Story: Auckland places

Page 13. Eastern suburbs: Ōrākei to the Tāmaki River

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Home of the Ngāti Whātua tribe from the 1840s, when land sales reduced their holdings to 700 acres (283 hectares) around Ōkahu Bay. In 1914 the bay became the site of Auckland’s main sewer outlet, polluting traditional fishing grounds. During the 1920s land above the Ngāti Whātua settlement was taken for housing – Ōrākei became a state housing suburb in 1938. Finally, in 1951 Ngāti Whātua were systematically evicted from Ōkahu Bay, their houses demolished and meeting house burnt.


In the 1980s the tribe sought redress for their land losses. A successful Treaty of Waitangi claim in 1991 awarded the Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei Māori Trust Board $3 million compensation and led to resettlement of their marae area.

Boat out of water

The first flying boat to be flown in the southern hemisphere took off from Bastion Point on New Year’s Day, 1915. It was designed and built by pioneering aviators Leonard and Vivian Walsh, with the help of their sisters and an engineer. Later in the year the Walsh brothers opened a flying school on the Mission Bay foreshore, training 100 pilots for the war in Europe. Flying boats were an important part of the Waitematā scene until 1989.

Bastion Point

This promontory above Tāmaki Drive, known to Ngāti Whātua as Takaparawhā, has come to symbolise Māori land issues. It was given to the Crown by Ngāti Whātua as a defence site during the Russian scare of 1885. In 1977–78 a 506-day protest against a proposed Crown sale was held there. The obelisk in Savage Memorial Park on Bastion Point commemorates the burial place of Michael Joseph Savage, first Labour prime minister, who died in 1940.

Kohimarama, Mission Bay, St Heliers, Glendowie

Series of marine suburbs lining Tāmaki Drive on the southern shore of the Waitematā. Back from the sea lies the former ‘Bishop’s Auckland’ where Bishop George Selwyn bought 538 hectares and founded an educational complex at St John’s College in 1844. The theological college and several fine Gothic revival wooden buildings remain. The re-siting of the Melanesian Mission on the Waitematā shore in 1859 gave Mission Bay its name.

In the early 20th century a rail line to Westfield was built across Hobson Bay, and ferries took picnickers to beaches along the shore. A new era of suburban development followed the construction of Tāmaki Drive, completed in 1932. In 2013 residents were predominantly affluent white New Zealanders. They include small communities of recent southern and eastern European migrants. Beaches, cafés and views of Rangitoto make this a popular area.

Tāmaki River

River flowing from Māngere East to a tidal estuary on the Waitematā. It was a vital link (by way of the Ōtāhuhu portage) to the Manukau for Māori. At Karaka Bay, the first bay on the western shore, Captain Hobson met with Ngāti Pāoa in 1840 to collect signatures to the Treaty of Waitangi. The Tāhuna Tōrea sandspit, reaching across towards Buckland’s Beach, has been a protected wilderness area since the 1970s. Half Moon Bay Marina is on the eastern shore. The first Panmure Bridge was built to span the Tāmaki River in 1866, and the current bridge in 1959.

How to cite this page:

Margaret McClure, 'Auckland places - Eastern suburbs: Ōrākei to the Tāmaki River', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 June 2024)

Story by Margaret McClure, published 6 Dec 2007, updated 5 Aug 2016