When this book arrived by courier for me to read and review my first thoughts were – what a lovely coffee table book, but it is more than that. This is a serious but very interesting look at the history of the Hauraki Gulf. From the personal anecdotes and history of the various islands and areas around the beautiful Haruaki Gulf, to the more serious issues of colonisation by Maori and Pakeha alike, the working of the land, and the overfishing of the water. Many mistakes were made over environmental issues with lessons hopefully learnt, but in many cases the damage caused has proven irreversible.
The personal stories of Ray Walters are of particular interest to me, having visited Tiritiri Matangi a number of times. His time as a lighthouse keeper with Barbara and his family is interesting to read and then his continuing involvement over a number of years working for DOC after the lighthouse was automated. There are a number of these sort of stories throughout the book under the heading Story of the Gulf. Rangitoto is another island of particular interest to me, having visited it many times over a lot of years with the Auckland Tramping Club. The baches dotted along the foreshore have a fascinating history and one that we hope won’t be lost by destroying them. Yachties have called into Islington Bay overnight for a safe harbour from the weather for many years.
This book also explores the process that Auckland went through to get our current sewerage system. The sewerage was originally discharged into the harbour killing shellfish beds with great numbers of species of fish disappearing from the inner harbour. I often look at the statue of Sir Dove Myer Robinson that sits in Civic Square near Aotea Centre and wonder what the current generation make of his actions if they know it at all. Most would have no idea who he was or what he achieved for Auckland – a sad state of affairs.
The only down side to this book is its size and weight. I struggled to read it as it is not a bedtime book – almost too heavy to hold. Travelling by aeroplane visiting family in other parts of the country I couldn’t “slip it into” my carry on, as it is far too heavy to even slip into a handbag or laptop bag. But don’t be put off, this is well worth buying and you are able to pick it up and read chapters at random. This is one book all Aucklanders should read. It really is a fantastic book. Could be a great book for study by 9-18 year olds.
Reviewed by Christine Frayling
The Story of the Hauraki Gulf – Discovery/Transformation/Restoration
by Raewyn Peart
Published by David Bateman Ltd