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Victoria Road
Auckland, Auckland, 0624
New Zealand

Devonport Heritage 2017, an incorporated society formed in 2017, promotes heritage and sustainable development in Devonport.

north head from mt vic.jpg


Herald graphic reveals zoning impact

Claudia Page

The New Zealand Herald have come up with a new interactive graphic that reveals the new Auckland zoning based on  the Unitary Plan commissioners recommendations:

You can click or un-click the layers or show them all at once. This just shows the undelying zoning and doesn't take into account extra overlays like the Special Character layer which covers the old Devonport Borough area.  


Claudia Page



Dear Members

We have been wading through the Unitary Plan to work out the implications of the Independent Hearings Panel’s recommendations for Devonport.

Here’s what we’ve discovered:

1. Retain our residential heritage protection – A Win.

- Devonport’s heritage protection, formerly called Residential 3 Heritage Zone, is still very much in place and is now called a Special Character Overlay.

This means our controls on demolition as well as alterations and additions to pre-1944 houses remains strong.

In fact there is a section for the North Shore Special Character Areas that includes clear threshold limits for additions and alterations to insure they do not become demolitions which has been carried over from the old plan.

This means our strong protections continue under the new Unitary Plan.

(What the Panel has deleted is the pre-1944 overlays for areas OUTSIDE these recognised older suburbs)

- Front fences in these character areas must be kept at 1.2 metres in line with other heritage areas of the city.

- The older business areas of the North Shore will also continue to be protected under a Special Character Business overlay.

- A Loss:

The Independent Hearings Panel recommends that areas like Devonport, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn etc should not be called ‘historic character’. The Panel wants them to be called ‘Special Character’.

This is because they want the focus to be on the streetscape and amenity of an area rather than on the protection of older heritage buildings.

We want the Council to reject this and to continue to include the word ‘historic’ in these overlays because that is the reason for the extra protections.

We believe it makes it clear that the historic values of these older buildings and houses needs to be protected as much as the streetscape and the amenity of the area.

- A Win

The tip of Stanley Point is now back under the Character Overlay which means houses here are covered by the same heritage protections as the rest of Devonport. This includes the bungalow built and lived in by Gallipoli VC winner Cyril Bassett.

Only the land owned by the Spenser family is omitted from this protection.


2.  Volcanic Cones   -  A loss (we think)

- There is one glaring fault in the Panel’s recommendations on the Height Sensitive Area which protects views of Mt Victoria from Devonport village.

We campaigned vigorously to reject the Devonport Business Association’s proposal to replace the 9 metre height limit with 13 metres for the village.

But the Panel has endorsed this idea and has included a plan that shows the extra height limit for most of the main business area. This will allow 4 storey high buildings in and around the main street and Victoria Road’s heritage buildings to have two extra storeys added to them.

Devonport’s HSA is the only one in the whole of Auckland to be treated in this manner despite Mt Victoria being considered a significant cone, one of the three gateway harbour volcanoes along with North Head and Rangitoto.

Yet the Panel made a totally contradictory decision on a similar proposal for the HSA for the Elizabeth Knox site on Mt St John.

In that case it decided that the resource consent process would be the best way of dealing with some sites where building through the HSA height limit would not affect views to the maunga.

This is exactly the same situation for the Devonport business area but the Panel has come up with two totally contradictory approaches!

It really is incomprehensible.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the Council withdrew its support to change the HSAs for Devonport and the Elizabeth Knox site before the hearing began.

The Panel has either ignored or forgotten this.

So we will be calling on our North Shore councillors and others to leave the Devonport HSA at 9 metres so it is in line with all other volcanic cones of Auckland.

3. Fort Cautley – Loss

The Panel recommends that land at Fort Cautley now owned by Ngati Whatua should be given a 6 storey building height limit. This is the same as all the precincts on the North Shore now owned by Ngati Whatua.

We argued strongly that this height limit was unsympathetic to the history of the site and inconsistent with the surrounding residential neighbourhood.

