Above: Bill Udy’s electrical shop Howick 1950s.

This year marks the 175th anniversary of Howick, Pakuranga and districts which presents a wonderful opportunity to feature people in the area and their stories of their past. Steve Udy tells us about his family and their ties to this region.

Howick is a place that I was privileged to be able to grow up in. Growing up I was able to gain an understanding of my family’s connection with Howick and Pakuranga covering over four generations.

My Great Grandfather John Udy arrived from St Breock, Cornwall on March 16, 1859, on the sailing ship Excelsior. He established a farm and homestead (Underwood House) which is still in Udy’s Rd, Pakuranga today. John had a keen interest in local affairs and was chairman of the Pakuranga Roads Board for 12 years. If only he could see Pakuranga Road today. My dad Bill Udy was the local electrician after returning from WWII and set up shop opposite the Selwyn Church on Picton Street. Today his shop is now The Corner restaurant and bar.

Steve Udy

I decided to become a 175 ambassador as I think it’s important to recognise the critical role these first immigrants to New Zealand played in making Howick and Pakuranga as well as Auckland what they are today.

Howick/Pakuranga is a great place to live and people like my Great Grandfather John worked hard to create many of the benefits we all enjoy today. They helped give us roads and modern farming methods that helped feed Auckland in the early days.

It’s interesting that Johns Lane in Pakuranga was named after my Great Grandfather John who used to take his milk down to the Tamaki River via that Lane so it could be taken by boat to Auckland. As a sideline, John Udy also built the first car in Pakuranga.

John Udy first settled in Mt Eden before moving to Pakuranga and an early newspaper wrote of him, “Before leaving the Mt Eden district, Mr. Udy superintended the making of the present road from the mountain side to the train terminus and was first given permission by the Government to use the scoria from the south of the mountain for road works. He recalls that about 1866, there used to be a toll gate at the Eden Vine Hotel, near the junction of Mt Eden Road and New North Road. The charges were 3p for a saddle horse and rider, and 9p for a horse and vehicle.

His brother Richard Udy was a prominent member of the Education Board and was elected chairman in 1887 and remained there until 1896.

My father Bill Udy was one of five brothers who all saw active service in the Second World War – Dad on HMS Achilles during the Battle of the River Plate and later in the war in the Pacific. When you think about it our early immigrant families worked hard and achieved and sacrificed a lot so that we may have what we have today.

Howick/Pakuranga today has changed a lot over the years. From a small town or English village as my mother used to call Howick.

Everybody knew their neighbour and the local bobby was king. But today that’s quite different with around 180,000 citizens making up the Howick Ward.

Most don’t know everybody in their street and we have one of the most diversified populations in Auckland.

When growing up as a young man there was only the Marine Hotel if you wanted a meal out, but now it’s Thai, Japanese or Italian. I mention this as it reflects how our community has changed over the years. Change it has yes, but Howick still has its great beaches, Stockade Hill and all the other little quirks that make it special, and long may it remain so.