Northern part of Point Chevalier from Meola Reef.
|Local authority||Auckland City|
|Date established||1920s (Approx.)|
|East||Westmere, Western Springs|
Point Chevalier is a suburb and peninsula in the west of the city of Auckland in the north of New Zealand. It is located five kilometres to the west of the city centre on the southern shore of the Waitemata Harbour.
The suburb stretches from the town centre / shopping area along its southern edge (on Great North Road, and near the SH16 motorway) to the tip of the peninsula in the north. Its postcode is 1022.
The suburb is situated to the north of State Highway 16 and the campus of Unitec New Zealand and to the west of the suburb of Western Springs. It is largely sited on the triangular peninsula, which extends north into the harbour for 1800 metres. The soil is mostly clay without the overlay of volcanic material which covers much of the Auckland isthmus; this means the vegetation of the area is less lush than some of the other suburbs of Auckland.
Visible from Coyle Park is Meola Reef, which is situated to the east of the Point Chevalier peninsula and bordering the suburb of Westmere. Meola Reef is an outcrop of black basalt rock which extends some distance north into the Waitemata Harbour. This is the end of the lava flow emanating from Te Tatua-a-Riukiuta, a volcano several miles south of this area. Formerly a landfill site, it has now been rehabilitated as a park and nature reserve. Other parks in the suburb include Walker Park, Eric Armshaw Reserve and Coyle Park. The latter is located at the northern tip of the peninsula.
Early history and European settlement
Before the European settlement of the Auckland isthmus in the 1840s, small Maori settlements existed in the area which later became Point Chevalier, including one at Meola Reef and a fishing settlement at Rangi-mata-rau (later Point Chevalier Beach). The latter was a staging point for shark fishing off Kauri Point on the inner Waitemata Harbour.
As the city of Auckland grew, Point Chevalier gained strategic importance as it lay on what was then the main land route out of Auckland, the Great North Road. Because of this, a military encampment was located here during the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s. The name 'Point Chevalier' comes from Captain George Robert Chevalier (1825 - 1871), a musketry instructor serving in the 65th Regiment, stationed at this camp.
The Point Chevalier area had a largely rural character up until the period between the two World Wars.
As summer destination
Coyle Park and Point Chevalier Beach were popular destinations for family outings during the interwar period, particularly in summer. Tramlines ran down Point Chevalier Road to Coyle Park, near the beach; during summer, special trams were laid on during summer to transport people from Grey Lynn, while buses brought others from Mount Albert and other suburbs in West Auckland. Following the Second World War, the combination of increased car ownership and the Auckland Harbour Bridge (1959) resulted in a complete reversal of this activity. The once crowded beach was deserted, and the various businesses that had prospered on the summer trade closed down or relocated. Whilst the tramlines were removed during the 1950s, the broadness of Point Chevalier Road - otherwise atypical for a fairly small suburb - and the paved-over roundabout terminus near Coyle Park both remain as evidence of their presence.
Due to sand loss and degradation over the 20th century, Point Chevalier Beach was resanded in 2008 with 16,000 cubic metres of sand from Pakiri Beach pumped onto the foreshore, creating a more usable beach area. The resanding has attracted larger numbers of summer visitors in the years since, making the northern part of Point Chevalier busy (and sometimes congested with vehicles) on fine weekends and holidays and at festival times.
Up until the 1980s Point Chevalier's population was largely blue-collar or elderly, the latter particularly due to the Selwyn Village retirement community (one of the largest in New Zealand). Over the 1980s and 1990s the suburb has became home to increasing numbers of young families and middle-class professionals. However, census data suggests that Point Chevalier has experienced a strong decrease in its young adult population (ages 20–34) since 2001; analysts have ascribed this to the increasing cost of housing in the central-western suburbs of Auckland.
Architecture and landmarks
The houses of the area are predominantly 1920s Californian bungalows and 1930s and 1940s Art Deco, which gives the suburb an interesting pre-war atmosphere. Rising real estate values have spurred gentrification and subdivision in recent years, particularly north of Meola Road and in locations near to the water. Towards the northern end of the peninsula there are many houses from the postwar period, and a number of larger architect-designed homes have recently appeared close to Point Chevalier Beach.
There is a certain amount of light industry located in the area, especially close to Great North Road. Up until the mid-2000s car yards were a common land use along this road.
There is a retirement community, Selwyn Village, on the western side, overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. This community is run by an Anglican church trust and includes self-contained houses and apartments, bed-sits, a hospital, and a chapel.
The main shopping area at the intersection of Point Chevalier Road and Great North Road was developed during the interwar period; the most notable of the buildings here are:
- The former cinema (1920s designed by Sinclair O'Connor) later known as the 'Ambassador' theatre (currently the Ambassador Bar).
- ASB Bank: Great North Road. This small neo-classical building is one of the many buildings commissioned by the Auckland Savings Bank from the architect Daniel B. Patterson. Similar buildings appear in Auckland suburban centres and in provincial towns throughout the Auckland Province.
- The current Point Chevalier Public Library located at the junction of Point Chevalier Road and Great North Road was opened in 1989.
- The former Point Chevalier Fire Station located on the corner of Point Chevalier Road and Tui Street. This 1920s classical style building is now occupied by a hostel.
- The former Whau Lunatic Asylum. To the south of Great North Road, across State Highway 16, lies the former psychiatric hospital. This imposing brick Italianate/Romanesque structure was the largest building in the colony when it was built. Construction began in 1865, supervised by James Wrigley using plans from Great Britain. Dr Pollen's brickworks supplied the bricks. Following a fire in 1877, the reconstruction and extension of the hospital was supervised by Philip Herepath. Notorious as the "Oakley Mental Hospital" and "Carrington Hospital", it was decommissioned during the early 1990s. The buildings are now used as a school, part of the campus of Unitec New Zealand.
- "The Old Homestead", a 19th-century wooden farmhouse, was located until 2013 at the corner of Alberta Street and Point Chevalier Road. It was removed for storage at Kumeu by its owners, the Homestead Community Church, who intended to build a new replica building on the site.
Sport and recreation
Walker Park is the home ground of the Point Chevalier Pirates club.
Home to Point Chevalier Sailing Club Inc (established in 1919) is one of the oldest sailing dinghy clubs in NZL and still very active with junior sailing programmes as well as racing.
Croquet and Bowls
The Hallyburton Johnstone Sports Complex in Dignan Street is home to the Point Chevalier Croquet and Bowling clubs.
The main primary school in the suburb is Pt Chevalier Primary School, situated on Te Ra Road with a roll of approximately 700 students. Primary aged children also attend St Francis Catholic Primary school in Montrose St.
The suburb is served by Pasadena Intermediate school in Moray Place.
Pt Chevalier is served by a large co-ed State secondary school, Western Springs College located in the nearby suburb of Western Springs. Many students also attend Auckland Girls Grammar School or Mount Albert Grammar School (co-ed). Roman Catholic students attend St Pauls' College (boys) or Saint Mary's College (girls).
- Waterview Connection - Assessment of Environmental Effects: Part C. New Zealand Transport Agency. August 2010. pp. 8.17–8.19.
- "About Selwyn Village". The Selwyn Foundation. Retrieved 2011-01-25.
- Ambassador Theatre, Auckland City Council web page
- "Pt Chevalier Sailing Club". Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- Pictures from the Past, Auckland & Northland, Terence Hodgson & A.M.Ringer. Whitcoulls, 2002.
- The Point Chevalier Hub (a private, nonprofit website about Point Chevalier)