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Under the Auckland Harbour Bridge #1

I was as about as underneath the Auckland harbour bridge as you could be  today and I saw this. It was beyond a fence line.

The Plaque to Shanlee Maree Haggerty

Curiosity and all that I googled the name with no results. It’s an unusual name, and I would have thought that there might have been something. But then it goes to show that you have to have been on the internet somewhere to be on the internet somewhere. I wonder why there is a monument at that place, something that is so permanent and a reminder. Their quiet place, their reflective place, I don’t know. Well I do know that I found a reminder to them, and that’s got to make you wonder, just a bit.

So Shanley Maree Haggerty, whoever you were clearly you mean something to someone given that the garland of flowers was present, and you’ll have to trust me that you have to know where this is to know where it is, it’s not a place that many Auckland people would even consider there being access too, let alone a park.

My curiosity about the undersides of the Harbour bridge let me to seek out access, I wasn’t expecting to find this nor the memorial that I found either, it’s not a welcoming place, it’s shaded, noisy from traffic, and there are not a lot of redeeming features, no beach, no access to the shore line, just the undersides of a steel girder bridge. But it is wonderful.

A monument to the 3 who died in construction on the bridge

A monument to the 3 who died in construction on the bridge


11th January Update :

I’ve had someone let me know that they think that Shanley Haggerty was someone who died during the construction of the clip-on lanes. Which could be right, but seems a little odd considering that the monument to the other construction workers isn’t close and is somewhat grander

There is some conflicting history about the number of deaths widely reported as 3 but sometimes as 4. The monument lists just the three names. None of the documents that I’ve skim read (to be fair) mention any names of the dead workers. And they are all mentioned as “men”, and although I don’t think Shanley Maree Haggarty is a man’s name it could be that Maree is a family name that has some significance.

24th January Update :

Google eventually coughs up a bit of information as:

Shanley Maree McGowan –
Birth: 7 Aug 1967 in Auckland.
Death: 29 May 1993 in Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Burial: Body Not Recovered
Sex: F.
Father:  is not listed
Mother:  is not listed
She was a Teacher who Married  on the 27th Oct 1990 in Our Lady Of The Mount, Titirangi to Malcolm James Haggerty.

And now I’m saddened even more, because I know why there is a reminder, but more because it’s not a way to end a life.


23 comments on “Under the Auckland Harbour Bridge #1

  1. Family member
    May 7, 2012

    Hi There , I was very suprised to stumble upon this, I am a family member of Shanley i googled her name and this was the first thing that came up as it is most recent. Was nice to see the picture with fresh flowers Thanks


    • Pdubyah
      May 7, 2012

      Hi, well I was moved by what I saw and subsequently found. She must have been a nice person.


  2. Joel McGowan
    May 29, 2012

    Thanks for posting this. I’m Shanleys brother, and as today is her Anniversary, I too googled her name. Hard to think she is lost in time now, but your entry means that others who knew her can see where her memorial is.


    • Pdubyah
      May 29, 2012

      Thank you for letting me know, it’s obvious from the number of clicks that I’ve had on this particular article that your sister was a remarkable person, loved by many.

      My thoughts are with you.


    • Michael Brough
      November 13, 2012

      Hello Joel, I think I knew Shanley when we were very young. Do you have a brother called Blair? I used to play rugby with him for Baylynn.


    • Maryann
      March 9, 2016

      Hi Joel, you probably won’t remember me but I used to babysit you, Shanley, Blair and Stacey when you lived in Green Bay. Recently I have been trying to find your mum and dad, can you help me out here


  3. Patrick
    December 4, 2012

    I stumbled on this entry months after it was posted, after doing what you did — googling Shanley’s name and death date after a few moments under the Harbour Bridge — one of my favourite spots in the city, and a turnaround point for many a long run. I’d noticed the plaque some time ago and wondered, but until today never got around to doing that search. Thanks for a heartwarming entry. I’ll never visit the site again without thinking about Shanley.


