West Auckland Heritage Conference

‘Trailblazers and Troublemakers’ was the theme for this year's West Auckland Heritage Conference held recently.

Surf life savers pose for an official photo in their uniforms.
Karekare Surf Life-Saving Club, 1963-64. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections JTD-05K-04713expand/collapse

Organised by the West Auckland Historical Society, this year’s conference had a strong focus on the stories of people. Auckland historian, Lisa Truttman, gave an impressive presentation on the indefatigable David Bruce Russell, who fruitlessly promoted the idea of a canal on the Whau River to connect the Manukau and Waitematā harbours. 

Titirangi War Memorial Hall served as the conference venue and was also the subject of a keynote speech by Conservation Architect, Graeme Burgess. Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Conservation Advisor, Boris Bogdanovic, had been involved with the conservation plan for the hall.

Exhibition work at the event proved popular. There was the sand, surf, and seabird moody photography of Olaf Peterson, ‘Nature Boy’ presented by Shaun Higgins, which contrasted nicely with Michelle Edge’s presentation of Isabel Woods photography of groups of intrepid women trampers enjoying the Waitakere wilderness.

Sir Bob Harvey, President and historian of Karekare Surf club, gave us story of the Karekare Pou Whenua, accompanied by a soloist on kōaunu flute. The history of local iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki was interpreted by a carved pou for the new clubhouse.

The closing highlight was a small film on Jack Diamond.  This lifelong passionate amateur historian of West Auckland and Waitākere Ranges, had a collection comprising of research notes, maps, journals, photos and even bricks. His collection is now inscribed on the UNESCO Aotearoa NZ Memory of the World Register.

Pauline Vela