North Head update 10 June 2018
My postings on this website have been few and far between because until now I have been unwilling to risk upsetting the good faith bargaining position established with Department of Conservation (DOC).
So what’s been happening behind the scenes and why has that changed?
In 2012 we gained approval for a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Survey of Maungauika/North Head. In order to support our further investigation, DOC required that we provide credible evidence of sealed tunnels. By 2013 we had evidence that sealed tunnels exist!
After presentation of the GPR results, DOC then insisted that a document be prepared to meet the Historic Places Trust approval process for Archaeological investigation. A review of this document and letter of support from an archaeologist was then required. Iwi landowner consultation was also undertaken as part of this process. You may appreciate just how time consuming and costly this process was.
DOC, Manager Operations, Auckland, assured me he would provide a presentation of the ‘credible evidence’ (from the document specifically requested by him for this purpose) of sealed tunnels at Maungauika/North Head to the Tūpuna Taonga o Tamaki Makaurau Trust for their approval and support for the Historic Places Trust application. However, after the 6 years it took to get to that point in time, that did not happen. A brief phone call between DOC, Manager Operations, and the Tupuna Taonga Trust Chairperson, sealed the fate of our archaeological investigation and ensured that Iwi would no longer communicate with me on this subject.
With that avenue closed by DOC it was time to concentrate more on the Health and Safety issues that we had been taking DOC to task over - since 2011. After two years of 'discussions' including legal letters and many exchanges, (in 2016) DOC finally accepted that they were in breach of the Health and Safety Act. And, that further Gas testing at the summit gun pit location was required because the Toxic and Explosive Gas (Toluene and Naphalene gas) discovered during the 1992-94 DOC Investigation had not been re-tested since that time. The book ‘Tunnel Vision – Refocused’ covers this topic background in detail.
It was agreed with DOC that I would be part of the new Gas Testing Investigation team and that the purpose of the investigation was to conclusively determine the SOURCE of the Toluene gas. Once again, this agreement stood the test of time, with just ONE meeting before it became apparent that DOC intended to reduce the scale of the testing because of cost and excluded me from further meetings.Coincidently, I had also offered to contribute to the cost of gas testing, but this offer was rejected!
As an aside, despite Gas testing technology advances since 1992 and because of the lack of funding, the test results could only be grouped together in 2016 as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) rather than separated into Toluene and Naphalene gas as in 1992.
The Gas testing Report of 23 March 2017 made assumptions about the source of the gas without coal tar sample testing. Further testing was agreed as a result. The 19 April 2018 Report (surprise, surprise) once again failed to provide the SOURCE of the gas and instead focused on Environmental Testing. In other words, they were only interested in ensuring that DOC employees would not be overcome or poisoned by the toxic and explosive gas. They are not concerned that deteriorating ammunition (as described by previous Minister of Defence, Tizard and others) could blow them up!
Specifically, the 23 March 2017 Gas Testing Report shows of all 34 sites identified in 1992, 31 were tested. The 19 April 2018 report shows 3 sites tested. And, this last test report shows that all the areas of Toluene concentration identified in both the DOC 1992 investigation report and the March 2017 DOC Report (as Toluene and VOC respectively) have been excluded from further gas testing analysis. This is despite the Toluene sites presenting higher concentrations than 2/3 of the samples sent to Australia for analysis. In other words DOC refuses to identify the SOURCE of the Toluene Gas OR test the areas where higher concentrations of Toluene gas were shown to exist in 1992 (and still present in 2017).
After excluding me from the Gas Testing Team, I was promised the gas testing reports as soon as they were available to DOC. This arrangement had secured my agreement that I would not be constantly requesting this information through the Official Information Act. However, despite their assurances, this did not happen. Nor did other agreed minuted meeting outcomes from 14 March 2017, involving Health and Safety assessments of North Head.
We also have a great game going, this I have termed ‘Pass the Manager’. Since 2011, I have had 10 DOC Managers assigned to manage me - rather than address the issues.
My position has been very clear and consistent. The SOURCE of the Toluene gas must be positively identified and because of the evidence of deteriorating ammunition, the 7 sites of significance we have identified - require Gas testing under the Health and Safety Act. Conversely, it is apparent that DOC has no intention of doing this.
I now have all the Military documents provided by NZDF from Defence HQ in Wellington and Devonport. With very minor exceptions, they show the military has no records predating 1980. What’s more, during the Earnshaw Court Case, the Military admitted to destroying records in the 1970s. The records from a military fort with a history from 1880s to 1980, would require a mighty big shredder! The NZDF story is the same as DOC’s - they maintain there are no tunnels at North Head other than those you can see today! This is despite the fact that the only record they have in their files in regard to sealed tunnels - is a 1989 letter from RNZN Commodore Hunter (the boss of North Head in the 1980s) to the Devonport Borough Council saying - “THERE ARE SEALED TUNNELS ON NORTH HEAD”(See link Images & Links Tab).
The DOC investigation of 1992-94 and the ‘Earnshaw Court Case’ Conclusions of 2001, found on balance of probability there are no tunnels other than those visible today. This was largely based on DOC’s own evidence. However, our ‘Tunnel Vision’ Investigation has found new and compelling archival, photographic and GPR evidence of sealed tunnels that was not available to the Court of 2001 or DOC in 1992. For example:
- New archival evidence includes a war shelter sketch drawing and describes entrances on both sides of the hill.
- Multiple photos of tunnels.
- The 7 Sites of significance we have identified are in areas not previous investigated by DOC or the Military.
- DOC never used Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) - our investigation did with positive results.
- A highly credible geophysicist described those sites identified by Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) as follows;
· “There are a large number of features that are clearly man-made, and have the characteristics of tunnels.”
