Waoku Coach Road

Waima-Wekaweka-Tutamoe (Central Portion), South Hokianga

  • Waoku Coach Road.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Stuart Park.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Stuart Park.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 7400 Date Entered 29th August 1997

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

The Waoku Coach Road registration includes the portion of Waoku Road from where the northern-most point of Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B36 intersects with Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B34, to the point where the road realigns from the east-west axis to the north-south axis near the eastern end of Sec 5 Blk XII Waoku SD; and the portion of Wekaweka Road from where the southern-most point of Pt Sec 2 Blk XII Waoku SD intersects with the western-most portion of Sec 33 Blk XVI Waoku SD to the point where the road intersects with Waoku Road. (Refer to Extent of Registration Map for further information).

City/District Council

Far North District

Region

Northland Region

Legal description

Legal Road, Sec 2 Blk XI Waoku SD, Sec 1 Blk XII Waoku SD, Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B38, North Auckland Land District

Location description

Registration applies to a roughly Y shape portion of the road that is located south of Waima, east of Wekaweka and north of Tutamoe.

The left-hand branch of the 'Y' is aligned roughly north-south. This portion of the road begins where the northern-most point of Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B36 intersects with Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B34, North Auckland Land District.

This portion of the road is located on the western boundary of (from north to south) Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B36, Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B37, Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B38, Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B39 and the eastern boundary of Lot 2 DP 10390, North Auckland Land District.

The central portion of the Y is aligned roughly west-east. From west-east, the road borders the southern end of Section 2 Blk XI Waoku SD. The road then borders the northern end of Sec 1 Blk XII Waoku SD, and Sec 1 Blk XII Waoku SD and the southern end of Whakatere-Manawakaiaia B38, North Auckland Land District.

At the end of these land parcels the road splits into two portions - the right hand side of the 'Y' and the bottom portion of the Y.

The right hand potion of the Y is aligned roughly east-west. It borders the southern boundary of Sec 4 Blk XII Waoku SD, Sec 5A BLK XII Waoku SD and Sec 5 Blk XII Waoku SD, North Auckland Land District and the northern boundary of Sec 3 Blk XII Waoku SD, Sec 3A BLK XII Waoku SD, and Sec 6 Blk XII Waoku SD, North Auckland Land District.

This portion of the road ends where the road realigns from the east-west axis to the north-south axis near the eastern end of Sec 5 Blk XII Waoku SD, North Auckland Land District.

The bottom portion of the Y, known as Wekaweka Road, starts where the southern-most point of Pt Sec 2 Blk XII Waoku SD intersects with the western-most portion of Sec 33 Blk XVI Waoku SD. It is aligned roughly north-south and is on the eastern boundary of (from south to north) Pt Sec 2 Blk XII Waoku SD, Lot 1 Deposited Plan 107770, Sec 2A BLK XII Waoku SD and Sec 1 Blk XII Waoku SD, North Auckland Land District. It is on the western boundary of (from south to north), North Auckland Land District. Sec 33 Blk XVI Waoku SD, Sec 3 BLK XVI Waoku SD, Sec 3 Blk XII Waoku SD, Sec 3B Blk XII Waoku SD, North Auckland Land District.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical:

The Waoku Coach Road, South Hokianga, was constructed in the mid 1890s to serve a special settlement, the Auckland No. I Special Settlement, at the top of the Waima-Mataraua. Construction of the road, by co-operative labour, and by Auckland unemployed, provoked resentment from some locals and was expensive and took longer than expected. The road was in regular use until supplanted by the Waipoua Forest Rd in 1928. Since then it appears to have had little use and is now a walkway through the Mataraua-Waima Conservation Area.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural:

The Waoku Coach Road from Opanaki to Hokianga can be regarded as a built structure in an architectural sense since a definite plan and method was employed in the construction and building of it. Standard 19th century constructional elements of the design are:

- Formed road bed

- Flushed, metalled, surface

- Culverts

- Support walling

- Embankments

Technological:

The Branch Committee and Janet Stephenson claim the stonework was done by a Scottish stonemason. The Chief Surveyor doesn't mention this in his reports and nor does Bryan Russell in his excellent 1993 historical summary. Whatever the case however, the photographs supplied indicate the stonework is of the dry-stone walling variety typical of the genre practiced by Scottish crofters, and found in registered

examples here such as the Robertson Stone Walls, Otago Peninsula, Cat.I. On the basis of this evidence, one can agree that the stonework on this road represents a utilization of old world skills.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

Events:

Bryan Russell's very thorough research of the AJHRs shows that construction of the road was a major event in itself, involving heavy expenditure, delays and controversy.

Persons:

The people mentioned in the nomination were of local significance. However, the settlement which it was built to serve is a good representative example of the 'special settlements' which were encouraged by governments for economic, social and political purposes.

Ideas:

The road is closely associated with the Liberal Party's 1892 Lands For Settlement Act, which encouraged people to take up small farms in marginal areas of Crown land. The legislation promoted a number of initiatives, one of which were the so-called Special Settlement Associations, which were strongest in the Auckland, Taranaki and Wellington districts. Most failed, as the 1897 AJHR acknowledged, through poor site selection, insufficient unit size and, most frequently, the inexperience and under capitalisation of the settlers.

