The first boatsheds built at Titahi Bay beach were on the rocks at the north end of the beach and were originally known as launch sheds. Launch shed No. 1 was built by Andrew Vella in 1916 for the launch he used to access his farm on Mana Island. Vella operated a 14' launch which he used to carry stock supplies to and from Mana Island. Two years later, a second shed was built by Eric Johnston a keen fisherman and skipper of the boat Tupati. Mr Johnston was known to give his catches away to locals from his boatshed.
Between 1916 and 1922 there were 20 sheds built on the rocks. From 1918 onwards Makara County Council required boat and bathing shed owners to pay an annual license fee. Sixteen bathing sheds were allotted over the 1918 summer season for the fee of five shillings.
In 1922 the Council imposed bylaws governing erection and use of sheds and building permits were needed. Prior to this any structures could be built without local authority control and the sheds on the rocks are evidence of this. The sheds on the beach built prior to 1922 were of differing styles but these were later standardised.
The northern boatsheds and bathing sheds were built from c.1922 to the 1950s. In 1949 a report by the building inspector, Bill Threadingham, described the sheds as eyesores and noted that there was not one that did not need painting or repairs. The report also highlighted that of the 30 sheds licensed in 1948, four were owned by non-ratepayers, nine occupied more than one site and five boatsheds were not being used by the supposed owners of the sheds. The report went on to suggest that the number of boatsheds on the beach could be increased if they were standardized in size and design and built in one continuous row. Letters were sent to all the owners asking them to either demolish or rebuild their sheds to a specified design to improve the look of the foreshore and by 1953 many of the boatsheds had been rebuilt to the standardised design.
It is unclear when the southern bay boatsheds were built, although photographs from the Alexander Turnbull Library show some sheds in the 1920s and 1930s but these may have been temporary as they do not appear in a 1950 image. It would appear that they were constructed after the 1950 edict requiring the standardizing of designs, scale and size because they all appear to be of very similar design, materials, unlike those on the rocks the northern end of the beach.
Today, the boatsheds are established beach landmarks and still in regular use.
(We would like to include a history of the Onepoto boatsheds. If you could contribute that, please contact us.)
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