Newmarket site history

Find out about the history of the Newmarket site from the mid-1800's to today.


Historic site

The University’s ownership of Newmarket will herald a new era in the history of the site which was first a large vegetable garden owned by Thomas Roach (spelled Roche in some sources) and then became the Captain Cook Inn, built in 1857 or 1858.

According to records kept at the Lion headquarters library in East Tāmaki, Roach sold his inn to Thomas Hancock (pictured Images1 & 2) for £3,000 in 1859. Hancock, making use of a plentiful supply of pure spring water on the site, began brewing beer in sheds behind the inn while his daughters were serving in the bar. He soon established “a modest little model brewery” with the addition of malting houses a few years later. (pictured Images 3 & 4)

“There was then hardly any business attached to the house….but I stuck to it …” wrote Hancock at the time. “When the Taranaki war broke out there was a stir Amongst [sic] the troops, etc, and it began to make a little more money … After awhile I began brewing for my own house. The beer grew in favour and became well patronised. Gradually it got a good reputation. Publicans even, going into the country for a jaunt, would call in for some of my beer for their own use.”

By 1871, the Captain Cook Brewery was firmly established and Hancock had taken his son-in-law Samuel Jagger into partnership. In 1882 Jagger constructed new brick buildings for the brewery including a five-storey tower. (pictured Images 8 & 9) These were designed by Stephenson, of the firm Baildon and Stephenson and after completion, in 1884, a statue of Captain Cook was mounted on the roof above the main entrance. (pictured Images 10 & 11)

Jagger died in 1890 and Hancock in 1893, and the brewery was taken over by Moss Davis who had been in partnership with them since 1885. When he went to England in 1910, he left his operation to his two sons Ernest and Eliot who managed it until 1923. The Captain Cook Brewery and the original Lion brewery on the other side of Khyber Pass Road, were two of the 10 major brewing companies throughout New Zealand that then amalgamated to form the giant conglomerate New Zealand Breweries Limited, which occupied the old Captain Cook site and adjoining land.

In 1977 the company’s name was changed to Lion Breweries and in 1986 to Lion Corporation Ltd. Following the merger with LD Nathan and Co Ltd, the company’s name was changed to Lion Nathan in June 1988, with the northern brewing operation retaining the name of Lion Breweries.

Today Lion, as the company is now known, is a major Australasian food and beverage company of which the former Lion Breweries brand is a core part.


Cook’s true lineage

The University of Auckland has inherited an important remnant of the Newmarket site’s colourful history: a one and a quarter real life size marble replica of the great Pacific navigator Captain James Cook. He was erected on the site on top of the Captain Cook Brewery in 1884. But is our Cook the real deal or not? The University of Auckland News has been alerted to controversy around this bloke’s authenticity, with some suggestions that he is a marble statue imported from Italy. According to a Royal New Zealand navy expert consulted by Wellington’s Evening Post for an article published on 11/8/1969, the statue’s face, hat and epaulettes are wrong: ”The face looks nothing like the majority of the portraits of Cook painted at the time: the hat is totally wrong – Cook would have worn a tricorn: the cockade on the hat is wrong, and any cockade would have been on the front of the hat, while epaulettes shown on the model are out of the time – they weren’t introduced until 16 years after Cook’s death.”

The statue’s authenticity appears to have been questioned when three bronze castings of the original were made for the Cook bi-centenary. One of these went to Kaiti Hill, Gisborne, above the site of Cook’s first landing in 1769; one was for James Cook High School in Manurewa; and one stands outside the new Lion headquarters in Papatoetoe.

The Gisborne Cook has since been labelled an “imposter”, nicknamed the “pasta cook”, and even pushed off its pedestal only to be re-instated. In a bid to appease local controversy, a new millennium statue of Captain Cook was erected at the mouth of the Turanganui River.

However, University News has been reassured that the original Captain Cook statue it is about to inherit, is not a fake.

“When Samuel Jagger, co-owner of Captain Cook Brewery took possession of the statue in 1884,” says long-time Lion Breweries Librarian, Edna Carson, “he was certainly convinced that it was Captain Cook (otherwise he would probably have rejected the statue) and according to an article at the time, it stated that the sculptor ‘designed the statue from the best known portrait in existence, which attracted much attention in the Sydney Exhibition’. As I have never been able to prove who the sculptor was, my guess has always been that because of the uniform, it was either one of the Italian sculptors working in Sydney at the time – or possibly someone working for them.

“Over the years I have contacted sculpture experts in Australia and though they have been unable to identify the sculptor for me, they have said that the features are definitely a likeness of Cook (as judged by the portraits in existence then), though the uniform might be the sculptor’s own interpretation of what a naval officer would wear, possibly influenced by his own background, i.e. Italian.

“There have been a number of stories about the sculpture over the years, including an extremely inaccurate one I’ve just seen that Samuel Jagger ordered it in 1886 from Italy on his way back from a trip to England – by this time the statue had already been in place above for the brewery for two years!”

At the University’s own Department of Art History, Edna’s assertion that Cook is indeed not an imposter has been confirmed. Says Senior Lecturer in Art History, Robin Woodward who has studied sculpture from this era: “With regard to the source and form of the sculpture, my understanding is the same as that of the Lion Librarian.”