We will continue to campaign to have the height limits in this highly historic area kept to lower levels so as to not compromise the heritage of the site and its magnificent views.

We will keep you informed of any new developments or discoveries.


Trish Deans and Margot McRae for Devonport Heritage


Aucklanders are passionate about historic heritage. It contributes to our sense of belonging and identity, enriches our environment, provides continuity in our communities, and is a source of pride. A 2011 survey of a cross-section of the Auckland population shows that 88% of respondents believe that protection of historic heritage is important, 78% have visited a historic heritage site in the last six months, and 54% think historic heritage is not well understood in their area. We need to maintain this level of public appreciation and enjoyment of our heritage, and look for new opportunities to improve understanding of Auckland’s heritage values.

315_ Several organisations contribute to the effective management of Auckland’s historic heritage; some have statutory responsibilities, while others are driven by a knowledge of and passion for our heritage. These include the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT), the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, tangata whenua, the extensive network of local historical societies, community groups, and individuals.

316_ Our approach to historic heritage within Auckland is to be proactive and positive. We need to understand our heritage places, value them, and share our stories about them. We will therefore develop strong, robust and transparent mechanisms to identify, protect, manage and conserve our significant heritage places. This will be supported through investment, and by empowering Aucklanders to engage in the stewardship of our historic heritage (
— The Auckland Plan

Home with history recognised by HNZPT

Claudia Page

Photo credit -Heritage NZ/ Martin Jones

Photo credit -Heritage NZ/ Martin Jones

The Devonport area is fortunate to be blessed with a fantastic array of built heritage, and recently another house has been added the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga's list of scheduled buildings. This is the much-admired Philson House ( ex Shalimar Rest Home ) at 41 Stanley Point Road.  Here is an excerpt from their listing information. 

" Constructed in c.1903-4, Philson House (Former) is an ornate, corner-angle bay villa that has been considered to represent ‘the villa style at its peak of development’. Erected in the fashionable marine settlement of Devonport, the one-and-a-half storey timber residence has associations with a number of notable individuals, including the renowned boat builder Robert Logan junior, who may have been involved with its construction. Significant occupants included Wilmett Philson, who served and died on the first day of the Gallipoli landings in 1915; and his brother Geoffrey, who also served at Gallipoli and was later awarded the Military Cross for bravery at the Western Front. The residence is associated with several notable aspects of Devonport’s early twentieth-century development, including the latter’s roles as a maritime settlement; a recreational and sporting centre; and a location of naval and other military activity.

The Devonport area is significant to several iwi, having been explored and occupied since early human arrival in New Zealand. After formal European colonisation in 1840, Devonport developed as a British naval station and as a civilian settlement engaged in boatbuilding and other activities. In 1851, the site of Philson House on Stanley Point was obtained by James O’Neill, an Auckland investor and politician, as part of a large Crown grant. Subsequent owners included Robert Logan junior, an important builder of yachts and local developer, who subdivided his land into smaller sections in 1900.

Philson House was erected on one of Logan’s sections, possibly by his uncle, James M. Logan, a builder and ship’s engineer for the Northern Steamship Company. Created as a genteel residence, the building combined elaborate decorative features derived from American ‘Queen Anne’ and ‘Eastlake’ styles with a corner-angle bay villa form. The latter was a late and more complex refinement of the New Zealand corner bay villa, emerging before a shift towards greater simplicity in house design gained impetus. The most prominent feature of the house was an elegant central belvedere, from which uninterrupted views of the sea could be obtained.