· “The features seen on the GPR images contain straight lines and radial patterns that are clearly related to modern underground workings, rather than archaeological features.”
· “These features are not linked to the current (open) network of tunnels, indicating that they have been blocked off at some stage in the past.”
Yet, all I continually get from DOC and the Military as justification for not looking at our evidence, is that same claptrap i.e. ‘Earnshaw Court Case’ Conclusions of 2001 found there are no tunnels other than those visible today. Both NZDF and DOC have no appetite to challenge our new evidence logically. They have not undertaken peer reviews or analysis of the evidence provided. DOC refuses to conduct a Health and Safety review of the evidence despite multiple requests including those through legal channels. Therefore, in my opinion, (and I do not say this lightly), DOC has sadly learnt absolutely nothing in the years since 'Cave Creek' about Health and Safety. In the face of firm evidence, both NZDF and DOC' have adopted a policy of 'don't confuse me with the facts - our minds made up'.
WHY HAVE DOC BEEN STALLING?
DOC are forging ahead trying to transfer the ‘Administration’ of Maungauika/North Head to the Tūpuna Taonga o Tamaki Makaurau Authority. This would see a joint responsibility for the land and ultimately the costs go to the Auckland Ratepayers. My objective is to stop this transfer of the ‘Administration’ of Maungauika/North Head to the Tūpuna Taonga o Tamaki Makaurau Authority and to ensure accountability remains with DOC. My message has also been very clear to the Auckland Council, Councilors and Managers – please don’t’ accept responsibility for the Administration of Maungauika/North Head until due diligence is done by investigating the 7 sites we have identified as tunnel entrances.
Coincidently, the DOC Manager Operations, Andrew Baucke is also the Crown Representative on the Maunga Authority. Who says you can’t ride two horses - with one arse! But seriously, would Andrew want to reveal serious Health and Safety problems at North Head, when he is trying to get rid of the problem?
A full Health and Safety Investigation is required. We now know down to the ‘mm’ where to look to ensure that the 7 sites we have identified for further investigation are safe. There will be minimal cultural or physical damage to Maungauika/North Head. The current focus is on working with the Ministers of the Crown and Auckland City Council and producing a documentary to highlight this issue to the public. The first program has now been shown on Newshub Nation (Sat 2 & Sun 3 June) and the link is provided below. Other programs are also planned, so stay tuned! This is not over by any means - we are just getting started! If you can help - please contact me.
Surely - If there is nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear!
Newshub Nation Link:
Update 25 August 2017
Firstly, thank you for your patience in waiting for this well overdue update. I have received many emails asking what is going on. The reason for the delay is because I have been trying to work with DOC and the Iwi land owners without any external complicating factor such as website publications to see they will allow investigation of the sites identified by the Tunnel Vision Team. However, during 2016 the Iwi landowners and DOC would not respond to any correspondence, in short it seemed that both these entities considered that we would go away if ignored. In addition, the military were on a go slow in regard to an agreement to provide all archival information relating to North Head. It took some 18 months before that information was received, but more on that later.
On 21 December 2016 we sent a letter to the Department of Conservation (DOC) Director General through a Lawyer (who was also concerned) about the nature of the Toxic and Explosive gas emanating from the Summit Gun Battery that had not been monitored or retested since 1992. This letter demonstrated that DOC was in breach of its obligations under the Health and Safety Legislation. DOC Head Office accepted that assessment and directed the Auckland office to rectify the situation.
This (Head Office acceptance) led to further meetings with the DOC Auckland Operations Manager and protocols were established whereby the manager at North Head was directed to engage a company to conduct gas testing at the summit gun pit. I was to be party to discussions and consultation.
Why was the gas testing necessary?
When you walk underground at the summit gun pit there is a strong smell of naphthalene during a warm day. This is the smell of mothballs (for those of you old enough to appreciate that). This gas when tested during the DOC investigation of 1992 revealed that there were two components in the gas, naphthalene and toluene. Naphthalene is a source product of explosives when it is made, and toluene is a decay product of explosives. However, this gas can also come from other petroleum based products. David Veart the DOC Chief Investigator of their "Once and for all investigation" dismissed this gas testing result at the time, because he considered the gas came from 'Coal Tar', that was used to water-proof the tunnel walls of the 1870s summit gun pit.
In fact two Chemists later argued the results in court. One saying Coal Tar was the source of the gas and the other saying that the combination of gasses present emanated from deteriorating ammunition. The court case presided over by New Zealand's Chief Justice, Sian Elias found 'On balance of probability' that the gas came from the coal tar. The reason for this determination was DOC’s failure to find any tunnels during their 1992-94 investigation. Coincidentally, DOC’s evidence led to some 60 affidavits being summarily discounted. These affidavits were from people who largely said they had been inside the sealed tunnels.
In researching the book 'Tunnel Vision' I became concerned about the conclusion reached about the gas testing for five reasons:
1. The gas testing was also conducted at the 'Engine Room', (another site that was built at the same time as the summit gun pit). However, the engine room was the only place where a coal tar sample was taken from, and it yielded only naphthalene and not toluene. This was therefore inconsistent with the summit gas test result.
2. The naphthalene and toluene gas was identified in different locations at the Summit Gun pit.This seemed illogical, surely if both gasses came from coal tar, it would occur at the same sites and be evenly distributed throughout the gun pit (and engine room).
3. Strangely the highest concentration of gas was from an area 2 metres in front of the summit gun pit in soil, and well away from the areas of coal tar.
4. The DOC Independent Engineer Report from 'Riley Consultants' stated that the source of the gas could be from deteriorating ammunition in sealed tunnels beneath the summit gun pit.
5. The naphthalene gas gets stronger (by smell) as the temperature increases throughout the day. This seems to be at odds with the coal tar theory. After 147 years it seems strange that the coal tar would still be producing varying amounts of gas dependent upon the temperature of the day
So what happened with the updated gas testing?
