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Reveal Site History

Hobsonville Point’s history has been highly beneficial in providing the continuity that establishes a sense of place. 

Ex-Defence Force buildings such as this munitions bunker were in varying states of dereliction.

Army buildings on Hobsonville Point

Eighty years of use by the armed forces left a variety of buildings in various stages of dereliction and large tracts of land that needed remediation. But rather than interrupting that continuity and ignoring the authenticity that earlier use of the site could afford the new development, real effort has been made to honour and build on the past. Where it would have been easier and more economical in the short term to ‘wipe the slate clean’ the developers and designers have recognised the long term social and economic benefits of building the new community – as one resident put it – ‘on the bones of the old’. 

The area is rich with aviation and maritime history.

Anchor: marine heritage at Hobsonville Point

One of 15 heritage homes that have been extensively renovated.

Heritage houses have been retained.

The new streets have been planned around the base’s existing roading network which developed organically and follows the natural topography of the site. Existing mature trees have been retained.

The waterfront is dotted with heritage buildings that date back to its days as New Zealand’s premier seaplane base. Most of the heritage buildings will be retained and reused as the area is transformed into Hobsonville Point’s social hub.

The Hobsonville Point Farmers Market is held in a restored seaplane hangar on the waterfront.

Hobsonville Point Farmers market

The Hobsonville Point Farmers Market, which is housed in an historic seaplane hangar, will be joined by shops, restaurants, office space and apartments in a mix of heritage and new buildings. A promenade will form part of the coastal walkway loop, connect the waterfront to Bomb Point, a 13ha park which is a 10-minute scenic walk away.

 

A Brief History of the Point

At its peak during the Second World War the base housed thousands of New Zealand and US troops in weatherboard homes, barracks and a tent city. Numbers 5 and 6 squadrons of the Royal New Zealand Air Force operated Catalina and Sunderland flying boats out of Hobsonville from midway through the Second World War until 1967. No. 5 squadron was responsible for rescuing more than 50 Allied crewman who had ditched over the Pacific.  

Catalina flying boat
Airforce squadron at Hobsonville Point.

TEAL, the forerunner of Air New Zealand, also flew flying boats out of Hobsonville Point, both across the Tasman and on the Coral Route to the Islands. This was the early days of recreational air travel and a route that began as a mail service quickly became an exotic and glamorous lure for the wealthy. The flying boats hopped between Auckland, Fiji, Aitutaki and Tahiti carrying 45 passengers in luxury with an onboard chef to cook meals to order. Their Kiwi pilots, whose skills had been honed by wartime service, deftly negotiated currents and coral reefs to deliver passengers safely to one of eight elegant colonial hotels dotted around the islands.    

Next up: In the final story in our series, we look at how foundations have been laid for a highly cohesive and successful community into the future.  

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