North Head spawns conspiracy theories
A tale of secret tunnels, buried aeroplanes and lost ammunition under North Head has remained an urban myth for almost a century.
It's spawned conspiracy theories, court cases and allegations of a cover-up.
But after 20 years of research, ex-commercial pilot Martin Butler believes he has new evidence that proves there's more to the area than meets the eye.
In a bold move he's been pushing the Defence Department for permission to dig on the slopes of the wartime fortress.
"If what I've discovered can be proven it has been a huge cover-up and there is only one way to validate that," Butler said.
Last year, before finishing his book Tunnel Vision which outlines his quest for answers, Butler approached Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman to discuss his evidence.
"I told him: 'We have these anomalies that do not stack up and we want a licence to dig'."
Coleman didn't respond to the request and said the defence department was happy with previous investigations of the area.
Like others before him who have toiled away over newspaper clippings, reports and eyewitness testimony, Butler dedicated two decades of his life to investigating what really happened to the first ever Boeing aircrafts owned by the Walsh Flying School, after its closure in 1924.
According to urban myth they were crated up and stored in underground tunnels at the base of North Head along with live ammunition.
The Defence ministry believes they were burned on the beach at Kohimarama after the flying school no longer had use for them. But with new technology comes new evidence and Butler has taken impact ground radar readings of the mountain which he claims prove the government's side of the story isn't the whole truth.
Getting access to military files wasn't easy with Butler needing the permission of then Head of the Defence Force General Mateparae.
"That was the turning point for me and suddenly the road blocks were coming out for no reason.
"And that sort of thing starts to spark your interest."
Butler said he closely followed the media coverage in the 1990s of film-maker John Earnshaw's High Court cases against the government after he claimed they broke an agreement to search the mountain.
But rather than stirring up the case, he's motivated by a desire to find out what really happened.
"From the beginning I wanted to validate that these aircraft were burnt at Kohimarama Beach, like it had been said. And nothing that I came across validated that. But what I did find was evidence to show there could be more to North Head than people believe. People deserve to be given the facts."
North Shore Times