Camp Bentzon Kawau Island
Camp Bentzon Trust bringing the outdoors to our youth since 1972
Nicolas Ludwig Christian Bentzon, who was born in Denmark in the mid-1800s, became a fisherman when he emigrated to New Zealand. Mr Bentzon had a small mullety named “Zhamrock” and he anchored frequently in North Cove on Kawau Island.
Finding the area to his liking he purchased thirty acres of land and it wasn’t until he was 80 years of age that he had a small cottage built on the property. Even then, he continued to sleep on his boat as his cottage had no bed, and on the occasions he was ashore, he slept on the floor.
Gifted for education and recreation
It was in 1935 that Mr Bentzon donated his land to the Education Board and recognising his wishes the Board resolved at their meeting to “accept donation of the land by Mr Bentzon for the purpose of public education and recreation, and that the Board agree to the conditions of the donor that the land should not pass to private ownership and that it should not be used for private purposes”.
A school was opened on the property in 1936, the sole teacher being Mr Graeme Blamires. He lived in a tent in front of the schoolroom which came from the mainland. Within two years the school ceased to exist and it wasn’t long before the little school building was returned to the mainland.
Camp Bentzon is born
In 1969 Mr Noel Bowden of North Shore Teachers College was elected chairman of the newly formed Camp Bentzon (Kawau Island) Board and things began moving, not the least of all the present camp building. The top floor consisting of bunk rooms, originally accommodation from Auckland Teachers Training College and later Ardmore School of Engineering, was transported to the site, by barge, in three sections in December 1970. The building was jacked up to build the kitchen and ablutions blocks beneath.
For some years the camp operated without resident managers. Local residents took on the job of opening up the camp in time for groups arriving.
The existing camp managers cottage came from Schoolhouse Bay in Bon Accord Harbour in 1978 and since that time has been occupied by a succession of managers.