Achilles Point

Achilles Point - Te Pane O Horoiwi
By The Auckland Psychogeographer
One of Auckland’s great vantage points, Achilles Point, is also known as Te Pane O Horoiwi - and is a dual commemoration of two crafts - the NZ-crewed ship that saw off a German pocket battleship in the first naval battle of WW2, and the Tainui waka which brought three ancestral chiefs to Aotearoa. This was the landing point of Hotoroa, commander of the Tainui waka, Taikehu the key ancestor of the Ngai Tai people, and Horoiwi the settler of the Tamaki area.

The point features pou commemorating the chiefs, a ship’s mast and a long gangplank of a lookout platform. As the visitor is guided out over the cliff, towards the enormity of the ocean and the sky, there is a deep echo of the ominous journeys undertaken by seafarers. For the landlubber there’s something unimaginably brave and mystical in the urge to set off into the unknown - whether for exploration or for battle - into the unceasing, uncaring ocean. Here the visitor hovers over that ocean, ever-changing tones of cloud-shadows on its surface, and you are alone with Rangitoto - mute and ethereal, and the other islands of the Hauraki Gulf.

Other shadows on the sea are of course cast by aircraft, and Achilles Point features a uniquely poignant tribute to the tribulations of the sky. A stone bench in memory of Tirau-born airman Sgt Pilot Douglas O.Stanley who died in a Hurricane whilst training in Britain was presented by his friend Private Ted Scherer. In turn, Ted lost his life in action in Italy, and so another bench was provided for Achilles Point by his father.

Of course it wouldn’t be Auckland without a touch of the absurd, and for all of the drama of the view, the place itself is firmly ensconced in banal eastern suburbia. There’s always cars - mostly tourists stopping for a one minute peek - but the presence of beer boxes in the bushes hints at a nightlife.
After all, Aucklanders love a view.