Mainly West of Queen Street - seen through my lens

Location Signs: Henderson

Location Signs: Henderson North

Location Signs: Henderson North

This sign by tile artist Jan Morrison (1994) stands at the northern entrance to Henderson (map), where Great North Road crosses the Opanuku stream. The minutes of the Henderson Community Board tell us that this as well as its southern counterpart is an “Entry Statement”, constructed at the time of the Henderson 150th Celebration.

The predominant theme is a celebration of the local viticulture, with a fantail flitting into the frame from the left.

1844 marks the year when Thomas Henderson and his brother-in-law John MacFarlane reached an agreement with local Maori regarding the transfer of a block of land. In the years that followed, this became a centre for milling kauri obtained from the Waitakere ranges (“Henderson’s Mill”); the developing settlement later became known as Henderson. One may well wonder with the Timespanner blog if this date of 1844 can legitimately be construed to be the ‘founding’ of Henderson. It would be interesting to know if there were analogous celebrations 50 or 100 years earlier; maybe it was simply time for a good party in 1994…

At the Southern entry point of Henderson, by the bridge of Great North Road over the Oratia Stream (map) stands a corresponding sign:

Location Signs: Henderson South

Location Signs: Henderson South

This sign is also by Jan Morrison (1994). It was vandalised a year after its installation, but restored in 2002 thanks to the generosity of local businessman Ross Harvey.

On this entry statement we find kowhai blossom and a tui on the top, with the grapes acknowledging the winemaking tradition of the region.


  1. Lisa Truttman

    Thanks for giving me the heads up re your post here, and thanks for the link to Timespanner. John Macfarlane apparently had little to do with any trading deal with Ngati Whatua for the land in 1844 — the Maori asked Governor FitzRoy for permission to sell the land, the Governor said he would if he got the right survey plans etc., and received nothing that was to his satisfaction, or that of his successor Grey. It ended up that while Thomas Henderson was allowed to continue logging, with the government leaving him alone due to the complex situation, the company Henderson & Macfarlane didn’t get any title until the Great North Road needed to go through, in 1855. If anything, that should be the true “founding” date, as from that point, Henderson & Macfarlane subdivided what little they could claim from the original deal, and true settlement began.

    Waitakere City Council obviously felt they needed a sesquicentenary celebration in 1994. Good on them though for doing something to mark heritage. I just wish they hadn’t stuck a rather ugly and out of place plaque for that celebration on the gravestone of Thomas Henderson in Symonds Street cemetery.

  2. paul

    Thanks for the historical clarification, Lisa, much appreciated. And “sesquicentenary celebration” is a much more respectable term than just “party”, why didn’t I think of that?

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