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Urban Area Population 1,241,600
Extent north to Kumeu & Waiwera,
east to Bucklands Beach,
south to Runciman;
excludes Waitakere Ranges
& Hauraki Gulf islands
Location Template:Coor dm [1]
Names Auckland City
North Shore
Name Auckland
Population estimate is as at 30 June 2005
Source: Statistics New Zealand

Auckland, in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest urban area in New Zealand. It is a conurbation, made up of the cities of Auckland, Waitakere, Manukau and North Shore. In Māori it bears the name Tāmaki Makau Rau or Ākarana.

Auckland lies between the Hauraki Gulf of the Pacific Ocean to the east, the low Hunua Ranges to the south-east, Manukau Harbour to the south-west, and the Waitakere Ranges and smaller ranges to the west and north-west. The central part of the urban area occupies a narrow isthmus between Manukau and Waitemata harbours.


Māori settlers

The area, Tamaki Makau Rau (isthmus of one thousand lovers), now known as Auckland, was first settled by Māori people around 1350. The region was valued for its rich and fertile land. Māori constructed terraced pa (fortified villages) on the volcanic peaks. Māori population is estimated to have peaked at 20,000 in the region in pre-settlement times, a figure which would later qualify in New Zealand as a city. Earthworks are still evident today around some of the larger volcanoes such as; Mount Albert, Mount Eden and One Tree Hill.

The isthmus, at around 8km from coast to coast - with Mount Eden and One Tree Hill placed along the line of the narrowest point, led to the area having great strategic qualities. The isthmus also has the highly productive soils providing agricultural opportunities, and the two harbours (Waitemata to the East and Manukau to the West) providing diverse kai moana (seafood).

Ngāti Whātua and Tainui were the main tribes traditionally living in the area. The arrival of Europeans, using guns as one of many trade commodities, changed the balances of power between Iwi with the inevitable result of armed conflict. European settlement caused Maori numbers in what is now central Auckland city to be greatly reduced due to; inter-iwi warfare, new diseases (especially smallpox and tuberculosis), and the common ills experienced by indigenous peoples of colonisation. There was a period of migrations of both Europeans and Māori. One of the initial appeals of the area to Europeans being it was virtually uninhabited.

Āpihai Te Kawau (c. 1760 - 1869), leader of the Ngati Taou Hapu, was a good friend of Samuel Marsden. Over a 10 month period of 1821 - 1822, he took a principle part in the 1,000 mile Amiowhenua expedition. This series of battles raged through much of central and southern North Island. It ended when Te Kawau's Ngāti Whātua forces, uniting with the Taranaki they were embattled with, to jointly defend the Tainui Matakitaki pa from Hongi Hika's Nga Puhi forces.

By 1840 Te Kawau had become the paramount chief of Ngāti Whātua. Cautious of reprisals from the Nga Puhi defeated at Matakitaki, Te Kawau found it most convenient to offer Governor Hobson land around the present central city. He and six other chiefs travelled the Bay of Islands to make the offer and signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 20th March.

Ngāti Whātua would certainly have expected from English colonialism increased security and trading benefits. This would include greater access via the quickly developed port facilities for the lucrative trade in produce grown in Tainui's fertile Waikato and Hauraki Plains for the Australian prison colonies and Sydney market. The sale price for the initial 3,000 acres (12 km²) was for cash and goods to the value of £341.

As Māori population declined for nearly a century, so did the quantity of land held by Ngāti Whātua. Within 20 years, 40% of their lands were lost, some through government land confiscation. At close to the lowest level of population, Ngāti Whātua land holding was reduced to a few acres at Orakei, land which Te Kawau had declared "a last stand".

Birth of Auckland

After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February 1840 the new Governor of New Zealand, William Hobson, had the task of choosing a capital for the colony. At the time Kororareka, now called Old Russell, in the Bay of Islands, served as the effective capital. However, Kororareka's geographical position made it very remote, inaccessible and off-centre from the rest of the New Zealand archipelago, and the town had a notorious reputation for drunkenness and immorality.

File:Map of Auckland.jpg
1888 German map of Auckland

Even in 1840 Port Nicholson (now the location of Wellington) probably seemed the obvious choice for an administrative capital. Centrally situated at the south of the North Island, close to the South Island, and growing fast, it had a lot to commend it. But the New Zealand Company and the Wakefield brothers had founded and continued to dominate Port Nicholson. Furthermore, it already had a bad reputation with the Māori for unscrupulous or even illegal occupation of land.

