On 13 July 1852, the government gifted a grant of occupancy to Eruera Patuone of around 110 acres of Crown Land in the Takapuna area to secure the northern border of Auckland. This was at the same time as the Fencible settlements of Otahuhu, Panmure, Onehunga and Howick, and Te Wherowhero’s Māori Militia and their 485 acres at Mangere, all securing Auckland’s southern border.
Patuone’s 110 acres were divided into four Lots. Lots 29 to 31 fronted Takapuna Beach, from the present-day Strand to Hauraki Road, while Lot 32 included the Esmonde Road area. This land allowed Patuone and his whanau access to sea fish, cockles, sea eggs and shark from Shoal Bay and the Rangitoto Channel. There were also eels, wild duck and teal from Lake Pupuke. Initially the gift of land was for his lifetime, but in 1866 this was then confirmed in the names of two of his sons (Hohaia Patuone and Hone Waka - who died in 1869), in recognition of Patuone’s role in securing the northern boundaries of the town of Auckland during the New Zealand Wars.
There was at least one land sale and one mortgage taken out on his North Shore property before Patuone’s death in May 1872, when leadership of his kainga (village) passed to Timoti Patuone, an atawhai or adopted son, who died in 1896. In an 1878 Census of Māori there were still 19 Ngapuhi and Ngati Hao living in the area.
In November 1888, Hohaia Patuone (Eruera Patuone’s eldest son), Ema Nohomai Tawhiti (Hohaia was her great uncle) and Eru Nehua (who had married Hohaia’s eldest daughter) readily agreed to William Joseph Napier becoming the nominal owner and trustee for around 38 acres in the Esmonde Road area. Napier was a barrister, a Devonport resident, and was Sir George Grey’s lawyer, hence trusted by Māori to act as their legal agent. This land was at first available just for lease, but later made available for sale and a mortgage raised by the Nehua family.
Following a default of that mortgage, Napier then bought the property from the mortgagors and later purchased the remainder of the Esmonde Road property directly. He then transferred ownership of those acres to his wife Henrietta in 1893 and 1895 respectively.
The ‘Observer’ and ‘New Zealand Herald’ of 23 March 1912 both started the advertisements for the new Lakelands Estate. Napier had long lobbied for better transport access to the area, including supporting a Shoal Bay canal to Barrys Point in 1891, the ultimately successful renovation of Takapuna Wharf in 1895 and from 1907 was an enthusiastic supporter of the projected Bayswater tramway, which opened on 22 December 1910.
Well-known auctioneers Samuel Vaile and Sons offered half of the plots at 10% deposit, later 10 Pounds. The Estate had been subdivided into 112 sections and roads named with those of Mr and Mrs Napier’s sons; Esmonde, Eldon and Harley, as well as Napier Avenue. Esmonde Road was formally dedicated in 1914, while Eldon, Napier and Harley were dedicated in 1912.
The auctioneers of the Lakelands Estate promoted the sea view, access to the ‘Lake Beach’, large sites, proximity to the Bayswater tram and targeted ‘businessmen’ who “prefer to have seclusion from the city after business hours”. However, not all were taken up immediately. The mid-1913 map of Takapuna Borough has only a few houses in the Gibbons Road area, part of a sale of 15 acres in 1882, and another right on the promontory at the lower end of Esmonde Road. That house was lived in by Esmonde Napier.
Sales in the Lakelands estate continued after the First World War, and in 1919 four plots were sold on Esmonde Road and Napier Avenue averaging 196 Pounds each. There was also an auction of ‘unsold lots’ in March 1923.
An analysis of Takapuna Borough Council’s Building Permit Register from 1913 to 1932 shows that most of the building permits for houses on Esmonde Road and Napier Avenue dated at least from the 1920s. Harley Road was developed a little earlier.
My thanks to the Napier family
By David Verran