Fort Buckley (R.M.L.) Rifle Muzzle Loading Fortification

166 Barnard Street, Wadestown, Wellington

  • Fort Buckley (R.M.L.) Rifle Muzzle Loading Fortification, Wadestown, Wellington. CC BY-SA 2.5 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Brenda Wallace - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Brenda Wallace. Date: 21/09/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7544 Date Entered 25th June 2004 Date of Effect 25th June 2004


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 2-4 DP 90893 (RTs WN57D/916, WN57D/917, WN57D/918), and Pt Sec 3, Harbour District (NZ Gazette 1881 p.794), Wellington Land District and the structures and associated features known as the Fort Buckley (R.M.L.) Rifle Muzzle Loading Fortification.

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Lots 2-4 DP 90893 (RTs WN57D/916, WN57D/917, WN57D/918), and Pt Sec 3, Harbour District (NZ Gazette 1881 p.794), Wellington Land District.

Location description

The site has frontages on the Hutt and School Road, Wadestown, Wellington. It is located on a 'sharp promontory nosing down to the Hutt Road Bridge over the Kaiwarra Stream', and can be accessed via a walking track opposite No.161 Barnard Street, Wadestown, Wellington.


Constructed in Wellington's inner harbour in 1885, Fort Buckley was the first fort capable of defending the capital city's port from a naval attack.

In the 1870s and 1880s, prompted by growing fears of a Russian invasion, and the increasing realisation that New Zealand could no longer rely solely on either the British navy or the country's isolation for protection, the New Zealand Government purchased long-range weapons and began implementing the construction of coastal defences.

Fort Buckley was among the first forts on which construction commenced, and was the first to be completed. It was designed to support the larger Fort Kelburne at Ngauranga. The battery consisted of two circular gun emplacements designed to hold the 64 pr Rifle Muzzle Loading guns ordered by the New Zealand Government during the first 'Russian Scare' in 1878.

Hastily constructed, the pits were initially made of earth. The magazine store was made of timber, and protected from bombardment by a covering of earth and gravel. The pits were upgraded to concrete in 1886. By the early 1890s, the 64 pr guns were outdated and the battery was not used in operations from 1893. It was then relegated to use as a drill or training centre until 1904, when it was officially decommissioned. By 1909 its guns had been removed for display in Palmerston North Park. The fort was not used again until the Second World War, when an anti-aircraft battery was installed. The fort became surplus after the Second World War and fell into disrepair.

In 1989 the fort became the focus of a battle for the first time in its history when Land Information New Zealand and the Wellington City Council vied for ownership and management of the land. The battle was won by the Council in 2001, and the Fort is now a recreation reserve managed by the Highland Park Progressive Association.

Fort Buckley is of national historical importance. Identified by experts as one of 21 sites thought to be the most significant or best representative examples of New Zealand's coastal defence sites not already registered, the battery is one of the least altered example of the first defences constructed in the country in preparation for a Russian naval invasion in the late nineteenth-century. It is part of a wider network of coastal defences erected during this period and its construction reflects a move towards New Zealand independence from the Crown on military matters. It has considerable historical significance as the first operational coastal defence site in New Zealand's capital city, and retains considerable potential to educate the public on New Zealand's defence history.

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 Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical Significance:

As first operational coastal defence site in New Zealand's capital city, Fort Buckley is a highly significant historical site. Confronted with a threat to national security in 1878, the Government's first response to was request assistance from the Crown. When this was not provided on the terms requested the Government reluctantly purchased guns then capable of defending the coastline from invaders, but failed to install them. As tensions began to increase between Britain and Russia in the early 1880s, national security in New Zealand appeared to be threatened a second time. The Government again appealed to Britain, who once again refused assistance. As the scale of the threat escalated, the Government finally took action, acting on its own initiative to construct forts for the guns already purchased and obtaining newer models better suited to defending the country's main ports. Fort Buckley represents this journey towards an independent defence policy in two ways. The fort housed guns purchased by the Government in the 1870s in their first positive move to defend the coast, and the fort was the first to be completed in the initial rush to install operational coastal defences in the capital city. As such, Fort Buckley is a marker, a symbol, of the developing independence of the New Zealand Government from the 'mother' country Britain.

