Suburb histories

Mt Roskill local history

Local history of the Mt Roskill area.

Looking south west from One Tree Hill towards Hillsborough. The Ngati Whatua sold the land around the volcanic cone of Puketapapa (Mt Roskill) to the Crown on 29 June 1841. Just three years later, a number of allotments were bought by Alexander Kennedy, the New Zealand manager of the Union Bank of Australia. He renamed Puketapapa Mount Kennedy.

Subsequent owners included the first chairman of the Mt Roskill Highway District, deputy Province Superintendent and Franklin MP Joseph May (after whom Mays Road is named) and the owner of the Three Kings Quarry, George Winstone.

In 1879, the area around Mt Roskill was described as 'a cleared, beautifully undulating country dotted with picturesque homesteads and sheening in emerald green with the verdure of luxuriant crops'. The swampy areas that became Keith Hay Park and the Waikowhai and Wesley state housing areas were crossed by horse tracks.

Home of the Good Shepherd

In 1904, city brewer Daniel 'Daddy' Arkell built a would-be roadhouse on the corner of Hillsborough Road and Dominion Road. However, he failed to get a liquor license and eventually the property passed to the receiver. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd acquired the property around 1930.

On September 13 1931, the sisters opened the old house as a home for girls - catering for 35 girls and 10 sisters. “Any child who misbehaved in any form whatsoever was taken there,“ according to one long-time Mt Roskill resident. “They could go to a borstal or go to the convent ... under the supervision of the nuns.“

Laundry work was the main occupation of the home's residents, although they also made lace, linen and church vestments.

In 1935 tenders were called for a new Girls' Home on the site. The new building was a three storied concrete residential block able to house 200 girls with a large laundry. Later, the Home closed and the property passed to the Catholic Diocese of Auckland. It was sold to the Chase Private Hospital Group in 1985 who developed the $15 million Hillsborough Heights Retirement Village on the site.

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