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Ask Phoebe: Plaque's origin a bit hit and myth

By Phoebe Falconer

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The University of Auckland subway plaque may refer to a land purchase. Photo / Richard Robinson
The University of Auckland subway plaque may refer to a land purchase. Photo / Richard Robinson

The most northeasterly of the University of Auckland's subways, under Symonds St, has a plaque dedicated to the Ghost of Vaile. Few people I have spoken to even know it exists, let alone to what it refers. Can you help? Liam Hatch, Auckland.

It's a little curiosity. The plaque, which is about 12cm wide and 3.5cm high, bears the inscription: "This subway was constructed for the Ghost of Vaile on the principle of a Home for a Home." It carries the date 1981 and the university crest.

Its provenance is hard to verify. Urban legend suggests it is a reference to the Vaile family, who were businessmen and landowners in the Auckland region in the 19th century. The university was keen to expand, and the underpass required the purchase of land from the Vailes, who were obstructive. The plaque is thus a tongue-in-cheek reference to this.

However, this is all supposition, as there is nothing in the university's historical record to back it up.

If anyone knows more about the plaque or the Vaile family, I'd be delighted to hear.

My postal address at the moment is Golf Rd, New Lynn, Waitakere 0600. Will this change to Golf Rd, New Lynn, Auckland 0600 after November 1? Bob McNamara, New Lynn.


More and more drivers are not using vehicle lights of any kind in the dark mornings in Auckland. Does the Road Code recommend turning lights on if, say, the street lights are on? Sam Burton, Auckland.

It's more than a recommendation, but it's not related to street lights. The Road Code states that you must turn on your vehicle's headlights between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise. At any other time, you must turn on your lights when you cannot clearly see a person or vehicle 100m away. The use of the word "must" indicates to me that there may be a penalty if you do not comply. And Mr Burton also asks:

On the Auckland Harbour Bridge the metal expansion joints at each end are very slippery. The joints on the southbound carriageway have been covered with anti-slip material. Are there plans to do the same on the northbound lanes? Why isn't this material applied to all joints?

When I approached the Transport Agency this year, it said the joints on the northbound lanes were scheduled to be done by August, Not only that, but it also planned to upgrade all expansion joints on the motorway network with non-slip coatings as part of the general maintenance programme. Clearly, the agency is running behind schedule, possibly because of persistent bad weather, as the non-slip compound needs a few days of fine weather to cure.

Does a driver have to give way to a car on a stop sign, even if the car is on your right and you don't have any sign? Danny Yang, Massey.

No. The Road Code says that a vehicle at a stop sign must give way to all other vehicles, even if they are to the right.

- NZ Herald

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