The Times is turning 45: Farmland gives way to progress

TEAM TIMES: Times managing director Reay Neben (centre, front) with husband Brian and the current Times team. The company this week celebrates its 45th anniversary. Times photo Wayne Martin.

Times Newspapers’ owner and managing director Reay Neben has seen a good deal of change since founding the Howick & Pakuranga Times 45 years ago.

Howick and Pakuranga Times is celebrating its 45th birthday, prompting me to reflect on what it has meant to be the publisher of such a long-standing local newspaper.

My first thought is that we wouldn’t have made it without a dedicated team, loyal advertisers and our die-hard readers.

But, looking back, what changes I have seen. While we can all focus on the huge population spurt of recent years, I remember the 70s as another time of growth when Bucklands Beach, Highland Park and Howick burgeoned.

Bucklands Beach peninsula was being subdivided, The Prince Regent side of Half Moon Bay was set for development and Neil Housing was buying up the land that is now Highland Park.

From that point, traffic on the Pakuranga Highway became super busy and went on to become busier and busier. The problem? Lots of houses and just one road in and out. Although there is now a loop route from Ti Rakau Drive to Botany and Chapel Roads, the highway remains as busy as ever.

The area had always been a boating paradise but when Half Moon Bay was being developed only those with real foresight bought a marina berth. The thinking was, ‘why use a marina when moorings in the Tamaki Estuary were just fine?’

Look at the marina now and also that at Pine Harbour. In the 70s there was only Beachlands and no Pine Harbour. We had friends living on the water at Maraetai. There were few residential homes, mostly baches and I recall feeling sorry they lived so far out in the sticks.

How things have changed! Look at Beachlands, Pine Harbour and Maraetai now – expanding at a rapid rate as is the wider district all the way to the developing Ormiston Town.

It really has been a privilege to be part of this community for 45 years, to experience the lows and highs that have brought about its success.

I was here when Howick had its own borough council and its own mayor. I experienced the growth of Manukau City Council when Auckland had four city councils and I’ve now watched the amalgamation of those councils and formation of a new SuperCity.

I’ve known several mayors, seen Howick Village become a vibrant mainstreet and watched the birth of the Highland Park Shopping Centre, Pakuranga Plaza, Meadowlands and Botany Town Centre.

I’ve seen the farmland disappear, the development of Lloyd Elsmore Park and new schools emerge.

The best part has been the people I’ve met and who still stay in touch – many of them past staff.

As Auckland celebrates 177 years, and Howick its 170th anniversary, our celebration may seem less auspicious but it’s been an exciting 45 years and now it’s onward towards our 50th in five years time.