History of technology on Karangahape Road


  • Kroad.com History Timeline
  • Interview with Sue Carnachan


(Karangahape Road Business Association, 2016)


300 Maori laborers were set to work extending Queen street up to the top of the ridge (previously Queen street had only reached to about where to Town Hall is now.) At the same time engineers from the 58th Regiment construct a road from Symonds St to intersect with the top of Queen St turning the clay track into a route usable by wheeled traffic.

Archibald Clark / 1805 – 1875 / Auckland Borough Council Mayor

1850: Charles Partington builds Partingtons Windmill on the corner of Karangahape Road and Symonds street

1863 July: The City Board contracts the Gas Company to provide Street Lighting in the principle streets of the town. The other main streets continue to be lit by muncipal oil lamps or those required by law to be provided by Public Houses, Hotels and Public Buildings.

1877: The new Auckland Hospital building by Philip Herepath is completed. On opening night is it a fantastic sight fully illuminated at every window by gas lighting.(demolished 1963)

1883: The Auckland Telephone system begins service.

1899: The first motorcar in Auckland (and only the third in new Zealand) Delivered to Percy Skeates and E. Bockaert in 1899. Called The Star, it was made by the Star Engineering Company of Wolverhampton, England.

1900 31st December: New Years Eve Celebrations to welcome in the new Century . The Auckland Waterfront is crowded with people watching the fireworks display – many buildings are illuminated by gas or electricity.

1902: The first Electric tram service reaches Symonds street from Queen St via Wellesley St. speed limit for trams set at 9 miles [13.5 kilometres] an hour. Part of the contact to allow trams use the roadway is that the central section where the tramlines are laid is surfaced in asphalt.

1902: Speed limit for motorcars set at 8 miles [12 kilometres ] an hour.

1903: A City Council poll results in trams being allowed to operate on Sundays but during church services.

1909: A Vaudeville Theatre is converted into a cinema by the Hayward brothers It opens as the Tivoli, later it will be called the Star, [by 1915 ] the Arcadia and finally [by 1953]the Vogue [ closes by 1955 ] since 1991 this has been a nightclub.[240 K’rd]

1910: Karangahape Road’s street lighting is converted from Gas to electric.

1911 December 26th: The first Colour moving picture films are shown in Auckland – a Colour process film – not a hand coloured B&W film. Simultaneous showing at the Globe Queen Street and the Kings Theatre Karangahape road on Boxing Night 1911.

1912 December: J.Morris Company organises the first Auckland Christmas Parade. A motorcar carrying Father Christmas drives up Symonds street, down Newton Road and turns into Karangahape Road. Followed by a vast crowd of children the vehicle ‘s route ends at the J.Morris store near Queen Street.


1916: Partington’s Windmill is rebuilt. When constructed in 1850 it stood in open fields. By the 20th century it is surrounded by several two story buildings so it recieves a new story so it’s sails are able to catch the prevailing wind from the Waitakeres.

1922 May 22: NZ’s first mechanical traffic control mechanisms are installed at the intersections of Queen & Wellesley Sts and Karangahape Road & Pitt Street.

These consist of movable red & white painted Stop & Go signs atop a twelve ft high pole standing in the middle of the intersection.

Worked manually by a Constable on duty between 8am-6pm on weekdays, the use of these items is abandoned on November 1 1926.

1923: Charles Pearson obtains the first licence in Auckland for a private Radio Station. This broadcasts from his Radio Shop at 155 Karangahape road. Initially called 1YB this station eventually became 1ZB in 1926. Radio History.

The morning announcer is a woman called Maud Basham would later became known as Aunt Daisy.

1923: 1YA Radio begins broadcasting. The Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand.

1925: The first Radio Braoadcast of a Religious Service in New Zealand. The Rev Lionel B Fletcher broadcasts from the Beresford Street Congregationalist Church.

The First Broadcasting House, France street

1926 August: The Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand (created 1923) begins operations from France Street. The Radio Towers for 1YA are located on top of the adjacent George Courts Building.

In 1935 1YA becomes absorbed into the National Broadcasting System and relocates to Shortland Street. The France Street building was demolished around 1935.

1926 November 1: The use of the mechanical Stop & Go traffic signals is abandoned.

Pedestrian crossings are painted on the road at Intersections. Two white “Limit” lines are painted on the road as well, one for motor vehicles and horse-drawn vehicles 20 ft back from the corner and one for trams 26ft back from the corner.

