Contact Channel Magazine
Flagstaff and the Lake in the 1840's banner


Flagstaff and the Lake in the 1840's

Following the formation of Auckland in September 1840, land on the northern shore of the harbour was soon put to use by the Government, for a gunpowder magazine. Captain William Snow formally took charge of the magazine on 13 September 1841 and the signal station on Mount Victoria, including the signal mast, and a lookout was formally established on 2nd February 1842. Captain Porter of the brigantine ‘Porter’ arrived in Auckland on 5 April 1841 from Sydney, and later recalled only two buildings on the northern shore of the Waitemata Harbour, one the naval magazine, and the other the Signalman's raupo hut.
The 1842 Police Census listed just three households on the North Shore, totally ignoring the many Maori whare in the area. One was for Snow, his wife Hannah and their two daughters. By 1842 a stores depot had been added and shortly after the Census Gilbert Adams briefly took over responsibility as Signalman.
The second household was a raupo hut for Signalman Thomas Duder, who married in 1845. The third household, again in the Mount Victoria area, was the raupo hut occupied by William Brown, his wife and daughter – he was a government official.
By 1843, Duder had now moved into a wooden house. Tenders had been let for the signalman's house on Mount Victoria in 1842, as a tent had proved inappropriate. Following the Mahurangi land purchases from local iwi, the surveying of the land and the beginnings of local land sales in what became the Devonport area, the 1844 Census now noted newcomer James Kelly was growing wheat and potatoes, while Patrick Hennessey was growing wheat, maize and potatoes. Hennessey was soon joined by a tenant, William White a boat builder. It is not clear if White was building his boats here or on the city side, but if so then he was the first boatbuilder on the North Shore.
By the 1845 Police Census, the North Shore (Devonport/Takapuna) area boasted 7 wooden buildings and 15 raupo huts, 8 of the 22 buildings being rented. The new residents included Joseph Burns, who was a carpenter and later was hanged in 1848 for the murder of Captain Snow, his wife and one of the two daughters. Burns lived to the north of Mount Victoria, near the Maori kainga, and at first local Maori were blamed for the murder. Then, Duder became a suspect. Eventually, Burns was convicted on the evidence of his partner and was hanged on the Flagstaff waterfront.
 The new residents also included the Carruths; John settled in the area around 1844 while William joined him in 1849. There were also John Cooper, Robert Hunt, James O’Neill and Henry Figg, and their families. On 1 March 1847 Figg applied for a three-month lease of Government land for pasturing cattle in the Takapuna area, but ended up purchasing the land. He was also employed as a government surveyor.
Later in the 1840s came Donald Walshe, described as “settler”, and William Oliver, dairyman and carpenter. James Hammond had a brickworks in Devonport from around 1844 to the 1850s.
 Thus, a pattern was set through the 1840s in what was called Flagstaff or the Lake, of naval personnel, small-scale farmers, carpenters, brickmakers, a boatbuilder and large communities of Maori. Some Pakeha owned their land, while others leased from the government or private owners. There were also other settlers across the other side of Shoal Bay and further up the reaches of the Waitemata Harbour. Sources claim that hundreds of Maori lived around what are now Alison Park and Devonport Domain and remained there until the early 1860s.

by David Verran