On the initial recommendation of the missionary Henry Williams, supported by the Surveyor General, Felton Mathew, and the offer of land from Ngāti Whātua, Hobson selected the south side of Waitemata Harbour as his future capital. The Chief Magistrate, Captain William Cornwallis Symonds, soon purchased the further land from Ngāti Whātua, and a foundation ceremony took place at 1pm on 18 September 1840, probably on the higher ground at the top end of present-day Queen Street. Hobson named the new settlement in honour of George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, a patron and friend of his. The New Zealand Government Gazette announced the royal approval of the name on 26 November 1842.

From the outset a steady flow of new arrivals from within New Zealand and from overseas came to the new capital. Initially settlers from New South Wales predominated, but the first immigrant ships sailing directly from Britain started to arrive as early as 1842. From early times the eastern side of the settlement remained reserved for government officials while mechanics and artisans, the so-called "unofficial" settlers, congregated on the western side. This social division still persists in modern Auckland.

Eventually Port Nicholson became the capital and, now known as Wellington, remains so today. The advantages of a central position became even more obvious as the South Island grew in prosperity with the discovery of gold in Otago, and with the development of sheep farming and refrigeration, especially refrigerated ships which allowed chilled meat to be safely shipped to Britain. Parliament met for the first time in Wellington in 1862. In 1868 Government House moved there too.

Growth of Auckland

Auckland formed a base for Governor George Grey's operations against the rebel Maori King Movement in the early 1860s. Grey's modus operandi involved opening up the Waikato and King Country by building roads, most notably Great South Road, (a large part of which now forms State Highway 1). This enabled rapid movement, not only of soldiers, but also civilian settlers. It also enabled the extension of Pakeha influence and law to the South Auckland region.

During the mid 19th century, European settlement of New Zealand was predominantly in the South Island. Auckland however gradually became the commercial capital. Market gardens were planted on the outskirts, while kauri tree logging and gum digging opened up the Waitakere Ranges.

A Russian scare at the end of the century caused coastal guns to be bought and fortifications built, notably at Devonport and on Waiheke Island, where they can still be seen.

By 1900 Auckland was the largest New Zealand city.

In World War II the city was overflown by a Japanese seaplane, chased ineffectually by a Royal New Zealand Air Force De Havilland Tiger Moth.

In the 1950s the Auckland Harbour Bridge was constructed, linking North Shore with the city. As flying boat services from Mechanics Bay by aircraft such as the Short Solent were replaced by landplanes, an airport was opened at Mangere, supplanting earlier airfields at Ardmore and Whenuapai.

Following the initiative of Michael Joseph Savage's New Zealand Labour Party large numbers of state houses were constructed through the late 1930s, '40s and '50s, usually on quarter-acre (1,000 m²) sections - a tradition that survives despite frequent subdivision. Auckland is a largely suburban city: although it has not much more than a seventh of the population of London, it sprawls over a considerably larger area - a fact that serves to make public transport by Auckland's rail and bus systems unpopular and uneconomic.

All four electrical power cables supplying the Central Business District failed on 20 February 1998, causing the 1998 Auckland power crisis. It took five weeks before an emergency overhead cable was completed to restore the power supply to the Central Business District. For much of that time, about 60,000 of the 74,000 people who worked in the area in 1998 worked from home, or from relocated offices in the suburbs. Most of the 6,000 apartment dwellers in the area had to find alternative accommodation.

Geography and climate


File:Auckland Rangitoto n.jpg
Approaching Rangitoto Island from Auckland

Auckland straddles the volcanoes of the Auckland Volcanic Field. The 50 volcanic vents in the field take the form of cones, lakes, lagoons, islands and depressions. Some of the cones have been partly or completely quarried away. The volcanoes are all individually extinct although the volcanic field itself is merely dormant. The most recent and by far the largest volcano, Rangitoto Island, formed within the last 1000 years. 'Rangi' means 'sky' and 'toto' means 'blood', which indicates it was named by Maori who had witnessed its eruption. Its size, its symmetry, its position guarding the entrance to Waitemata Harbour and its visibility from many parts of the Auckland region make it Auckland's most iconic natural feature. Rangitoto is eerily quiet as almost no birds and insects have settled on the island because of the rich acidic soil and type of flora that has adapted to grow out of the black broken rocky soil.

Isthmus and harbours

File:AucklandAcrossTheWater 2004 SeanMcClean.jpg
Auckland CBD From Across the Water

Auckland lies on and around an isthmus, less than two km wide at its narrowest point between Mangere Inlet and Tamaki River. There are two harbours in the Auckland urban area surrounding this isthmus, Waitemata Harbour to the north, which opens east to the Hauraki Gulf, and Manukau Harbour to the south, which opens west to the Tasman Sea.

