Officers move out of century-old Auckland police station

Logan Church
Source: 1News

The police have moved out of a station that's been in use for a century in central Auckland.

The first Newmarket police station opened in 1882, years before the organistaion now known as the New Zealand Police was formed.

A sergeant's cottage was built in 1909, with a large art deco-era add-on built later.

Countless officers have called the station home - including retired officer John Mitchell, who was stationed there for 10 years after leaving police college in 1979.

"In '79 when I arrived there was about 60 staff working here, we had an area headquarters, we had 35 constables on shifts with seven sergeants," Mitchell told 1News.

The century-old Newmarket police station has been left vacant after police moved to a new station down the road.

He took 1News on an exclusive tour of the station, which is now sitting empty.

Remnants of its history remained, from the mid-century phone system which is still connected to the phone network, an old safe behind the front desks, as well as old filing cabinets that would be used to organise the paper files that were used before computers were introduced.

Large wooden lockers were highly sought after, Mitchell explained.

"[There were] 12 cops in here all frantically trying to do their paperwork on a big steel top desk with a couple of manual typewriters with some keys missing," he said.

Next to the main building was a brick cell block consisting of four cells. The prisoner bunks in each were built out of kauri.

They had been sitting unused by the time Mitchell began working at the station, and he said one of the senior sergeants at the time had a novel idea for them.

"They were dirty, filled with cobwebs," he said.

"Our senior sergeant at the time thought it would be cool to turn it into a bar."

While much of the old equipment and other items have been moved on, some found a home at the new, purpose-built Newmarket police station down the road.

Sitting on an old barrel in the new office were the original visitors' books and arrest books.

"In the olden days they used to record all those things into a book because they obviously didn't have a computer system," said area prevention manager Lyle Norris.

Sitting proudly on the wall is a picture of James "Dolly" Rock, a sergeant-in-charge between 1919 and 1929. His ghost was said to haunt the corridors of the old station.

Four officers, a diversion officer and a CCTV camera operator would be based at the new station, said Norris.

"Over time we've centralised staff to different locations and the old station was off the beaten track for people, so we wanted to move right into the heart of Newmarket."

While the future of the old station was uncertain, Mitchell hoped whoever took over ownership in the future would keep some of the old history alive.

"It would make a wonderful foundation for a cafe and bar as part of a wider development," he said.