Unfortunately the DOC management (at that time) decided to exclude me from further meetings, however, the summit gun pit location was gas tested over the 2017 summer period.
When I finally received a copy of the Gas Testing report in March 2017, it was apparent that the parameters of the initial proposed gas testing had been reduced due to cost. But it still revealed that toxic and explosive gas (now) described as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) is leaking from the summit gun pit. What's more the source of the gas is still unconfirmed as being from coal tar.
After further correspondance a meeting with DOC's Auckland Operations Manager revealed that a Manager had been appointed to conduct a Health and Safety Investigation. Up to this point in time, DOC had steadfastly refused my requests for a Health & Safety Investigation of Maungauika /North Head despite the evidence I had provided over the years, much of which is included in ‘Tunnel Vision Refocused’.
A further meeting was held with the appointed Manager some months later and resulted in agreement that the implications of there being Deteriorating Munitions at North Head would also be considered as part of the Health and Safety review. This task was later assigned to the gas testing consultants.
On 8 August (2017) I was invited to a meeting to discuss the Health and Safety findings to date, including the gas testing results with the Consultants engaged for that purpose.
At that meeting, it was agreed that further gas testing would take place at some specific locations and that this would be conducted when seasonal air temperatures increased (due to concerns I had about the effect of ambient temperature - note 5 above). I also provided reference materials on the various types of munitions that may exist if underground magazines are located at Maungauika/North Head.
The fallacy that ‘if ammunition exists - it is best left alone’ was also discussed at this meeting. It also seems to be a commonly held misconception that munitions will only explode if one of the 3 ‘fire triangle’ elements change i.e. Air, Fuel or ignition source. For example, if you now introduce air to a sealed area it may cause an explosion.
However, this is a dangerous and inaccurate misconception. The evidence I provided at this meeting, (including data in the link soon to be attached under the tab ’Images & links) shows that as Munitions and Explosives of Concern (MEC) ages, the explosive compound/mixtures in MEC items can remain viable and could increase in sensitivity.
A number of the munitions known to be at North Head (during its military history) also contained unstable chemicals such as Picric acid. Deteriorating ammunition may detonate at any time due to chemical reaction. They do not need the introduction or presence of air or other ‘Fire triangle’ elements to initiate an explosion. Detonation may occur due to any number of factors. For example, such things as impurities in the manufacturing process, sensitivity, a chemical breakdown of the source products used, corrosion or being in contact with a non-compatible element. In addition there could be leaching of explosives into the soil called “explosive soil”. Deteriorated MEC can present serious explosive hazards, regardless of environment.
Consequently, the 'Tunnel Vision’ team position has been made clear to DOC. There could be all forms of munitions of both British and American manufacture, conventional and chemical. If ammunition exists at Maungauika/North Head, it needs to be properly assessed to determine its condition and the best method of disposal.
Leaving “deteriorating ammunition” to deteriorate further is NOT the safest course of action, but it may rank as one of the stupidest. That is why every location of a possible tunnel entry identified at Maungauika/North Head by the Tunnel Vision survey requires further investigation.
One objective by DOC is to ensure that the gas at the summit does not pose a risk to Health and Safety from breathing the fumes in. Our objective is to positively identify the source of the gas (as was an original gas testing objective). Simply determining that breathing the gas does not pose an immediate health risk to people will not (in our opinion) enable DOC to conclude its investigation for the following reasons.
A) If the source of the VOC gas emanating from the summit of North Head is now conclusively determined to be from deteriorating ammunition, it would not limit the geographic location of the ammunition to the summit of North Head. The gas could be coming from open or closed tunnels beneath the gun pit as described in the DOC Consultant ‘Riley Report’ of 1992. Conversely, if the source of the gas turns out to be other than explosives, it would not mean that explosives do not exist at other locations on the hill.
B) Significantly, the 'Tunnel Vision’ Ground Penetrating Radar and photographic evidence has now been accepted by DOC as credible evidence of sealed tunnels at Maungauika/North Head. This in itself was a major breakthrough as it reversed DOC’s 1992 position - that no tunnels exist at Maungauika/North Head other than those you can see today!
C) With the acceptance by DOC that sealed tunnels may exist, the Health and Safety Review must also now consider credible eye witness accounts of deteriorating ammunition in sealed tunnels at Maungauika/North Head including the ‘Tizard recording’.
D) Gas testing to date has been extremely limited in scope (only 2 locations) on Maungauik/North Head. DOC’s acceptance of our survey results strengthen our position that the Health and Safety Legislation requires investigation of ALL the sites we have identified for sealed tunnels. If sealed tunnels are found, they need to be gas tested prior to entry. Any sealed tunnels must be fully explored to ensure deteriorating ammunition does not exist. We have offered to do this free of charge, in compliance with the regulations and with appropriately qualified personnel.The report showing the required sample points will soon be posted on this website.
The good news is that we know (down to the centimetre) where to drill the holes for gas testing and camera investigation. We are not and have never espoused a position of just randomly digging up Maungauika/North Head. Such a proposition would be contrary to cultural sensitivities and historic site considerations. But the balance between those considerations and the Safety implications must now be directly addressed by DOC’s Health and Safety review.
Other factors arising since my last post:
1.After an extensive archival search at Defence Headquarters in Wellington and Devonport. The military have finally admitted that they have no records of Maungauika/North Head predating 1989. This is despite the fact that it was a military site from 1870 to 1990. They also have the memo on file from Commodore Hunter in Auckland (1989) stating sealed tunnels exist. I found it rather incredible that the military have no further information on this military site that had been under military control from the 1870s until 1990 (120 years).