Bridges span both of these harbours, Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitemata Harbour and Mangere Bridge on Manukau Harbour.


Auckland has a warm-temperate climate, with warm, humid summers and cool but damp and lengthy winters. January temperatures average 21-24 °C (February and March are typically warmer than January, however), and July maximum temperatures average 14-16 °C. High levels of rainfall occur almost year-round (over 1100 mm per year), especially in winter. Climatic conditions vary in different parts of the city owing to geography such as hills, trees and ocean wind currents. Snow has been recorded only once in Auckland unlike some South island cities which are likely to get snow every year.



Auckland serves as a home to many cultures. The majority of inhabitants (roughly 60%) claim European — predominantly British — descent, but substantial Maori and Pacific Island communities exist as well. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. Comparably-sized communities of people of East Asian origin also live in Auckland, due to New Zealand's world-leading level of immigration, which flows primarily into Auckland. Ethnic groups from all corners of the world have a presence in Auckland, making it by far the country's most cosmopolitan city. It is estimated that over fourteen people from other countries immigrate to Auckland every day.


Like the rest of the country, more than half of Aucklanders are nominally Christian, but less than 10% regularly attend church and almost 40% profess no religious affiliation (2001 census figures). The main denominations are Anglican, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic. Pentecostal and charismatic churches are the fastest growing. The charismatic and fundamentalist Destiny Church, headquartered in Auckland, has gained headlines because of its political activities. A higher percentage of Polynesian immigrants are regular churchgoers than other Aucklanders, although church attendance drops off in second or third generation Polynesian Aucklanders. Other immigrant cultures have added to the religious diversity of the city, bringing traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. There is also a small, long-established Jewish community. There is an even smaller Rationalist group. Western Central Auckland, particularly Mount Roskill, has been labelled the 'Bible Belt'.

Social perceptions

Aucklanders are viewed with varying degrees of dislike by some New Zealanders living outside Auckland. One perception of Aucklanders is that they are rich latte-sipping yuppies, with trendy but impractical political views. Some claim jokingly that Aucklanders think that "New Zealand stops at the Bombay Hills", the Bombay Hills forming the Auckland region's southern boundary. Some people living south of the hills agree with the statement, but regard "true" New Zealand as lying south, not north, of the hills. The word Jafa was coined as an insulting nickname for Aucklanders, but Aucklanders have robbed the word of its sting by enthusiastically embracing it.

See the Jafa article for more on outsiders' attitudes.

There are stereotypes about residents in some parts of Auckland. These stereotypes can be a badge of honour, or an insult, depending on how they are used, and by whom.

  • Westies - people living in the western suburbs of Auckland (particularly those of Waitakere City), from Henderson to the Waitakere Ranges. As a derogatory term, "westie" is similar to bogan, trailer trash or chav.
  • South Aucklanders - people who live at the southern end of the city; the term is predominantly used to refer to a low socio-economic group with a high unemployment rate and a large population of Pacific Islanders, although there are quite a few affluent areas in South Auckland.
  • East Aucklanders - residents in the eastern suburbs of the Auckland isthmus, including a large Asian (Chinese) population in Howick and surrounding areas.
  • Shoreboy - someone from the North Shore


Attractive aspects of Auckland life are its mild climate, plentiful employment and educational opportunities, and numerous leisure facilities. For quality of life, Auckland currently ranks 8th equal behind Zurich and Geneva in a survey of the world's top 55 cities. (Link: Mercer Consulting quality of life survey)


Auckland is popularly known as the "City of Sails" because the harbour is usually dotted with hundreds of yachts. The Viaduct Basin hosted two America's Cup challenges, and its cafes, restaurants, and clubs add to Auckland's vibrant nightlife. High Street, Queen Street, Ponsonby Road, and Karangahape Road are also very popular with urban socialites. Newmarket and Parnell are upmarket shopping centres. Otara's and Avondale's famous fleamarkets and Victoria Park Market are a colourful alternative shopping experience.

Waitemata Harbour has popular beaches at Mission Bay, Devonport, Takapuna, Long Bay and Maraetai, and the west coast has popular surf spots at Piha and Muriwai. Many Auckland beaches are patrolled by Surf Lifesaving clubs which are part of the Surf Lifesaving Northern Region.

Pleasant ferry trips go to Devonport, Waiheke Island and Rangitoto Island. Pleasant picnic spots are at Auckland Domain, Albert Park, One Tree Hill Domain and Western Springs. Auckland has its fair share of rugby and cricket grounds (notably Eden Park), and venues for motorsports, tennis, badminton, swimming, soccer, rugby league, and many other sports.

