A very happy 45th birthday to Times

GOOD TIMES: Marianne Kelly, the Times’ former deputy editor, recently retired to the winterless north. She and partner Tony are loving Kerikeri. Photo supplied.

Former Times reporter Marianne Kelly offers her personal recollections.

Regional immigrants to Auckland, as I was in the early 70s, will remember their first visit to Howick village through the country paddocks of Pakuranga on a narrow two-lane concrete road.

These days, as I cover well-worn tracks, my thoughts often drift to the way places or landmarks looked then compared with now.

Brought up on a Taranaki farm, my choice of route to the Auckland CBD from Howick was frequently through the farms of Chapel Road; via an intersection with East Tamaki Road, now wiped out by the East Tamaki Central Arterial route established in 1998.

The farms are long gone, taken over by Botany Town Centre and the ever advancing rumble of Flat Bush housing.

In 1974 our small Times team ran a major feature on the opening of the new Tamaki River Bridge running from Ti Rakau Drive to the Waipuna Road side of the estuary.

Now as I drive over it I remember the day we locals joined the Italian contractors, New Zealand Government bureaucrats and other dignatories in a leisurely walk over the much longed-for alternative route across the river.

It was big news for us when Hieber Construction announced it would build Howickville, always known as “the Hieber building”.

Yes, the same building that became a green monstrosity before it was redeveloped into the swanky apartments and retail outlets of The Terraces in Fencible Drive.

Equally exciting was the Marine Hotel’s change of name to The Prospect of Howick in 1977, including the introduction of a new flash style of dining at Major Percival Peacocke’s restaurant.

With the arrival of current proprietor Barry O’Shaughnessy, the establishment morphed into GBS and now The Good Home. But it’s always good to know the old Marine’s legacy has been preserved to an extent in Bosun’s Bar, one of the few pub bars in Auckland these days where tradies can wear their work boots.

Those early days of civic leadership were dominated by the Howick Borough Council (HBC) and Councillor Morrin Cooper who became the Mayor and in the early days was a frequent visitor to the Times offices upstairs in Rices’ Mall.

While he bowed out in 1989 when HBC was absorbed by Manukau City Council, to this day he’s known as “Howick’s popular Mayor”.

I have two sentimental sites that I wrote about which have been changed forever by the unstoppable developers’ march through Flat Bush.

The Tudor Park horse stud in Somerville Road, given the name of Ramona by new owners in 1979, was sold for housing in 1997. When I drive by I remember that it was the home of Taipan II who, in 1994, I reported for the Times was New Zealand’s third leading thoroughbred sire.

Also Carlyle Stud in Ormiston Road, sold for residential property development in 2009.

My memories are of Carlyle’s remarkable thoroughbred sire Zamazaan who died in 1990. When I wrote about the loss of the property my heart filled with sadness to look at his burial site under an oak tree on Somerville Road. We wondered whether his grave would also disappear under the bulldozers.

But while there are moments to quietly reflect on the way it was, there is also room for triumph.

No more than when in May 2010, the Times took its “Our Place Our Name” petition to the steps of Parliament where the name for the new Auckland SuperCity ward in the south-east was changed to “Howick” from “Te Irirangi”.

By: Marianne Kelly