In 1998 a Department of Conservation / NZHPT workshop identified the site as one of the top 21 coastal defence sites not already registered in the country.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural, Archaeological, Technological Significance:

As the least altered of all New Zealand's fortifications from the period of the 'Russian scares', Fort Buckley is of national technological significance. The first operational fort in Wellington is one of the few in the country from this era to have survived unaltered. Based on a standard design developed by Major Cautley to house two 64 pr R.M.L guns, the layout at Fort Buckley was also used at Fort Resolution in Auckland, and the Channel Battery in Dunedin. Fort Resolution was levelled in 1914, and the Channel Battery was dynamited in the 1950s. According to John Mitchell, the only other accessible, extant example of a 64 pr R.M.L gun pit is the South Battery at Auckland's North Head. However, other research has revealed that the Howlett Pt Battery at Taiaroa and the Erskine Point battery also remain extant. Yet these batteries were modified a number of times to keep abreast of contemporary technology and cannot provide the same insight into early battery construction.

The fort is also notable for its intrinsic architectural value. According to John Mitchell, Fort Buckley's gun pits are 'finely finished', and its two gun loading galleries feature three shell recesses with arched tops, and ringbolts set into the parapet above each.

The site also has significant archaeological value. On 6 September 1989 the site was visited by archaeologist T. A. Walton. Walton assessed the site and it was registered on the New Zealand Archaeological Association (NZAA) database as site number R27/159.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal 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:

Fort Buckley is important as a representative but rare remaining example of the gun emplacements constructed to house the 64 pr R.M.L guns, whose purchase in 1879 marked New Zealand's first constructive response to the defence of its coastline.

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

Fort Buckley is associated with the 'Russophobia' that spread among British colonies in the late nineteenth-century, and reflects the strength and impact of this phenomenon in New


(c) The potential to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

The site has considerable potential to provide knowledge of New Zealand history. As an archaeological site first registered with the NZAA in 1989, much of Fort Buckley lies hidden from the naked eye. The magazine, constructed of timber has collapsed and is covered over with earth, the tramway is obscured by dirt and vegetation, as are the remains of the anti-aircraft battery, and as a result, much information on the site has been buried with them.

(f) The potential of the place for public education:

Fort Buckley has considerable educational potential. As the least altered of all of the original 'Russian Scare' Forts, Fort Buckley provides a unique opportunity to expand knowledge about this early period of coastal defence. Although part of the site, namely the passageway and the magazine have collapsed, this demonstrates the failure of its personnel to upgrade its timber supports to concrete in later years. It in itself demonstrates the hasty nature of the defences hurriedly constructed in the early part of 1885.

The preservation of the majority of the defences, including the gun emplacements, means that the fort provides a clear picture of the role of the various structures and how they worked form an operational fortification. The careful planning and detail evident at the fort is a powerful and tangible lesson in the history of New Zealand coastal defence. In addition, the construction of the anti-aircraft battery provides an insight into the change in technologies used and required between 1885 and 1945.

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

Fort Buckley was based on a design conceived of by Major Cautley, with the assistance of Arthur Bell, to accommodate two gun emplacements in which two of the 64 pounder R.M.L guns could be housed. Its value lies in its status as a rare remaining example of the gun emplacements constructed to house the 64 pr R.M.L guns. Elements of its early construction are evident in features such as the collapsed magazine and passageways, which were supported by timber throughout its operational life (in other forts the timber was generally replaced with concrete).

(i) The importance if identifying places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:

Fort Buckley was the first operational coastal defence site in New Zealand's capital city. It is a tangible, physical reminder of the first serious threat to New Zealand shores by enemy invaders since the country's rebirth as a colony of Britain and stands as a marker in the history of the New Zealand government's growing independence from its mother country Britain in matters of defence.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

