Until 1944, only the nominated ratepayer in a household could vote in County elections and at that time Waitemata County included Castor Bay, the rest of the East Coast Bays, Albany, Greenhithe, Glenfield and northern parts of what is now Birkenhead and Northcote. From at least 1867 to the 1910s most had known Castor Bay as Castor Oil Bay, after the castor oil trees grown there. However, from the 1910s the name ‘Castor Bay’ also started to be used, especially when the area was being opened up for development. The Castor Oil Bay Land Company, which sold property in the area, was registered in 1915 and was wound up in 1933 in the middle of an economic slump.
A number of early Castor Bay ratepayers also lived in other parts of Auckland and regarded their Castor Bay property as a holiday home. However, this didn’t prevent them from being active in promoting roads and other services in the area. In 1923 local ratepayers joined in with the Takapuna Citizens’ and Ratepayers’ Association to lobby both the Takapuna Borough and Waitemata County Councils for better local services. In 1924, they became part of the Castor, Campbells and Murrays Bays (at that time Mairangi was called Little Murrays) Ratepayers’ Association to lobby Waitemata County.
Finally, at a meeting on 20 September 1930, local ratepayers decided to form their own Castor Bay Ratepayers’ Association, and had that incorporated on 30 September 1930. Their aims were simply to develop Castor Bay in the interest of the local ratepayers. They already had the nearby examples of the Milford Ratepayers’ Association, which had been formed in May 1923 with the purposes of conserving and supervising local beaches, promoting a new school in the area and lobbying for better postal facilities. The boundaries of that Association stretched from the Takapuna Borough border with Castor Bay down to Brett Avenue and Smales Corner (the corner of Northcote and Taharoto Roads).
However, the initial enthusiasm on the part of Castor Bay ratepayers waned and the Association was wound up on 27 February 1937, following a public meeting on 17 November 1936. The constitution of this older Association was then used as the basis for a new Castor Bay Ratepayers’ Association from 16 November 1938.
The new Association promoted better road access to the area, a public telephone (back when most people didn’t have a telephone at home), better access to the beach, more frequent buses (a vital means of getting to and from the ferries and hence Auckland), a bus shelter at the Castor Bay terminus and increased street lighting. They also worked with the Campbells Bay Progressive Association to urge the County to reform Beach Road through Castor Bay, Campbells Bay and on to Browns Bay. That work was completed by December 1940. Commodore Parry Road was formerly part of Beach Road and was renamed in the late 1930s.
At first, the Association managed the tea kiosk at Castor Bay beach, but this was later vested in Waitemata County after a local “difference of opinion and management”. The tank traps on that beach, erected in the early part of the Second World War, were later removed as well. In late 1943, the Association joined in with other ratepayers’ associations to form the East Coast Bays Central Committee, to better lobby the Waitemata County. In 1944, Waitemata County had 8,500 ratepayers and of those, 2,400 lived in what was the Takapuna Riding.
In May 1948, the Association was renamed the Castor Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, to acknowledge the wider franchise on the County, and members affirmed the need to keep the County “up to the mark”. In 1954 Castor Bay residents were successful in lobbying to become part of nearby Takapuna Borough.
Minutes of the Castor Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association are held at Takapuna Library and cover the period 1938 to 2001. Unfortunately, the Minute book for the period from 6 October 1955 to 17 February 1966 is missing, although there is a brief summary of events for that period.
By David Verran