    • Pdubyah
      December 4, 2012

      Thank you. It was something that made me curious, and eventuallya bit sad, I’m glad that others know of the plaque, and I’m happy that more people know why it’s there.


  4. Louise Booth
    June 22, 2013

    Hi there: I went to school with Shanley at St Marys College in Ponsonby, and we were good friends-I have often thought about her over the years as I had heard about this tragedy, and today I typed in her name and am so pleased to read these comments and know that there is a headstone for her children and loved ones to visit…arohanui to all of Shanley’s loved ones,
    Old friend,
    Louise Booth (nee Cuthbert)


    • Pdubyah
      June 23, 2013

      Hi, I’m constantly surprised by the number of visits that Shanley generates by searches. I was moved and touched by the memorial plaque, and I’m pleased that it brings some comfort to others. She must have been a remarkable person.


    September 12, 2013

    So sad I just found out she died by finding this and I am wondering how such a beautiful person could be gone. Last time I say her was in 1992 when she updated me on her life. I dated Shanley a couple of times, when she lived in Titirangi unfortunately I obviously wasn’t right for her at the time. But man she was a lovely girl. Grieving 20 years on..


  6. Pene speechlay
    September 29, 2013

    Shanley was my best buddy at school St Mary’s. I was a boarder but she was my day girl friend and I did spend the odd weekend at her home. I was shock by the news of her death. We did loose touch after school but I often think of her and have been saddened by the tragedy of her death. She was beautiful in every way. Love to her family. Pene


    • Pdubyah
      September 30, 2013

      I continue to be amazed by the number of people who view this picture and page. Shanley appears to have been a remarkable person.

      Thank you for stopping by, it reminds me that the memory of people is really important and that we shouldn’t ever forget.

      My interest was only in the mystery of the plaque, and the more people stop by and comment the more tragic it all becomes.


  7. Maryann
    March 9, 2016

    I used to babysit Shanley and her brothers and sister for many years and have been trying to locate her parents but to no avail. I last heard from her mother approximately 10 years ago while I was living in Rotorua – if anyone can help please email me on mp@xtra.co.nz


  8. Sander Rutten
    April 29, 2016

    Almost 23 years. Where on earth did they go? RIP Shanley, good to see from all the posts from these folks that you are not forgotten.


  9. dragonlife
    December 18, 2016

    Great story, Philiip!
    Hats off!
    Best regards,


    • Philip Walter
      December 18, 2016

      Just a thing I found by accident that intrigued me. This has been a story that is regularly searched and read, which is reward in itself. Philip


  10. Chrissy Longworth
    March 4, 2017

    Posting on behalf of Duncan Boyd, who used to be friends with Shanley and Stacey in the mid 80’s – interested in catching up with Stacey – if you PM me I will PM you back Duncans mobile number.


  11. Karen Hadfield (nee Rye)
    July 17, 2017

    Goodness, this has shocked me! I was Shanley’s English pen friend many many years ago in the 1970’s. I know she had siblings called Stacey, Joel and Blair as I still have a photo with their names on the back. This popped up as I was searching her name on Facebook, and then on Google. We lost touch a long time ago but I am so saddened to hear she is no longer with us. RIP Shanley. X


  12. Kim
    July 29, 2017

    Shanley. My neighbour. My friend. Gone way too soon. Sadly missed.


  13. Orlena Wakeman
    May 29, 2020

    Wow how incredible to read this! I am Steve’s cousin, Shanley was the love of his life. I adored her endlessly. We really love her. My daughter is named after her. We have been thinking about her a lot over the last couple of days, and today finally did a google search and found this thread. It’s incredible that today marks her anniversary (which we we unaware of) and we were called to search for information. Thank you endlessly for posting this. Love to Shanley, Steve, Aunty Judy, and Uncle John.


  14. Patrick
    May 29, 2020

    Rest in peace, Shanley, on this, the anniversary of your death. I never knew you, but came across this thread after seeing the plaque under the Harbour Bridge on December 4, 2012 (entry above). I’ve visited many times since then, and always have a quiet few moments when I do, thinking about you and those who loved you. Patrick


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