|Constructed in Wellington’s inner harbour in 1885, Fort Buckley was the first fort capable of defending the capital city’s port from a naval attack. |
In the 1870s and 1880s, prompted by growing fears of a Russian invasion, and the increasing realisation that New Zealand could no longer rely solely on either the British navy or the country’s isolation for protection, the New Zealand Government purchased long-range weapons and began implementing the construction of coastal defences.
Fort Buckley was among the first forts on which construction commenced, and was the first to be completed. It was designed to support the larger Fort Kelburne at Ngauranga. The battery consisted of two circular gun emplacements designed to hold the 64 pr Rifle Muzzle Loading guns ordered by the New Zealand Government during the first ‘Russian Scare’ in 1878.
Hastily constructed, the pits were initially made of earth. The magazine store was made of timber, and protected from bombardment by a covering of earth and gravel. The pits were upgraded to concrete in 1886. By the early 1890s, the 64 pr guns were outdated and the battery was not used in operations from 1893. It was then relegated to use as a drill or training centre until 1904, when it was officially decommissioned. By 1909 its guns had been removed for display in Palmerston North Park. The fort was not used again until the Second World War, when an anti-aircraft battery was installed. The fort became surplus after the Second World War and fell into disrepair.