My parents and I became members of the North Shore Historical Society in the very early 1990s, and at that time there were over a hundred members at meetings. Over the years we listened to memorable and enthusiastic speakers and went on interesting bus trips around the greater Auckland area, as well as Thames, the Coromandel Peninsula and Northland. Sometimes there were two or three full buses. Some trips extended further around the North and South Islands, as well as visits to Norfolk Island, Australia and even China.
During the 1990s, the meeting venue changed from the Mary Thomas Centre to what is now the Taitamariki Hall in Auburn Street and then from the late 1990s to the Senior Citizen's Hall next to Takapuna Library. My late mother served on the committee for a few years and then I was its president from 2006 to 2010. My wife Susan was then president from 2010 to 2012 (the only woman president) and the current President John Webster has been in office since then. Over the years I have seen many other office holders come and go, and a host of members. Most have now moved on or sadly died.
The society was originally formed in 1976, but had been from at least 1974 the North Shore Branch of the Auckland Historical Society. Geographically it covered the old Takapuna City Council area, but also welcomed members from outside those rather restrictive boundaries. However, we are now in the process of winding up the North Shore Historical Society, with a maximum of 15 members now attending meetings. The society gave up on organising trips some years ago, due to insufficient interest, and the number of available speakers has also lessened.
The common theme of an interest in North Shore history, and history in general, has led to many society projects. These included funding plaques at both St Joseph's and The Lake House Arts Centre, along with one featuring the historic trams which is to be reinstalled in Waiwharariki/Anzac Square when work there is completed. The society has also funded awards at some local schools for history students, the book 'Takapuna; people and places' (1989), technology at Takapuna Library, as well as regional newspaper, photographic and archival conservation.
The preservation of oral histories was also important to the society, with a number of speakers having their talks recorded and those tapes lodged with Takapuna Library. There are 125 such talks listed on Auckland Libraries' list of oral histories on Kura Heritage Collections Online.
This column is to pay tribute to all those who have been a part of the society over the years, both office holders and members. We had our last Annual General Meeting in May and in late June had the second of two General Meetings as required to wind up the society. We are now dealing with the disposal of remaining assets and liaising with the Registrar of Incorporated Societies.
We are also encouraging our members to become more active with the Devonport Historical and Museum Society, the Birkenhead Heritage Society and its museum at Farrington House in Mahara Avenue, and the Torbay Historical Society with its Vaughan Homestead.