Historian’s legacy on video

A series of videos centred on Howick Historian Alan La Roche were filmed in the first half of 2021, with one interview or subject covered each month.

The Howick & Districts Historical Society has sponsored a series of videos by Howick Historian Alan La Roche in recognition of his expertise and dedication to heritage and historical matters in and around east Auckland with a focus on Howick.

Society president Marin Burgess said La Roche’s development of the Howick Historical Village in Lloyd Elsmore Park, which opened 1980, cemented the story of the arrival of the Fencible families to Owairoa/Howick 175 years ago and provides a huge legacy for the local and wider Auckland population.

“The Howick community does not fully understand the debt it owes Alan for the many years – far in excess of 50 – he has spent researching, recording, painting, sketching, talking, writing, walking, placing historical plaques and generally making sure Howick’s heritage, both Māori and European, is acknowledged and remembered,” Burgess said.

“It is a fortunate community that has such an active and engaged historian in its midst and Alan relating his history in the series of videos commissioned by the society is a fitting tribute to such an unparalleled contribution.”

Recorded locally, the videos offer a unique and personal perspective of La Roche’s life and how his interest in history, archaeology, geology and, most of all, people translated into a life-long commitment.

PJ (Phil) Taylor, who interviewed La Roche through the video series, said Coralie La Roche, Alan’s wife, project-managed the production. “She worked very hard with Alan and for many hours prepared the research material and scripts,” said Taylor.

“Alan has done something every day for this Howick community since he was able, which is going on 80 years.

“He is the epitome of what is great about community, with the philosophy of doing good and right for his fellow citizens and environment. He is the greatest volunteer this area has known.

“He has preserved and recorded Howick’s history and our community should be forever grateful, especially when strolling and learning at the Howick Historical Village, or when admiring trees in our many public reserves. Chances are, he probably planted them.”

Dion Edwards, of Digital Mix, a Howick business, filmed the interviews with two cameras, lighting and set up the recording desk and equipment for Ashleigh King to record. Ashleigh had just graduated from Botany Downs Secondary College.

“It was an absolute pleasure to work with Alan, Coralie, Phil, Ashleigh and Marin to deliver this project,” said Edwards.

  • The videos, “Alan La Roche – My History” can be viewed on the Howick Historical Village website www.historicalvillage.org under ‘About’