Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Mangere Settlers’ Buildings in Auckland Airport’s Historic Precinct

Auckland Airport recently received a Property Council of New Zealand Merit award (see Hawkins Construction) for adapting the Abbeville estate historic precinct into a boutique tourism venue offering hosting for events and functions.

The precinct site includes 11 hectares of land at the end of Nixon Road. The airport created the precinct by moving Mangere settlers’ houses and buildings there after it acquired those properties for future airport expansion. It took 2 years to restore the buildings moved onto the historic precinct and was under taken in conjunction with New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

One of the houses was built by William Westney, who arrived in Mangere in 1853 and established a farm on Ihumatao Road.

Ref: Footprints 05024,
the former Westney homestead in Westney Road, Mangere, ca 1979 South Auckland Research Centre
In 1855 Westney donated 2 acres from the corner of his farm so a Methodist church and burial ground could be established. The church opened in 1856 and services continued here until at least the 1990s. However after the airport opened in 1966, its congregation dwindled away. By the 1990s the church’s site was needed for the apron of the proposed northern runway, so in 2007 the church was moved to the historic precinct.

Ref: Footprints 00587, Westney Road Methodist church, 1987, photo reproduced by kind  permission of Fairfax Media, South Auckland Research Centre
In 1852 Major Marmaduke Nixon built his first house here (he called it his ‘hut’) and established ‘Homewood’ farm at Tautauroa, Mangere.Nixon was a politician and later a leader in the New Zealand Wars. He started building the present farmhouse in 1854. In the 1930s it was bought by Mrs de Guise Roussell, who extended it and renamed it Abbeville

Ref: Footprints 05025, Abbeville homestead, Mangere, c. 1979, South Auckland Research Centre
Behind Abbeville homestead is Nixon’s original barn which was built about 1853. During the New Zealand Wars Lieutenant Colonel Nixon formed and led the Colonial Defence Force Cavalry (until he was mortally wounded at Rangiaowhia in 1864). Nixon’s troops stabled their horses in his barn, and he and his officers used to meet there to plan their campaigns.

Ref: Footprints 05026, Abbeville barn, Mangere, c. 1979, South Auckland Research Centre
Author: Christopher Paxton, South Auckland Research Centre

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