Disappearing Gun Makes A Rare Live Appearance

The huge ‘Disappearing Gun’ on Devonport’s Maunganuika North Head reserve was fired on Monday 3rd July, in a very rare event. The firing of the gun was being filmed for the documentary series Heritage Rescue on ChoiceTV.

The British Armstrong 8 Inch Mark VII cannon was was put in place on top of North Head in the late 1800s in anticipation of a possible Russian navy attack.

The “disappearing gun” nickname was so given because the battery gun is designed to retract into the ground after firing in an attempt to conceal its location.

The North Head cannon has only ever been fired a few times – firstly during testing following its original installation, then once or twice for ceremonial occasions in the 20th Century, and most recently in 2011 when the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup.

Series presenter and researcher Brigid Gallagher pressed the detonator, which funnily enough has seen more action than the gun itself, having been used in the original Suez Canal project.

Though the blast was loud enough, with those spectators without ear muffs holding their fingers to their ears, it only used 10 per cent of the black powder used in 1915, when the exact same model gun that sits on nearby Mt Victoria shattered windows in a ceremonial firing.

Help Protect Our Birds and Collect Your Free Rat Trap

To help us protect our native bird species, free rat traps are being given out for free by Auckland Council to Devonport residents.

1500 rat traps have been kindly donated by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei who are advocates of the Predator Free 2050 initiative and committed to protecting New Zealand’s native bird species and want to see their populations increase.

We all know how special the Devonport Peninsula is – a vibrant seaside community known for its picturesque tātahi (beaches), stunning manga (mountains) and thriving shore, land and migratory birds.

As part of the North-West Wildlink, it is a vital corridor for native birds as they fly from the Waitakere Ranges to the islands of the Hauraki Gulf and back. These habitats act as stepping stones where wildlife can travel and breed safely between the conservation sanctuary of the islands and the ranges.

But introduced predators, including rats, are taking a toll on New Zealand’s native birds. Predator Free NZ estimates 81 per cent of local bird species are endangered.

Starting in July, you will be able to collect your free rat trap from the library between 11am and 1pm on

Saturday 1st July
Saturday 8th July
Saturday 15th July
Saturday 26th August
Saturday 2nd September
Saturday 9th September

You should have received a form in your letterbox from Auckland Council with a unique serial number. If you have not received this form or cannot make any of the above dates, please email enquiries@norats.org to find out how you can collect your free rat trap.

Level One Offers the Perfect Answer to Traffic Woes

Kayaking to work and lunchtime swims are the norm for the residents of Level One HQ on the Devonport Wharf.  A coworking and collaboration space with panoramic views of the Waitemata Harbour, Level One is home to a range of software and professional services companies as well as solo workers who don’t want the hassle or expense of having to travel into the city every day.  Space can be rented on a per-desk basis, and daily rates and part-time rates are also available.

To mark its second year of operation, Level One is offering a special Foundation membership of $30 per month which includes a quick pitstop of coffee and wifi for members travelling to and from the city, as well as access to a boardroom space at preferential rates for meetings and workshops.

To take advantage of the Foundation offer which will be initially limited to 20 members, sign up here or call Simon Lampen on 021 526 736 for more details about desk space.

Level One Coworking Space Devonport

Level One on Devonport Wharf

Have your say on Lake Road

Auckland Transport (AT) is seeking feedback from locals on how to improve reliability and efficiency of travel along Lake Road, between Devonport and Takapuna.

After years of voicing concerns about the state of traffic on Lake Road, mainly during peak times on weekdays but also on the weekend, AT are reaching out to the community to understand what our preferences are.
They are hoping to elicit thoughts and suggestions on a possible solution to the unpredictability of traffic conditions and identify the best way to improve the reliability and accessibility of travel choices to and from the peninsula.

What is Auckland Transport proposing?

AT has found that many vehicle trips down Lake Road are short and local. Their view is that these local trips shouldn’t be made by car, but by ‘walking, cycling or taking the bus’, which would free up Lake Road.

