All my life, I've lived with the memory of hand-chipped bluestone curbs thoroughly imprinted in my brain. It's one of those memories that is so ordinary it does not deserve a mention.
We all look down to check where the curb is before crossing the street, later I had to look for the curbing when parking the car. Then this Auckland icon started being replaced with concrete. At the time, I thought it was an improvement, it was smooth and uniform and modern. The city was growing up!
When, I can't remember, the concrete curbing was being replaced with a look-alike hand-chipped bluestone! Now this got my attention. Why was I disgusted? Our history was being manipulated somehow. For goodness sake, if the original stone curbs had been that important, why not re-use the originals and what had happened to these blocks of history?
The prisoners in Mt Eden Jail chipped the stones by hand but why were they bluestone and not volcanic stone?
And what is the new supercity going to do with the mountains of bluestone curbing they must have stockpiled somewhere? Anyone know?
The bluestone was quarried at Mt Eden and at two sites in Mt Wellington, one near the Panmure-Ellerslie Highway and one nearer the mountain. The council re-uses most of the bluestone curbs but has to keep them in a secure lockup because they were often being stolen. It is much more expensive to use these curbs because of the hands-on nature of re-laying them. If the roads in an area are being re-organised the council often replaces the curbs with concrete as a temporary measure if they are planning on further remedial work, the concrete being easier to lay and dispose of later.
Pitch stones which are a different shape but still bluestone are not being recycled on the roads. These stones were used as channels and leaked water, so concrete is used now days. These are being stock-piled and their future use is still unknown, they make good stone-walls. If you have a community project which might use these, talk to the city council. And if you do these, record the source in your records so Auckland knows the historical nature of it.
From my talk with the manager of transport services at the council today.