On 20 June 1864 a government report on the treatment of sick and wounded Māori prisoners from the Waikato claimed that a suitable “building on the North Shore is in course of erection”. The narrow piece of land to the south of what is now Stanley Bay Park remained government land and was the site for a prison hospital used in conjunction with the hulk ‘Marion’, which was moored in Waitemata Harbour.
The hospital site was actually in use from 2 June 1864. Penetita Te Wharaunga, was captured at Rangiawhia, sent to the hulk ‘Marion’ on 26 March 1864 and with 21 others was moved on 2 June to the “Native Hospital” on the North Shore, where he died of consumption on 13 June. Similarly, Karaka Tuaraiti was captured at Rangiriri, placed on the ‘Marion’ on 24 December 1863, and died on the North Shore on 21 June, while Rangi Te Kingi died there on 25 June. All were buried in the Anglican section of Symonds Street Cemetery, with their precise location unknown. The remaining prisoners on the ‘Marion’ were moved to Kawau Island in August 1864.
The building on the hospital site was then upgraded to house the large number of immigrants coming into Auckland, before moving to their allotted lands in the North and Waikato.
However, concern was raised by the authorities in Cape Colony about a particular group of 160 immigrants, who had arrived in Auckland on 15 October 1864 on the passenger ship ‘Steinwarder’ and “maintained in idleness in the immediate vicinity of a public house on the North Shore”. The government reported on 18 November 1864 that the immigrants were in fact “well fed and well lodged”, with some working in their various trades on the city side while others were paid by the government to work on building the North Shore’s ‘Immigration Barracks’. It was also acknowledged that were the immigrants to be in ‘tents’ on the city side they would be in close proximity to no less than 50 public houses in downtown Auckland.
The immigrants were described in the same November report as being “housed in the [corrugated] iron building on the North Shore, which was formerly erected for the Māori prisoners”, with that building requiring “great alteration in order to render it suitable for the accommodation of so many persons”. Ultimately, the Barracks was to house up to 200 people. A wash-house, cook-house and two water closets had been added to the 140-foot long oblong building with wooden framing, which was in three sections. One was set aside for young men, the middle one as an eating area and the third set up in cabins for families. Nine water tanks had also been supplied and a well sunk for additional water. A small jetty was also about to be finished to land stores for the Barracks.
Nevertheless, the Member of Parliament for the Northern Division James O’Neill, who was also the owner of the adjoining land on Stanley Point itself, asked in Parliament on 12 December 1864 as to when the immigrants were to be removed. He described them as a “great expense to the country, and literally doing no good”.
As of February 1865, there were four separate Immigrant Barracks in Auckland; 30 people were still at the North Shore Barracks, while there were 68 at Newton, 98 at Official Bay and 22 in Shortland Street. Later, there was also a 150-foot long and 25-foot wide corrugated iron Immigration Barracks at Onehunga, which could take 140 people. By June 1865 the ‘Southern Cross’ newspaper reported that the North Shore Barracks was “almost empty” and likely to be either leased or sold. The site’s use as a prison hospital and then immigration barracks was now over.
By David Verran