Musick Point - Early History

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On 22nd January 1836 William Thomas Fairburn, a missionary for many years in the area, purchased 40,000 acres from the Maori people, being virtually all the land from Tamaki River to the Wairoa river. It was known as ‘the Fairburn Block. For 90 blankets, 24 adzes, 24 hoes, 14 spades, 80 Pounds (money), 900lbs of tobacco, 24 combs, 12 plain irons. (This is from the records –Auckland District Vii, private Land Purchases, Deed No.347, 23rd January 1836, and compiled by Mr. H. H. Turton. – (Extract)

William Mason was the next owner of the land of 500 acres called “East Head” the Bucklands, Eastern Beach Peninsula from Fairburn. He sold his Pakuranga farm to Fairfield and paid Fairburn 500 pounds for the East Head in 1851. Although the deed was not processed until 6th September 1852. The Musick Point Radio Station block was reserved specifically for the Crown, but Manson owned the land between the two beaches.

Eastern Beach was previously called Mason’s Beach. This beach was a great source for food, not only for the Maori but also for the Pakeha population that followed.

In the early 1930's, the government of the day was attempting to establish communications to ships, aircraft and the rest of the world, as a means of news and general communications. The New Zealand Post Office who had capable radio technicians, was given the task of making the system work. Many sites in and around Auckland were tried, but none suited the task better than the site at Bucklands Beach.

A building was commenced in 1938 and a comprehensive station was completed in 1941.

Mr. Peter Fraser, Prime Minister of New Zealand, opened the “Musick Point Air Radio Station” on January 12th 1942. The station provided radio contact for ships and aircraft. Initially the station was operated by the NZ Post Office on all services and later the Air Radio by Civil Aviation Corporation, with the Post Office handling all the maritime services. In the later years ownership changed to Telecom NZ Ltd for the maritime service, and now by Telecom Corporation NZ  who, after the marine services were closed down, retained the use of the building for their Cellular Service.

 The building gained its name after Captain Edwin C Musick. He flew in the early flying boats, trail blazing the route to South America, China and New Zealand. He piloted the first South Pacific survey flight from the United States of America  to New Zealand, landing his four-engined flying boat called the “Samoan Clipper” on the Auckland Harbour on 30 March 1937, where he received a hero’s welcome.

On 11th January 1938 whilst on a second flight from Pago Pago in the South Pacific bound for New Zealand, he and his crew died in an accident. The make of the aircraft was a Sikorsky S42B Flying Boat. The building now stands as a monument to this pioneer and  also housed a memorial plaque to the Post office radio operators who were murdered in the Kiribati Islands by the Japanese during the Second World War.

At the entrance to the Musick Point carpark, there is a small post with an engraved plate advising of the Maori Pa site. Several remnants of pits can be seen near the actual point, but the area of the golf course being bulldozed in shaping the land in the early times has removed most of the remains. Near the residential houses at the road entrance to the point, there was a Maori outpost, but again nothing remains to be seen.

Today when the visitor calls to the area, they will notice on the left of the entrance road the three large palm trees where  Post Office holiday cottages once were and above that, local station houses. To the right of this was a tennis court that was built by the early residents for recreation by the original radio operators and technicians. There were also army style barracks and a military style gate with a pillar post box, where armed guards were placed.

Today there is no sign of the military gate with the ‘pillar post’, and even the roadway cattle stop has been lost in time.  

An emergency radio bunker was built in 1942, during World War II, following the attack on Darwin, Australia and the threatened attack on Auckland. This bunker was built as a precaution in case the nearby Musick Point Aeradio Station was bombed or put out of action. This small emergency radio station could maintain contact with aircraft and shipping around New Zealand or overseas if required. The bunker was concealed, dug into the ground and made of steel reinforced concrete.  It is close to the defence ditch dug across the peninsula as part of Waiaohia Pa of the Ngaitai iwi which was abandoned in 1821. 

 

(The sign to the right was attached  to the bunker by:
The Howick & Districts Historical Society.)

The road appears to be in a poor state but being a private road and maintained by the Crown, gets little attention by the owners.

Visitors to the Musick Point area have been estimated at 150 cars on an average day during the summer months.

It is a great place for bridal parties making their big promise, and many of the areas are used for wedding photos.

There has also been the occasional scattering of burial ashes in the area.