2. The military admitted during 1992-2001 Earnshaw court case to destroying military records of North Head. It now seems that they did a very extensive job - the question is why would they do that? In addition, the advice that they had been providing to the previous Minister of Defence Coleman and DOC (that there are no munitions at North Head), has turned out to be totally unsubstantiated.
3. Coincidentally, there are no records of any services, plumbing etc of Maungauika/North Head (the Devonport Council) predating 1989. A plan has also gone missing from the National Archives building in Wellington that should have shown “cable routes”. This was extensively researched under the direction of the Chief Archivist.
4. I discovered a document (that has now been provided to DOC) from a restricted military manual that shows ‘gas’ shells were present at North Head during World War Two as part of the ammunition choice available for the 6” Mk V11 guns. This now dovetails into the section on Chemical Weapons in ‘Tunnel Vision Refocused’.
For the reasons I have outlined in this update, I remain determined to see that Maungauika/North Head is investigated properly. It is essential that DOC conducts a thorough Health and Safety Investigation in the locations we have identified.
At the moment DOC is in the early stages of its Health and Safety Investigation and they see no need for urgency, even if explosives exist. I also drew their attention to the fact that perhaps it was not the smartest thing to fire the big disappearing gun, (with the evidence available) - during their Health and Safety Investigation.
I accept that many will consider that my ‘hidden agenda’ is to find the first Boeing aircraft and that forcing DOC’s Health and Safety investigation in some way undermines the validity of the ‘Tunnel Vision ‘ investigation. To be clear, I have conducted a two tiered approach to discussions with both DOC and Iwi. Firstly, I tried to get both on board by focusing on the benefits of finding whatever memorabilia may be stored inside sealed tunnels. However, at each face to face consultation with Iwi, the Maunga Authority, the Auckland City Council and from my very first contact with DOC, I have also stated the potential risk of there being deteriorating munitions at Maungauika/North Head. I cannot, nor have I ever, tried to separate one from the other.
The reality is that I would have given up years ago on the first Boeing aircraft if the threat of deteriorating munitions was not present. Throughout my investigation I have found more evidence with each passing year to support the case for an extensive tunnel network. The eyewitness accounts, ‘Tizard’ statements and the gas testing to date makes the case for there being deteriorating ammunition, - listen to the recording on this website in ‘Explosive update’.
The priority of the Tunnel Vision project is to conclusively determine that Maungauika/North Head is safe for current and future generations.
In this regard I make no secret of the fact that we will hold Iwi and DOC to their legal Health and Safety responsibilities - as it seems this is the only way we will get Maungauika/North Head properly investigated. DOC Management have now shown that they are prepared to conduct a Heath and Safety review and to keep me involved. I remain committed to working with them to ensure they have all the factual information required.
We have also prepared a lengthy Health and Safety document for safe gas testing and tunnel entry under the provisions of the Worksafe NZ, Confined Space Entry Requirements, but it is a little early for that discussion. After the conduct of the previous investigations, it is surely in everyones best interest that further investigation is conducted by an independent (non-government controlled) entity.
Thank you for your continued support.
Update 3 July 2016
If you have been following this saga of the frustrated ‘Tunnel Vision” investigation to date, you will appreciate it has been quite a marathon. However, I think this update may give you good reason for a measured degree of optimism!
On 20 May 2016 a letter was sent to the Director General of the Department of Conservation (DOC) in regard to Health and Safety concerns not previously addressed subsequent to DOC’s 1992-94 gas testing investigation. I am pleased to say that the (new) DOC management response has been ‘a breath of fresh air’, with a commitment to resolve outstanding issues. The new Auckland Operations Manager has also agreed to support the ongoing ‘Tunnel Vision’ proposal to investigate the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and photographic anomalies. After all these years it is great to have DOC on-board as part of the solution. More importantly, as the land administrator their support is essential to the Iwi landowners.
On another note, it is the 100th anniversary of the Boeing Corporation this year and celebration of the first Boeing B&W aircrafts flight on 15 June 1916. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to obtain Iwi support and to be in a position to solve the mystery of the disappearance of these aircraft and eyewitness accounts of them being stored inside Maungauika/North Head – during this centenary year.
Other interesting developments:
There are 5 main European fortifications on Maungauika/North Head - North battery, 6” Mk 7 battery, Summit battery (originally Fort Cautley), South battery and the 12 Pounder battery. Given military protocol of that era, they each had a ‘Fort Record Book’. However, until early this year, only the Fort Cautley Record Book was available to the author. But early this year the 6” Mk 7 Fort battery Record book was finally located. This record book covered the World War Two era and revealed that multiple ‘War shelters’ (underground bunkers) exist at Maungauika/North Head.
If you have read the book ‘Tunnel Vision Refocused’ you will realise that due to Maungauika/North Head’s strategic importance, underground bunkers were a military necessity during this period. However, trying to conclusively prove it was another matter, against the accepted testimony of the ‘expert’ witness testimony of the past and ongoing denials from the Military.
This (WW2 Secret) 6” Mk 7 battery record now confirms that multiple war shelters were in use at Maungauika/North Head. For example, in regard to the Coastal Artillery Searchlight (C.A.S.L) warning alarm system:
“There are also alarm circuits from Engine Room to war shelter for engine room relief and two from 6” D.S. [Directing Station] to the war shelter for D.S reserves and the S[GT]s, C[O’]s Sleeping Hut.”
This is significant as the ‘Engine Room’ and the ‘6” D.S.’ (Directing Station) are on opposite sides of Maungauika/North Head, yet manpower reserves for both these locations could be provided at the same time. Logically this war shelter is somewhere between the two locations, i.e. underground in the middle of Maungauika/North Head. Coincidently, there is also a diagram of a ‘war shelter’ in this fort record book.
Now that the existence of these shelters has been verified from official sources, eyewitness accounts of people being able to walk through the tunnel system from one side of Maungauika/North Head to the other has become even more credible.
On another interesting note, anonymous emails provide good information. The latest provided photos showing stairs leading to a substantial set of doors and an underground structure. There are good (photographic) indicators that may help to verify the exact location of these ‘anomalies’ in conjunction with the GPR survey results.
So watch this space! This project is now gaining a significant amount of momentum. Support from various companies has also been received and the project now exceeds the regulatory requirements for entry criteria. Finalising documentation and the gas testing initiative are the author’s priorities over the next few months. We need to ensure a robust investigation proposal is put to the Iwi landowners in early August - supported by DOC.
As always – thanks you for your support!
Update 30 December 2015
It has been an interesting year for the continued ‘Tunnel Vision’ investigation into the disappearance of the first Boeing aircraft (ever made) and the evidence linking these aircraft with a hidden/sealed tunnel complex at Maungauika/North Head.
2012 -14 saw extensive Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) investigation and an historical review of Maungauika/North Head’s function during World War Two. This resulted in a number of photographic and GPR anomalies being identified. The application for archaeological investigation to the Historic Places Trust depended upon iwi consultation and agreement with them as the Government was to return this land in 2015.
By mid 2015 the land transfer of Maungauika/North Head was completed. This process highlighted a number of questions in regard to the governance and responsibility for the maintenance of this significant historical and cultural reserve. It was decided that day to day maintenance would transition from DOC to the Auckland City Council in 2016 and come under the Auckland City Council ‘Maunga Authority’. As at December 2015 the haggling continues in regard to the amount of money that DOC will have to pay the Maunga Authority for the outstanding (deferred) maintenance. In regard to the Governance issue of Maungauika/North Head, as seven Iwi own the land, protocols need to be established for control of the Maunga. It is hoped that this issue will be resolved early 2016.
While these issues played out in the background during 2015 there was also the question of whether explosive ordnance was left behind in sealed tunnels at Maungauika/North Head after World War Two. The evidence in this regard is provided in the tab entitled “Explosive Update’. Therefore, I found myself duty bound to ensure that all parties involved were aware of this possibility. This information was provided to Iwi during the consultation process (2014), and delivered to the Maunga Authority on 2 March 2015, the Auckland City Council Reserves Team on 10 April 2015 and to DOC on 27 May 2015.
On 12 August 2015 Mike Wesley-Smith (M-TV3 Story) interviewed Deputy Head of Navy Commodore Dean McDougall (D). He was the last commander of the Navy training school at the summit of Maungauika/North Head between 1993-96. These are some of his statements:
6.M Right so the Defence force has acknowledged there are sealed tunnels – how many ball park, is there a huge sealed tunnel complex?
D Look the tunnel complex up there is quite extensive and it’s from my knowledge there is three sealed compartments off the tunnels but they were all tested.
7.M How large would those spaces be?
D Well if you go into the tunnels now that gives you a good idea, they’re about six foot high and some of the spaces are probably about the size of this room here, so it was a great network, there were a lot of soldiers working up there at the time, but I’m sorry I can’t tell you there is something there.
9.M Can you recall where those sealed tunnels were generally located?
D They’re actually on both sides of the hill, both going towards Fort Takapuna and going out to the harbour.
Significantly, since this interview the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) have confirmed 'officially' that sealed tunnels exist at Maungauika/North Head. This position also endorses a letter to the Devonport Borough Council by Navy Commodore Hunter in January 1989 (see Explosive Update). As such this interview is a major breakthrough and validates many eye-witness accounts and the conclusions reached in the book ‘Tunnel Vision Refocused’. For various reasons I will not release the full transcript and interview for the time being.
In the later part of 2015 two notable meetings took place. The first was with Sir Peter Jackson on 30 September 2015. Peter had purchased one of the first Boeing aircraft engines from documentary filmmaker John Earnshaw many years before and has been following the progress of the ‘TunnelVision’ investigation. Peter kindly wrote some letters of support to local Iwi and Auckland Council.
The second meeting was with New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). After numerous questions resulting from the TV3 Story Interview on 12 August 2015, NZDF appointed a liaison officer to deal with the matter. A meeting took place in Wellington on 16 December 2015. Without getting specific at this stage, the good news is that the military maintain there are no explosives underground at Maungauika/North Head and have agreed to a number of concessions that will assist with the continued Tunnel Vision investigation.
As 2015 draws to a close we are another step closer to solving the mystery of what happened to the first Boeing aircraft. If they are not found inside the sealed tunnels we can conclude that they were indeed destroyed. Likewise, if a search of the sealed tunnels reveals no explosives, then the military position that all munitions were removed will be validated. Either way we are better off knowing the answers to both these questions
Should entry to the sealed tunnels be approved by the Iwi landowners in 2016, strict Health and Safety protocols have been established. Procedures for Confined Space Entry and Gas Testing will also comply with Department of Labour requirements. As a “Trust but Verify” precaution, the ‘Tunnel Vision’ entry team will comprise specialist personnel from a company qualified to provide “unexploded ordnance safeguarding”. The initial task will be to fully map the sealed tunnel complex at Maungauika/North Head and ensure all anomalies are resolved.
So 2015 wasn’t so bad! We have managed to confirm the presence of sealed tunnels without digging. The Iwi land owners have indicated they will review the information in the new year. The military have indicated a degree of co-operation for 2016.
Wishing you all the very best for 2016. It is stacking up to be a definitive year for the Tunnel Vision Investigation. Thank you for your support and please encourage others to follow this project.
