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The Founding of the City of Auckland

By: Democracy Action




Auckland, also known as Tamaki Makau Rau, meaning ‘isthmus of one thousand lovers’, was originally a Māori settlement. New Zealand’s first Governor, William Hobson, established Auckland as the nation’s capital in 1841 on land offered by Ngāti Whātua, following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.


Hobson charged Deputy Governor Symonds with securing an indefeasible title on land on which the Government settlement was to stand. Negotiations took place with Ngāti Whātua for the purchase of an approximately 3,000-acre block of land that was to become ‘Auckland’, referred to on the Deed of Purchase as Mataharehare, Opou and W[h]au. According to a report at the time “The three thousand acres more or less was part of a desolate and deserted landscape providing few resources to assist the development of a town.”

Hobson renamed the place after his patron, Lord Auckland, first Lord of the Admiralty.

Auckland remained the seat of government until February 1865, when the capital shifted to Wellington. The initial purchase by the Crown was followed shortly after, in May 1841, with the sale of the Kohimarama Block of about 6,000 acres by twenty-four Hauraki chiefs, predominantly Ngati Paoa. This block, situated on the West bank of the Tamaki River, took in most of what are regarded today as Auckland’s eastern suburbs.

An even bigger sale was to follow on 29 June 1841. Five Ngati Whātua chiefs, headed by Te Kawau, sold a block of about 8,000 acres known as the ‘Waitematā to Manukau Purchase”. The eastern boundary line ran from Orakei through to the summit of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill). This was followed by the sale of further smaller blocks of land by Ngati Whātua between 1842 and 1856.

Additionally, in 1842-43 a substantial block of land was granted by Ngati Whātua to the people of Waikato lineage, Ngati Tamaoho, and Ngati Te Ata. This land was later sold by these tribes to private European buyers.

After the Government had established itself at Auckland, one of the first duties which it undertook was to provide settlers with land. On April 19-20, 1841, the first sale of town lots by auction was held, and the figures realised were stupendous, due to jobbing, which land sharks from Sydney and other parts of Australia had fostered. According to the official “Gazette,” only 116 allotments were sold, the total area comprising 38 acres. In addition, twelve allotments measuring 5 acres were reserved for Government officers. The size of the town allotments varied from approximately a quarter to half an acre. Following the sale of town lots, selections of Government land comprising suburban allotments, cultivation allotments and sections suitable for small farms were offered for sale on September 1st of the same year. The first group of sections was situated eastward of Mechanics Bay proceeding towards Hobson’s Bay, which approximates roughly to the Parnell district of to-day. These allotments were each about four acres in size. Of the twenty-five lots offered, eighteen were sold. The ten cultivation sections were intended for market gardens and were situated “about one mile to the southward of Mechanics Bay, on low, swampy ground under Mount Eden.” Of these, ten were put up and eight sold. The farm sections were situated on the flat between Mount St. John, One Tree Hill, and the Three Kings, and varied from four to twenty-three acres in extent. The conditions of the settlement in its earliest years were harsh. The work of pioneering was very strenuous. Employment was difficult to obtain, and very few of the settlers had much capital to work with. The Government had little in the Treasury, and none to spend on public works.

Sir John Logan Campbell gives a graphic picture of Auckland a few weeks after the Lieutenant-Governor’s visit, when he settled the site of the capital. “The capital!” he writes — “a few boats and canoes on the beach, a few tents and break-wind huts along the margin of the bay, and then—a sea of fern stretching away as far as the eye could reach.”

The first consideration of the Government officials was to provide housing for themselves and the workmen, and then to make buildings for the requirements of the community.

A sketch of Auckland in 1843 conveys an impression of the town at that date. It depicts the condition of living in those days. The roads are unformed, the houses are all built of wood, and there is no wharf. An interesting description of Auckland in its cradle days is given in the Diary of Mr. Robert Graham, one of the immigrants by the Jane Gifford, which arrived in Auckland on October 9th, 1842. Under the date October 12th, he records: —

“The town of Auckland lies in a hollow, and the houses are built close down to the beach. Some of them are very ‘natty’. Shortland Street appears to be the principal street. In the meantime, the first shop is a grog shop; the next is Mr. McLennan’s; the third a shoemaker’s; the fourth a baker’s; then a grog shop; next a pork stand; and then another grog shop. There seems to be a grog shop for every three of all the other trades put together. Shortland Crescent is a pretty steep hill. On the top of it is the church, the Customs-house, bank and the public buildings, and adjacent the barracks”.

Although the capital was shifted to Wellington in 1865, Auckland has remained a major gateway to New Zealand, and over the last 180 years has grown into a thriving multicultural city.

References

FROM TAMAKI-MAKAU-RAU TO AUCKLAND. R.C.J. Stone. Auckland University Press

THE CITY OF AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND A HISTORY by John Barr https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46925/46925-h/46925-h.htm#Footnote_13 Derivative copy, Waitemata Land Deed (digitised) https://ndhadeliver.natlib.govt.nz/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE24490755


Hobson renamed the place after his patron, Lord Auckland, first Lord of the Admiralty.



“The town of Auckland lies in a hollow, and the houses are built close down to the beach. Some of them are very ‘natty’. Shortland Street appears to be the principal street. In the meantime, the first shop is a grog shop; the next is Mr. McLennan’s; the third a shoemaker’s; the fourth a baker’s; then a grog shop; next a pork stand; and then another grog shop.




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elocal Digital Edition – November 2023 (#271)

elocal Digital Edition
November 2023 (#271)


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