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Weekend to highlight west Auckland heritage

Published: 14 September 2017
A member of Women’s Auxiliary Air Force scans the skies from beside the Piha radar aerial. Credit: Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

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Delve into the stories of the west at the West Auckland Heritage Conference.

At 12.25am on 9 June 1942, a loud explosion was heard across much of Auckland. It was the sound of a USAAF Boeing B17-E Flying Fortress heavy bomber exploding after crashing near Whenuapai air base.

All eleven occupants of the aircraft were killed in what was, at the time, New Zealand’s worst aircraft disaster. There has been much speculation about the nature of the secret mission that the aircraft was on, and the cause of the crash, which was attributed to pilot error.  

Robert Brassey, Principal Specialist Cultural Heritage at Auckland Council, will be one of three keynote speakers at the West Auckland Heritage Conference on Sunday 8 October. His presentation will focus on recent research on this tragic event and the results of the investigation of the crash site.

The presentation, entitled The Last Flight of Texas Tornado, will cap off a weekend of events focused on the heritage of west Auckland.

A busy line-up

On Saturday 7 October you can take a walking tour of the site of the Piha radar station, led by Waitākere Ranges Local Board member Sandra Coney. The station was part of a secret network of air force radar stations designed to protect New Zealand from invasion by the Japanese during the Second World War.

Or take a guided tour of Titirangi’s heritage sites with local historians Bruce and Trixie Harvey.

And former Waitākere City Council Mayor Sir Bob Harvey will narrate a special evening of westie home movies from family archives, clubs and local movie makers.

Black and white photograph of four young girls picking daffodils.

Daffodil farm, Titirangi, c. 1947. From left: Ann Hodge, Miss Shaw, Lynn MacLean, Irene Sharp. Mia Stein Collection.

A wonderful range of topics

“Last year’s West Auckland Heritage Conference was a great success,” says Sandra Coney.

“There’s a wonderful line-up of topics this year including Glen Farley on the archaeology of the Waterview Connection project, Rasheeda Woolford (Ngāti Maniapoto) on Māori identity in west Auckland and Fiona Drummond on Henry Atkinson of Titirangi.”

Visit the West Auckland Heritage Conference website for the full programme.

Tickets are free but places are limited.

To register email or call 09 813 9150.

The Waitākere Ranges Local Board is supporting these heritage events, which are part of the region-wide Auckland Heritage Festival.