Every year in March, an 8.4km (5.2 mile) fun-run known as "Round the Bays" starts in the city and goes along the waterfront to the suburb of St Heliers. It attracts many tens of thousands of people and has been an annual event since 1972.

The Auckland Town Hall and Aotea Centre host conferences and cultural events such as theatre, kapa haka, and opera. Many national treasures are displayed at the Auckland Art Gallery, such as the work of Colin McCahon. Other significant cultural artefacts reside at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the National Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). Exotic creatures can be observed at the Auckland Zoo and Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. Movies and rock concerts (notably, the "Big Day Out") are also well patronised.


Every business day, many professional workers commute from all points of the city to downtown Auckland. Most major international corporations have an Auckland office. The most expensive office space is around lower Queen Street and the Viaduct Basin. A large proportion of the technical and trades workforce is based in the industrial zones of South Auckland.


The most common residence of Aucklanders is a bungalow on a "quarter acre" (1,000 m²), with the resulting large urban sprawl and reliance on motor vehicles. The regional council is trying to curb this trend, with housing density strategies such as more townhouses and apartments, and prohibiting subdivision of properties on the city fringes.


Downtown Auckland at night.

Road and rail

Auckland has a significant traffic congestion problem. A motorway network, planned decades ago, remains incomplete as of 2005. Since 2001, several motorway construction projects began in and around the central motorway junction ("Spaghetti Junction"). Transport funding favours roads over public transport in Auckland, and indeed in New Zealand, and the planned motorway network is large for a city of Auckland's size.

The Britomart Transport Centre which opened in July 2003 is a central interconnection point for buses, trains and ferries. During its planning period it provoked much controversy spanning multiple mayoral terms.

During the 2001-2004 term the mayors of Auckland City and Manukau, John Banks and Sir Barry Curtis respectively, strongly advocated a proposal for an Eastern Transport Corridor, essentially a new motorway. Vociferous campaigners both supported and opposed the NZ$4 billion proposal throughout the term. John Banks subsequently lost the 2004 local body election, chiefly due to public opposition to the proposed motorway. The newly-elected Auckland City Council has a clear centre-left majority, and new Deputy Mayor Bruce Hucker announced in early November 2004 a major change in direction for Auckland City.

Bus services provide the bulk of public transport, with commuter trains offering a limited service. However, recent investment in train services resulted in increased patronage of these services. The investment has focused on upgrading and refurbishing the current rolling stock and railway stations. Investment in new rail infrastructure remains limited, but there are signs this is changing. A recent project to double-track the western rail line, completed at a cost of NZD$23.2 million, has increased the frequency of train services on this line. Plans for light rail, mooted over the years, seem unlikely to proceed. The local government elections in September 2004 centred largely around candidates' policies on public transport, with the incumbent Auckland City mayor John Banks promoting the "Eastern Corridor" motorway plan, and his main rivals (former Auckland City mayor Christine Fletcher and businessman Dick Hubbard – the eventual winner) supporting public transport alternatives like light rail and improving existing bus and rail services.

Auckland City Council has prepared plans for an underground railway connecting the Britomart Transport Centre to the western railway line. However due to the significant costs associated with a project of this size, and the prevailing attitudes towards public transport, it may be some time before the project begins. Increased population density around transport corridors and sustained inflated petrol prices may combine to make this project more attractive in the medium term.


Auckland International Airport, New Zealand's largest airport, lies beside Manukau Harbour, in the southern suburb of Mangere, which is part of Manukau. It is a major base for Air New Zealand. Ongoing negotiations concern the development of a second airport at Whenuapai, a RNZAF airbase in Waitakere, to the northwest of the Auckland conurbation. As the air force is signalled to move to Ohakea base near Palmerston North, the feasibility of an international airport north of the city is being explored. Many private flights use the smaller airfield at Ardmore, south of the city but within the Auckland region. Dairy Flat to the north is used by light planes and some warbird enthusiasts. Mechanics Bay near the city centre, was the first international airport, used for many years as a base for flying boats of TEAL and amphibians of Tourist Air Travel and Sea Bee Air. It is now primarily used as a Heliport. A similar air force facility at Hobsonville has been sold to private boat builders.


File:Auckland Ferry Terminal n.jpg
The Auckland Ferry Terminal

A feature of Auckland transport is the popularity of commuting by ferry. North Shore residents avoid the chronic Harbour Bridge congestion by catching ferries from Devonport, Bayswater or Stanley Bay to the CBD. Ferries also connect the city with Rangitoto and Waiheke Islands, and with Half Moon Bay.

Landmarks and places

File:Auckland pan view from mount eden.jpg
Panoramic view over Auckland from Mount Eden

See also

External links

Web portals
News & Issues


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