devonport heritage

Devonport is a community with a proud history and tradition.

Surrounded by sea, with commanding views of the Hauraki Gulf, the area was important to Maori. Evidence of Maori settlement can be seen on the two volcanic hills which were occupied and fortified. The land was sold to the Crown by Ngati-paoa in 1840 and Devonport’s first businesses were farming and shipbuilding. With the arrival of the Army, Navy and dockyard, business enterprises and social amenities grew, such as shops, schools and churches.

Devonport’s economic development was enhanced by its proximity to Auckland’s commercial centre with ferry services providing the essential link. Residential sub-divisions led to the expansion of this popular suburb. Devonport was established as a Borough in 1886, and the early 1900s brought increased development and prosperity.

Many of the buildings we see today date from the latter 1800s. The buildings in Victoria Road were erected in the late 1880s after a fire had destroyed the original wooden ones. The landmark Esplanade Hotel opened in 1903.

Victorian and Edwardian villas with graceful return verandahs and ornate embellishments are prominent throughout the area. Examples of later bungalow style buildings and earlier workers’ cottages are also evident.

The value of Devonport’s homes and buildings lies in their historic nature individually, as well as their setting in the old Borough. The generations before us built soundly, adapting and updating as new needs arose. Old photographs of Devonport show how well our heritage has been retained.

Old buildings which served the community in former days have been retained and renovated for other uses: the Telephone Exchange (café), bank (restaurant), and Post Office (museum), while the fire station, dairy factory, power station (which also served for a period as a laundry), and Masonic Hall are all now domestic dwellings. Devonport also boasts several beautiful historic churches. Devonport Borough Council encouraged the retention of the housing stock and supported innovative ideas for re-use.

Since local body amalgamation further conservation policies have been adopted by the Devonport Community Board.

How does this affect you?
• The North Shore District Plan recognises Devonport as having special historical and architectural character. The Plan’s intentions are to protect and enhance this character.
• Current provisions may no longer allow some of the changes that were undertaken in earlier years and may differ from those in other New Zealand heritage regions.
• Some buildings are listed in the District Plan as having special protection. Devonport is proud to have seventeen buildings listed with the Historic Places Trust. Many of Devonport’s houses are within the Residential 3 Zone and this ensures that the architectural integrity of the suburb is maintained. The Devonport Area Office (3 Victoria Road, Devonport) has this information.
• To assist owners of old homes who wish to make alterations and additions, a booklet, “Heritage Guidelines”, is available from the Devonport Area Office.

Where to Start
If you would like to find out the history of your house –
• The Devonport Library has a reference section detailing Devonport’s history. Devonport Borough Council published “The Hundred of Devonport – A Centennial History” and this resource will assist you in gaining an understanding of local history.
• The Devonport Museum has many photographs that demonstrate the demographic growth of the borough as well as the development of individual houses.
• Both the Devonport Area Office and Auckland City Council (North Shore) archives have extensive records of original house designs.
We hope you enjoy the special qualities of your heritage home, value its past, and help keep Devonport’s buildings intact for future generations.

More information: