Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shooting the Moon on Mt Eden

Image of Mt Eden/Maungawhau, from Wikipedia.

From the Auckland Star, 11 November 1931, a report of "shooting the moon" at Mt Eden in the early 1930s. The phrase has had a variety of meanings, from the "shooting through" of deadbeats escaping their landlord without paying the rent in the 19th century, to today's somewhat coarser and more sexual meanings. In the time of this article, however, it meant the practice of driving at speed from dance halls, under the influence of alcohol, to see who can go to the mountain, round the summit, then back to the dance halls, all between dances.

Because of the conduct of couples under the influence of liquor, who left dance halls to visit the mountain at all hours of the night and morning, and indulged in a pastime called "Shooting the Moon", the Mount Eden Domain Board, which is the Borough Council, last evening decided to have chains placed across the road just above the kiosk, and also at a suitable spot on the eastern side, and that the mountain in future be closed to vehicular traffic between ten o'clock at night and sunrise.

The Mayor, Mr T McNab, said that young couples were in the habit of leaving dance halls in the city and rushing up the mountain in motor cars. They were mostly under the influence of liquor, and last week there had been two accidents, one at 3.30 am, and the other at 4.30 am.

"It seems," said Mr McNab, "that these visits are in conjunction with what goes on in a scheme or game called 'Shooting the Moon.' The conduct should not be tolerated. There is no doubt about it, because I went up the mountain to observe for myself. There was one serious accident and a car knocked a hole in the wall in Clive Road. We hope to make the persons responsible pay for the damage done."

Mr Nagis: Must have been some impact.

The Mayor: Yes. The young people are mostly under the influence of drink. I don't think pedestrians should have their lives endangered. The other night between half-past eleven and twenty minutes past twelve no less than 23 cars went round the mountain. At certain hours of the night the parks all over the world are closed. One firm in Auckland tries its cars out on the mountain in the daytime.

Mr Connelly said Mount Eden was unique, being in the heart of the city, and many tourists made a point of taking a car ride round the mountain on a moonlight night. "I do not see why we should close it because half-drunk people go there shooting the rock, or the moon. We should wait till we get a complaint from the ratepayers, or the police."

Mr Mills said 'shooting the moon' he understood was not a bad game, but when asked to explain how it was played, he said he did not know much about it. He thought it was the speed at which the cars travelled that created the danger.

Mr Rendell said he did not think the whole of the mountain should be closed. There should be some control.

The Mayor: It is those who have been drinking we wish to stop. I think we should stop night-riding round  the mountain, and I suggest that it be barred from 11.30 pm till 1.30 am.

Mr Chappell was in favour of closing the mountain by using chains at 10 pm. Trade traffic would also have to be controlled now that Clive Road was completed, otherwise all sorts of trade vehicles would be taking a short cut over the mountain from Mount Eden to Epsom.

Mr Mulvihill said he was totally opposed to closing the highway at any time. The mountain should be patrolled by police. "Possibly," said Mr Mulvihill, "our constables suffer like our spare roller -- cannot make the grade. I will move that the conduct which takes place on the mountain be referred to the police."

The Mayor: No, no. It is our domain, and we should see to it.

Mr Connelly seconded the motion.

The Mayor: We have to protect our own people. It is almost impossible to walk up the mountain day or night without danger.

Mr Rendell moved as an amendment that the mountain be closed to wheel traffic between 10 pm and sunrise.

The Mayor seconded this amendment, which was carried.


  1. While I don't want to go 'shooting the moon', the mount sounds interesting.

  2. Oh, it has a crater in the middle.

  3. That's because it isn't a mountain, it's an extinct volcano ... We have quite a few. ;-)