During World War II the threat of enemy ships making use of anchorages in the subantarctic islands led the New Zealand War Cabinet to authorise the 'Cape Expedition'. The Cape Expedition required coastwatchers to man two stations in the Auckland Islands group and one station at Campbell Island for 12 months at a time, keeping watch for vessels and contacting New Zealand by radio if any were seen.
Prefabricated huts were shipped to the Auckland Island in 1941 and erected at Port Ross in the north and Carnley Harbour at the south end of the island. Both harbours were considered potentially important rendezvous and watering points for enemy navy vessels.
Tagua Coastwatchers Lookout Hut
The station complexes consisted of a base hut, ancillary huts, storage sheds and workshop, long drops, radio masts, landing areas and tracks, all hidden from the sea in rata forest. On a vantage point above the station a camouflage lookout hut, 3 m square, was located from which the eastern entrance of Carnley Harbour could be surveyed.
Tagua No. 2 Station at Carnley Harbour was manned by 4–5 men from 1941 until it was disbanded in May 1944. Although much of the Tagua station is in an advanced state of decay, the lookout hut survives. It is a simple weather board construction, with a bitumen roof, and retains its camouflage colours.
- Coastwatching stations around the Pacific and Cape Expedition
- Historical photo of coastwatchers
- Government services
- Defending New Zealand
- Turbott, G., 2002. Year Away: Wartime Coastwatching on the Auckland Islands, 1944 (PDF, 462K)
- Dingwall, P, Jones, K, and Egerton R, In Care of the Southern Ocean, An archaeological and historical survey of the Auckland Islands, New Zealand Archaeological Association Monograph 27, Auckland, 2009.