Their approach is to bring in a mix of new transit lanes that would be dedicated to public transport and higher occupancy vehicles, plus expanded walking & cycling facilities and ‘technology solutions’.

They are also proposing that the Esmonde Road bus lane be converted into a new transit lane for public transport and higher occupancy vehicles. The council are saying that this will be supplemented by better ferry and bus services. Technology would be introduced to give travellers more up-to-the-minute traffic information before starting their journey, via smartphone apps and electronic road signs.

They are also thinking about getting rid of all Lake Road street parking.

AT’s proposed options
AT have come up with three alternative plans, each with differing levels of investment and importantly, very different timelines.

The common elements of the plans

All three plans will include these measures:
– New transit lanes (for higher occupancy vehicles and public transport). The Esmonde Road bus Lane will change into to a transit (carpool ?) lane
– More ‘walking and cycling facilities’.
– Improved bus and ferry services
– Greater use of technology, i.e. smartphone apps showing traffic conditions & rideshare opportunities plus electronic roadside signs with traffic info.

which as we understand would be implemented in the relative short term (within 5 years).

The three plans

1. ‘Low’ Investment Level – about $10m
What do we get (in addition to the common elements)?
“Re-marking the road within the existing kerbs to create new segments of transit lanes, whilst retaining the existing cycle lanes.”
How long will this take?
Within 5 years

2. ‘Medium’ Investment Level – between $30 million to $40 million
What do we get (in addition to the common elements)?
“Shifting some kerb lines to create width for extended sections of transit lanes and cycle lanes along Lake Road.”
So certain parts of the footpath will be narrowed and turned into cycle lanes or, perhaps in the odd stretch where the footpath is really wide, into a transit lane. – Ed

How long will this take?
5 to 10 years

3. ‘High’ Investment Level – about $10m
What do we get (in addition to the common elements)?
“Widening Lake Road beyond the current property boundaries to achieve room for all transport modes.”
How long will this take?
Over 10 years

Auckland Transport Lake Road Options

When is the public consultation period?
AT’s consultation period will be open from Saturday 10 June, running until Saturday 8 July. AT will also be at Takapuna Market 18 June from 8am to 12pm.

Are you concerned that AT are seriously considering spending as little as $10m on Lake Road improvements – the cost of 3 or 4 local homes, or perhaps a better comparison, less than 1 per cent of the cost of the Waterview tunnel?

Have your say by giving AT your feedback. Visit the AT Lake Road Improvements website and/or
download the Lake Road Indicative Business Case here and give your feedback (up till Saturday, 8th July 2017) to AT here.

Devonport Museum Reopens after Major Revamp

The Devonport Museum in Cambria Reserve had a grand re-opening on Sunday 30th April after a whirlwind refresh that began just one week earlier.

In partnership with television series Heritage Rescue, museum volunteers and dedicated locals have been working hard (some even sleeping there overnight) to revitalise and expand the displays in the museum.
The Heritage Rescue film crew with host Brigid Gallagher (formally presenter of BBC’s Time Team) has been interviewing local community members to gather stories.

Heritage Rescue is a New Zealand-made television series about supporting community museums. They bring in museum and heritage professionals to give expert advice and revitalise displays.

Over 100 locals attended the re-opening and speakers included North Shore MP Maggie Barry, the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

The Museum was given a blessing by senior members of local Ngati Whatua who encouraged visitors to reach out and touch the walls with their fingertips, “to place our energy back into the building.”

Immediately apparent upon walking into the museum was the absence of clutter that some might say used to be a central feature. New displays, better organisation of exhibits, a fresh paint-job and audio-visual additions make the Devonport Museum a must-see for all local residents and visitors.

Fullers to put on additional Devonport – Auckland ferry sailings

Local Auckland Councillor Chris Darby recently had a constructive meeting with Fullers’ CEO Douglas Hudson and COO Gavin Old. Fullers are adding new sailings to the Devonport ferry service starting Monday 1st May and improved bike storage is being fitted to both the Kea and the Capricornian.

