The PumpHouse and Lake Pupuke are unique in Auckland.

The existence of The PumpHouse is due entirely to the existence of Pupukemoana – Auckland’s only maar or volcanic crater lake.

The lake came into being after a massive explosion erupted around 150,000 years ago and is the second oldest of more than 50 volcanoes that make up Auckland’s volcanic field. The field itself is currently on UNESCO’s tentative list after being submitted for classification as a World Heritage Site due to its unusual geological features and areas of indigenous cultural significance.

The huge explosion wiped out the ancient Kauri forest at Takapuna leaving evidence of the forest’s existence by way of rare fossils – casts in lava of the huge kauri tree trunks which once populated the area right down to the waterline.

The PumpHouse sits on what’s known as the ‘tuff ring’ or crater edge. The lake itself is 57m deep and home to some very large and clever eels. And yes, there is a taniwha that over the years has made some strong gestures in its role as kaitiaki of the lake.

In pre-European times the rich volcanic soil provided for local Maori* and was a food preparation area. Decades ago when the carpark area was being developed many shell middens were exposed indicating the lake shore was well utilised in daily life.From 1905 the building housed a furnace which energised an enormous pump that shifted water from the lake to the early settlers of Devonport. In 1941 when the Waitakere Ranges became the source of Auckland’s water, the pump house was decommissioned. Thereafter it was neglected and gradually fell into disrepair.

Its identity as a theatre is the legacy of a local community of art lovers and history buffs who in the late 1960s fought hard to rescue the building from scheduled demolition and throughout the 1970s worked equally hard to raise the funds for restoration and conversion into a theatre. This group of locals coalesced to form the North Shore Theatre & Arts Trust which still administers The PumpHouse today.

In 2017 The PumpHouse celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the first ever production staged at The PumpHouse Theatre – which incidentally was a Greek tragedy, Elektra by Sophocles.

You can read more about our history by downloading the PumpHouse-Timeline-Booklet

“I like the ephemeral thing about theatre, every performance is like a ghost – it’s there and then it’s gone”. –Dame Maggie Smith

* Te Kawerau and Nga Tai

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