Flashback Friday: Mission Bay, then and now

Publish Date : 23 Jun 2017

This popular central Auckland beach was as beloved at the turn of the 20th Century as it is today – but did you know it was also once home to a flying school?

Mission Bay takes its name from the Melanesian Mission, which was established by Anglican Bishop George Augustus Selwyn at the bay at the end of the 1840s, and also known as St Andrews College. 

Mission Bay 1
Looking east south east from Bastion Point showing the beach at Mission Bay, a building of the Melanesian Mission (right of centre) and Pipimea Head (left background), 1908. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-2879

The Anglican Mission was transferred to Norfolk Island in 1867. 

From 1915 until the end of the 1920s the Walsh Brothers located their flying school at the school building, and for many years they used the bay as a landing area for their seaplanes. 

Mission Bay 2
A Curtiss Flying Boat of the New Zealand Flying School being refuelled in the water at Mission Bay by employees of the school, circa 1916. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A6265.

It seems Mission Bay has long been a popular swimming beach – in 1936, the Auckland Weekly News ran the below picture of a packed beach with the caption: "A summer's day at Mission Bay: A crowded foreshore at the most popular of Auckland's many fine harbour beaches".

Mission Bay 3
Mission Bay, 1936. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19361209-56-2.

The iconic fountain that many of us these days associate with the area wasn't installed until 1950.

mission bay 4
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1055-113.

Progress has slowly crept in to the area, and there's certainly far more to be found there now. Restaurants, a cinema, shops and many homes make Mission Bay a bustling, thriving suburb. 

But one thing remains the same: A stunning beach enjoyed and appreciated by visitors. 

Mission Bay 5

Find out more about Mission Bay

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