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Burgin Field: Tribute to an outstanding woman leader

Have you ever wondered as you drive up West Coast Road what is the Burgin Field, situated on the site of the old Girl Guide stronghold, Otimai?

The symbol of guiding on the sign gives a clue. Burgin Field is named after Mona Burgin, one of the shapers of the Girl Guiding movement in New Zealand.

Born on the Isle of Man in 1903, Mona came to New Zealand as a six-year-old. She trained as a teacher, taught at Dilworth School for over 30 years and was headmistress of Hilltop, private girls’ school, when she retired in 1968.

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Flames raze Dutch Kiwi

In the “swinging 60s”, the leafy hills of Waitakere were one of the few places Aucklanders could enjoy a wine or cocktail with a meal. Down in Oratia was the Harres’ Town & Coun- try Roadhouse located in the old Parr homestead, Albion Vale. Up West Coast Road was the Lanes’ Back o’ the Moon. And Rolf Feijen and his partner H Romyen ran one of the first licensed restaurants in Auckland when they converted the old Waiatarua Boarding House (then in flats) into the smart and fashionable Dutch Kiwi Restaurant

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View of a section of a wooden bush tramway over a small gully in the Waitakere Ranges. This was the tramway for Mander and Bradley's sawmill which was situated in the upper Nihotupu Stream valley. Historical note: For more information about Mander and Bradley's mill see Ben Copedo's research document: Mander and Bradley's Sawmill Workings in the Upper Nihotupu Valley, 1895-1899, (2011).Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections JTD-08C-01037-1

Mander & Bradley’s timber mill at Nihotupu

The timber firm of Mander & Bradley milled Nihotupu. Francis “Frank” Mander and Samuel Bradley were principals of the company. They bought the rights to mill Wasley’s bush in 1895 from a firm called Clinkard & McLeod who had acquired it from the Wasley family in 1890.

Mander was Onehunga-born and started his working life at 10 years of age. He was in his mid-40s when the Nihotupu operation started, but this was not his first timber-milling venture; he was a lifelong timber man and had already milled at Awhitu, Kaipara and the Northern Wairoa. Mander was later a Member of Parliament and newspaper proprietor.

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The Waiatarua Tunnels

The distribution of our newsletter must be effective and widespread (congratulations Tony Bacon). Since my letter in the March newsletter about mystery tunnels found in Waiatarua I have been contacted, from Waihi where he now lives, by Peter Beveridge, son of Bill Beveridge. Bill was a park ranger between 1970 and 1990 who, in recognition of his extensive knowledge of all things relating to the Waitakere Ranges became colloquially known as “Mr Waitakere”.

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