The existing bike storage on the Capricornian was inherited and Fullers now realise it does not work.

Fullers has advised AT that the Stanley Bay service does not work for them commercially and recommended it be added to the open tender process. What that means is the Stanley Bay service will be open to other operators to tender for along with all other inner harbour services, other than Devonport which is contract exempt. That process is now in the tender evaluation stage and AT should be in a position to announce results in about July this year for implementation in July 2018. The lead-in time is required for operators to procure vessels.

Said Chris, “It’s been a rocky ride with Fullers for a fair while but thanks are due for their responsiveness on these matters”.

DEVONPORT FERRY TIMETABLE UPDATE
From 1st May 2017, there’ll be additional weekday sailings added to the Devonport timetable.

The additional weekday sailings are:
Auckland to Devonport – 8.30am, 4.15pm & 4.45pm
Devonport to Auckland – 8.45am, 4.30pm & 5.00pm

Editor’s note: we’re looking forward to seeing the ferries come this regularly ……

Cycle Lanes Planned for Victoria Road / Calliope Road Intersection

Auckland Transport have announced plans for new cycle lanes to be introduced at the intersection of Victoria Road and Calliope Road in Devonport.

The crossroads have been the site of eight serious accidents over the past five years including one involving a cyclist.

A presentation prepared by Auckland Transport states that one of its aims is to enable the local community to walk and cycle safely to and from the Devonport Town Centre and Ferry Terminal. It says that facilities currently in place does not adequately fulfil this community need.

The specific problems include no on-road cycle lane, off-road cycle path has obstacles including a tree pit and poles; plus it is a confusing intersection layout.

AT also believe that traffic is not slowing down for pedestrians on the Victoria Road crossing.

Update: 27 April 2017. AT have released another revised plan you can download here. Have your say about it on the council website here.

Victoria Rd - Calliope Road as it is currently

Victoria Rd – Calliope Road as it is currently

The Cheltenham Swim a big success

With the weather forecast looking a little scary a week out, the organisers of The 2017 Cheltenham Swim – the Devonport Swim Club – were not expecting a huge number of sign-ups.

The annual 2km swim event starts at Narrow Neck beach and finishes at Balmain Reserve, Cheltenham Beach.

However the peninsula’s local swimmers were not at all perturbed with fickle forecasts and turned up in droves on the day (Sunday 2nd April) with wetsuits, goggles and smiles. Some of the 144 entrants included hardy ‘Buckets Club’ members who swim weekly off Narrow Neck all year round through winter, storms and gales. This was their Sunday Stroll.

Although the sun didn’t feature much on the day, there was only a gentle north-easterly breeze – nice for supporters on a very humid day – and the rain patiently held off.

A pleasant surprise awaited swimmers rounding the first buoy as they turned south towards North Head: the incoming tide was unusually strong and whipped them around to Cheltenham in record time.

The overall winner was Devonport Swim Club coach Ben Marshall in a whisker over 20 minutes (20:09). First female across the line was another DSC member Dawn Dooley in  23:12. In the under 15’s, the first junior girl home was Isabella Webb in 29:32; and Jake Scott took the junior male’s no.1 spot in 23:09.

The donation of excellent prizes from local businesses (including Hammer Hardware, New World Supermarket Devonport, Devon on the Wharf, Corellis Cafe, Chateaubriant, Glengarry Wines, The Vic, Dixie Browns restaurant, JustWorkout Gym, The Natural Health Co and Baked Devonport) made the prize-giving almost as much fun as the race.

Amazing hidden bay in Devonport open to public

A stunning hidden bay in Stanley Point, Devonport is now officially accessible to the public.

Access to the largely unknown Secret Cove has up till now been practically restricted to owners of the surrounding land at 60a Stanley Point Road.

