Previously I have written about Sir Frederick Whitaker, Dr Carl Franz ‘Frank’ Fischer and Henry Hopper Adams, all of whom owned land on the south western side of Lake Pupuke at different times. Another local resident was Stanier Henry Burningham, who was baptised on 7 December 1837 in Burstow, Surrey, and served in the Royal Navy in both the Crimea and India. Burningham arrived in Auckland in 1860, worked as a ship's captain and ship-owner and married in Matakana in 1862. He and his family were living in Devonport in 1887, and by 1890 were living in Takapuna in a house called Taharoto near Lake Pupuke. Taharoto is Māori for lake side. The captain died 22 August 1896 with the house and property initially put up for rent, before being purchased by Henry Hopper Adams in 1897.
Nevertheless, surviving members of the Burningham family continued to live on the property. Stanier's wife Margery died at Taharoto on 31 March 1909, and was buried with Stanier in O'Neills Point Cemetery. However, no executor had been appointed for Margery's will. A son who also lived on the property, Henry Stanier (Harry) Burningham, then became the administrator of the family estate, but he died on 13 February 1911. The administration of the estate then passed to another brother and a daughter and the link between Taharoto and the Burningham family then ceased.
In the meantime, Adam's thirty-three and a quarter acre Taharoto Estate was put up for sale in May 1911, but for the moment was passed in. Adams needed money to keep his Coromandel mining interests solvent and around October 1911 he sold to a fellow member of the Takapuna Tramways and Ferry Company's Board of Directors, Captain James Smith. Smith then subdivided the property into seventy-five sections, bounded by present day Taharoto Road, Killarney Street, Pupuke Road and both sides of Rangatira Avenue. Adams died on 14 May 1928.
In April 1912, 76 sections were offered for sale, including what had been Henry Hopper Adams' residence on two and a quarter acres near the corner of Ngaio and Taharoto Roads. Proximity to the newly opened tram line was a strong feature in the sales promotions. Taharoto Road was renamed by the Takapuna Borough Council from Lake Road in November 1914.
In October 1919 there was a new advertising campaign to sell the remaining 54 sections. The estate was described as now being bound by five road frontages on Taharoto and Pupuke Roads, and Killarney Street, along with new Titoki and Cathcart Avenues running through the estate, parallel with nearby Ngaio Street (see map). By 1920, newspaper advertisements claimed only ten sections were left on Killarney and Cathcart.
Smith died 20 July 1923 aged seventy-six, and on 31 October 1923, the Takapuna Borough Council decided to purchase ten acres for a recreation reserve from what was Smith's estate. The Council paid 2,000 pounds by a loan over eight to ten years at 6% interest, but declined a futher adjoining 33 nearby acres from Smith's estate in November 1923.
The Council initially planned two cricket pitches and a separate rugby ground for what was now Taharoto Road Park and in March 1924 the Takapuna Rugby Football Club was granted a playing area there. In September 1924, the Council also confirmed 100 pounds towards further improvements. At that time, the park was also in use as a horse paddock, and the Council had both an animal pound just across the road and a nearby storehouse.
In December 1924, the Council tried to interest the Education Department in the park as the site for the proposed Takapuna Grammar School. If the government had purchased that site, the Council wanted to use the money to instead purchase Smith's Bush. However, Devonport residents regarded the Park site, and some other Takapuna area sites, as too far to travel as the majority of North Shore students lived in Devonport. Ultimately, the Education Department picked the present St Leonards Road site, opening the Grammar School in 1927. The 'what ifs' of history are interesting, imagine the implications if Takapuna Grammar had been on Taharoto Road?