Update 27 August 2015
On Monday 'Story' showed a short documentary on North Head. The greatest revelation occurred when Mike Wesley-smith interviewed Commodore McDougall, Deputy Chief Of Navy and he admitted the presence of sealed tunnels. This interview was requested by the Navy following their receipt of my full application for archaelogical investigation of Maungauika/North Head that was prepared for the Iwi landowners, DOC and the Historic Places Trust. I fully expected that the Navy would deny everything so this admission was huge, in fact along with my Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) results we now have a major breakthrough when considering the previous evidence.
Here is the link, it is also on the page "Images and Links":
This recording was shortened due to time constraints, however, what Commodore McDougall did say was clear. For those of you that still doubt the evidence gathered during the Tunnel Vision Investigation - where are the sealed compartments at North Head that he described? According to DOC these do not exist! And, where are the tunnels that Commodore McDougall said had collapsed and were dangerous...once again DOC refuses to accept these exist...but surely, as these tunnels are not evident today - they were sealed.
Commodore McDougall also admits they did not fully explore these dangerous tunnels, therefore they cannot categorically state there is nothing in them. The Navy position that sealed tunnels exist was also confirmed by 'Commodore Auckland' (Commodore Hunter) in 1989 when he admitted there are sealed tunnels at North Head to the Devonport Borough Council. In this letter he also admitted "we cannot categorically prove there is nothing in the sealed tunnels".
DOC and the military now have a huge problem. Up until now both have maintained that there are no sealed tunnels at Maungauika/North Head. What's more, despite my own extensive GPR survey that was conducted under license with DOC, the military and DOC have until now refused to accept that thsee results warrant further investigation or admit the possibility of sealed tunnels. Not only does this evidence from Deputy Chief of the Navy Commodore Dean McDougall destroy their arguments, the acceptance that sealed tunnels exist at Maungauika/North Head, means that we may finally have an answer as to what happened to the first Boeing aircraft ever made....
After the 4 previous investigations conducted by both the military and DOC that did not find any hidden or sealed tunnels, some people are now saying this last piece of evidence confirms that a coverup took place. I consider there have been hidden agendas and given the evidence provided to the High Court in particular, those concerned will now be pushing even harder to ensure my investigation does not continue. David Veart, DOC's Chief Investigator of 1992-94, once told me that if I found just one tunnel, he would be on the next plane to Hawaii. If I was David, I would now start packing my bag.
But seriously, with the categorical statements that David and DOC have made since 1992, the presence of just one sealed tunnel would invalidate everything they have said or done on this subject. DOCs entrenched position is understandable, because a reversal of position now, would raise a number of questions going back to the 'Earnshaw' High Court case where both DOC and the Military gave evidence that sealed tunnels do not exist. Both gave evidence that discredited John Earnshaw (a filmmaker) and the evidence of over 60 eyewitnesses who said they had been in the sealed tunnels..
What this latest evidence highlights is that my continued INDEPENDENT investigation for these incredibly historic aircraft needs to continue! I can only hope that I now get the support from the Iwi, public and council to do so..
I hope to provide you with a transcript of Mike Wesley-smith's interview with Commodore McDougall, Deputy Chief Of Navy on this site soon.
Update 22 August 2015
This week (probably Monday 24th Aug) a short documentary will screen on TV3’s new program “Story” after the news at 7PM. For those of you who still consider there are no ‘hidden’ or ‘sealed’ tunnels at Maungauika/North Head you should find it quite enlightening as there is now additional evidence that these sealed tunnels exist.
Why is it so important to establish whether there are ‘sealed’ tunnels at Maungauika/North Head?
George Bolt (New Zealand’s most famous early aviator) stated the first Boeing aircraft were sealed inside tunnels at North Head. Whats more we have a recording from ex-Minister of Defence Bob Tizard who states that when he was in office (late 1980’s) he ordered an enquiry into sealed tunnels at Maungauika/North Head and it was reported back to him that the reason why the tunnels were sealed was because of deteriorating ammunition.
We now have a 1983 'Ministerial' reply document from a Naval Historian who admits there are maps and plans of the sealed tunnels in the National archives building and that the tunnels "were sealed relatively recently and not in the 1920s and 1930s as previously believed". We also have a 1989 letter from the Auckland Navy Commodore to the Devonport Borough Council admitting there are sealed tunnels. But the Army and Navy have until now denied that ‘sealed’ or ‘hidden’ tunnels exist. Indeed a high court case presided over by New Zealand’s Chief Justice found there were no sealed tunnels. Most of the evidence was provided by the Administrators of Maungauika/North Head - the Department of Conservation (DOC) after their own two year investigation.
Based on DOC’s 1992-94 investigation that found not one ‘hidden’ or ‘sealed’ tunnel, DOC and Ministers of the Crown went on to give assurances to the public. For example:
26 May 19
North Head Study Turns Up Blank
A two year study into the mystery of what lies beneath the old fort on North Head has found no evidence of hidden tunnels or ammunition buried in the hill.
‘There is no risk to life or property and the tunnel investigation is now officially over,’ the Minister of Conservation, Mr Marshall, said yesterday.
The study, costing several hundred thousand dollars, involved the examination of anecdotal, archival and visual evidence from old photos as well as gas tests, drilling and digs at the fort dating from the 1880s.
Earlier, the archaeologist who led the project for the department, Mr David Veart, told the board: I am very confident we have explored all the possible sites we can find short of reducing the entire mountain to the water line.
Nineteen sites were investigated as potential tunnel entrances.’
Reproduced with the permission of the New Zealand Herald
Should the presence of ‘sealed’ tunnels now be confirmed, both DOC and the military have a huge problem. Up until now both have maintained that there are no sealed tunnels at Maungauika/North Head. Both gave evidence during a Court case that discredited a filmmaker and the evidence of over 60 eyewitnesses who said they had been inside the sealed tunnels.