Fort Buckley is part of New Zealand's defence history on a national, citywide, and suburban scale. Fort Buckley is part of the nationwide landscape of coastal defence sites. It was one of a number of forts erected in the late nineteenth-century to defend New Zealand's main ports from naval attack by Russian invaders. The fort is also an integral part of the landscape of coastal defences constructed around Wellington harbour during this period. It was erected to assist Fort Kelburne in defending Wellington's inner harbour from a naval attack and was connected to the site via a military road. From 1893 it served as a training centre for servicemen working on other sites around the Wellington harbour. Fort Buckley remained an integral part of the coastal defence network during World War II, when antiaircraft artillery was installed at the site, making it one of a number of sites commissioned for the purpose in the harbour. During this period Fort Buckley was used in association with other key defence sites in Kaiwharawhara, including the Kaiwharawhara Magazine and Stone Wall (Category II) and the jetty, from which goods were unloaded.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Cautley, Henry

Henry Cautley served in the Corps of Royal Engineers of the British Army. From 1876 he was an instructor in fortification at the Royal Military College, Woolwich, England. Cautley came to New Zealand in 1883 to advise on coastal defences of the four major ports; Auckland, Wellington, Lyttelton and Port Chalmers. He prepared plans for the fortifications of these ports before leaving New Zealand in 1885. He was posted to Belfast in 1888.

He was succeeded as engineer in charge of defence works and harbour fortifications for New Zealand by E.M. Tudor Boddam who had trained at the Royal Military College, Woolwich, and served in the Royal Artillery before being posted to Australia where he was involved with the development of fortifications in Tasmania. While he had no formal training in engineering, Boddam possessed a good knowledge of military engineering and was a diligent and industrious draughtsman. Boddam held this position until 1888 when he returned to Australia.

Bell, Arthur Wilbraham Dillon

Engineer for Defence

Arthur Bell (1856-1943) succeeded Colonel Boddam on his retirement in December 1887, having been involved with the design of Fort Jervois since 1885 [A.D. Series 33/10 & 57/1]. Bell was born in New Zealand and served his articles with Sir John Hawkshaw in England (1874-9). In 1880 he took up a position as Assistant Engineer with the Public Works Department in Dunedin, and from 1884 on he specialised in defence works. In the following year he was appointed Resident Engineer for defence works and harbour fortifications in Wellington and in 1888 he became Engineer for Defence in New Zealand. In 1889 he was also appointed Engineer-in-Charge of Public Buildings for a year in order to reorganise that branch of the Public Works Department. In 1893 the engineer left the country to work in Western Australia, and he lived in that state until his requirement to Auckland in 1907. He died in Melbourne where he has lived since 1921.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

History of the place:

Two scares of war between Russia and Britain, in 1878 and again in 1885, prompted British colonial governments to prepare for the possibility of a Russian invasion. In New Zealand, the scares forced the government to acknowledge that they could not rely solely on either British navy or the country's isolation for protection. Following discussions with the British government, a number of Rifle Muzzle Loading (RML) guns were purchased. The guns arrived in the country in 1878 and, with the exception of two used for drill at the Mount Cook Barracks in Wellington, spent the next seven years in storage. In 1880, Colonel Scratchley, who had recently returned from Australia, recommended the construction of a system of coastal defences to protect New Zealand's main ports from a sea-bourne attack. In 1883 Lieutenant-General William Jervois (1821-1897) was appointed governor of New Zealand. An acknowledged expert on coastal defences, Jervois recommended that New Zealand supplement the ordnance acquired in 1878 with modern six-inch and eight-inch guns and minefield defences.

Then in 1884, tensions between Britain and Russia began to escalate. Major Henry Cautley was commissioned to design fortifications that would house the R.M.L guns purchased eight years earlier in 1878. The following year a war appeared imminent and New Zealand's lack of preparedness more readily apparent. Rapid action was taken. Arthur Dillon Bell (1856-1943) was promoted to Resident Engineer in Wellington for defence works and harbour fortifications. It became clear that the R.M.L guns were no match for the more modern BL guns with which most contemporary warships were equipped and the Government ordered 13 BL 6-inch and ten BL 8 inch disappearing guns. Meanwhile, batteries were rapidly being constructed to house the outdated R.M.L guns at each of New Zealand's four main ports. In a report to the House of Representatives F. Bell noted:

'At the end of March last it was considered advisable, owing to the threatened outbreak of war with Russia, to place the chief ports of the colony in a state of defence as far as the means of the of the colony admitted, and to commence the construction of the necessary works for the reception of the guns. These works were proceeded with vigorously, and in about three months the whole of the guns available in the colony were mounted, and the necessary magazines, stores, barracks, and enclosing parapets are now in a fair state of completion'.

