Big Omaha Wharf

Big Omaha Wharf Road, Whangateau

  • Big Omaha Wharf, Whangateau.
    Copyright: Rodney District Council.
  • Big Omaha Wharf, Whangateau.
    Copyright: Rodney District Council.
  • Big Omaha Wharf, Whangateau.
    Copyright: Rodney District Council.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7409 Date Entered 12th December 1997

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Rodney District Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Legal road reserve; part sea bed, Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.

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:

In 1924 the present Big Omaha Wharf replaced Parapara Wharf, an 1880 structure. The area had been made famous as the birthplace of the New Zealand scow by James Meiklejohn and then David Darroch. The new wharf, built for the Rodney County Council, was one of about 40 outport wharves built during the 1920s.

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 Big Omaha Wharf at Rodney is a type of wharf that was built in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to reach out to deep water, and hence in some cases attained to lengths of up to 300 feet (or just over 100 metres.) In the case of this wharf however, it does not extend out over a beach in order to reach deep water. Consequently the length of the wharf is quite short, being just 37 feet Typical features are:

- Twentieth century reinforced concrete construction.

- Diagonal cross-braced piers,

- Concrete decking supported on beams,

- Additional extras in the form of bollards and a shed on the decking.

- Decking connected to the land.

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.

Social:

The wharf has formed a focal point for the small community for many years. Its social significance is attested to by the formation of the Big Omaha Wharf Restoration Society Inc., which has prepared a conservation plan for the structure.

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.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

Coastal shipping remains important to the New Zealand economy. In the 1990s it is mainly confined to long-distance movement of bulk cargoes, but last century it was also important for moving people and general cargoes short distances along the intra-provincial trade routes. By the time that the Big Omaha Wharf was completed in 1924, such business was mainly confined to the Far North, the East Coast of the North Island and the South Island's Cook Strait and West Coast ports.

Big Omaha was not of great importance to the shipping industry. The Register contains some 14 wharves and jetties, all but one (Old Stone Wharf, Whitianga), being Category II. Big Omaha Wharf would share a similar significance as Category II structures such as Motueka's old granite wharf and the Hicks bay Jetty.

NB: Dave Pearson, who completed the conservation plan for the wharf, says that the Darroch Shipyard was adjacent to the wharf. Its site would be a strong candidate for registration.

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

DATE: 1924

ARCHITECT: Dominion Bridge Company Ltd

STYLE CODE: IND 7: Twentieth Century Reinforced Concrete Wharf.

DESIGN:

The design of the wharf is utilitarian and practical, being supported on an arrangement of 12 deep-driven reinforced concrete piles with eight pairs of diagonal cross braces constructed between the legs - a feature which is not unlike a union-jack configuration in appearance, and which gives wharves of this type quite a distinctive appearance.

The Big Omaha Wharf is also distinguished by its plan form which is somewhat different from the conventional 'finger' style wharf that was built in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although the wharf extends out to deep water in linear terms, its configuration is essentially that of two rectangles - the larger rectangle being the outer 30 feet by 20 feet concrete deck, and the smaller rectangle being the 17 feet by 12 feet concrete bridge which connects with the land. The outer deck has the additional feature of a rectangular timber shed measuring 23 by 16 feet, with side walls 10 feet in height, and openings on both sides 9 feet in width.

The Omaha Wharf is in close to its original form with relatively few modifications, The Conservation Plan written by Dave Pearson outlines the following changes known or believed to have taken place:

- Original sliding doors on the shed have been removed.

- Some of the original Kauri weatherboarding has been replaced with non-matching ship lap pine weatherboards.

- Removal of gutters from the shed.

- Removal of handrail to the original concrete steps connecting the deck with the land.

- Construction of an additional set of steps and handrail in timber.

- Loss of concrete fabric due to severe spalling caused by rusting reinforcing.

- Timber wharf extension, c.1924, has been removed.

A special feature of the design and construction of the Omaha Wharf is that unlike modern reinforced concrete structures, where most of the parts of the building are manufactured off site, the Omaha Wharf was a relatively early example of this type of construction where the concrete was poured in-situ, The marks of the boxing and the different pours can be clearly seen.

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

The trust has registered twelve wharves of which two are just the remains of the piles of the original Victorian structures; three are Victorian stone jetties; one is a twentieth century reinforced concrete wharf (1926-29), and the remainder are mostly undated wooden wharves. Of this latter group, consisting of six structures, we have no

information on one wharf (the Onekaka Wharf, Tasman, Cat.II); poor photographs of three wharves with no dates and no historical information; and information and dates for only two remaining structures (Days Bay Wharf, Eastbourne, 1895, Cat.II and Shortland Wharf, Thames, 1867, Cat.II.) Five of this group are confirmed as being of wooden construction from photographs.

From a purely technical design point of view, despite the poor quality of information concerning the Trust's registered examples of wharves, it is probably the case that the items noted above are sufficient to represent the theme of wharf construction where our concern is specifically with a type of relatively small wharf designed to extend at length over a beach to deep water. However, with the exception of the ruins of very early jetties, all of the registered examples are of the conventional 'finger' style wharf, while none are of a short wharf consisting of two rectangles in plan form as may be seen with the Omaha Wharf. Apart from this, only one of the registered examples is a twentieth century wharf built of concrete, the Tolaga Bay Wharf/Jetty, Category II.

Research indicates that the Omaha Wharf has local rarity value as a small reinforced concrete wharf of which few examples have survived. Of the 46 wharves that were built in the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours c.l924-25, only the Matakana and the Omaha Wharves remain. These two wharves, although similar, differ in form below

deck level. The goods shed at the Omaha Wharf is also one of few original structures of its type in the Auckland region, and the best remaining example.

Registration of the Omaha Wharf would therefore unquestionably increase our knowledge of small wharf construction, and particularly of twentieth century wharves at a time when reinforced concrete construction for all types of building was in its infancy, both in New Zealand and overseas.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:

When the local authority threatened to demolish the wharf in 1996, local residents formed the Big Omaha Wharf Restoration Society Inc., which has obtained Lotteries funding to prepare a conservation plan for the structure. Lotteries funding for conservation work has been delayed until ownership of the wharf is transferred from the TLA to a society [Dave Pearson, per comment 5/8/97].

Linksopen/close

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1924 -

Completion Date

1st September 1997

Report Written By

Gavin McLean & Wayne Nelson

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.