Blog post by Vanessa Mander, Community Ranger in the Mahaanui District.
Have you ever stood at a historic site and felt like you could almost see the action unfolding? Usually I’m not into bold, epiphanic moments, preferring just an education experience and then chalking that up to a “been-there-done-that” moment. However, there is something at Awaroa/Godley Head that I just can’t brush off easily.
The WWII coastal battery is something to both admire and be impressed with. Standing at the head of the Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour you get a real appreciation of how close it is to the city, as well as a sense of isolation due to the large expanses of ocean you look out at.
Built in 1939, the Godley Head coastal defence was impressive even back in those days. With three 6-inch (barrel) guns in this compound alone, it should have struck fear into any enemy ship. It was manned right through until the end of compulsory military service in the late 1960’s and then left in the hands of what was Land and Survey, again back in the day.
The Department of Conversation took ownership on its inception in 1987, and since then, every effort has been made to make sure that every Cantabrian has the right to be connected to this important historic site.
The earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 precipitated the closure of the major attraction, the gun emplacement at Godley Head.
After much effort, investigation, sweat and tears, we are proud to announce that this significant site is again open to enjoy.
As I write this, I’m standing at the edge of the second gun pit, staring at the emotive mural painted by the immensely talented street artist Wongi Wilson. Looking on these scenes that are derived from real photos showing moments of time from this place, it hits you that we are all responsible for keeping these places alive.
We have put in a huge effort to make these available again, but it’s only by working with our partners, volunteers and contractors that this was achievable.
We should all strive for connection, with nature, with family – but also with heritage. For we get a better understanding of where we are going if we know where we have been.
Built in 1939, the Godley Head coastal defence battery is ranked as one of the top ten New Zealand coastal defence heritage sites.
Learn more about the reopening of the historic Awaroa/Godley Head gun emplacements here.