In Wellington, preparations for the defence of the city's inner harbour had commenced in 1884. The imminence of war made it apparent that this work was insufficient, and £15,000 was poured into its defence, allowing the rapid construction of batteries at Point Halswell (Halswell Battery), Gordon Point (Fort Ballance) and Kaiwarra (Fort Buckley). In accordance with Cautley's recommendations, Wellington's primary point of defence was constructed in 1885 on the former site of Te Mahanga Pa and named Fort Ballance after John Ballance, the then Minister of Defence. In the event of war Fort Ballance was to prevent enemy ships entering the inner harbour and provide covering fire for the minefield between Gordon Point and Ward Island. It was to be supported by the battery at nearby Point Halswell. The battery at Kaiwarra was intended to support the position Ngauranga position and protect the inner waters of the harbour.

Fort Kaiwarra was the first of the new forts on which work commenced, and it was the first operational fort in Wellington. Constructed on 'Mrs Rhodes' land, (formally acquired for defence purposes on 1 April 1885), it was based on a design conceived of by Major Cautley with the assistance of Arthur Bell to accommodate two gun emplacements in which two of the 64 pr R.M.L guns could be housed. The layout used at Fort Buckley was also used at Fort Resolution in Auckland and the Channel Battery in Dunedin. The site engineer was Mr Connal, of the Public Works Department. The works were overseen by Mr Hayes, the Superintendent of Works and former engineer to the Manawatu Local Authority. The actual labour was carried out by 38 men, including the carpenter. Hurriedly constructed, the primary material used on the two gun emplacements and magazine in 1885 was timber, while the parapets were simply made of earth and sandbagged. According to John Mitchell, 'in this state the work would only be suitable for drill purposes'. The guns were transported to the site via a tramway especially laid for the purpose and were mounted on timber drums. The guns themselves were those formerly used for drill purposes at the Mount Cook Barracks. When completed the battery at Kaiwarra featured two gun emplacements connected underground to a timber magazine where the ammunition was stored via a timber passageway. A barracks was constructed above ground and protected by an earth and timber palisade. Commanded by Sergeant Major-Smith, the battery was manned by 10 members of the Armed Constabulary, who slept in the barracks, sharing it with the 10 men who were working on the unfinished Fort Kelburne.

From late 1885 onwards, work at the Fort focussed on upgrading and rebuilding the temporary wooden structures hurriedly constructed early in 1885. The gun pits were concreted and the timber drums on which the guns were mounted were eventually replaced. In May 1886, possibly to mark the upgrade of the site, Fort Kaiwarra was renamed after an Irish New Zealander named Patrick Alphonsus Buckley (1840/1841 ?-1896), and it became known as Fort Buckley. Buckley was a former Captain of the D Battery which formed from the Wellington Artillery Volunteers (later known as the NZ Permanent Militia) and, at the time the battery was renamed, a member of the Stout-Vogel Ministry. He was knighted for his services to the colony in 1892 and was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand shortly before his death in 1896. The renaming of the Fort reflected the contemporary tradition of naming Forts after prominent politicians.

Fort Buckley, constructed in haste, caused those primarily responsible for its design to repent at leisure. By 1891 Bell condemned the fort, claiming that the then obsolete 64 pr guns were insufficient to deny water to a hostile cruiser, noting that, 'the arrival of just one of them would place the Capital of the Colony at mercy'. Two years later Fox noted that 'the guns do not serve the purpose of covering the inner waters', and proposed dismantling them and moving them to the Low Battery at Fort Ballance. Shortly afterwards, Wellington's first operational fort was abandoned. The guns themselves were allowed to remain, and were used for drill practice until the fort was officially decommissioned in 1904. By 1909, following the trend for displaying obsolete weapons in parklands around the country, the historic guns were dismounted and relocated to Palmerston North Square and remained there until 1941.

