We Creakings of DEVONPORT are !


settled after wandering far;
nicely sited, we're delighted
on our peninsula.

( chorus - )
Devonport is pretty good,
Oldish houses built of wood,
Mount Victoria looming o'er yer,
quite the perfect neighbourhood.

Devonport's the place to be
by the harbour, by the sea
Light and airy, with a ferry -
This is the place for me.

( chorus - )

( Repeat ad nauseam )


This page is no longer necessarily true !

Once upon a time it was, but that time is no longer with us. The page is preserved for its historical interest, which is perceived by me but not binding on anyone else.

To escape to the modern stuff, click here.

Yes, Devonport !

NOT Auckland !!!!!!!

There was a suggestion, instantly dismissed, that I should acknowledge the Devonport Creak diaspora in New Zealand by associating the Creak name with the name of Auckland.

Never ? No, never ! Never ? Well, hardly ever. ( Yes, a quotation. )

( I will acknowledge that our New Zealand origins lie somewhere near Auckland to people who, for reasons of a deprived upbringing, don't know any better. These are mainly people from a long way away. )

I retain "Devonport" because our New Zealand roots are clearly and firmly in Devonport. Apart from a few weeks in rented accommodation in Remuera when we first came ( 1973 May ), we have occupied this house since 1973 July. It seems to me that people who choose to live in places like Takanini and Auckland should be happy to be associated with Devonport. Even if we should all move away, the only places which our lot can reasonably all be of are Singapore ( 1965 to 1968 ), Derby ( 1969 to 1973 ), and Devonport ( 1973 to whenever Bill drifted away, around 1990ish ). Devonport wins. I regret that we can't be Creaks of Yorkshire, but that would be amibiguous anyway; Devonport will do nicely.

I specify "our lot", because some qualification is necessary; we are not the only Creaks around. It was quite a shock to find on our arrival that the Auckland telephone directory listed some Creaks of whom we were not aware. This is unprecedented. They were - as I remember - in Wellsford, a town significantly to the north of Auckland. There's still one in Matakana, also north. No, we have never met. This is not surprising; we Creaks are thoroughly delightful people, friendly and eager to be of assistance if we can, but we are not obsessively chummy. No doubt the other Creaks are much the same.

What's wrong with Auckland ? It doesn't have Devonport's character. When we came here, Auckland was a quite pleasant city, with a human scale. There was just one building which could be called tall - that which used to be the Air New Zealand building, opposite the ferry building - and it was a nasty mistake. Queen Street was a Victorian to middle-1900s collection of buildings, in a variety of styles, mostly undistinguished, some quite pretty, and overall fitting together comfortably. The waterfront was a working port, fascinating to wander round, and trains ran along Quay Street to the various wharves.

Its development since then has been guided solely by greed. Old buildings have been torn down and replaced by concrete rubbish; the excuse has been "earthquake risks", but in many cases it appears that the old buildings could have been reinforced for much less than the rebuilding costs. ( No, I can't document that, but the claims were made at the time. ) The old Air New Zealand building is dwarfed by vast monstrosities, the main function of which - apart from putting money into their developers' pockets - is to force thousands of people to travel into Auckland every morning and out again at night, contributing materially to the congestion of the roads. The biggest monstrosity is a thing called the Sky Tower, which is there only because some other cities have a tall tower, and pollutes the view for great distances around. The port has moved, the trains have gone, and the old waterfront has been transformed into a tourist slum of which the main function is to persuade people with too much money that they are in Los Angeles or Vancouver or various other places.

You may infer that I don't much like it. Anyway, that's what's wrong with Auckland.

ABSOLUTELY NOT "North Shore City" !!!!!!!

The Auckland area has a population of around a million, so in most countries would be regarded as a medium-sized city. For historical reasons, when we came it was a patchwork of settlements of various sizes, variously called cities, boroughs, and I think something else which I've forgotten. There were no real boundaries, as the whole lot had grown together.

The real unity of the area was tacitly acknowledged; as well as the local units, there was the Auckland Regional Authority, established because several functions of local government could not sensibly be carried out without accepting the fact that the area was one single settlement. It looked after things like transport services, water supply, and other such activities which necessarily spread over the whole area. Incidentally, it also managed a collection of regional parks, which were - and still are - among the best features of the Auckland area.

We came to the Borough of Devonport, which was among the oldest recognised European settlements in New Zealand, and had a long and honourable history. When we came, Devonport was not very prosperous. Its main function for some time had been as the northern terminus of the Waitemata Harbour vehicle ferry, but on completion of the harbour bridge some years earlier the vehicular ferry traffic had vanished. There was still ( and is still ) a passenger ferry service - which I have now been using regularly for over thirty years - but the flow of people through Devonport, and consequently the patronage of its commercial establishments, had slumped.

Devonport was regarded as a pleasant and rather old-fashioned backwater, notable mainly for the naval base ( another set of problems entirely ) and with a reputation as a home for odd characters. It suited us very well. Prosperity slowly returned, though unfortunately at the cost of Devonport's becoming a tourist slum. At some time during its resurgence, the Borough of Devonport was abolished, against the wishes of an astonishly large proportion of its inhabitants, by a power bloc mysteriously called a "Labour government", which could see no values but money.

At the same time, the old haphazard structure of the Auckland region was "rationalised". There was certainly a case for some reorganisation; there was much duplication of activities, regulations mysteriously changed at quite arbitrary boundaries, and there were various anomalies and conflicts. I don't remember the details; I do remember thinking that something should be done.

What should be done ? To me, it seemed fairly obvious : accept the obvious fact that the area was one medium-sized city, and establish an overall city council at the level of the then current regional authority; but serve local interests by a second tier of local councils, such as Devonport Borough. This seemed to make sense; Devonport isn't by any means the only area of Auckland with its own character and traditions.

So they abolished the Borough of Devonport, one year short of its centenary. They manufactured five "cities" with essentially arbitrary boundaries, absorbing Devonport into one which cannot even find itself a decent name, and is therefore called "North Shore City". And they reduced the function of the Regional Authority by taking away anything with a financial component ( transport, water supply, etc. ) and setting that up as a commercial enterprise.

So then we had five mayors, five councils, five sets of imposing offices, five sets of by-laws - and a regional organisation - and several commercial bodies ....

.... and "North Shore City" has been trying hard to absorb Devonport ever since. Fortunately, it has not succeeded. I hope it never does.

And it never did. But ...

I wrote the preceding bit in 2007 November. Not very long after that ( you can find the date with a bit of searching, but it isn't significant ), the five "cities" and a few more bits coalesced into what is now Auckland city. Sanity at last ?

Well, one might hope so. Some day.

A final observation.

This is not history; it is my memory and prejudice. If you want the real facts, don't rely on this account. If you find a mistake, please tell me, for I do not wish to perpetuate errors. On the other hand, this is my view, and it's why I do wish to differentiate Devonport from Auckland, and particularly from "North Shore City".

At the time of writing ( I've just checked ), there is some more information about Devonport from the Devonport Business Association. I think mine's more interesting.

Alan Creak,
2012 July.