• Geoff and Jim Smale. Photo courtesy of the Smale family.

Jim and Geoff Smale, the next generation

James Henry (Junior), or Jim, was born to William John and Aroha Smale on 8 January 1916. The Smale family say that Jim left school aged 15 (around 1931) to work in the family quarry.   That’s likely the one on family land on the eastern side of Taharoto Road, rather than the earlier one on Catholic leased land near the orphanage and St Josephs. Later, during the 1930s, he worked as a roading contractor in the King Country, which included travelling in a horse-drawn caravan.

Another son, Geoffrey (Geoff) Andrew Smale, was born 5 November 1924 and had the opportunity of studying to University Entrance level in 1943. Geoff was very much into yachting and won the Prince of Wales cup at Cowes, Isle of Wight, in 1958. He later represented New Zealand in yachting at the Mexico Olympics in 1968, where he came 8th in the Flying Dutchman class, and also at the 1972 Munich Olympics. 

In December 1944, their father William John bought a 60-acre farm, at the north-western corner of Northcote and Taharoto Roads stretching westwards to the golf course and northwards towards Wairau Road. That farm had previously been farmed by such early settlers as the Mackay family, Benjamin Menary and George Vaughan, and was also used by William Paterson for his horse drawn bus service in the early twentieth century. The Smale family was to use the farm instead for fattening beef and dairy farming. Around 1956, the family sold around ten acres of that land for Westlake High School (later the Girls’ High School). Parts of their Taharoto Road land was also subdivided for housing.

As previously noted, their father William John died in May 1964 and his brother James Henry (Senior) in 1967. Their mother had earlier died on 7 July 1962, and she and William John are buried together at O’Neill’s Point Cemetery. On the night of 5th November 1966, the old homestead on the farm, which dated from around 1900 or earlier, was burnt down.

However, although the Northern Motorway from the Auckland Harbour Bridge originally ended at Northcote Road, the transport authorities planned to extend that motorway northwards. From then on, Jim and Geoff, and the next generations of the Smale family, had to make decisions as to the future use of their land. Differing views included its use for private housing or public recreation, possibly the location for a new civic centre for Takapuna, or at least its new main shopping and retail area.

In the early 1990s, the Smale Family and Fletcher Development and Construction put forward a joint venture for an approximately eleven-hectare retail and commercial complex on the site, but that was subject to planning approval and the then North Shore City Council opposed it. The matter then went to the Planning Tribunal, with both Jim and Geoff having to become ‘bush lawyers’ at various hearings and the like.

The end result was the ever expanding Smales Farm transport and commercial complex that we know today. The Clear Communications Centre at Smales Farm opened in 1999, starting the development of that major office park next to the Northern Motorway. The adjacent Northern Busway was formally opened in February 2008. 

Geoff retired in 2004 and followed his various interests including flying. He died in an aircraft accident on 9 April 2011, while Jim died 30 July 2010, after retiring in 2006. In 2004 both had been inducted into the North Harbour Business Hall of Fame.

My thanks to the Smale family for their assistance and support.

Issue 99 June 2019