neck location of the armament stores that had been there since 1927. The site was selected by the commander of the NZ Division of the RN, and NOCA. The site was named Onetaunga (moorings beach) but was wrongly identified as Kauri Point. A 33-acre site was taken over under Orders-in-Council and work was begun on 7 October 1935 as an access road and wharf were constructed. The Public Works Department carried out the construction of the site completing 23 buildings including ordnance shops, stores, accommodation, and storage pits. Much of the early permanent buildings were in brick and double-walled. In August 1937 the first transfer of munitions was carried out from Narrow Neck.[1]

By 1939 a large water tower was completed for firefighting plus a system of water mains.[2] The magazines were sited along the steep gullies that run to the wharf. The construction of these buildings required major earthworks.[3] During the Second World War a contact-mine store was added to the site. There were 800 contact mines prepared for laying in 1942. Also in 1942 the US Navy took over part of the site and added a further 16 buildings to those already in use most of which were brink magazines.[4] The mine store was closed in 1943 and the US Navy withdrew in 1944. At this time the depot consisted of 58 permanent and temporary buildings.[5]

After 1945 the site was storage for a large amount of unexpended munitions produced during the war. From the early 1950 to the 1960s Kauri Point prepared ammunition for dumping at sea. A memorandum from the Dockyard Superintendent in October 1955 notes that approximately 5,900 tons of munitions were dumped in the Hauraki Gulf.[6] In the 1950s, the site moved from being a simple storage base to a proper armament depot. Torpedoes were maintained for the RNZN and the RNZAF. Laboratories carried out tests on all forms of explosives. The workshops carried out repairs on guns used by the RNZN. This included cleaning and painting generating toxic chemicals and waste. Given it was the 1950s the OSH disposal regulations were looser than they are presently.[7]

In the 1950s and 1960s large amounts of Second World War era ammunition was stored at Kauri Point prior to being disposed off by dumping at sea. In the 1960s sites were constructed for the storage and testing of missiles and ASW torpedoes in the space once occupied by the United States Navy.[8] An archaeological survey indicated that the land at Kauri Point had been extensively modified and removal of the pine trees had destroyed most of the groundsurface leaving no likely archaeological sites accessible. Two small terraces located 100m south of the security fence’s north-western corner are noted to be the result of slumping and there were open drains created by farming operations in the area.[9] Between 1970 and the present the number of magazines and ancillary buildings have been reduced. A progressive replanting of native tress has been undertaken.[10]

Draft Heritage Inventory for Kauri Point[11]

Three places at Kauri Point have been accessed for their heritage value: water tower, ordnance store, mechanical workshop.

  • The water tower was completed in 1939, and is used by the NSCC to maintain water pressure in the area.
  • Mechanical Workshop was completed in 1939 and required some earthworks and reclamation to make a flat surface for the building. It was closed in the late 1990s as regulations changed for working within blast zones. The roof is asbestos sheets and the building is in poor state.
  • Ordnance Store – this was completed in 1939 and is a timber building. As for the workshop earthworks and reclamation was required during construction.

 Notes from Unit Histories 1990-1996:

  • November 1991 – major repair work undertaken by contractors on Austin Ave[12]
  • May 1993 – work on Main Laboratories – work completed in July[13]
  • March 1994 – Austin Ave stage 3 upgrade commenced – expected to take four weeks[14]
  • January 1995 – second coat of chipseal applied to lower section of Austin Avenue between Magazines 6 & 8[15]
  • March 1995 – armoured glass trials undertaken on Small Arms Range[16]
  • May 1995 – firefighting equipment tested at Bramley proof yard[17]
  • June 1995 – report of problems with Chemical Agent Monitor Maintenance[18]
  • July 1995 – Kauri Point helicopter pad officially closed as a facility[19]
  • July 1995 – heavy slip occurs between ESHs 30 & 31 – ‘the landfill outside the road slumped badly and further slips are possible’[20]
  • July 1995 – fitting out of CAM/OFM maintenance facility at GM commences[21]
  • July 1995 – curbing and channelling carried out on Austin Avenue[22]
  • September 1995 – water tank in the depot car park fitted with new liner[23]
  • March 1996 – Stage 1-3 redevelopment brief presented by Consultants[24]
  • August 1996 – Bofors 40mm 40/60 Ammunition broken down 9,200 rounds for brass recovery and disposal of explosive[25]
  • October 1996 – buildings at Bramley proof Yard scheduled for demolition[26]
  • March 2000 – RNZNAD Kauri Point presented with a Premises Inspection and Certification Programme Certificate by the NZ Chemical Council – as a result of high standards in a SHE audit carried out in November 1999.[27]
  • Regular small arms testing was carried out on the Kauri Point Small Arms Range[28]

[1] EXK 0003 Kauri Point Archive: undated typed history of Kauri Point believed to be c1946 no author identified

[2] EXK 0003 Kauri Point Archive: Rod Clough, Peter Corbett, Don Prince, Kauri Point Naval Armament Depot: Archaeological Assessment, Auckland: Clough & Associates, 1998, p. 4.

[3] ibid.,

[4] ibid.,

[5] EXK 0003 Kauri Point Archive: typed copy of a unit history written c1946 no author identified

[6] EXK 0003 Kauri Point Archive: Memorandum from Superintendent HMNZ Dockyard to Navy Secretary Wellington NB 129/4/4 dated 26 October 1955. See also Rod Clough, Peter Corbett, Don Prince, Kauri Point Naval Armament Depot: Archaeological Assessment, Auckland: Clough & Associates, 1998, p. 6.

[7] EXK 0003 Kauri Point Archive: ‘Strange Contrast of Wildlife and Weapons’, New Zealand Herald 3/10/1972.

[8] Rod Clough, Peter Corbett, Don Prince, Kauri Point Naval Armament Depot: Archaeological Assessment, Auckland: Clough & Associates, 1998, p. 6.

[9] ibid., pp. 7-8.

[10] Michael Kelly, HMNZ Dockyard and HMNZS Philomel, Devonport, Auckland: Draft Heritage Inventory, Wellington: NZDF Land & Facilities Management, 2000.

[11] ibid.

[12] Unit History Sheet for Jan-Dec 1991, p. 3 entry for 6/11/1991

[13] Unit History Sheet for Jan-Dec 1993, p. 3 entry for 3/5/1994

[14] Unit History Sheet for Jan-Dec 1994, p. 2 entry for 7/3/1994

[15] Unit History Sheet for January-April 1995, p.1 entry for 27/1/1995

[16] Unit History Sheet for January-April 1995, p.2 entry for 8/3/1995

[17] Unit History Sheet for May 1995, p.1 entry for 11/5/1995

[18] Unit History Sheet for June 1995, p.1 entry for 15/9/1995

[19] Unit History Sheet for July 1995, p. 3 entry for 28/7/1995

[20] ibid., entry for 22-23//7/1995

[21] ibid., p. 2 entry for 17/7/1995

[22] ibid., p.1 entry for 3/7/1995

[23] Unit History Sheet for September 1995, p. 1 entry for 11-15/9/1995

[24] Unit History Sheet for March 1996, p. 1 entry for 28/3/1996

[25] Unit History Sheet for August 1996, p. 2 entry for 26/8/1996

[26] Unit History Sheet for October 1996, p. 1 entry for 21/10/1996

[27] Unit History Sheet for March 2000, p. 1 entry for 24/3/2000. see also Unit History Sheet for November 1999, p. 1 entry for 24-25/11/1999.

[28] Unit History Sheet for January 1997, p. 2 entry for 29/1/1997