Copper Rod

Copper RodAuthor: Trevor ScottHeader Photo from the archives, pre 1971Date: March 2024Did you know that lighthouses are often struck by lightning? To prevent damage caused by these strikes, lighthouses are equipped with metal poles called lightning rods. These rods are attached to a thick copper wire that runs from the top of the lighthouse down to the ground. When lightning strikes the tower, it enters through the lightning rod and travels down the wire into the ground, minimizing potential damage. Trevor Scott, who was the lighthouse keeper on Tiritiri Matangi from 1958-1960 and 1966-1969, shared that he remembers seeing the spare left over copper rods used to hang up curtains in the lighthouse keepers house. Trevor Scott has writtenCopper RodUsed for lightning conductor on Tiritiri Lighthouse. This runs under ground from the base of the tower northwards east of the Norfolk pin to the bottom of the gully where a plate of copper is attached and buried in the swamp. In 1958 this and other pieces were under the maracarpa. Also the old house that was on the eastern cliff side had used the left over as curtain rods.  Trevor Scott holding the copper rod that he has gifted to the Tiritiri Matangi MuseumPhoto credit: Talia Hochwimmer The Tiritiri Matangi Lighthouse pre 1971, from the archives The Tiritiri Matangi…


Eight long needles of light

Eight long needles of lightSourced from Tiritiri Matangi, A Model of Conservation, Anne RimmerDate: 17 September 2023Header image: 'Eight long needles of light': the David Marine Light, 1965Credit: Peter TaylorDid you know that the Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse is a Category 1 historic place? It was actually the first lighthouse to be established on the approach to Auckland in the Waitematā Harbour. Interestingly, when it was built, there were only two other lighthouses in the entire country, Pencarrow (1859) and Boulder Bank (1862). Today it is New Zealand’s oldest working lighthouse. The lighthouse in New Zealand was a remarkable feat of engineering. It was designed by McLean and Stilman Civil Engineers in London, and constructed by Simpson and Company. The prefabricated parts were shipped all the way from London to New Zealand, where they were put together. The end result was a stunning structure that served as a beacon of light for ships navigating the nearby waters. It’s impressive to think that the original light lasted a whole 60 years before being replaced with the 11 million candlepower xenon lamp in 1965. There were murmurs among Aucklanders that the Tiritiri Matangi light was inadequate, likened to “just a glimmer, like someone standing up there with a torch.” Fortunately, Sir Ernest Davis, a former mayor of Auckland,…


How a shortage of rakes led to the creation of an extraordinary environmental legacy

How a shortage of rakes led to the creation of an extraordinary environmental legacyAuthor: Jim Eagles, taken from the Dawn Chorus Bulletin 113Date: May 2018Jim Battersby was first and foremost a Presbyterian minister, having been ordained in 1953 and retired in 1987. In an article written for a church magazine in 2006 he recalled that, ‘Like many of my generation of students, I felt the call to ministry early after leaving secondary school, and so ministry became my whole career. I served 22 years in three parishes, and about 13 years in a hospital chaplaincy.’ Unsurprisingly, when he retired from the ministry, it left a big gap in his life. And, as it happens, about this time the island of Tiritiri Matangi had stopped being farmed and, thanks to the efforts of people like John Craig and Neil Mitchell of Auckland University, was slowly being re-afforested under the supervision of former lighthouse keepers Ray and Barbara Walter. And the Battersbys started to get involved. Asked at one of his talks how he came to get involved, Jim said he thought the fact that he and his wife Barbie had island blood, his people coming from the Chathams and hers from the Isle of Man, made them pre-disposed to like islands. But the immediate reason was that when he was chaplain at Greenlane Hospital ‘a friend who also worked there came to visit us and said she’d been…


History of Wattle Track

History of Wattle TrackAuthor: Ray and Barbara WalterSourced from Dawn Chorus 70, August 2007There seems to be varying commentary on the history of Wattle Valley. Here is the account of this famous walkway. Wattle Valley formed part of the Lighthouse Keepers cow paddock and was fenced off from the main farming block until the 1970’s. It was not grazed from approx. the 1950’s and so it naturally regenerated in mostly, mānuka, tī kōuka/cabbage tree and Harakeke/flax. Big Wattle Valley was mostly tī kōuka and Wattles. The wattles are from a Lighthouse Keepers gardens shelter belt. The 1940 aerial photograph shows 6-8 wattles and 2 fig trees at the bottom of the valley. From these few wattles, Big Wattle Valley was soon populated with further wattles. When the planting programme began they were left as they gave a rich source of nectar for korimako/ bellbirds and tūī. This was one of the major sites for students studying korimako. As the bush has regenerated the wattles, being light-loving plants, have reduced and also the Australian Quail scratched the germinating seedlings. Left image: from the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi archives, 1940 aerialMiddle image: 2018 aerial, credit Miriam GodfreyRight image: map of Tiritiri Matangi IslandSome plantings were made in Big Wattle Valley to increase the plant diversity…


From the Dawn Chorus Archives: Rat tracks at Hobbs Beach spark huge effort to catch invader

