Signing on or off?

By Joanna Davies


"I didn't think it would take this long to change a sign. I realised that there would be some delay with the council changes, but it has been a year."

Don Currey points to where glass greenhouses once stood, filled with tomato plants.

"When I was 10 I used to mow these lawns for pocket money," he says.

"My father used to grow tomatoes here and he was one of the biggest suppliers in New Zealand during the 40s and 50s."

Over the years, the Currey family's  hectare of greenhouses has been replaced by houses, but a small section, New Windsor Reserve, remains.

Mr Currey wants to see the park renamed Arthur Currey Reserve, and although the former Auckland City Council approved the name change a year ago, the old green sign - with the old name - remains.

"I didn't think it would take this long to change a sign," says Mr Currey. "I realised that there would be some delay with the council changes, but it has been a year. I want to come here with my sister, my son and grandson and acknowledge the contribution my father made."

As well as  being a horticulturist, Arthur Currey served in World War I and trained soldiers in World War II.

"During the Depression he gave lots of people work in the greenhouses," Mr Currey says. "There would be accountants and lawyers out mowing the lawns here because they couldn't find work in town."

In Blockhouse Bay, locals have waited even longer for Avondale South Domain to be renamed Gittos Domain. The former council agreed to rename the reserve in December 2009, but none of the signs has changed.

Avondale-Waterview Historical Society president Lisa Truttman says the organisation is surprised nothing has been done. "There was a lot of fanfare two years ago when we found out the name was changing," she says.

"It seems like it has completely fallen through the cracks and we are surprised we've waited so long because we followed all the right processes when we approached the council to have the name changed."

The reserve will be named after Francis Gittos, who established a wool-scouring business on the domain land in 1890, which later became a tannery.

"Also, Avondale South hasn't existed since 1948 when its name was changed to Blockhouse Bay, so changing the name of the domain will stop some confusion," says Ms Truttman.

The society has  asked the Whau Local Board  when the name changes for both parks might be effected.

Whau board chair Derek Battersby is disappointed the former Auckland City Council didn't change the signs sooner.

"Avondale has been neglected terribly and even though the new council has a policy to have the same signage across the region, the former council could have put up a temporary sign."

Auckland Council's local and sports parks manager, Mark Bowater, says new signs at both reserves will be in place "in the coming months".

"Installing new signage includes an audit of existing signs on the parks and allocation of budget, working with the new local board," he says.

"At the same time, the council has been developing its new design guidelines for local park signs."

PIONEER PAIR

Arthur Currey arrived in New Zealand in 1908 from Great Britain as a 23-year-old already trained as a horticulturist.

During World War I he served in Egypt, Gallipoli, at the Somme and Passchendaele, and was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery.

He returned to New Zealand in 1919 and bought property on New Windsor Rd, which he developed into the largest tomato glasshouse business in New Zealand during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

During World War II he trained soldiers locally. He died in 1981, aged 96.

Francis Gittos established a wool-scouring business in Blockhouse Bay in 1890, which then became a tannery.

His family, including his father, Benjamin, were pioneers in the Avondale area.

Benjamin Gittos had established a tannery in Avondale in the 1860s and Francis' brothers, John and James, worked there with him.

Their other brother, William, was a minister with the Methodist mission.

 

- The Aucklander

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