He inoi mo nga Whare Toi
Nga mihi ki tenei Maunga Takarunga mo ta matou waahi I tona taha.
Ka whakahonoretia a matou tona aroaro me te piringa e whakaratohia ana e ia
He koa to maatau I te wairua hey waahanga o te kaupapa e ora nei tatou.
A prayer for Te Whare Toi
Our thanks to this mountain Takarunga for our place at her side.
We honour her presence and the shelter she provides
We take joy in the spirit that is part of the kaupapa we live by.
Whare Toi – Kerr St Creative Hub
Whare Toi is nestled on the side of Maunga Takarunga (Mount Victoria), the largest of the North Shore volcanic cones and one of 14 now under the care of the Te Puna Maunga Authority (TMA). Depot Artspace has been kaitiaki/caretaker of Whare Toi since 2003.
In July 2018, Kerr St Artspace was re-named Whare Toi on Maunga Takarunga’s transfer to TMA. This name signifies our relationship with the Maunga Authority, honours our attachment to the maunga and connects with the Depot’s mantra ‘creating an environment that encourages creating’.
Whare Toi is now a local creative hub, inspiring the creative wairua in our community through a range of classes run by independent practitioners,
which include travel sketching, choir practice, dance and drama.
The History of Whare Toi
Whare Toi, formerly Kerr St Artspace, began life as part of the Mt Victoria (Takarunga) transit camp at Devonport.
According to Auckland Council records (it holds a B scheduling in the Unitary Plan), it was one of 13 buildings installed beside the school on the maunga for the Army during WWII, “including several dormitory blocks, a guard room, officers’ quarters, combined mess, old QM store, drying hut, vegetable shed, ablution blocks and an old band room.” The officers’ quarters is now one of the buildings used by the play centre just up the slope from Whare Toi.
The military camp was converted into transit housing in 1947, meant to last five years, but instead used through to 1964, when buildings started to be removed from the site, except for the old officers’ quarters, and this building, which became the Wikitoria Community House from 1979 to 1995.
As a Community House, recreational and creative activities took place and a crèche was housed there.
Takarunga and Whare Toi
Since occupying Whare Toi in 2003, Depot Artspace has honoured its special relationship with maunga Takarunga. On the lower slopes of the maunga, and close to the walking path to the tihi, Whare Toi appears as gateway to Takarunga.
The kaitiaki of Whare Toi ensure it is cared for and treated with respect by those who take part in creative activities, and that it continues to reflect the mutual kaupapa of Depot Artspace and Te Puna Maunga Authority; that is, the maunga is sacred and its wairua is cherished.
Takarunga: The History and Use of the Maunga
Takarunga is elevated 81 metres above sea level and is the most elevated of the three cones of the Devonport Peninsula.
Takarunga is associated in tradition with Maori occupation extending over nine centuries. Archaeological evidence is found in the terraced pa site.
North and east slopes show terracing and storage pits associated with dwellings and kumara storage.
Fertile volcanic soils at the bases of land between Takarunga and Maungaika were swampy and supported cultivation of ti and taro.
The Maori history of Devonport involves a complex web of successive occupation, migration, and conquests so that today a number of iwi have associations with the area. The Maori occupation of the area predominantly concerns tribal groupings of Tainui descent.
Occupation Time Line
13th C 1200’s – (Modern) Devonport occupied by descendants of: Taikehu and Taihaua of the Tainui Waka.
Devonport was originally named Takapuna by Tainui in C. 1350AD.
Late 16thC – Taikehu and Taihaua of Tainui, “suppressed” by the Kawerau people then in occupation of the Tamaki area.
From the Tainui: (Taikehu and Taihaua) and the Kawerau peoples, a tribal grouping known as Ngati Kahu emerged.
18th C early 1700’s – Ngati Whatua occupied: Kaipara, Northcote, Onewa. Ngati Tai occupied Birkenhead. Ngati Kahu occupied land east of the main ridge between Takapuna and Orewa. Ngati Tai and Ngati Kahu were in occupation of these sites when Pakeha first arrived in the district.
Mid 18thC – Ngati Kahu “came under pressure” from Ngati Whatua.
Mid 18th C – Ngati Whatua had “conquered and then settled” the southern Kaipara and Tamaki isthmus.
Mid 18th C – Ngati Kahu was able to remain on their ancestral land. Peacemaking “compacts” and inter-marriage with Ngati Whatua facilitated this.
Late 18th C – Ngati Kahuwho had remained in occupation of the Takapuna and Orewa areas came under pressure from Marutuahu confederation of tribes who settled in these areas during shark hunting season.
Late 18th C – The northern hapu of Ngati Paoa occupied Takapuna-Orewa area alongside Ngati Kahu. Both shared Tainui descent.
