About The ‘Project’

I guess for me this ‘project’ probably started a couple of years ago when I had decided to photograph what remained of the front entrance to Windy Hill Orchard and Vineyard. This was located very near the top of Metcalfe Road. I grew up in on this road, leaving late teens to flat near the North Shore Teachers College which I attended.

Although I wish I could remember more, I do remember going up with Mum to Windy Hill for the odd case of apples and possibly other fruit. This was just one of many orchards we visited for the same purpose. We probably even bought bags of grapes as well. I was always quite taken with that iron lettering hung above the shed door.

So a couple of years ago, I photographed the shed, now a garage, and the lettering. The grass was long and the property unkept which I thought was a shame. Little did I know that only a few months later this was all gone, replaced with a virgin concrete path, manicured grass and driveway to a new school.

Windy Hill, 25th January 2009

I should have known, as I had seen this often happens, houses creeping into and over vineyards all through the West. Perhaps the difference was that this represented some apparent memories. The shots I had taken had taken on new meaning for me and opened my eyes to other properties which either had or could have a similar fate.

The view from the top of Candia Road looking back to that radio mask was another. I do recall the rolling lines of vines nestled at the base of the Waitakere Ranges. The evening sun on autumnal vines was magic. For many years now all that remains are the lines etched into the landscape used as sheep trails. The light there is still fantastic in the evenings, but clearly, something is missing.

Slowly it became evident that the next photo series I should give some time to should be this change. The more I started looking, the more I am regretful that I did not start earlier, especially considering that I have spent so much of my life living in West Auckland. Still, this is my time, to do what I am able, to record a little bit of this history of the West.

Candia Road, 25th January 2009

I have no idea how this series will end – or whether things such as this ever do. In the past I have seen photographers, including myself, working away, silently often, on projects which are revealed on ‘completion’ with a book and or exhibition. For this project, I am interested to see if the use of the ‘blog’ or visual journal, is viable as a means of tracking and potentially defining the project direction itself. I don’t know. We’ll see. Maybe that this work only ever remains in this virtual space.

Perhaps this could even become a little collection point for images, recordings and recollections – who knows. I am certainly open to any involvement and suggestions – please feel free to comment or email privately. So I’ll be very much taking it as it comes and as I can grab time. Hopefully, you will also see the sidebar getting populated with links and resources.

Stephen Roke

[  I should add too that my aim is not to offend anyone in the publication of material on the internet. If you feel uncomfortable with material on this site, please let’s discuss this. ]


12 Responses to About The ‘Project’

  1. Pingback: About This ‘Project’ | wine out west

  2. Simon O'Leary says:

    Nice website Stephen. I grew up amongst it all in the 50’s and 60’s on Swanson Road. Like many kids in the area I worked in Corban’s Vineyards in the school holidays. Many school mates were from the Croatian families who had settled the area. Some of my relatives are too!
    The Valley was changing rapidly when I moved away to Australia in the mid 70’s. Too close to an expanding city with only two directions to go, it was bound to buried beneath
    the sprawl. Your pictures sparked some long forgotten memories.
    Cheers, Simon O’Learyvich.

    • stephen says:

      Simon, thanks for your encouraging comment and sharing something of your time at Corbans. These vineyards must have employed a lot of people on a part time basis in the region. I have struggled with time these last few months to do too much more on this project. Recently another vineyard, Sapich Bros. , has shut down, have seen the vines being pulled up. Time stands still for no one – I will need to find the time to get more done.

  3. Hey Stephen,
    Love the information and really enjoy the history of the wineries and vineyards ‘Out West’. Would love to get some more information on Muaga of you come across it.
    Many thanks, Brian

    • stephen says:

      Thanks Brian, Muaga is very much top of my list to get more information about. I have had some brief contact with some who worked there but as yet not had the opportunity to meet personally.

  4. roger evans says:

    Interesting blog- particularly the list of wineries. One that is not mentioned is Brays Vineries, Swanson (where Ranui Station Road is today)- established about 1915, advertised widely exporting cases of wine as far south as Manawatu; established a head office in Auckland’s Queen Street and a plant in Garfield St Parnell. Business split in 1924-25 into the marketing and sales entity (Brays Vineries) based in Auckland (which went broke about 1928); and the vineyard which ended up in the hands of an entity called Karepe Land Development Company, who marketed the vineyard as a village subdivision immediately after the opening of the Ranui Railway station, but only sold three sections, and went in to liquidation early 1930s. All of this is in Papers Past, available by trawling through the search function. Nobody seems to know today that it existed!

  5. stephen says:

    Thanks for this – I have not heard of this so look forward to adding this information in the appropriate way. Papers past is a great resource and I have been using it for family history – for some reason did not think to use it here – so thanks for the memory jog.

  6. GM says:

    Just stumbled across this site. A fantastic and interesting insight to the history out west. Thanks for doing this all.

    • GM says:

      Also just notice Montana wines (Brancott Estate now) is not listed. It use to be on scenic drive established 1934.

  7. Daniel says:

    Do you have any background on the vineyard on Edmonton Road (I gather this was Brittania Vineyards). I see the site is being developed, and the old building have now been demolished. I regret not having taken a few photos prior to that happening.

    • stephen says:

      I believe this was known as Britania Vineyards – the Principal being Dave Autunovich. I took a few photos a number of years ago – see here
      It has been run as a panel beating shop for a number of years.

  8. Mark says:

    Hi Stephen,
    Very much enjoying this site. I too now feel I have missed something – we lived off Sturges road for about 10 years and during that time many of these old buildings disappeared. Not being originally from Auckland I had only belatedly came to appreciate the wonderful history of this area.

    I couldn’t see anything here about Balic wines. Have been reading recently that they were on Sturges Rd, near the Palomino shops. You can still find images of the run down buildings covered in graffiti on GoogleMaps from around 2008/9. I assume these would have been part of this business. Apparently the family name was spelt Balich, but the h was removed so as not to be confused with the nearby Babich vines.

    Many thanks,

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