A permanent exhibition by photographer Peter James Quinn, documenting life along the Great South Road at the beginnings of the 21st Century now hangs at the southern entrance to the TelstraClear Pacific Event Centre in Manukau City.
Once the main route south from Auckland, the Great South Road began life in 1843 as a bullock track to the Waikato. In the 1860s, at the instigation of the colony's governor, Sir George Grey, the road was widened, and was to become the main supply route for British and colonial forces attacking the Maori strongholds during the Waikato War. Later, due in large part to the spoils from that controversial war, the road became the conduit to convey livestock from settler farms to the holding pens at Newmarket and, in turn, the freezing works built during the 1880s around Otahuhu, with produce leaving via the port at Onehunga during the golden years of refrigerated meat export to Britain. By the mid-1930s the road was eventually paved, making it fit for cars, and the subsequent waves of migrants who made their way down it over the decades to follow.
To a large extent, the Great South Road was the catalyst that would fuel the population explosion that became South Auckland. The exhibition was commissioned by the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust, with funding coming from the South Auckland Charitable Trust.
At the 18 June opening, at 430pm Peter Quinn will speak and give a slide presentation regarding his 15 years of experience with NZ Geographic, as well as the evolution of the Great South Road Project. Fellow NZ Geographic contributor, Vaughan Yarwood, will also speak about the history of the Great South Road.