The Corbans Winery on Great North Road played a significant part of the early development of Henderson. Established by Assid Abraham Corban in 1902, the vineyard grew to be a dominant force in the New Zealand wine industry.
Originally from Lebanon, A.A., as he was known, developed the land constructing a three-level wine cellar in 1907. After much hard work, Mt. Lebanon Vineyards won gold and silver medals at the 1913-14 Auckland Exhibition, competing against wines from throughout the ‘Empire.’ After becoming leaders in the industry in the 1920s, a large two-storied 21- roomed homestead was constructed (CEAC, 2004).
Part of the success of the Corban family was a strong business ethos, always working to supplement winemaking with other forms of income. Vegetable crops and tobacco were planted between the vines. A produce stall sold from the front gate, and a handcart would be taken out to sell fresh goods around Henderson (CEAC, 2004).
Always looking for ways to lower costs, even coal was supplemented in an ingenious manner. “A supply of coal was cunningly collected from the trains that ran past the front door. Chipped and damaged bottles were put out as targets for the train drivers and workers, who could not resist taking a shot. The weekly return from this averaged a sack of coal” (CEAC, 2004, p. 3).
The biggest obstacle faced by the winery was the temperance movement. Henderson was voted ‘dry’ in 1909, possibly due alcohol related problems at Don Buck’s camp and the local Falls Hotel. The Corbans overcame this obstacle by constructing a small brick building in 1913, on the outside of the railway lines which marked the ‘dry’ boundary. They were able to legally sell alcohol from the small whitewashed building that still stands in the same site today.
Many of the extended Corban family became key figures in the local community. Most notable is Assid Abraham’s grandson, Assid Corban (Junior), who became the Mayor of Henderson Borough from 1974 to 1989, and the first Mayor of Waitakere City in 1989.
The Corban Winery continues to play a vibrant role in the cultural life of Henderson. The land and winery buildings have been converted into a large multi-disciplinary arts centre, Corban Estate Arts Centre, that is visited by thousands of Aucklanders each year.
Cooper, Michael 'Corban, Assid Abraham', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 6-Jun-2013,
http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/3c31/corban-assid-abraham (accessed 12 October 2016)
Corban Estate Arts Centre (CEAC), 2004. A Brief History of the Corban Winery,
http://www.ceac.org.nz/about_ceac/a_brief_history_of_the_corban_winery.aspx (accessed 12 October 2016)