Russia as a naval power in the Pacific had been all but destroyed in the 1904-1905 war with Japan and no other major naval powers then threatened the Pacific. In New Zealand, the coast defences built up in the nineteenth-century were allowed to run down. Obsolete weaponry was disposed of and many battery sites were abandoned. Only in Wellington and Auckland, the two key ports, was there any attempt to upgrade coastal defence sites. Fort Ballance, the main defence site for the inner harbour, was continually upgraded to keep abreast of artillery technology, but, by the turn of the century the increased firing range of enemy guns meant that defence of the harbour mouth, rather than its inner waters, became the primary concern. While Fort Ballance remained operational throughout World War One, a new fort was constructed at Point Dorset at the harbour mouth, and this became the new bastion of Wellington's coastal defence. Yet it was not until the commencement of World War Two that New Zealand's coastal defence network received a major overhaul.

According to Peter Corbett, the Second World War brought about the largest coast defence construction programme ever in New Zealand. Guns were added to existing batteries and additional batteries were constructed. When Japan entered the war in 1941 the construction intensified and a large number of additional batteries were hurriedly constructed. Even Wellington's oldest fort, abandoned for almost 50 years was affected by the sudden galvanisation of New Zealand's Government to prepare for the Japanese. Fort Buckley was recommissioned. Accommodation was constructed for those serving at fort, and the site was fitted with a 40mm Bofors Light Anti-Aircraft gun, one of 12 installed in Wellington during this period. The gun provided cover for the fuel storage tanks in Kaiwharawhara, and protection for the floating dock and western end of the wharves. Yet the gun was never used and the Fort was decommissioned once again at the close of the war.

Surplus to requirements, the Fort gradually fell into disrepair. The timber in the magazine and passageways constructed in 1885 gradually rotted and eventually collapsed under the earth originally intended to protect them from bombardment. Vegetation, formerly kept clear to allow a good view of the harbour, was allowed to grow up. It obscured the tramway used to transport the guns to the site and part of the road constructed between Kaiwharawhara and the Fort. The gates at the Kaiwharawhara end of the road were, at last report, lying on the ground. The gunner's cottage and the barracks were destroyed, possibly by fire. Yet the two gun emplacements, the Anti-Aircraft structures associated with World War Two, and part of the palisade remain in good condition.

In 1989, over a century after its construction, Wellington's oldest coastal defence site finally became embroiled in a battle. It was then owned by what is now Land Information New Zealand (LINZ). LINZ, looking to the profits to be made on the development of a site that did, after all, have excellent views of the harbour, moved to have the land subdivided for housing. The Wellington City Council, demonstrating the strength of community feeling for the historic Fort, attempted to purchase the site for use as an historic reserve. It took 11 long years before the battle was finally won in 2001, when the Council received title to the land on which the gun emplacements are located. An important and recognised part of Wellington's history, the site is cared for by volunteers from the Highland Park Progressive Association.

Physical Description

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Registration Proposal report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Major Henry Cautley with Arthur Bell.


Mr Connal, Engineer of the Public Works Department acting under Major Caultley and Major Boddam; Mr Hayes, former engineer to the Manawatu City Council, was Superintendent of works.

Construction and main materials:

Two Gun Emplacements and mounts:

Foundations of totara and concrete. Remainder constructed from reinforced concrete.

Magazine and Passageway:

Timber supports and lining (now rotted I collapsed), covered over with sod and gravel.

Battery Observation Post (Gunner's Quarters?):

Concrete foundations

Excavated Terrace (Former barracks site):

Concrete foundations, with brick rubble


The tramway is obscured by vegetation and no information on the construction material could be gained during a site visit on 13 May 2004. It appears that much of the tramway may have been destroyed when the Hutt Road was widened.

Road Gate Posts:

A visit on 13 May 2004 found no traces of these. They may be buried under the vegetation.

Anti-Aircraft Battery:




Physical Description:

Located on a cliff in Wellington's inner harbour, the Kaiwarra Battery was 179 feet (55 metres) above sea level and faced towards the east.

When the battery was being constructed a tramway, twelve chains in length (241.4 metres), was laid to allow for the guns to be hauled into position on carriages. A road was also constructed to provide better access between the Kaiwharawhara settlement and the battery.