Secret Cove, Devonport

Secret Cove, Stanley Point, Devonport

Secret Cove, 60a Stanley Point Road

The accessway to the cove was originally bought by 16 now-deceased people in the 1940s, with the aim of protecting access to the beach for the public.

Those people never sold the land, but several years ago an immediate neighbour lodged a caveat on the title.

Chris Darby, the North Shore Councillor, says that the purchase of the property is a fantastic result for Aucklanders.

“The purchase of this land to enable public access to Secret Cove has been a long and complicated one, but it’s finally done now and I couldn’t be happier,” he says.

“The newly acquired land delivers a public access point to a stunning hidden bay, and means the secret of Secret Cove can now be experienced and enjoyed by all.”

“Imagine swimming under the umbrella of Pōhutukawa trees on a full tide on a late summer afternoon, cicadas singing with the sun setting behind the Harbour Bridge – it’s magical.”

 

Men’s Fitness in Devonport….or lack of?

“Sit up straight!”

“Shoulders back!!”

“Stop slouching!!!”

The frequently-heard demands from my father during my childhood will likely resonate with you as you recall your own dinner table dialogues from former years.

Recently however, I’m struck by the irony that our roles have been reversed. I may now be an experienced Pilates instructor; with an inherent belief that good sound posture is something everyone should aspire to, but it seems strange he has neglected his own advice. When did Dad stop caring for his body and his physical fitness? Is his situation indicative of male attitudes towards physical health as they reach a certain age?

The answer possibly lies in the comparative mortality statistics of men and women. These trends are mirrored throughout the world with the average of 5.3 years separating the death rate between genders. Whilst it would be trivial to suggest that opposing gender attitudes toward health and fitness in later years are solely responsible for this alarming imbalance, it would be fair to consider it as a plausible contributing factor.

Statistics New Zealand claims one causative effect to us ladies outliving our male counterparts is that we are more focused on preventative health. Women visit their doctor 33% more than men do on average and 28% of men in NZ do not have a regular GP. This of course leads to cases of men neglecting minor health problems for too long which complicates treatment and provides fewer options for recovery down the track.

Whether the reasons behind women taking a more active pursuit of health and fitness goals stem from specific training aspirations, social outreach, vanity or pure boredom, it undeniably results in the preservation of health into later years. Yet with even clear statistics to illustrate this and the abundant information and support offered to men nationwide, mortality rates remain in women’s favour and men still refuse to prioritize their wellbeing.

Could fear also play a part in this? The group element of fitness training can often deter males from attending due to their fear of appearing weak in front of others, fear of failing, or their perception that men should be strong and therefore don’t need to address that nagging knee, protruding beer belly or hunched posture. Pilates has often (and to my immense frustration) been perceived as a ‘feminine’ activity; yet ironically its main benefits – Improved posture, increased core strength, injury prevention, stability and flexibility – are outcomes that would significantly, and positively, impact male health in later years.

In ten years of working in the fitness industry and holistic health I have witnessed this trend first hand. Upon recently moving to Devonport, I knew in my heart I wanted to directly influence and encourage my surrounding community to embrace exercise and healthy holistic living. Through joining local family-owned studio SoulSprite, whose mission statement is ‘we have a romantic and achievable notion of making every ‘body’ feel spritely’, I knew I had found a shared philosophy with owners Ben and Kate. With their fast-growing 300+ members, they focus on creating healthier family units and this of course includes the sometimes reluctant, frequently overworked and always time-poor males.

So my personal mission, which contributes to SoulSprite’s wider ambition, is to to break down the preconceived idea that group fitness for men is something to be feared. Indeed, the opposite is true – SoulSprite’s inclusive classes provide both males and females the opportunity to improve their physical health in a relaxed, uncompetitive and social environment.

SoulSprite offers small group classes in TRX, Boxing, Pilates and Dance. Plus we have an amazing new kitchen where we have begun to hold cooking and nutritional lessons. To book your free trial class, log on to www.soulsprite.co.nz and experience how your body and mind can feel ‘spritely’ too.