If it can now be proven that just one ‘sealed’ or ‘hidden’ tunnel exists at Maungauika/North Head then clearly - all bets are off. Not only will this be a major embarrassment for ‘Officialdom’ but it will provide added momentum for my ‘independent’ investigation to continue.
Should sealed or hidden tunnels now be confirmed, the presence of the first Boeing aircraft ever made still being in the sealed (hidden) tunnels (or anything else for that matter) cannot be discounted.
For me personally, the presence of sealed tunnels would validate the conclusions reached in my book (Tunnel Vision Refocused). But more importantly, after the 4 previous investigations conducted by both the military and DOC (that could not find one sealed tunnel), it would highlight the need for my continued ‘INDEPENDENT’ investigation for these incredibly historic aircraft to continue!
In order for this to happen I now need the support from the public, council and most importantly – the iwi land owners.
So please view the TV3 ‘Story’ program and if you want to see a longer version, then please contact TV3 following the program.
Thank you for your support!
Update 16 March 2015
In order to proceed with an application to the Historic Places Trust for an archaeological investigation of Maungauika, North Head I attended the Maunga Authority meeting in the Town Hall on the 2 March 2015. This Authority was set up for the administration of various Maunga that were returned to Iwi ownership in September 2014. The Maunga Authority comprises 12 members, six from mana whenua, six from Auckland Council (three councilors, three local board members), and a non-voting member from the Crown.
I was given a very brief timeframe to provide an overview of the investigation to date and garner support for the proposed archaeological investigation. The meeting was very positive and my application was referred back to the TuPuna, for further consultation. This was a positive step forward and I look forward to meeting with the mana whenua. Further consultation will also complement previous consultation in March and April 2014. It is now imperative to gain the support of the TuPuna as the owners of the land to allow the investigation to take place.
I will keep you posted on the progress. In the meantime you can view a short video that featured on stuff.co.nz on the 9 March 2015:
Thank you for your continuing interest and support!
Update 5 December 2014
The Devonport local newspaper 'The Flagstaff' is publishing its next edition on the 10 December 2014 and includes an article on 'Tunnel Vision Refocused'. This article reveals the evidence for there being sealed tunnels at North Head and previous Minister of Defence Bob Tizard's statements of deteriorating explosives.
The book launch and presentation of the results of the Ground Penetrating Radar investigation of North Head (2012-14) will be presented on the 15 December 2014 at the Devonport RSA starting 7:30 PM. This information has not been presented to the public previously. So be informed, come along and see if the information presented is enough to convince you that sealed tunnels exist at North Head.
Update 23 November 2014
Additional proof to that presented by Earnshaw during the protracted Court case that ended in 2001 has now been posted on this website under the 'EXPLOSIVE UPDATE' tab. The credibility of this evidence substantiates the evidence of approximately 300 people who came forward during that time, including the 60 affidavits provided by Earnshaw. In addition, the two-year Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey has now been completed. Additional photographic evidence has also been discovered over recent years. The results of this collective evidence supports one conclusion. There are sealed tunnels at North Head!
I do not say this lightly, this statement has been made after careful consideration of the evidence.
Where to from here?
The Government and military now have a limited number of choices. They can choose to support the Tunnel Vision investigation or they can attempt to discredit it. It would be better for them to stand aside, and engender public confidence rather than trying to usurp the proposed investigation. The regulatory framework in New Zealand also means that the military are not responsible for finding munitions, they are only brought in to dispose of material once it has been identified and quantified. Specifically qualified companies exist for that reason,
As the owners of Maungauika, North Head, the Iwi consultation process is now essential to the proposed investigation. Contact has been reestablished and a robust presentation is being planned. Despite the fear this subject may invoke, previous Minister of Defence Tizard's comments must be taken seriously until the facts are known. The support from local authorities is now being actively sought. Now is not the time for blame or recriminations, or further skepticism, there should be only one collective purpose - to quantify the claims of ex-Minister of Defence Tizard and eye-witness accounts to ensure that Maungauika, North Head is safe for all to enjoy. Therefore, the proposed investigation should be treated as a fact-finding mission, conducted within the appropriate regulatory boundaries with safety as its primary consideration.
To conduct an independent archaeological investigation of 7 different sites on North Head where GPR anomalies and photographic evidence indicates tunnels may exist in order to:
· Confirm the existence of ‘sealed tunnels’
· To enter the tunnels safely
· To indentify and quantify any munitions
· To ensure the safe disposal of munitions
· To recover any aircraft or military memorabilia.
A verification and entry Team has been put together. Tunnel Vision’s specialist team’s capability is equal to military and Government capability. It comprises the following specialists:
· Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)
· Conventional and Chemical weapon identification
· Threat assessment and Regulatory Compliance
Your support is required! For the full web of intrigue buy the book, and support the ‘Tunnel Vision’ project - and tell your friends. Lets not keep this information a secret any longer!
Update posted by the author on 26 October 2014
Finally the updated edition of Tunnel Vision is available for sale. Thank you for your patience. So what's different from the content of the old book? A number of people came forward with additional information, the Ground Penetrating Radar investigation has been completed and some rather interesting photographs have been discovered. There is also a much clearer picture of North Head's function during World War Two.
Of particular interest there is now proof that 'sealed tunnels' exist at North Head and a recording between ex-minister of Defence Tizard and John Earnshaw explains why they were 'sealed' in the first place. While parts of the recording are in the book the full unedited recording will be put on this website shortly. There is now good evidence that a 'coverup' took place with the intention of hiding the tunnels and whatever may be stored inside them. Will the Boeing aircraft be there? There is only one way to find out and that is to dig.