The two guns selected for the Kaiwarra Battery were the two 64 pr R.M.L guns that had arrived in the country in 1879 and been used for drill practice at the Mount Cook Barracks. They were standard-issue, ex-Royal Navy weapons, designed by the Royal Gun Factory.

After being transported to the site via the tramway, the Kaiwarra Battery's two 64pr R.M.L guns were mounted on timber drums with concrete reinforcing in circular barbette pits located 77 feet (25.2 metres) apart. Around 1891 the woodwork of these drums was replaced with concrete and topped with the original 'dwarf tray platform C pivot'. According to Peter Corbett, 64 pr guns were typically mounted on simple iron garrison carriages the pressure of the recoil was absorbed by a simple hydraulic cylinder, and the gun was returned to the firing position by block and tackle. The guns were removed by 1909.

The pits, or gun emplacements, were 'very solid'. They were made of heavy totara, placed cross-wise, with the interstices filled in with concrete, and a layer of concrete over the whole. An early photograph from 1885 shows the left hand gun pit in a very rudimentary state, with a sandbagged parapet in an earthen pit. By 1886 photographs show that the gun pit and parapets had been concreted and the loading galleries constructed. The two pits were 'finely finished'. One pit had two gun loading galleries and the other had one. Both pits had three shell recesses with arched tops and ringbolts sit in the parapet above each.

To the west, at the rear of the pits, was a magazine in which ammunition for the guns was stored. The magazine was dug into the rear of a hillock and was lined with timber. It consisted of a shell room 9 feet by 5 feet (2.7m x 1.5m), a cartridge store that was also 9 feet by 5 feet (2.7m x 1.5m), and a shifting room of 4 feet by 5 feet (1.2m x 1.5m). The gun emplacements were connected to each other and to the magazine via a passage 3 feet 6 inches wide and 6 feet high (1 m x 1.8m). The passage was lined with timber and covered by a timber roof, which was disguised and protected by layers of sods and gravel. In forts, timber lined magazines and passageways were typically re-lined in concrete. As Fort Buckley as it was then known was abandoned early on, these upgrades never took place. This eventually resulted in the collapse of the magazine and passageway under the weight of the earth as the timber gradually rotted away.

At ground level, directly above the passage, it was intended that gunner's quarters would be constructed. There is no physical evidence that this occurred and the site was later used to hold a small observation post. A barrack room 30ft by 12 ft (9.1 m x 3.7m) was erected 200 feet (61 metres) above sea level to house approximately 20 men who were initially stationed on the site. Made of wood, the barracks were described as 'partially bombproof'. In 1886 it was recorded that the cold 'southerly busters' are severely felt' in the barracks and a plea was made for the installation of a small stove. Both the gunner's quarters and the barracks were demolished after 1904. When the site of the former barracks was cleared in 2002 the front panel of a cooker was retrieved.

A sod bank measuring 4 feet (1.2m) was erected all around the fortifications. In 1893 it ran for 50 yards (45.7m). This bank should have been supplemented by a ditch 7 feet (2m) deep and a position from which riflemen could fire on enemy attempting to enter the complex. However, in a report to the House of Representatives in 1893, it was recorded that the site had no ditches. It appears that the bank was supplemented by a timber palisade. Remains of this palisade are still visible.

In WWII, an anti-aircraft battery and associated structures were erected. One source places this battery 'slightly up the hill' from the barracks.

Current Physical condition:

Michael Kelly, Heritage Consultant, inspected the gun emplacement on behalf of the NZHPT in 1998. Following his inspection, Mr Kelly recorded the comments listed below:

Two Gun Emplacements:

Mr Kelly noted that 'The gun emplacements are very much intact, untouched after 90 or more years and in relatively good condition'. Mr Kelly further noted that the galleries alongside the gun emplacements retain visible evidence of hand-written signs.


Mr Kelly noted that evidence of the Magazine remains on site. Peter Cooke noted in 2000 that the Magazine, and the covered walkway leading to the two gun emplacements, had collapsed and been filled in.

Battery Observations Post (Gunner's Quarters?):

The Battery Post was removed after the decommissioning of the Fort. Mr Kelly noted that evidence of its foundations remain on the site.

