Portrait of a Seaplane Station

Random House, Auckland, 2008

  • ‘If you are expecting a technical book about seaplanes or a treatise on the exploits of the RNZAF this probably isn’t quite the book for you. Rather, RNZAF Social Historian Bee Dawson has painted a multi-faceted picture of Hobsonville from its earliest days as a gum digging site, a pottery, and later a market garden through its slow pre-war growth as a seaplane station, its heyday as a wartime station and its eventual amalgamation with the RNZAF’s nearby Base at Whenuapai.

    Along the way Bee Dawson has again produced a detailed social profile of Hobsonville community and an important part of Auckland’s history. She interviewed many of its former personnel digging up fascinating anecdotes and personal observations (including mention of Scandal Alley) that give the book its colour…

    …Mrs Bee Dawson’s third book on Air Force history is a pleasure to read and an excellent contribution to the Air Force’s and Auckland’s social history – well-researched, readable, with plenty of historical photographs, maps and diagrams. Mrs Dawson has come up with a thoroughly professional and apt history.’

    Air Force News, April-May 2008.

  • ‘…it’s a wonderful book. Packed full of details, photographs, facts and anecdotes, everyone is included, from commanding officers and their lady wives to gardeners and aircraftsmen.’ North and South, April 2008.
  • ‘Thank heavens for the likes of social historian Bee Dawson, who isn’t letting more than a century and a half of history sink beneath yet another housing estate. Here she’s produced a chatty, unpretentious history of the base, recording voices and stories that might otherwise have been lost.’ Metro, April 2008.
  • ‘The author is the social historian for the RNZAF and is well qualified to research, record and present the station’s story in an accurate, engaging, lively and easily absorbed style.’ Marlborough Express, 25 March 2008.

Hobsonville – book description