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Named after Queen Victoria in the late 1840's Mt. Victoria at 87metres is the highest volcanic cone on the North Shore of Auckland. Living up to its Maori name "Takarunga" (Hill standing above) it looks down over the historic village of Devonport and across the harbour to the City in the South West and the Hauraki Gulf in the North East.
In 1842 Mt Victoria was known as 'Flagstaff Hill' as signals were hoisted up the flagstaff to guide ships into Auckland Harbour. In those days ships could take up to three days to tack into Auckland after first sighting. Residents and merchants living in the city would get valuable information from Flagstaff Hill as different flags were used to identify different vessels.
The original flagstaff can be seen today in Windsor Reserve on the Devonport Waterfront.
The Signal Station you see at the summit today was built in 1954. By the year 2000 the station became fully automated and now operates from the Ports of Auckland Centre at the container terminal across the harbour.
If you're riding a Segway Personal Transporter to the summit not only will you pass all those on foot as they take photos of you on those unusual Personal Transporters, you will pass The Michael King's writers centre.
Michael King born in 1945 tragically died in March 2004 when the car he and his second wife Maria Jungowska were travelling in crashed into a tree and caught fire near Maramarua on State Highway 2 in the North Waikato.
The Michael King Writers Centre on Mt. Victoria was originally The signalmans House designed by Architect Edward Bartley and built in 1898.
Naval officer Lieutenant Robert Snow the very first signalman, appointed in 1842 died along with his wife and daughter in 1848 when they were the victims of Auckland's first mass murder.
Strangely enough the Signalman Thomas Duder who lived in this house from 1843 and became the longest serving and the best-known of the signalmen was implicated in these murders. This of course created a huge scandal in Devonport.
However several months later Joseph Burns, a former shipmate of Duder's from the 'HMS Buffalo' was arrested for assault on his common law wife Margaret Reardon, it was at this trial he confessed to the murders.
The charges against Duder were dropped and Burns was publicly hung from a tree at the scene of the crime on Devonport's waterfront after being paraded down Auckland's Queen street lashed to the top of his own coffin.
Thomas Duder went on to become highly respected and a successful businessman in the Devonport Village even having a street named after him. He had eight children and his descendants are still well known in the Devonport Community.
If you take a "Magic Broomstick" Segway tour you will stop at the site of the Hanging Tree. Located at the bottom of Mays Street on the Devonport Waterfront it is thought to be the "scene of the crime" and marked with one of the many historical plaques found around Devonport Village.
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