Well – the time has arrived!
Further to my blog about marking our history in Franklin, (as we are in the years of having notable historical events to recount), is a little info about connections to possibly one of the most famous kiwi warships, HMS Archilles – being the first NZ unit to engage the enemy in WWII.
When the cruiser HMS Achilles opened fire on the German ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Graf Spee in the South Atlantic, at 6.21 a.m. on 13 December 1939, it became the first New Zealand unit to strike a blow at the enemy in the Second World War. With the New Zealand ensign flying proudly from its mainmast – as battle loomed, a signalman had run aft with the ensign shouting ‘Make way for the Digger flag!’ – Achilles also became the first New Zealand warship to take part in a naval battle.
The 82-minute engagement between the Graf Spee and its three smaller British opponents – Achilles, Ajax and Exeter – was inconclusive. All four were damaged, with the British ships suffering 72 fatalities (among them two New Zealanders) to the Graf Spee’s 36. But the German warship’s subsequent withdrawal to the neutral Uruguayan port of Montevideo, and its dramatic scuttling by its own crew on 17 December, turned the Battle of the River Plate into a major British victory – and a welcome morale boost for the Allied cause.
Achilles’ role in the battle was a special source of pride for New Zealanders, who welcomed the ship’s crew home at huge parades in Auckland and Wellington in early 1940.
The original Admirals Barge that was aboard the Archilles, was found on Waiheke Island and a Waiuku local managed to purchase the barge for restoration.
Franklin, as with other parts of the country and the world, has it’s share of history – albeit, younger than overseas, but history none-the-less! and here we have descendants of crew who served on the Archilles, as I can personally vouch for.
According to one of our local papers, the subject of a ferry link across the Manukau Harbour has once again arisen.
The Hunua National Party candidate has a passion for better transport solutions and recently he met with Auckland ferry operator Sealink, to discuss opportunities for ferry services from Pine Harbour and across the Manukau Harbour.
With a significant increase in housing in the Waiuku area
the feasibility of providing ferry services is being assessed, with options connecting Onehunga Wharf, Clarks Beach, Waiuku and Huia.
Some key issues that need to be addressed are – Access to Onehunga Wharf, which is controlled by Ports of Auckland; The need for landings to be built at the ports of call; silting of the harbour which restricts access during low tide; the need to make an adequate return on the cost of a vessel.
The proposal would be fully supported by the Manukau Harbour restoration Society group as being the first step in starting long overdue change to the Harbour.
The Manukau is New Zelands second largest harbour and the proposal would allow the wider public to appreciate it’s value and importance to Auckland first hand.