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Council purchase highlights park's hidden past

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 08:57 03/06/2014
Kennedy Park
SPECIAL HOUSING: Many of Kennedy Park’s ’houses’ were in fact disguised anti-shipping guns, say Chris Owen, left, John Crews and Paul Woodruff.

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The purchase of a former state house brings a North Shore park one step closer to world heritage status, says an architect.

Unitec architecture teacher Paul Woodruff, says thanks to Auckland Council, local board and the Kennedy Park WWII Trust, people will get to see the clifftop park in all its historic glory.

Trust member Chris Owen estimates up to $200,000 will be fundraised to restore the house and its gardens, faithfully bringing the small section back to its 1940s heyday.

"A lot of work is needed," and to significantly reduce costs Unitec architecture students will work on the project, says Woodruff.

North Shore councillor Chris Darby says council's purchase of the house between the park and Beach Rd is important because it "enhances the park's significant heritage value".

The purchase will see all three architectural styles of the park preserved, giving visitors a unique experience seen nowhere else in the world, says Woodruff.

The house, once one of many barracks, will sit alongside a disguised fortification and exposed gun emplacements.

The barracks made to look like civilian dwellings were once interspersed with "houses" that were actually disguised anti-shipping guns built to deliver a nasty shock to invading Japanese forces.

Visitors are often surprised to discover that what appears to be a two-storey art deco house overlooking the car park, is in fact the battery's old observation post.

"A work of genius," says Woodruff.

Trust chairman John Crews says the mock housing development overlooking East Coast Bays was the only coastal battery left undetected when a Japanese spotter aircraft flew over Auckland in 1942.

Since 2010, the trust has led efforts to restore and open up the park's hidden artillery batteries and tunnels to the public.

The trust and council have been in negotiations with Housing New Zealand over bordering properties since 2006.

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- North Shore Times

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