Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Big 175 Week is here!

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Rev Dr Richard Waugh addressing the Howick 175 luncheon on Saturday. Photo Shona Kebble FPSNZ
  • By Rev Dr Richard Waugh

175 years ago this coming week, our Howick/East Auckland community had its settler beginnings with the arrival of the first Fencible families at Waipaparoa/Howick Beach.

Eventually, 2463 Fencible family members arrived (702 Fencibles, 547 wives and 1214 children) in what was an early migration scheme not long after the Treaty of Waitangi.

At the same time, the Fencible families almost doubled the settler population of infant Auckland!

Many of the Fencible families were Irish and were escaping from the famine; others were simply hoping for a better life. About 50 per cent of the Fencibles could not read or write.

The voyage from England by sailing ship was not for the faint-hearted with some of the ships making the trip non-stop in a long four-month voyage and with a number of deaths onboard, including children.

Some ask what does ‘Fencible’ mean?  The word is officially used in the title of ‘The Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps’ and comes from the Scottish word ‘defensible’.

Of the four Auckland villages settled by Fencible families – Panmure, Onehunga, Otahuhu and Howick, today only Howick remembers and acknowledges its Fencible beginnings.

Throughout the district many street names, sport grounds, organisations and places commemorate Fencible history.

Certainly, it is a sign of a healthy and informed community when its local history is well-known; Maori and Pakeha.

Do visit the informative Ngai Tai website our 175 resources at and the excellent Howick Historical Village website at

East Auckland is one of the best places in Auckland to live; many coastal delights, amongst the best schools, excellent churches, fine sporting amenities, appealing Howick main street shopping and nearby big malls and large public parks.

With about 50 per cent of our population being migrants, many people can identify with the first settlers arriving 175 years ago.

This coming highlight weekend is the culmination of much planning and voluntary work over the past two years.

I pay tribute to fellow 175 trustees Morrin Cooper MBE, Jim Donald and Alan La Roche MBE and our hard-working 175 committee (especially secretary Philippa McGimpsey and heritage co-ordinator Marin Burgess), committee members, sub-committee groups, our 175 ambassadors and many others.

We gratefully acknowledge our many sponsors, especially acknowledging the key support of the Howick Local Board, the Polish Museum, Bayleys and Times Newspapers.

This weekend we have our free community picnic at Waipaparoa/Howick Beach, Pop-Up classic Car Display, Fencible families’ plaque unveiling at Fencible Walk Park, and a Civic Service at All Saints with the historic 1847 Church building being open to the public.

Do visit the Howick Historical Village on Sunday for a memorable live day with the theme “Settling In” and featuring special Fencible stories from all four early settlements.

I would say Howick & districts is Auckland’s most historically conscious place.

  • Rev Dr Richard Waugh is Chairman of the Howick & Districts 175th Anniversary 1847 to 2022 Committee

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