1827 – D’urville climbs Takarunga to survey surrounding district.
1841 – Mahurangi Block (including Devonport)is purchased by crown from Ngati Paoa. This sale was not concluded until 1853 by which time payments has already been made to Ngati Whatua, and the Kawerau hapu groups still in occupation.
1850 Devonport area was subdivided into small-holdings. Parts of Mt. Victoria/Takarunga were reserved for sale. South east slope of Takarunga was reserved for education use.
1870 – Common School for Boys opened – now Devonport Primary School.
1873 – Signalman Thomas Duder acquired grazing rights and cleared Takarunga of native vegetation: manuka and flax.
Takarunga: Recent Discoveries: (Notes from the work of Professor Susan Bulmer, Archaeologist)
A large proportion of this pa has survived, in spite of 150 years of European use and reconstruction as a signal station, a European fort, and a radio station. A brief archaeological excavation was done when the foundations for a new post office mast were dug on the northern edge of summit, adjacent to the reservoir. It was thought unlikely that any evidence of the Maori site would remain, as the summit has been flattened.
However, at a depth of 90 cm a digging machine encountered a black soil with midden, thought to have been associated with the former pa. It was very consolidated, possibly a well-used living surface, and the layer contained many pieces of charcoal, fishbone and shells.
Six features were found in the area then archaeologically excavated (2.4 X 1.7 m); a store pit, four postholes, and a long narrow trench, a drain or a bedding trench for palisading.
Eruera Maihi Patuone, Nga Puhi chief, from Hokianga
Patuone lived in Devonport in his later years and is buried in the cemetery at the foot of Takarunga Mt Victoria.
His life spanned from the early European visits through to the arrival of missionaries, land wars and settlement. With his brother, Tamati Waka Nene, he was involved in the musket wars, joining up with Hongi Hika. In 1819 they were allied with Te Rauparaha in a raiding party (taua) that ranged all the way down to Wellington.
Later he recognised the potential of colonisation and the advantages that trade with Europeans would bring. In 1826 and the early 1830s he visited Sydney to arrange for shipments of spars. In 1840, he was baptised by the Rev. Henry Williams and was an early signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi.
On the North Shore, he first lived on the northern slopes of Takarunga and his kainga (compound) was known as Riria, after his late wife.
In 1851, Governor Grey granted him 110 acres between Takapuna Beach and the lagoon by Barry’s Point Road. His kainga, Waiwharariki was on the small hill presently occupied by the Assembly of God Church in Esmonde Road.
Eruera Maihi Patuone died in 1872 aged 108.
Whare Toi is available as a venue for classes, workshops, seminars, meetings and performances. Currently the following activities are held in the venue:
Devonport Drama Thursday 3.30 – 7pm: a boutique youth theatre (ages 7 to 18) Teacher Geoff Allen.
As a writer, he creates parts specifically for the needs of students. No more standing onstage waiting for a single line – everyone gets his or her moment. Geoff also structures a lesson around the needs of a student or students. Students learn a craft as well as respect for themselves and the others they perform with alongside.
Beautiful Noise Thursday 7.30 – 9.30 pm.
A community choir for women only- women who love to sing! Our mission statement says we provide an environment for women who love to sing contemporary songs in a non-judgmental, fun, and relaxed environment, regardless of musical experience, training, or ability. Beautiful Noise exists purely for the joy of singing and the love of cake! Contact Maria Cantrell at or 021800396 or Caz Kelly at 021315505 and come sing with us!
Travel Sketching with Tony McNeight.
Tuesdays and Saturdays Tony is a well-known creative, graphic designer and teacher. He is also an exhibiting artist and a dedicated travel sketcher. Tony runs the 10 week 3 hour art courses on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Each week he takes his participants through a programme of foundation skills with the simple ‘Erin Hill method’ until they become confident and passionate travel sketchers.
L’Ecole de Danse Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 3.30 – 8.30
Classes in Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop and Contemporary are taught by qualified and highly experienced teachers in a fun, encouraging and supportive environment. Eriko Finlay started L’Ecole de Danse in 2006 with the drive to share the love and passion she has for dancing with the children in the Devonport community.
Whare Toi is available for hire short and long term.
A condition of use is that the facility and immediate outside area is a Smoke and Alcohol Free Zone
Whare Toi has two spaces, each with a superb view over the harbour to the city:
- The main hall with 40 chairs and tables with great acoustics and view. Rental casual $25/ hr, long term $20 /hr inc GST
- Work and Meeting Room with 12 chairs and tables Rental casual $30/ hr, long term $25/hr
- A kitchenette and lounge area separates the hall and meeting room