Visited on January 28 2013
When is a green mountain not a Green Mountain? When the greenery no longer shrouds a volcano but a rubbish dump. Sad, I know, but at least it looks nice and will look even better in the future.
Apparently, there is still part of the tuff ring remaining to the east. I didn’t see it, then again we didn’t actually get to walk around this one or even on it. So what follows are some photos of what could be seen.
The reason? All the scoria from the cone and basalt from the extensive lava flows was quarried away leaving a dirty great hole in the ground that would function as a landfill for a few decades. The landfill accepted it’s last load of refuse in 2005 and since then the process of capping has begun. Looking at it from the ground level most of it actually does appear green!
Bessy Bell was the first European name given to the then 60 metre tall volcano. The current 54 Hectare plot was once part of a ‘well known dairy farm‘ as an advertisement from the NZ Herald in 1914 proclaims:
“TO LEASE BY TENDER FOR 5 YEARS. On account of MRS. S. J. Lushington. THE WELL-KNOWN DAIRY FARM, GREEN MOUNT, EAST TAMAKI. ALFRED BUCKLAND AND SONS Have been instructed to call Tenders for the above property, about 214 acres, all in grass, subdivided 6 paddocks, well watered; three dwellings; cowshed, 16 bails, concrete floor, and other out buildings; town supply; close to creamery; school on the property; three road frontages; 3.5 miles from Papatoetoe Railway Station. Possession immediately…”
In her will Mrs S. J. Lushington wanted the property to be used for public recreation purposes. Instead quarrying began around 1870 and 120 years later all the rock was gone. It will never be the same but at least we will have a Green Mount. Nothing can be done to bring back the pa site of Matanginui though.
We went up to the front gates for a bit of a look-see but were obviously not suposed to go any further so we decided the best we could do was stick to the tree line on Smales Road and see if we could take photos of anything interesting. We saw quite a few signs reiterating the DANGER.
We saw a way to get closer and turned in to the service station which backs right on to Greenmount.
She’s looking through a chicken wire fence to a pond with pukekos happily going about their daily business.
To show you how the re-styling of Greenmount is likely to proceed I will quote from this resource consent application. Firstly it looks like the completed open space project will be called Styak-Lushington Park (which also acknowledges the obliterated crater to the North: Styak Swamp).
Some features included in the preliminary concept are: “A plateau park area with an increased elevation of 72 metres and views to both the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours and to the city; A plaza feature at the corner of Harris road and Smales road for potential lunchtime recreation; A relocated main entrance, to achieve safer access away from the busy Harris/Smales road intersection, that is more formal and based on surrounding amenity including stonewalls; Existing/enhanced stormwater treatment ponds to be recognised as part of the overall amenity to the site also providing an opportunity for wildlife; Priority to recreational walking/running activities through the site.”
I encourage you to take a look at the complete document yourself to see the concept drawings and to visualise the extra 1.5 million cubic metres yet needed to bring the height up to the proposed 72 metres. In case you missed the significance of that number it’s 12 metres higher than the original volcano stood. This new landmark will literally rise from the rubble.
This is all very exciting but, at the same time, I have to say it rather reminds me of a certain 1995 film starring Hugh Grant: The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (which in turn was based on another true story).
I recommend you visit this park about 25 years in the future when all the earthworks have settled down and it’s a prominent, well known place of recreation. Maybe fly a kite or something to take advantage of any strong winds that may sweep up the hill just as they once used to when it was first given the Maori name Matanginui meaning ‘big wind’ or ‘breeze’.
Here is the time line of events according to this NZ Herald article:
FARM TO PARK
1932: gifted for public park.
1964: leased as a quarry.
1979: becomes regional landfill.
2005: rubbish dump closed.
2015: proposed landfill “cap”completion.
2040: possible developed park.