Rat tracks at Hobbs Beach spark huge effort to catch invaderFrom the Dawn Chorus ArchivesEditor: Jim EaglesDate: Dawn Chorus 112 February 2018Photo credit: DOC and Karen O'SheaTwo huge rodent hunts have been carried out on Tiritiri over the past three months (end of 2017 and start of 2018) to preserve the rodent-free status the Island has enjoyed since 1993. Late last year a visitor reported seeing a mouse and sparked off a search which found nothing. Then early this year the discovery of rat tracks near Hobbs Beach led to an even bigger operation. The rodent saga began on 9 November when a visitor from the US told shop volunteer Chris Eagles he had seen a mouse on Ridge Rd and later repeated the story to relief ranger Dave Jenkins. It was sufficiently convincing for the Department of Conservation to send a rodent dog to check and it smelled something interesting in the area of the sighting.  As a result, DOC set up a detection zone in a 200m radius around the site and blanketed it with devices 25m apart. These included 300 mouse traps, 500 tracking tunnels with ink pads to record the footprints of anything walking through them and 200 chew cards to record teeth marks.  In addition, the permanent rodent control network, which has hundreds of traps and tunnels set up at 50m intervals around most of the tracks on the Island, was checked more regularly. Two…


Pioneering restoration of Tiritiri Matangi

The pioneering restoration of Tiritiri Matangi'Saving Britain's Island' is a short film about island conservation, by ZSL PhD student, Joshua Powell. Produced by Matt Jarvis with the assistance of camera operators Benjamin Harris (UK) and Ben Sarten (NZ)Funded by the British Ecological SocietyIn early 2021 a film crew from the UK visited Tiritiri Matangi to produce a short documentary. The film would target audiences in the UK as an introduction to island conservation. Tiritiri Matangi was chosen because the pioneering restoration project has inspired similar projects around the world. The film explores how these techniques can be used to help protect biodiversity in the UK Overseas Territories. Click to watch the short film 'Saving Britain's Islands' on YouTube


If only we could re-live those days

If only we could re-live those daysAuthor: Mrs Dora Walthew (nee King)From the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi archives. We think it was written in the 1980sIt was the year 1934 and the island sat like a bright green jewel, in the blue waters of the Hauraki Gulf – approximately 16 miles from the port of Auckland, which nestles beyond the massive bulk of Rangitoto, guardian of the harbour entrance. The island was fringed with the bright red blooms of the pohutukawa trees, growing from the cliffs edges and along the rock foreshore. On the highest point of the island, stood the lighthouse. A 60 foot construction of steel sections, bolted together with a strong beaming light which flashed warnings to the shipping, entering either of the two passages to Auckland. Two keepers’ homes were built on the flatter sides of the hill and another house of superior construction was built further over, close to the cliff edge. (Where the bach is today). This was the home of the head keeper. Large concrete tanks were constructed alongside each home, for the island dwellers depended on every drop of rain that fell for their water supply. With various sized implement and storage sheds and a stable to keep chaff and oats for the station horse, there was quiet a community of housing. A large red gate connected to a seven wire fenceline, running the width of the…


Tiritiri Matangi Island On Active Service

Tiritiri Matangi Island On Active ServiceAuthor: Stacey BalichThis text has been collated using Tiritiri Matangi, A Model of Conservation by Anne RimmerDate: 13/06/23During the Second World War (1939-45) the island was part of the Auckland Harbour defences. The day after war broke out, 12 Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve signalmen landed on Tiritiri Matangi to identify all approaching vessels. The Navy duplicated much of the Auckland Harbour work of identification. At first, the two services shared the Auckland Harbour Board facilities but it soon became apparent that the Navy needed its own building. The military then built the Port War Signal Station, near the lighthouse, linked to gun emplacements on Whangaparaoa, Rangitoto, North Head and Waiheke Island. The Port War Signal Station had a view from Kawau Island past Aotea Great Barrier and the Coromandel to Auckland but, significantly, the Tiri channel was obscured. Ships at sea were forbidden to use their wireless in wartime, so communication with them was by flags, semaphores or Aldis signal lamps. After the bombing of Pearl Harbour (7 December 1941), the US poured money into New Zealand’s defences and the Army established a Fortress Observation Post on Tiritiri Matangi. The Army rebuilt the Fourth House, concreting the outside and adding a concrete tower. The Fortress Observation Post gave…


Bringing light to part of Tiritiri Matangi history

Bringing light to part of Tiritiri Matangi historyAuthor: Jonathan MowerDate: 23/04/23On January 1, 1865, the new and then richly red Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse first shone its light over the Hauraki. Although that light has been continuously operational since that day, how the light has been generated has changed many times. First lit by colza/canola oil, it changed consecutively to using paraffin, and acetylene, then to electricity first from diesel generators, then from a cable link to the national grid, then reverted back to diesel generators and ultimately to solar power with diesel generator backup as it remains today. Cyclone Gabrielle and other weather events in February caused deep scouring to parts of the island’s coastline and in doing so brought to light part of this history when it uncovered parts of the submarine cable that in 1967, linked the island to the national grid and ended years of diesel power generation. Laid across the sea bottom, the cable stretched in a loop from Pink Beach near the end of Whangaparaoa Peninsula, across Whangaparaoa Passage to Tiritiri Matangi Island where it exited at the northern end of Hobb’s Beach and travelled inland. The mains cable was actually two seperate cables; the marine cable and the land cable and the two were joined within a bolted and braced wooden structure.Although the…