7:30am to 5pm (MON to FRI)

Delivering skip bins round the leafy suburbs of Auckland has given me a keen appreciation of our wonderful vibrant city. Sunshine, clean air [very important], happy friendly people, lots of pampered pets, beautiful gardens, great street names and something new to see every day. Bin hire has given me the chance to travel the length and breadth of Auckland and fueled me with a desire to know more about our cities history. So, let me take you on a little journey… Our story starts in the 1820s when that great Nga Puhi [Northern tribe], warrior, marauder, adventurer, visionary, Hongi Hika began his Utu [revenge] expeditions of conquest around New Zealand. Hongi Hika, not to be confused with Hone Heke who cut down the flag pole, was Hone Heke’s uncle. In 1820 Hongi Hika traveled to England to visit King George IV and on his way back bought 500 muskets in a land deal with a French adventurer. They also obtained additional muskets at Russell by selling either a ton of processed flax or kauri spas for each musket. Russell was the foremost early point of contact between the Maori and European so that they acquired weaponry whereas the Maori Ngati Whatua living in the Auckland region had little contact, hence few muskets. In 1825 the great battle Te Ika a Ranga Nui took place up by Kaiwaka. The Ngati Whatua had over a thousand warriors. Hongi and his allies had a force of a similar number. Our generation knows about the great exploits of the Maori battallion in the Second World War and what a great fighting man the Maori was, matched perhaps only by the Gurkas. The Ngati Whatua charged and were met with a volley of hundreds of muskets. Hongi was there bedecked in his full suit of chain mail armour including a helmet given to him by George IV. He must have seemed virtually invincible. The charge was so fierce and determined that it almost carried the day but in the end the muskets held sway and the Ngati Whatua scattered sending shockwaves through the Auckland Isthmus. Perhaps fittingly, Hongi, the man who started the musket wars would eventually die from a musket wound after several more campaigns. Jump in time to 1840 when Captain Hobson signs the Treaty of Waitangi. He knows that Russell is too isolated to be the capital and Wellington is the logical choice. But Wellington has been settled by the New Zealand company under the Wakefield brothers. He doesn’t want to negotiate with them over land titles or buy parcels of land from them or deal with their aristocratic backers back in England. At the same time he has the Ngati Whatua and Tai Nui tribes who have signed the Treaty offering him land in Auckland if he will make Auckland the capital knowing that the British presence will help protect them from the Nga Puhi marauders from the north. Prior to Auckland being the capital Auckland had a European population of about 300 mainly ex-convicts living around Freemans Bay and sailors from the penal colony of Sydney. But after it became the capital protected by the British government it became a preferred destination for British settlers. In 1842 the sailing ships Duchess of Argyle and the Jane Gifford arrive in the Waitemata with 600 new settlers from Greenock in Scotland. This is the real beginning of the growth of Auckland. By the 1860’s Auckland is thriving. One reason for this is the 14,000 British troops stationed here because of the supposed Maori King movement threat. A standing army needs food and drink, clothing, horses and supplies and this fuels the Auckland economy. Cameron, the General in charge, uses them to build the Great South Road, a road which is aimed at the heart of the Waikato. This military road, a great wide metalled undertaking, was being built as an all-weather road which could accommodate a large army and its horse drawn cannon. Prior to the completion of the road there was only a track south of Drury known as the Devil’s Nest which was best traveled in a group and well armed. It’s easy to see the relationship our modern city has to the past. Now and again I drive my bin truck down Hobson Street in the city and we also have Hobsonville which are named after Captain Hobson. Cameron Street in Onehunga is named after the General in charge of the 1860s land wars. Argyle Street in Herne Bay and Jane Gifford Street in Pakuranga are the names of the first settler ships from Britain. Greenock Street in Ranui is the name of the seaport they left from. Freemans Bay means exactly that, men who are now freed from the penal colony of Sydney and are here to make a new life. Whereas Mechanics Bay was more for the skilled worker or government official bought out from England. The Suburb of Orakei which means ‘cherished gift’ in English is still the home of a Hapu or sub tribe. Of the Ngati Whatua, and they are still there – it’s always a pleasure to deliver bins to them and to think of their warrior past. Great South Road, that leafy boulevard that meanders parallel to the Southern motorway, is still the heartbeat of all the suburbs it intersects. Hop off the motorway going south and there it is. If I’m in my bin truck lost in side streets and I spot Great South Road I know exactly where I am. When i’m sitting at the lights in Newmarket on my way to deliver a bin I remember that in places the concrete under the tar seal is a foot thick and an army once marched down Great South Road to war.