For much of its early residential life, Philson House was inhabited by Auckland businessmen or professionals and their families. Initial owner, William Henry Worrall (1864-1951), was a wealthy crockery merchant who was also a keen cricketer and heavily involved in maritime activities. From 1906, the property was inhabited by the family of Matthew Thomas Philson (c.1848-1918), a retired bank manager who was a talented cricketer and also involved in numerous sports and community organisations, including the Auckland branch of the Victoria League - an organisation that helped ‘foster the bonds of Empire’. All three of Philson’s sons - Wilmett, Roger and Geoffrey - fought in the First World War (1914-18), and were also accomplished local sportsmen. Later owner-occupants included a retired shipping superintendent for the Northern Steamship Company, Gabriel Ross; and company director, William Edney, who also served as a Lieutenant then Commander of several subdivisions of the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy.

The spacious residence was converted into a rest home in 1965, the same year that the Old People’s Homes Regulations came into effect. By the 1970s, New Zealand had one of the highest rates of rest-home residency in the western world. During this period, relatively minor changes were made to the house. The property was converted back to private residential use in 2001"

 We acknowledge HNZPT/ Martin Jones for their photo.


Council planner recommends declining consent

Claudia Page

A Resource Consent hearing about the potential use of the historic house at 159 Victoria Road as a daycare centre has been scheduled for 3 - 5 August. A record number of submissions (578 in support and 111 in opposition) have been made. The council have appointed a panel of four commissioners who will hear the views of  the applicant, council officers and and submitters. While  Council's reporting officer has recommended declining the application, ultimately the decision will be made by the commissioners after  hearing the evidence.

Further information on the hearing . Some changes have been made to the application, and extra information not available at the time of the notification is available on Auckland Council's website.

Devonport Heritage will be making a presentation in support of our submission.

news roundup for May

Claudia Page

Devonport Heritage has decided to stand firm in the face of a threat to claim $21,150 in Environment Court costs from the society over the Masonic Hotel case. We believe the costs are an unreasonable imposition on a community group which has spent 22 years campaigning to protect heritage in Devonport. Recently Baycorp have been actively pursuing the society over the unpaid amount.

On 9 May our spokesperson and Deputy Chair Margot McRae presented our final Unitary Plan submission to a panel of Commissioners.   Our evidence supports the retention of the 8 metre HSA( Height Sensitive Area)  for Devonport Town Centre.

We reject the proposed amendment that  allows almost half of the HSA in the Town centre to be 13 metres. This conflicts with the whole intention of an HSA and is simply not warranted for a town/maunga relationship as important as Devonport and Mt Victoria/Takarunga.  We are especially concerned about the lack of assessment of the effects of the proposed amendment. Insufficient evidence has been provided that a 13 metre height limit will not affect the views of the mountain. Expert caucusing between two landscape architects and a member of the Devonport business association, and a walk around Devonport is not enough to justify the dramatic downgrading of Devonport’s HSA.

The fact is that reasonable development can occur in the town centre through the normal resource consent process. There are sites where greater heights will not impede views, but the correct avenue for proving this is through the non-complying consent process. If it’s shown that the extra height will not interfere with cone views, then there is no reason why it shouldn’t be approved.

In his rebuttal Peter Raeburn for Auckland Council supports the retention of the non-complying status for HSAs generally as the ‘best way of ensuring adequate attention is given to the prospect of adverse effects’. So he considers it the best method for other HSAs but not for Devonport.

The argument for increased heights is in fact based on an attempt to reduce consent and compliance costs for future development. Basically to make is easier and cheaper to go up.

Should we lose views merely to allow developers to keep their costs down?

In Summary - The Unitary plan process has become a debate about intensification – and the Devonport Town centre seems to encapsulate this. This intensification fever has gripped council and the planners and completely overtaken the whole process.

Yes to intensification -  but not at any cost.

Local community groups are the only ones standing up and saying ‘the price is too high’! Devonport and the HSA is a prime example of this. But it applies across the city.

Our volcanic cones that are so unique to Auckland must be sacrosanct. Surely in this great Auckland Supercity of the 21 century there must be room to better acknowledge, celebrate and respect the enduring connection between this maunga and this little town. 

The very name Takarunga translates as "Hill Standing Above", and that is how it should remain.

