NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES
Tiritiri Matangi (1865)
Photo courtesy of MSA.
Situated on Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf, this is the oldest operational lighthouse in New Zealand.
The cast iron tower manufactured in England was shipped to New Zealand aboard the Queen of the Deep arriving in Auckland 15 June 1864. The tower and lenses, packed in 279 packages and 35 cases and weighing seventy nine tons was then shipped to the island and moved to the building site by sledges pulled by 12 bullocks. The total cost to build the lighthouse was £5500. £5288 2
The tower is the twin to the tower at Cape Egmont that was designed by McLean and Stilman, civil engineers of Great George Street, London. 3
Over the years the lighting equipment has been changed several times. Originally the lamp burned colza oil, then in 1879 was converted to paraffin oil. A red glass pane was added to the lantern in 1882 to throw a red light over nearby Flat Rock. After an automatic light was installed on Flat Rock in 1922 the red pane was removed. In 1916 the light was converted to kerosene.
The keepers were withdrawn from the island in 1925 when the light was replaced with an automatic acetylene burning revolving light. However the keepers returned in 1947 when the light was upgraded once again. In 1955 the light was converted again from oil to diesel generated electricity.
After a private donation from a Auckland businessman, Sir Ernest Davis in 1956, the light was converted to a new eleven million candlepower xenon light the most powerful light in the Southern Hemisphere at that time. This light had a range of 58 miles. In 1966 a 5 kilometre underwater cable was laid to the island and the light ran off the national grid.
When bulbs for the xenon light became unavailable in 1984, the light was converted to a quartz iodine lamp and the lighthouse become fully automatic. It is now powered by batteries recharged by solar panels.
The original fog signal building was situated down a cliff face on the north-east side of the island. The circular steel building is about the same size as a telephone box and inside there was a well with a steel rope descending into it with weights attached. As the weights slowly sunk the steel rope turned a horizontal steel wheel with holes drilled in the outer edges. These holes contained cartridges that were detonated by a hammer dropping as the wheel slowly turned producing an explosion loud enough to be heard by passing vessels.
In later years a new diesel engine powered signal was installed.
The last keeper of the light became the first conversation officer of the island when Tiritiri became a wildlife sanctuary within the Hauraki Gulf Wildlife Park. (See Culvier Island)
Two companies offer ferries to Tiritiri Matangi from both Auckland and Whangaparaoa.
Gulf Harbour Ferries. http://www.gulfharbourferries.co.nz
See reference page for more details.
c. Gayle Dickison
e. Olwyn Bourne (Archways), (Feb 2013)
f. Noeline Fairchild (daughter of Charlotte May Creamer, eldest daughter of W & E Creamer)
Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2011 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.
If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. email@example.com
Preceding this there is mention of him as assistant lighthouse keeper
"Alexander Gibson, Principal Lightkeeper, Tiri Tiri [Tiritiri] Lighthouse -
Robert Wilson, Assistant Keeper - requesting his son acts as an occasional