[By the end of the month it is noted that many motorists are ignoring the lines and allowing their vehicles to creep forward onto the crossing area.]


Symonds St/K Road intersection

1927: A survey reveals that 956 vehicles cross Grafton Bridge each day.

The 1927 Underground Railway project

1927: The Minister of Transport addresses the Karangahape road Businessmen’s Association about the proposed underground railway link which would run under K Road..


Proposed Subway

1929 March 4th: In order to relieve traffic congestion a subway is proposed to be built under the Karangahape Road intersection top link Queen Street to Belgium Street.

This project was eventually abandoned – partly because of local opposition but mostly because of the effect of the Great Depression.

The Council’s own Traffic Planners backed other solutions.

Farmers Free Tram to K Road.

1936: The Farmers Department Store commence their free tram service between their store in Hobson Street & Pitt Street. From 1938 this route will be serviced by trolley buses. [Their free bus service from Queen St to their store began in 1922.] Both services will be discontinued in the late 1980s.

1937: The volume of Sunday traffic now requires two police officers to be stationed at both ends of Grafton Bridge during the day.

The Great White Way

1938 March 10th: Sir John Allum switches on the Community Lighting for Karangahape Road. This under awning lighting creates a mile of brightly illuminated shopping and is dubbed “The Great White Way”

1942 February 15th: Following the Fall of Singapore Air-raid Drills and Black-outs are imposed on Australian and New Zealand cities.

Air-raid drills and black outs impose themselves on everyday life in Auckland. Private transportation is hampered by petrol restrictions resulting in public transport being overloaded. The crush usually encountered at rush hour is now usual all day.

1948: In an effort to conserve power street lighting in residential areas is turned off at 1am; it is noted that the number of night time accidents increases. This policy is done away with in May 1962.

1948 July: Experimental fluorescent street lights are installed along K’rd (later extended to the whole city from November 1952 )

1949: Trolley Buses are introduced.

1955: Auckland Motorway System planned.

1956: The electric Tram service is discontinued, the Tram tracks are torn up. The overhead wires are modified for the new electric trolley buses.

Underground Rail Link

1969: Underground Railway planned for Central Auckland that would pass directly under Karangahape Road at St Kevins Arcade.

1977: The electric trolley bus system in Auckland starts to be dismantled – except for the route linking K Road with the Auckland Railway Station.


1980 September 28: The last Trolley bus service in Auckland, running between Karangahape Road and the Central Railway Station is discontinued

1986: The Farmers free bus service (Beresford St – Hobson St – Queen St) is discontinued.

1992 September: Auckland’s first revolving restaurant, ‘Restaurant 360’, which is sited on the top of the Telecom Building on Karangahape Road, opens.

2013: Central Rail Link project promoted






(Carnachan, 2016)

Transcript of interview with Sue Carnachan

12th September 2016

Sue’s memories as a child in the 60’s of technology on Karangahape road.


“Another thing was the lifts because the lifts were always manned by somebody and they had those bifold doors that would go open. Then tin doors would open and then the grill. The grill would have to open into the lift and a man was in there. You weren’t allowed to push your own button. Then you would go up and then the grill would open then the doors all by hand with big handles. I guess they were electric because they would quietly just move up but he would crank a handle.

I was only a little girl but above each register was a pulley system with holder things where your money went. When you paid for your item your money was put in a little container and it was shuffled around on this pulley system to the accountants office where we worked out the money, wrote out the receipt, gave the change and then the container came back to you by the pulley system to the cashier. With little bells and dings. It would take a while. Maybe it was electric maybe it was just pullies. As a kid I would remember how it worked but I remember watching it and being fascinated by it. It stayed there for quite a long time like an antiquie thing, for years after it wasn’t used.

The trolley buses were the other thing with the poles that went up to the power lines and attached to the power lines. Sometimes you would get half way between K’road and Queen Street and the pole would pop off the wires and the bus would stop. The driver would have to get out and swing on the poles and reattach them to the telegraph wire and then you could go again. Very quiet, all electric, lovely little stop, starts and whinny little sounds they would make and they off.

I don’t know what brought about the change in K’road but it was a prime shopping area and a lovely gracious place to go, where all the locals shopped. There were several beautiful department stores. People would come from all over, we lived out west in the orchards so we would catch the bus all the way to K’road to go shopping cause that’s what you did . . .. It just lost its pull.”


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