Avondale Te Whau History Walk

Explore the history of Avondale, from its start as a Māori settlement known as Te Whau through its early European development to today’s suburb.

Avondale Te Whau History Walk

Auckland, Auckland 0622, New Zealand

Created By: Auckland Council

Tour Information

Avondale is known to tangata whenua as Te Whau, which is also the name for the river that defines Avondale’s western boundary. Te Auaunga (Oakley Creek) marks the eastern edge of Avondale and refers to the numerous whirlpools along the creek. There were once many seasonal camps and papakāinga (villages) along the edges of Te Whau and Te Auaunga.

The name Avondale was chosen by John Bollard, an early settler, who borrowed it from Avondale Forest in his home of County Wicklow, Ireland. It only became the official name for the aera in 1882 when the Whau Highway District became the Avondale Road District. Avondale became a borough in 1922 and then merged into Auckland City in 1927. Along with all of the other communities in the Auckland Region, Avondale was amalgamated into the Auckland Supercity in November 2011. The Whau Local Board and Whau Ward represent Avondale in Auckland Council.

This walk showcases the history of Te Whau Avondale following European settlement and focuses on early industries and the development and consolidation of the community. It features some of the earliest surviving places in Avondale including St Ninian’s Church, built in 1859–60. And includes buildings and sites associated with significant aspects of Avondale’s historic development such as commerce and retail, accommodation and hospitality, law and order, education, and transport. Avondale’s historic places bring to life the stories and people who have lived and worked here.

Terrain: Concrete footpaths alongside busy roads. Only cross the road when instructed and when safe to do so.

Starting Point: Avondale Library, 93 Rosebank Road

Parking: Free two-hour parking is available behind the Avondale Library. More free parking is available on city streets.

Disclaimer: This walk is along public roads and includes historical facts about the buildings and the area. Most of the sites are private businesses or homes. Please respect the environment and do not trespass on private property. Neither Auckland Council nor private property owners accept responsibility for any loss, damage, or injury to you or your property arising from use of this tour.

Copyright 2022 Auckland Council. Auckland Council holds all copyrights associated with this tour. You may not copy or reproduce the content of this tour without permission from Auckland Council. Auckland Council has taken every care to ensure that the information contained in this tour is accurate, but accepts no responsibility arising from, or in connection with, your use of this tour and the information contained in it.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

The first public library in Avondale was opened on 21 May 1873 and resided in the Avondale Public Hall, which appears later in this tour. In 1887, library services in Avondale ceased due to the lack of funding. The Avondale Borough attempte... Read more
In 1894, the land on which these buildings now stand was transferred to Thomas and Rebecca Grubb, who opened a bakery on the corner site, which operated until 1905. Daniel Robertson bought the land and buildings in 1909 and ran a general st... Read more
We know from early maps of the district in the 1860s that across the Rosebank Road from where you stand now was the site of the Greytown Hotel. Taking advantage of proximity to a natural spring flowing down the hill from what is now the ra... Read more
This building was the first purpose-built Post Office in Avondale. Prior to 1938, the Post Office had been part of general stores (from 1863), the railway station (until 1912), and was housed in the former Avondale Hotel (1912–1938). The ... Read more
This was once the site of the Avondale Methodist Church, which first opened its doors on 22 May 1904. By 1972, the congregations of the local Methodist and Presbyterian churches had declined so much that they could not individually support ... Read more
Architect Hugh Grierson designed the Station Store, built in 1912. A second storey was added by 1913 providing living quarters. It has been a grocers, drapers, and dairy over the years. G. J. Philip ran the store in 1913, advertising “Mer... Read more
This block built in 1915 by Frederick Bluck and his son, Frederick Gordon Bluck, was opposite the station on Browne Street. Bluck set up “Fred Bluck & Son” land agents in the block. Fred Bluck’s career included being a Justice of ... Read more
The idea of the North Auckland railway line passing through Whau was first proposed around 1870. Geographic obstacles, a low population in West Auckland, and political interference delayed the identification of the right-of-way until 1876. ... Read more
The Avondale Primary School was opened on its present site on 30 May 1882. Prior to this, classes were held first at St Ninian’s Church (from 1860) and the Public Hall (from 1867). The site was purchased from H. Hassell for £110, and Wil... Read more
The first formal Anglican services in Avondale were held in 1874 at the Public Hall. In that year, the congregation committee agreed to accept the offer by Avondale hotelkeeper James Palmer of land bounded by New North Road and Palmer Stree... Read more
The Public Hall was built in 1867 by local resident William Forsyth, funded from proceeds of special concerts staged by the Whau Minstrels (a group of workers from the Gittos tannery). It was designed by another local, Mr. Holloway. In 1868... Read more
The Public Hall was on this site from 1867 until it was shifted to its present position beside the Town Hall building. This has been a site for community meetings and entertainment continuously since the 19th century. In January 1915, the s... Read more
St Ninian’s Church is Avondale’s oldest building. Construction on the Presbyterian church started on 14 November 1859, and opening services were held on Easter, 8 April 1860. The building was built atop scoria boulders and constructed u... Read more
In November 1916, around 100 men from the Avondale district were in active service. By the war’s end, at least 200 men from the district had actively taken part in the war. Local schools, residents, and businesses supported the war effort... Read more
The site of today’s KFC, Coffee Club, and Domino’s Pizza was once the stables for two important local hotels. In 1873, James Palmer utilised the strategic position of this location at the Five Roads intersection (the modern-day Avondale... Read more
There have been two hotels on this site: James Palmer’s hotel, destroyed by fire (1873–1888), and Moss Davis’ hotel, demolished in 1967. The hotels here were the heart of central Avondale, the site of town meetings, a traveller’s re... Read more
Completed in 1903, and designed by John Currie, this building began as the Avondale branch of the A. W. Page grocery and supply business based at Kingsland. It was the beginning of the suburb’s first purpose-built modern shopping centre. ... Read more
From 1906 to 1996, this was the site of the Avondale Police Station, designed by Charles Ranken Vickerman, the district engineer. Plans for the buildings, the lockup, and a stable were prepared by the Public Works office. The stable and loc... Read more
Robert Joseph Allely purchased the land where this building stands in 1911 from William Hanson Blayney. This is the earliest two-storey retail building in Avondale, and it replaced an earlier timber shop on the site. Allely had his chemist ... Read more
Across Great North Road is the site of Trigg & Danes coach building shop. Charles Alfred Trigg was a bicycle repairer by trade, with sign writing as a side specialty. In 1916, he and Jerome Danes established at this location an early se... Read more
In the early 1920s, a type of Australian huntsman spider (Delena cancerides) appeared in Avondale. It was surmised that it must have arrived as a stowaway from Australia and then was transported over the railway to Avondale. As a result, th... Read more
The Avondale Jockey Club was founded in 1888. In the beginning, the racetrack was not completely fenced, and simple poles were placed at intervals as course markers. The original grandstand was built on the southern side near Wingate Street... Read more
The New Zealand Herald reported in January 1926 on the planned construction of 'two large blocks of shops' at the Great North–Rosebank Roads intersection—one of these is thought to be Excelsior Chambers. Early businesses in the block i... Read more
The Unity Building across the road was completed in 1932, the year that trams came to Avondale, and was intended by the building’s owner, William John Tait, to take full advantage of the proximity of the new tram terminus. It is the only... Read more


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