Dark side opened up
OPIUM dens, disease and a ‘‘green lung’’ that would turn things around.
Central Auckland has a dark and colourful history which historian Edward Bennett will be discussing on tours across the city as part of the Auckland Heritage Festival.
A free two-hour tour of Myers Park and Greys Ave kicks things off tomorrow from 1pm.
Greys Ave transformed from a street notorious for brothels and opium dens into a residential area with the introduction of state housing projects in the 1930s and 50s, Bennett says.
‘‘At the beginning of the 19th century, it was an area with lots of problems – disease, gambling, prostitution – and then efforts were made to turn it into a pleasant, safe environment for children.’’
Myers Park was created as the ‘‘green lung that would disinfect the centre of town’’, he says.
Bennett has hosted the tours for the past seven years.
Often people are surprised by what’s been right under their nose, he says.
‘‘They are also amused whether they actually live in this area or not.
‘‘I think it’s important to know history, to know your background, know about the mistakes that have been made so that you don’t make them again.’’
Bennett will also host tours of Ponsonby and a tombstone rubbing workshop in Symonds St Cemetery.
The festival will feature more than 200 demonstrations, exhibitions, film screenings and talks across Auckland. It runs from tomorrow until October 12.
Go to heritagefestival. co.nz for a full list of the events.
Looking back: Historian Edward Bennett will be leading free tours and lectures on the history of K Rd, Symonds St Cemetery and other central Auckland spots as part of the Auckland Heritage Festival.