Excavated Terrace (Former barracks site):

The presence of the excavated terrace was noted by Mr Kelly. In 2002 the front panel of a cooker was discovered on the site.


Mr Kelly noted that he was unable to confirm the existence of any remaining features due to the vegetation cover, which obscured any physical features.

Road Gate Posts:

Mr Kelly noted that these continued to survive. In 2000, Peter Cooke recorded that he had found the gateposts lying on the ground.

Anti-Aircraft Battery:

No comment was made with regard to these structures.


Mr Kelly noted that remnants of this palisade remain intact.

Notable Features

This registration encompasses all remains of the Fort Buckley Fortification on the land within the boundaries. Included are the remains of the two gun emplacements, the excavated terrace on which the barracks were located, and the World War Two anti-aircraft battery and associated structures. The registration also covers the original battery gate at the southern edge of the excavated area, and the site of the tramway used to service the fort during its construction.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1879 -
Construction of the Kaiwharawhara Magazine

Additional building added to site
1885 -
Construction of the 'Kaiwarra Battery' Completed

1886 -
Kaiwarra Battery remaned 'Fort Buckley' following the reconstruction of its gun emplacement in concrete.

1893 -
Naval personnel conclude their service at the Fort

1904 -
Fort decommissioned

1909 -
Fort Buckley guns transported to Palmerston North for display in the Square.

1941 -
WWII Bofors Anti-Aircraft section installed. Fort Buckley guns removed from the Square at Palmerston North

1942 -
Accommodation constructed

2002 -
Terrace cleared and cooker discovered

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

25th June 2004

Report Written By

Rebecca O'Brien

Information Sources

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

Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives

Jervois, W., 'Harbour Defences of New Zealand', 1883, A-7; Bell, F., 'Naval Defence of the Colony', AJHR 1885, A-6; Fox, Lieutenant-Colonel F J., 'Report on works, artillery, submarine mines, torpedo-boats etc', AJHR 1893, H9:3-4; Fox, Lieutenant-Colonel F J., Report on The New Zealand Defence Works and Armaments, Part II, 1893, IJ.

Archaeology in New Zealand

Archaeology in New Zealand

No.33, Vol. 2 (1990), pp. 87-99; No.37, Vol. 2 (1994), pp. 111-131

Barrett, 1981

G Barrett, 'Russophobia in New Zealand 1838-1908', Palmerston North, 1981

Cooke, 2000

P. Cooke, Defending New Zealand; Ramparts on the Sea 1840-1950s, Wellington, 2000

Corbett, 1996 (2)

P. Corbett, 'Coast Defences in New Zealand 1876-1958; An historical overview', 1996 (copy held by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust)

Evening Post

Evening Post

'Council buys Fort Buckley historic site', 8 May 2001

Hooton, nd.

Hooton, C., 'Heavy Anti-Aircraft Guns; New Zealand 1939-1945', Mairangi Bay (not dated), copy held NZHPT File 12027-019

Kelly, 1998 (3)

M. Kelly, 'Fort Buckley Fortification', papers and photographs prepared for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, 1998

Mitchell, 1995

J Mitchell, 'The Disappearing Guns of Auckland: The History and Archaeology of the forts of Auckland Harbour', Thesis in fulfilment of Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology, Auckland University, 1995

Mitchell, 1997

J Mitchell, 'Coastal Fortifications In New Zealand 1840-1925', A paper given at the Department of Conservation for the New Zealand Coast Defence Heritage National Workshop, Wellington, 12-13 April 1997 (copy held by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust)

New Zealand Mail

New Zealand Mail

'The Defences of the Colony, Colonel Scratchley's Report', 17 July 1880, p.18; 'The Defence Works at Kaiwarra', New Zealand Mail, 29 May 1885, p.25; 'Visit to the Defence Works', New Zealand Mail, 5 March 1886, p.15; 'The Kaiwarra Battery', 2 April 1886, p.19

Wellington City Magazine

Wellington City Magazine

Walzl, T., 'Fortified Wellington; The Guns that Never Spoke in Anger', November 1986, pp.40-49

Other Information

A full, referenced report on Fort Buckley can be viewed at the NZHPT Central 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.