It may have been 50 years late, but on Friday 4 November, a small group of Auckland Council regional park rangers and descendants of the Rose family, gathered at Te Waha point north of Piha to unveil a cairn erected to mark two gifts of land to the regional park.
Jim and Phyllis Rose gave 2.5 hectares on the northern side of the headland in 1961 and five years later, their neighbour William Laird Thomson, gave a similar sized piece on the southern side. These two gifts enabled walkers to get from North Piha beach to Anawhata without having to take the much longer inland route. And the headland itself is a prominent landmark from Piha, providing spectacular views along North Piha and Piha beaches and to the north, into White’s Beach itself.
Cr Sandra Coney welcomed descendants of the Rose family and noted that a great deal of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park was made up of gifts, big and small. The first gift was in 1909 by the McLaughlin family who gave 776 hectares in 1909 in memory of the settlers of Cornwallis. In the Piha area, the first gift seems to have been 19 hectares given by a J Alexander at Anawhata and other important gifts were by Sir Algernon Thomas and his descendants: 42 hectares in Piha Valley, which included the Maungaroa Lookout, and Lion Rock.
Peter Hillary, grandson of the Roses, said Jim Rose was a solicitor and keen mountaineer, who began tramping in the Waitakeres in the 1920s, and purchased land at Whites Beach from Horace Mobbs in 1925.
When he first owned the land there was no road from Anawhata and he used to park his car in Garden Road, and then set off briskly with the weekend’s provisions to climb the cliff at the end of the beach. As soon as he had dropped them off, he would race back down to help his wife Phyllis and two children, Shirley Ann and Louise up the cliff. Peter’s father, Sir Edmund Hillary, trained for his mountaineering expeditions by regularly walking from Te Waha to the end of Piha beach and back.
Another Rose grandchild, Tibby Chamley, recalled her grandparents and the other donor, Laird Thomson, He was a manager and knew Jim Rose through the Alpine Sports Club. He was a connoisseur of the arts and furnished his little bach with fine carpets and art works while red silk curtains framed his view. For many years a widower, he eventually lived at White’s Beach.
The track from North Piha is named after him and follows the route used by Jim Rose to reach his bach in the early days.
The cairn at Te Waha was designed by Brave Design and built by Piha ranger Andy Pedersen with help from rangers Stu Leighton and Dan Real.