St John's Redoubt
St John’s Redoubt, Manukau City Centre.
Not far along Redoubt Road above the motorway interchange is the site of the old St John’s Redoubt, after which the road was originally named. This is one of Manukau’s most significant historic sites. It can be reached from the north via a vacant section above the Manukau Heights Motor Lodge, or from the south by a short walkway at the end of Boeing Place.
On 21 July 1863, not long after the outbreak of the Waikato War, a party of Auckland Militia was dispatched from Otahuhu military camp to Papatoetoe. About mid-afternoon, the soldiers pitched their tents on a knoll above the Great South Road. Heavy rain came on, and they had no dinner that night, since fires could not be lit.
The following day they set to work fortifying the position. Within a few weeks a substantial redoubt or earth fort more than fifty yards square had been completed.
The redoubt served largely as a staging post for troops marching to the front. The men stationed there saw little action themselves, apart from firing at shadows during the occasional false alarm.
The monotony and discomfort of garrison life was broken only by games of quoits, boxing, races and the occasional cricket match against teams from the Papakura and Drury camps. The men could also visit Burton’s Halfway House nearby, later known as the Raglan Hotel (this was on the site of what is now Rainbow’s End).
The redoubt was abandoned at the war’s end. A passer-by in 1873 described it as a relic that was crumbling away. Today its remains can be traced only as a slight depression in an otherwise empty field.
The site for the moment still commands the sweeping views for which it was originally chosen. Little else from the period survives in the area. The Raglan Hotel burnt to the ground in August 1876.
For more information: see Manukau’s Journey; Andy Dodd, St Johns Redoubt 1863: Heritage assessment, Auckland, DOC, 2006.
Publication record: first published in Connexions, no. 100, February 2009, p. 4. Revised for publication on the Manukau Libraries website in September 2009.
Copyright © Manukau Libraries. This text may be freely used for the purposes of private study or research and for non-commercial publication provided that the author and Manukau Libraries are duly acknowledged.