For further reading please refer to documents on our Downloadable Resources page

Auckland Council slippery slope sign   

Auckland Council slippery slope sign







Devonport Flagstaff scoops the news

Claudia Page

A bumper issue of the Devonport Flagstaff this week with a wide range of heritage issues covered - from the front page, editorial and letters columns.

Photo from National Library Whites Aviation collection   Date:  10 Apr 1952      From:  Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs      Ref:  WA-30496-G   

Photo from National Library Whites Aviation collection Date: 10 Apr 1952 From: Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs Ref: WA-30496-G 



What's next for the Unitary Plan?

Spokesperson McRae

Hearings on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan a.k.a PAUP are finishing on 13 May, so when will we see the final version of the plan?

The following are the key statutory milestones binding Council in terms of responding to the IHP recommendations.

 13th May Hearings for all topics completed

 22nd July IHP recommendations version of the PAUP presented to Council

 19 August IHP recommendations and Council decision notified

 16 September Appeal period closes.

Parts not subject to appeal deemed adopted (i.e. have legal effect)

 December Plan becomes operative subject to governing body meeting.

It looks as though there will just be a "recommended" version of the plan which won't show the original text compared to the final text, so if you want to look at what changes the Commissioners are making, you will have to go back to the original as notified and compare the two documents. 

Important hearing on Volcanic cones and height sensitive areas

Spokesperson McRae

On Monday 9th May we will be giving our final presentation relating to building heights in the Devonport commercial area,  in particular .The hearing, which has been re-convened by the Commissioners begins at 9.30  at  Tower 1, Level 16, 205 Queen Street, Auckland CBD behind the ANZ bank. We expect to be speaking at 10.45 a.m.  We would like as many members as possible to come and support us on this crucial issue.



Unitary Plan submissions drawing to a close

Spokesperson McRae

On Tuesday 19 April our Chairperson Trish Deans presented our submission on the various special Precincts in the Unitary Plan and what impact they could have on our heritage.  A good presentation with power point - The chair, Des Morrison congratulated her for her submission.  We have one final presentation in May, the re-opened hearing on the local volcanoes, see our earlier news posts.  We'd like as many members as possible to come along as supporters on the day.

View of Ngataringa Bay from Mt Victoria-Takarunga

Village views of maunga under threat

Spokesperson McRae

Historic view of Mt Victoria from the foot of the main street

Historic view of Mt Victoria from the foot of the main street

Auckland's Volcanic Cone issue is being re-opened by the Unitary Plan panel.  It has been proposed that building height in about half the Devonport business centre be raised to 13 metres. At present the shopping centre is covered by the Height Sensitive Area which allows only buildings to 9m. This has been in place for forty years but is now under threat.

The new map that has been pushed forward determinedly by the Devonport Business Association, allows for only the facade of the heritage buildings on the western side of Victoria Road to be kept at the present height , with taller buildings up to 13m to rise up right behind them.

We believe this is facadism of the worst kind and will ruin the heritage buildings and obscure views to Mt Victoria. The proposal will also allow for four storey buildings along the northern side of Fleet Street, throughout most of the the supermarket car-park, the east side of Wynyard Street and along a section of Clarence Street.

if these changes are approved they will result in the loss of views and also damage the relationship the village has with Mt Victoria. It could potentially ruin Devonport's identity and its sense of place.

Devonport Heritage Inc will be vigorously opposing this at the re-convened hearing on Viewshafts on May 4.

A link to our submission and further information can be found here

Previously 8m was the maximum for Victoria Road, under the current proposal it could go as high as 13m

Previously 8m was the maximum for Victoria Road, under the current proposal it could go as high as 13m

Victoria Road in 2016

Victoria Road in 2016

Public input on Mt Victoria/Takarunga and North Head/Maungauika

Spokesperson McRae

The Maunga Authority is calling for the public to make submissions. Submitters are being asked to comment on the proposed strategies that will manage the conservation of all the 14 Maunga. There will be further opportunities to comment on the individual plans for Takarunga (Mt Victoria) and Maungauika (North Head) at a later date.

