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Mayor opens historic observation post

August 5, 2004

Mayor opens historic observation post

A second world war military building, described as one of New Zealand's most elaborate pieces of wartime camouflage, is being officially opened this Saturday, August 7, following a comprehensive refurbishment by North Shore City Council.

The Kennedy Park Observation Post, a key component in Auckland's coastal defence system during World War II, was derelict, with parts near collapse before the restoration project began.

Built in 1941 for NZ defence personnel to keep a look out for invading fleets approaching the Rangitoto Channel, the observation post was disguised as a civilian house. Its design as an early modern house camouflaged the concrete bunker like structure underneath.

The council spent $165,000 and 10 months restoring the building, with about half the project cost funded by a Lotteries Commission grant.

The building will be opened by North Shore City mayor George Wood on Saturday at 10.30 am, and will be used as a community facility.

Prior to its refurbishment, the building had been derelict for many years.

The council's community services and parks committee chairperson, Margaret Miles, says that while the concrete parts of the building were still sound, other parts of the building were near collapse.

"The wooden floor was like weetbix - the borer had eaten all they could and were long gone."

The building has been faithfully restored to its original condition, using original materials such as tongue in groove timber paneling for the walls, which had to be specially milled for the project.

"The only difference is the addition of a modern kitchenette and toilet, and a handrail on the staircase - which is needed to meet modern safety standards," Councillor Miles says.

The observation post was part of the Castor Bay Close Defence Battery, and the main battery area was transferred to the then Takapuna Borough Council in 1957 for use as a reserve. The observation post building was used by a local radio club from 1974 until 1984, and then briefly in the late 1990s by a local community trust.

The building was registered category II by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in 1995.

ENDS

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