Howick and Bucklands Beach
This area developed slowly on land formerly occupied by Ngāi Tai. European settlement began in 1847 when three companies of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles were assigned to a defence post in Howick. They were retired soldiers enlisted to serve for seven years in exchange for a cottage and an acre of land. Howick was the largest of the Fencible settlements, with 804 people in three companies in 1848. All Saints (Anglican) Church was built in 1847 and is Auckland’s oldest church. Other old buildings are now in Howick Historical Village.
East and west
In 1995 the journalist Helene Wong wrote of Howick’s nickname, ‘When a European refers laughingly to “Chowick”, the assimilated bit of us laughs along with them, but the Chinese bit of us freezes up at the sound of the old insult.’ 1
Farms to suburbs
After the 1860s New Zealand wars, cropping became the main activity, with wheat and oats the major exports. In the early 20th century Bucklands Beach was popular among Auckland daytrippers, who came by ferry to swim and picnic. In 1952 Howick became a borough, after which it and Bucklands Beach experienced rapid growth, becoming affluent commuter suburbs of Auckland. From the 1980s new Asian migrants arrived.
Among the cultural attractions is Howick Little Theatre, an amateur theatre company established in 1954.
Suburb south-west of Howick. Until the 1950s Pakuranga was sparsely settled and largely farmland. A rising demand for housing in Auckland saw it transformed into a new suburb. In 1965 the Fletcher Construction Company developed Pakuranga Town Centre and Tī Rākau Drive. Housing companies then built thousands of middle-income homes. In the 1970s, Pakuranga became known as Vim Valley – after a ‘typical Pakuranga housewife’ was used in a television commercial for Vim, a cleaning product. For many, it was the archetypal middle-class suburb. A 1979 survey found that 93% of Pakuranga households owned their home and 58% never used buses.
Losing their hare
Established in 1872, the Pakuranga Hunt is New Zealand’s oldest hunt club. It did not have a promising start. After releasing a hare, the hounds and riders set off. But after galloping over hill and dale for hours, the Master of the Hunt called it a day, with no kill. ‘We must have seen at least 20 hares,’ wrote one participant. ‘[B]ut the land generally is too dry and hard to hold a scent and till we have a good downpour of rain, scent cannot be expected to lie.’ 2
Botany Downs was developed from the late 1990s by the Manukau City Council and private enterprise. At the intersection of two arterial roads – linking Manukau City and central Auckland – it has a mix of medium- and low-density housing, including gated communities. Land uses are mixed and public space is designed to encourage sociability. This is most visible in the Botany Town Centre, which is designed around a series of privately owned, pedestrian-friendly streets. It features a variety of retail, entertainment, and office buildings as well as ample public space.
Rapid suburban development continues in Dannemora and East Tāmaki Heights. The district has attracted people from elsewhere in Auckland, as well as new migrants from Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. A new town at Flat Bush will house an anticipated population of 40,000 by 2025.