Devonport Heritage will comment on the following: protect the integrity of the Maunga, give people and pedestrian access priority, ensure that the Auckland view-shafts focused on the Tupuna Maunga are maintained and preserved, that commercial activities of the leaseholders remain at the same level and are not increased, that appropriate signage is used and has a low impact, develop traffic control management plans that have application to all Maunga, incorporate on-road bike access with city and nationwide bike schemes.

The submissions are due by 29th April, either email or post to Tupuna Maunga Authority, PB 92300, Victoria St West, Auck 1142. To view the PDF files visit the Auckland Council website and enter Integrated Management Plan in the search box: PDF 1 describes the background while PDF 2 gives the information regarding the future plans for the 14 Maunga. 

Ryman's retirement village - pushing for full public notification

Spokesperson McRae

Wakakura Crescent looking to Mt Victoria -Takarunga

Devonport Heritage is lobbying for public notification of the proposed facility at Wakakura Crescent/Ngataringa Road.  It seems a little disingenuous for this to be described as a "village" , when it is in fact a complex of multi-story buildings being inserted into a quiet residential neighbourhood.

We have no argument with a retirement complex as a concept, but the size and scale must be appropriate to the site and respect for the heritage aspects of the site should be front of mind.

At present the site is zoned Residential 4B, and whole the proposed Unitary Plan allows development of 3-4 storeys, this application is applying to build 5 and 6 storey blocks. The Urban Design Panel have looked at the application and in their opinion further consideration of heights and lengths of blocks is needed, along with looking at view-shafts between the blocks.

This issue has many aspects other than the widely publicised effects on traffic: i.e exemption for providing a public esplanade along the foreshore _"Pollys Park/ The Glade"; removal of trees; excavation and alteration of a heritage site ( all Discretionary Activities ) and the demolition of an Archaeological Site -Duder's Brickworks ( Non-Complying Activity)







Masonic Hotel

Claudia Page

Devonport Heritage is very concerned about the re-building process currently taking place at the Masonic site on King Edward Parade.

From media photographs it appears the whole of the hotel has been demolished, even the parts that were scheduled for preservation.

We have asked our local Auckland Council representatives to make inquiries into the level of demolition that has been taking place behind the white plastic shroud.  Council planners have replied that staff has been monitoring the works and have found them to be 'in general compliance'.

This is their official response:

" At Council¹s last scheduled inspection the works were in general accordance. Some parts of the building that were marked for retention/reconditioning were in worse condition (borer/rot and were crumbling, seen on site) than previously thought and had to be demolished. All extra demolition work has been reviewed and approved by Ian Bowman.  This approach is typical for projects of this type (where the exact condition of fabric is not known until works begin), and was provided for by the consent through the approved Conservation Plan and Conservation Methodology."

However we have very little faith in the process and believe this answer is a very convenient excuse for demolition. We have asked for proof in the form of photos about the state of the scheduled parts of the building. To prove that this is not a case of demolition by stealth we also ask that the council require a demolition plan which lays out exactly which original features that are Scheduled A items are to remain and which have been demolished and we would ask to be shown this as Environment Court submitters.  We believe this is the only way the community can have any faith in the process.  We are also concerned that the site owner has applied to change the resource consent for a cafe in the old hotel's ground floor into office space.  We have called for this application to be publicly notified as it is a marked change from the original consent and will effectively rule our any community engagement with the building and deactivate the corner. 

scheduled parts of the Masonic Tavern

Unitary plan hearings on heritage schedules

Claudia Page

This week we presented at yet another Unitary Plan hearing for Topic 79 - this was with regard to the Pre1944 Heritage overlay. Please find the text of our presentation on the link below.

We have one last hearing coming up, that one will deal with Precincts, including Wakakura Crescent where Ryman are planning their multi-storey complex and also covers Fort Cautley.

North Head and Torpedo Bay c.1930s (  Jackson family album )