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Ask Phoebe: Irish maverick behind Paddy's Puzzle house

By Phoebe Falconer

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Bad plumbing gave name to building used by poor in World War II

The erratic nature of the plumbing earned it the name of Paddy's Puzzle or Gleeson's Folly. Photo / Thinkstock
The erratic nature of the plumbing earned it the name of Paddy's Puzzle or Gleeson's Folly. Photo / Thinkstock

Q: I am seeking information on behalf of my 84-year-old friend. His family shifted to Auckland from Northland in 1941/42 and lived for a time in Paddy's Puzzle in St George's Bay Rd, Parnell. Tom would like to know more about its origins, how it got that name, and when/why it was demolished.
- Pauline Faiers, Torbay.

A: Paddy's Puzzle, also known as Gleeson's Folly, stood opposite the chocolate factory in Cleveland Rd. It was built by Irishman Patrick (Paddy) Gleeson, who worked on the building for seven years but never finished it.

The erratic nature of the plumbing (water sometimes ran from the lavatories into neighbouring baths) earned it the name of Paddy's Puzzle or Gleeson's Folly.

During the war, Paddy's Puzzle was home to the poor, and also for prostitutes whose clients were American Marines.

The building, latterly known as Avoca House, was demolished in 1963 by the current owner, for reasons unknown but probably severe dilapidation. (Source: Fiona Kidman, and the Auckland Weekly News).

Gleeson was apparently something of a character.

He was born in Tipperary in Ireland, and emigrated to Australia at the age of 14. He worked on goldfields in Bendigo and Ballarat, and took part in the battle of the Eureka Stockade in 1854. He moved to New Zealand in the early 1860s, firstly to Napier and then to Auckland, where he became the proprietor of several hotels, including the Aurora and the Albion. He had a wooden leg, and used to ride around his hotel sites on horseback.

He died in 1916 aged 78.

Q: At Pt Erin there is a carpark for the use of park visitors and those using the pools in summer. During the Rugby World Cup this carpark was used by some campervans, which for that short period was acceptable by the community.

However, the carpark has continued to be used as a campervan park ever since then, with some virtually taking up residence there. Some weekends there are upwards of 10 campervans and always three or four during the week.

The occupiers sit there with deckchairs out, washing strung up and their rubbish fills to overflowing the bins which the ratepayers pick up the tab for.
- Helen Skelton, Auckland.

A: Auckland Council is aware of this activity and they are currently exploring several options to address overnight campervans at Pt Erin, in consultation with the local board.

The options under consideration include introducing off-peak parking restrictions and lockable gates.

Unfortunately out-of-date information was published by the NZ Motor Caravan Association, which was misleading to the campervan users.

This has now been rectified. New signage has also been installed and park rangers are making regular visits to advise any campervan users of the restrictions.

- NZ Herald

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