In this regard my focus has shifted to getting the full support and commitment from the local Iwi who are the new owners of Maungauika, North Head and getting the new information out there to the wider public. Public meetings will held in the Devonport area shortly where I will provide a 'PowerPoint' presentation with a comprehensive overview of the Ground Radar findings and proposed physical investigation. Venues and times will be announced on this website as well as local news media.
If you are prepared to help with getting the information 'out there' I am looking for a number of volunteers to support the Tunnel Vision project. I greatly appreciated a number of offers that have already been made in this regard and I ask you to contact me again now that the time is right. If you have some particular skill that we can harness that would be great.
And of course buy the book and tell your friends about it. Any money made goes towards the project. This is now the end game - let's see if we can turn this urban myth into reality. Thank you once again for your interest and support!
Update posted by the author on 12 June 2014
I have been receiving requests for an update from all sorts of unusual quarters. This issue is far from dead and work has been continuing behind the scenes. I would have liked to have been at the 'digging' phase by now, but the situation is a little more complex.
7 different Iwi are involved with the ownership of Maungauika, North Head and the consultation process has been lengthy and ongoing. The Iwi are:
- Tamaki Makaurau Collective & Ngati Maru
- Ngai Tai ki Tamaki
- Ngati Paoa
- Ngati Tamaoho
- Ngati Tamatera
- Ngati Whatua o Orakei
- Te Kawerau A Maki
A number of consultation meetings were held in the 1900 convict building at the summit of North Head during March and April 2014. The meetings took on average about 3 hours for me to go through a Power Point presentation that showed North Head from its earliest days through to the present. All commented on the convincing amount of photographic and Ground Penetrating Radar evidence that has now been amassed. It makes a compelling case for 'forgotten tunnels' at North Head. The photographs from the World War Two era have not been shown before and in many cases they overlay with the GPR imaging to give a good indication of more extensive excavation during that period.
I was most impressed with the professionalism of the Iwi representation at the consultation meetings. It was certainly an educational experience for me, as I have not previously understood the cultural heritage aspects of maoridom. Hence did not fully appreciate their genuine concern or respect for the land. They readily appreciated the unacceptable possibility of explosives or other foreign substances being left in the bowels of North Head. The response received is very encouraging and without dissent. Subject to strict cultural monitoring the Iwi appear to be prepared to support the application for further investigation. The third reading of a bill in Parliament gives the local Iwi ownership of Maungauika, North Head along with the other volcanoes in the Auckland area and this impacts on continued investigation. This reading should have occurred in March this year but it is dragging on month by month. Therefore, I am in a state of 'Limbo', wishing to formalise the application with the Historic Places Trust (HPT) but unable to do so.
Fortunately this brief 'hiatus' in the investigation process has given me some breathing space to complete some of the peripheral work. I engaged the services of an archaeologist last year and he is now 'polishing' my humble effort at producing a robust ‘Research Strategy and Site Investigation Plan for Section 18 Authority Application’ to the Historic Places Trust. The idea is to have this fully ready to go ahead, as soon as the Iwi agree.
The good news is that there has been a distinct change in attitude from DOC and they have been quite supportive now that they have seen the presentation and draft HPT application. Likewise, Len Brown, the Mayor of Auckland has given his support for the project. A presentation has also been given to the Auckland Council Heritage Team and they are supportive as well. Conversely, the politicians no longer respond to new information and I am sure they just want me to - go away!
I have recently been asked if this should be an election issue in the surrounding electorates of North Head. If I lived in the area, I would certainly want to know why a senior Minister of the Crown, in a key position, Jonathan Coleman - Minister of Defence does not want to support an independent investigation of the Torpedo Yard. You may also wish to encourage Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Jonathan Coleman to support my request for continued research into Chemical Weapons. I would also want to know why MP Maggie Barry will not support the North Head investigation – simply because she has been told not to, by Jonathan Coleman. Surely – “if there is nothing to hide – there is nothing to fear”?
That said, and whilst their support would be welcome, the worst case scenario would be another government body investigation, given serious concerns over the conduct of the investigations to date. But more of that in the next edition entitled 'TunnelVision Refocused'.
I have decided to hold a public presentation for my book launch in August. More than one may be given depending on availability and demand. The same Power Point presentation will be used as shown to the local Iwi. Details of the meetings will be provided on this website and in local papers. I will be sure to extend a direct invite to those MPs mentioned.
Work continues with preparation for the physical investigation of North Head as well. A Health and Safety (H&S) manual has been drawn up by professional consultants and courses have been completed for 'Confined Space Entry' and 'Gas Testing' etc. The Regulatory system in New Zealand has determined that searching for munitions is not the responsibility of the military. They only remove the munitions once they have been identified and a risk assessment completed. Therefore, an explosives ordnance company has been added to the Tunnel Vision project 'entry team' and they have provided input into the H&S Manual. Rest assured that if 'forgotten tunnels' are found, safety considerations will be paramount and open to scrutiny.
All in all it has been a very busy time getting all 'the ducks lined up'.
On a sad note, John Earnshaw passed away in March after a long battle with cancer. There is no doubt that John was a man who had the 'courage of his convictions’. He also ensured that the large number of eyewitness accounts were documented and orchestrated two investigations. 'TunnelVision Refocused' will be dedicated to him.
The 'TunnelVision Refocused' is at the final editing stage and due out (hopefully) next month. I have been getting a lot of enquiry for the book so thank you all for your patience. I am sure you will not be disappointed. The upgraded content and new evidence will provide a much clearer picture than my original 'vanity pressed' publication. The first edition was very much 'drawing a line in the sand', with so much information that needed to be put down in some semi cohesive way. After it’s publication, my investigation continued and I am pleased to say that most of the loose ends are now tied together with new information.
So I thank you all for your interest and for humoring my poor attempt at telling what is indeed, a most intriguing story.