Urban Designer - Vernacular Architect - Maritime Planner - Owner-Builder - Servant of Piglet - Educator - Author - Revolutionary - Peacenik - Tour Guide 

Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

My kauri bookshelves Print E-mail

ImageThe Karaka Bay bookshelves began their life in the Auckland Public Library reading room when it was opened on 26 March 1887. This photograph was taken for the Auckland Star in 1905.








In one of Auckland’s great acts of architectural vandalism the whole space was destroyed when it was converted into an art gallery. The bookshelves were auctioned off, with the proviso that they must be removed from the building within three days. Jo put in a successful bid when I was too busy at work to be able to get to the action. Somehow we got the bookshelf to Karaka Bay and slid it down the hill on its back. From there a great crowd of people lifted it up into the house.

In the apse of the space all the shelves were beautifully curved. It was impossible to save them in three days. The Auckland City Council smashed them to pieces with an axe, destroying some of the best kauri craftsmanship to be seen in the city. The building then sat empty and derelict for another two years.

Waldo Granwal and I organised a campaign to save the sweeping marble staircase which led from the grand corner entrance to the upper levels of the library. To thwart us the Auckland City Council in one night smashed the priceless marble to rubble with sledgehammers. Nothing was saved.

The worst vandalism Auckland has ever seen has been perpetrated by the Auckland City Council. The heady mix of power, arrogance and ignorance which can be found in local government leads only to the most stupid environmental destruction.

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