Whale of a story

Do these news stories from 1954, 1959, 1966 and 1970 trigger any memories? Did you witness any of these events? If you've got more to add to these stories, contact us and tell us your story.

1970
Opening of off-street car park

The off-street car park

To celebrate the opening of the car park the Blockhouse Bay Businessmen arranged a series of activities for the entire week, concluding with a Market Day on the Saturday. The car park was officially opened on the Friday at 12 noon by the Mayor of Auckland Mr D.M. Robinson.

1966
They found him hanging round

Blockhouse Bay residents woke one morning in March to see what appeared to be a body hanging about 120 feet up one of the pylons above the beach. Auckland police stations and the beach caretaker were inundated with calls. Police investigation revealed that the "body" was in fact a dummy dressed in trousers and shirt. The Electricity Department sent staff to retrieve the dummy, their task made easier because the wires were not yet in place.

Photo of electricity department staff up the pylon removing the dummy

Left, the dummy suspended from the pylon and right, Electricity Department staff removing the dummy from the pylon

1959
Aground in fog

Photo of the coaster Titoki aground on a mudbank off Blockhouse Bay

The coaster, Titoki, aground on the mudbank

The Anchor Company coaster 'Titoki' went aground in fog on a mudbank off Blockhouse Bay while outward bound from Onehunga to Nelson. Late night observers heard engines starting up and saw the lights moving as the ship floated off on the rising tide. The master anchored in the channel and waited for the morning tide before resuming the Titoki's voyage.

Brian from Blockhouse Bay remembers...

The fog that day was unusually heavy. You couldn't see across the street. Therefore I was amazed to hear the ship's engines coming down the harbour, especially on an outgoing tide. The fog magnified the sound and every now and then I could see the tip of the mast. Suddenly there was a drawn-out grinding noise and the engine noise got much louder which a great deal of splashing as they tried to reverse. There was shouting and bells ringing but I stilll couldn't see a darn thing. Eventually the engines stopped and there was the clank of the anchor going down. By evening the fog had cleared sufficiently for me to see the Titoki aground on the bank, and some of the crew had got down to check her for damage. Looking out at dusk I saw the riding lights go on. Late that night I heard the engines start up and the anchor taken in and as the tide came up to full they slowly got off the mud. Very wisely the ship was anchored in the channel and next day whichn was clear and sunny, they hauled in the anchor just before high tide and set off down the harbour.

1954
A whale of a tale

Photo of dead whale grounded on Motukaraka Bank

The dead whale after grounding on Motukaraka Bank off Maori Lookout

A dead whale adrift in the Manukau Harbour caused a lot of interest. Eventually it grounded on Motukaraka Bank where disposing of the remains proved difficult for the Harbour Board. Blowing up the carcass was one of the options they explored, but it was not completely successful.

A Blockhouse Bay resident remembers...
Friends took my husband and me in their boat to see the whale. Long before we got there we could smell it — not the usual bad fish smell but a cloying almost sweet rotting smell which became more and more powerful the nearer we got. I remember how amazed I was at the size of the carcass. I suppose when you see a whale on television most of it is underwater. The noise as we approached was unbelievable. It was like going into an industrial area. Clanking, thumping, squeaking, rushing sounds and splashing and a regular drumming which almost died away and then returned again and again. I suppose it was the poor creature's insides starting to rot. We were saddened and appalled when we got alongside the carcass to see that someone had attacked it with a chain saw and cut out a section of jawbone and a tooth.

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