Date: 10 December 2020
A soft launch took place earlier this week with a blessing from local iwi, Ngāti Paoa. A number of Waiheke locals present for the launch were invited to explore the newly opened tunnels, which formed part of the coastal defence gun emplacements installed at the height of the Second World War.
Department of Conservation Senior Ranger, Caleb Hamilton says “Tim Moon, alongside Treaty Partner Ngāti Paoa, have done an excellent job of preparing this historic site for public access. We are delighted the public will once again have access to one of New Zealand’s most important and engaging heritage structures built during WWII.”
Speaking of his passion and motivation to reopen the tunnels, archaeologist Tim Moon says, “Back in the day, I used to trek across Man O’ War Farm roads and adventure into the abandoned tunnel system that holds a great part of New Zealand history. I thought it was so cool that it was built in secret with the sole purpose of protecting our largest city from attack.”
“I have loved the opportunity to reopen the Fort so that the public can visit and pay homage to its architectural and engineering genius.”
Public guided walks will commence from late December and will include a 60-minute guided walk through the 1.2 km network of tunnels with stories about their purpose and construction.
Caleb says, “We want people visiting the site to have a safe and full experience about this significant piece of our history. We commend Tim and iwi on the commitment to restore this Heritage1 classified site.”
Fort Stony Batter on Waiheke Island was built during the Second World War as a part of a series of coastal gun emplacements around the Hauraki Gulf for the defence of Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland. The tunnels were decommissioned and deserted after the war when New Zealand was no longer under threat of invasion.
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