The Waoku Coach Road, interesting as an artefact in its own right, has significance for its history and for its role in symbolizing 19th century views on the development of the colonial economy and the treatment of the urban poor by putting 'the small man' on the land.

For comparative purposes, perhaps the closest object on the Register is not another road - of which there are none in any case - but the 'Bridge to Nowhere', which was also built to provide access to a bush settlement that subsequently failed. That was rated Category I, which may be appropriate for this road also, on the grounds that it is the only such road yet known to the Trust, and one of the few known to be associated with 19th century land reform.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

DATE: 1890s

ARCIDTECT: Gerhard Mueller, Chief Surveyor, 1895-1898. Information on the construction of the Waoku Coach Road is taken from Mueller's annual reports which appear in the Appendices of the Journals of the House of Representatives for the years 1895-98.

STYLE CODE: Not applicable

DESIGN:

The Waoku Coach Road from Opanaki to Hokianga can regarded as a built structure in an architectural sense since a definite plan and method was employed in the construction and building of it. This method appears to have followed established engineering practice, and consisted of forming a road bed out of soil once the vegetation had been cleared away, and then metalling the road with gravel obtained nearby. This process involved 'flushing' or stones laid on top of the road bed to give a consolidated road surface. Difficult stretches required stone walling to support the road bed, and culverts to divert water away from and under the road. These items appear in the photographs supplied. The walls in this case support on or both sides of the road, while the culverts are square channels with a dry-stone base and walls, roofed over with Totara logs. The culverts are usually cut into the base of the stone Walling. The Chief Road Surveyor's reports in the AJHR for 1895-1901 indicate that the portion of the road for which the Trust's Northland Branch Committee has given us all the information on, i.e., the central portion on the plateau, is the part containing stone culverts, embankments, walling, and flushing or metalling of the surface. The other parts of the road, at either end of the plateau, appear to have been simply metalled after the 14 foot right of way was formed out of the soil.

(m) Such additional criteria not inconsistent with those in paragraphs (a) to (k):

The trust has no registered examples of roads, but there are other listed examples, notably on the Wellington District Plan which has listed the Bridle Track, Kaiwharawhara to Khandallah, as a Class 2 Object of Local Importance. The Old Coach Road, Johnsonville, which is currently proposed for listing on the Wellington District Plan, and for registration by the Trust, is another notable survivor of a 19th century road constructed in 1856-58. Like the Waoku Coach Road the old part of the Johnsonville road possesses the standard constructional features of the time in the form of a metalled surface on a formed bed, culverts, and a winding course in order to maintain an even grade over an extended distance. In Australia the National Trust has registered Cox's Road down Mount York, NSW, built in 1814-15. The Waoku Coach Road, like Cox's Road, was the first to open up a hitherto inaccessible hinterland, and in this respect the road demonstrates in a very special way the physical survival of the evidence of the opening up of the way into the interior of the Waoku Plateau.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mueller, Gerhard

Gerhard Mueller was born in 1834 or 1835, in the German town of Darmstadt, Hesse. After travelling in England, America and Australia, he arrived in New Zealand in 1859. Mueller studied to become a civil engineer and surveyor while living in Invercargill, and in 1865 he became the first surveyor to be engaged on contract by the Canterbury Survey Department. He was employed to define the boundaries of native reserves in South Westland, and laid out the town of Okarito in the same year.

Mueller was appointed chief surveyor of Westland in 1871 and was involved in establishing road lines, such as those from Jackson Bay to Martins Bay and the Hollyford Valley. Further responsibilities were added when he became commissioner for Crown Lands in Westland in 1885. He was transferred to Auckland six years later, where he was chief surveyor and commissioner of Crown Lands until 1902. Work in the region included construction of the Opanake-Hokianga road (later known as the Waoku Coach Road), connecting the Hokianga and Kaipara harbours.

Appointed assistant surveyor-general for his final two years of government employment, Mueller retired in 1904. He was a founder member of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors, the first Pakeha to record the existence of the kotuku (white heron) at Okarito, and an active member of the Masonic Lodge St Andrew in Auckland. He died in 1918.

(Rona Adshead, 'Gerhard Mueller', in W. H. Oliver (ed.) Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Vol. 1 1769-1869, Wellington, 1990)

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Registration covers all elements of the road structure and its associated features within the road reserve. It includes recent modifications. The road is a nineteenth-century archaeological site, associated with earthmoving and other activities linked with construction.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1889 - 1901
Construction of Waoku Coach Road, main branch

Original Construction
1894 -
Construction of Waoku Coach Road, side branch

Completion Date

1st June 1995

Report Written By

G.McLean and W.Nelson

Information Sources

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR)

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives

1880-1884; 1890-1902

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Rona Adshead, 'Gerhard Mueller', Vol. 1 1769-1869, Wellington, 1990

Lee, 1987

Jack Lee, Hokianga, Auckland, 1987

Russell, 1993

Bryan Russell, 'Waoku Plateau Roading and Settlement', unpublished report, Wekaweka, 1993 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Northern region office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.