Who is responsible for maintaining Bean Rock? It is looking really shabby. It looks like if it is neglected much longer, this Auckland icon will disintegrate into the sea.
Richard Fox, St Heliers.

Ports of Auckland, now wholly owned by the council-controlled organisation Auckland Council Investments, owns this historic structure and is responsible for its maintenance and preservation, including the light.

The lighthouse, still in operation, has a category-one listing under the Historic Places Act.

The cottage on the top was removed and restored in 1985, and the edifice was converted to solar power in the late 1990s.


And a little associated history about Bean Rock (Te Toka a Kapetaua): It began operating in 1871 and is named after a Royal Navy officer, Lieutenant P.C.D. Bean, of HMS Herald, who helped to survey and chart Auckland's Waitemata Harbour in the 1840s.

Shipping and assembling the heavy timber components of the lighthouse was dangerous work for building contractor William Cameron and his crew, but eventually, at a cost of £3000, the lighthouse with its English kerosene lamp of 350 candlepower was completed and commissioned.

It was opened by Hugh Brown, the first keeper, and is the sole surviving example of a wooden cottage-style lighthouse in New Zealand and one of only a few worldwide.

It is also New Zealand's oldest wooden lighthouse, and the only wave-washed tower.

It was inhabited by lighthouse keepers and their families until 1912, when it was automated.

On Mitchelson St, Ellerslie, by the motorway underpass and the carpark for the Ellerslie Racecourse, there is a pair of large reddish brown doors going back in under the motorway. What are these doors for, and what is inside?
Ryan Grave, Auckland.

The answer is less than exotic, I'm afraid. Those mysterious doors mark the entrance to an old walkway under the Southern Motorway. It's been unused and sealed off for years because the nearby Mitchelson St underpass is wider, more open and safer to use.

Can you clarify what type of vehicle constitutes a bus for the purposes of using the northern bus lane? In particular, does a minibus capable of taking 11 passengers with the required licences (including a transport service licence) and going to collect, take or return passengers on day tours north of Auckland constitute a bus?
Colin Binsted, Auckland.

A spokesman for Auckland Transport advises that the Northern Busway is reserved for certain vehicle types, but before operators can use it they have to be authorised to ensure the best and safest use. The New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Transport bylaws reserve the busway for the following vehicle types:

*Authorised operators who operate a heavy omnibus (gross mass greater than five tonnes).

*Authorised operators who operate shuttle vans to and from Auckland Airport (and only the airport, no other destination).

*Emergency service vehicles.

*Maintenance and service vehicles.

*Special "one-off" vehicles for a special event, such as rugby or league at North Shore Stadium.

A small minibus does not meet these criteria. Even if it was permitted to use the Northern Busway, it would be unlikely to get much benefit in travel time.