Mount Eden looming high above suburban Epsom
Location in Auckland
|Local authority||Auckland Council|
|Train station(s)||Mount Eden Train Station|
|Southeast||Epsom, Greenwoods Corner|
|Northwest||Eden Valley, Kingsland|
Mount Eden (Maungawhau, the 'Mountain of the Whau tree' in Māori) is the name of a scoria cone and surrounding suburb in Auckland, New Zealand. The mountain is the second highest natural point in the whole of the Auckland region. The English name honours George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.
Mt Eden, the suburb, is situated four kilometres south of the Central Business District (CBD). Mt Eden Road winds its way around the side of Mount Eden Domain and continues to weave back and forth as it descends into the valley; it runs south from Eden Terrace to Three Kings. Mt Eden village centre is located roughly between Valley Road and Grange Road. The domain is accessible on foot and by vehicle from points along Mt Eden Road and Clive Road.
The central focus of the suburb is the dormant eponymous volcano whose summit (196 metres above sea level) is the highest natural point on the Auckland isthmus. The majestic bowl-like crater is 50 metres deep. The volcano erupted from two craters 28,000 years ago, with the last eruptions from the southern crater filling the northern crater.
Mt Eden sees strong tourism use, as it is the highest non-manmade point in Auckland, and provides good views in all directions over the city. The large numbers of coach buses, which previously could go all the way to a parking lot on the top of the hill, has been considered to have degraded the top of the cone. In August 2006, a ban on tour buses was announced. They will have to park halfway up the mountain in the future. However, this has in the meantime been partly qualified, with the vehicle ban only to be enforced when a "sustainable, low-impact transport system" (not further specified) is in place.
Visitors to Maungawhau can explore the amazing features on foot with a heritage walk. A heritage walk guide has been prepared by the Albert-Eden Local Board and can be viewed online at ACC Heritage walks
In pre-European times Mount Eden was utilised as a fortified hill pa by various Māori tribes. Its occupation ended in 1700 A.D when the Waiohua defeated the Tamaki people. The earth ramparts and terraces from this period contribute to the distinctive outline of the hill today.
From the 1950s the peak was used by the New Zealand Post Office for VHF radio communications in two buildings, several hundred metres apart, each with their own antenna farm. One building housed transmitting equipment, while the other housed receiving equipment. In the 1960s the site was staffed during the five-day working week due to the large number of valves that wore out under the stress of high power and needed frequent servicing. Typical use of the facility was for businesses e.g. taxi or delivery firms needing mobile communications to vehicles.
An underground water reservoir has been located on the northern side of Mount Eden since the 1870s. The original reservoir was replaced in 1912, and a second, complementary, reservoir added in 1930. The reservoirs, recently upgraded to meet growing demand, work together to supply the Mt Eden, Epsom, One Tree Hill and Khyber Pass areas.
The area directly around the hill consists of very fertile free-draining soil mixed with a great deal of volcanic debris in the form of scoria rocks. When Europeans came to the area, they found a landscape devoid of large trees, as anything of any size had been cut down by the Maori for various uses, such as the timber palisades of the pa. The land was covered with bracken, flax and Manuka trees, with whau shrubs growing on the hill. The Europeans cleared the land of the scoria rocks and made fences with them to define property boundaries. This resulted in a landscape reminiscent of Ireland or the Scottish lowlands. These scoria walls are still a feature of the suburb today.
Initially the land was utilised for farms, but from quite early on the area hosted country residences of professionals and business people from Auckland. Most of the farm land was subdivided into large suburban plots between 1870 and 1875, and the principal roads were formed by the Crown. Mt Eden's first school opened in 1877 on the corner of Mt Eden and Valley roads. In 1879 the mountain was officially protected as a public reserve. The tea kiosk on the slope of Mt Eden was built in 1927.
Mt Eden is now a "leafy suburb" predominantly of large houses from the first half of the 20th century. The gardens are verdant and the trees have grown large. On the eastern slopes of Mt Eden were constructed several large country houses set in extensive grounds. These included "Harewood House" (now the site of the Mater Hospital), Justice Gillies "Rocklands Hall" (now a hostel), Alfred Buckland's "Highwic" (now a museum), the Hellaby family's "Florence Court", Josiah Clifton Firth's "Clifton House" (both still private residences) and Professor A P W Thomas' "Trewithiel" (partially preserved in Withiel Thomas Reserve"). Close by the current Government House (official Auckland residence of the Governor General) is Eden Gardens, a ornamental public garden set up in a disused quarry.
In the 1950s and 1960s the inner suburbs became unfashionable and the old houses of the Mt Eden area were comparatively cheap to buy. Mt Eden developed a slightly bohemian image during this time as a community of artists, writers, teachers and university lecturers made it their home. Mt Eden village is still regarded by many as the "Home Of Arts" in Auckland, due to the large amount of creative activity in and around the suburb and the large number of artists who live nearby.
The Presbyterian Boys' Hostel at 22 View Road is a historic building that became the first home for many young men, who moved to Auckland to train in government and industry at low rates of pay.
In Mt Eden, the plentiful supply of volcanic stone (a suitable material for building roads), as well as the ready supply of labourers from the Mt Eden Prison, allowed for a progressive development of early roads, many of which still exist today as main arterial routes. Toll gates were established on several main roads, including Mt Eden Road and Dominion Road, during the 19th century in order to help pay for their upkeep.
Public transportation extended from the inner city to the surrounding areas in the late 1870s and early 1880’s with horse drawn buses being the first mode of regular public transportation in the late 1870s. In 1881, the long awaited railway came, connecting Newmarket with Helensville with stops in Mt Eden, Kingsland, Morningside and Mt Albert. At the beginning of the 20th century, trams began connecting Mt. Eden, Balmoral, Kingsland, and Mt Albert with the city. The trams ran for the last time in the 1950s.
Mt Eden falls within the Epsom constituencies for the national Parliament. In terms of local government, Mt Eden comes under the Albert-Eden Local Board, of Auckland Council. The Albert-Eden Local Board includes the suburbs of Waterview, Point Chevalier, Sandringham, Mount Albert, Morningside, Owairaka, Balmoral, Kingsland, Mt Eden, Epsom and Greenlane.
During the 19th century, the planning and maintenance of the main arterial roads (Mt Eden Road and Dominion Road) provided the impetus to form local governing bodies in the area. The Mt Eden Highway Board held its first meeting in 1868; it covered the area of Mt Eden, Eden Valley, Sandringham, and Balmoral. At the time it was responsible for building and maintaining the roads, as well as dealing with the pigs, horses, cattle, and sheep that freely roamed the area. In 1882 it became the Mt Eden Road Board. In 1906 Mt Eden gained borough status and the Mt Eden Borough Council was formed. In 1989 the Borough Council amalgamated with Auckland City Council in a nation-wide local government reorganisation. And in November 2010, the City Council was dissolved and was incorporated into the new largerAuckland Council.
Eden Park has been home to Auckland Cricket since 1910, and also hosts international test and one-day cricket matches. The ground has also been the home of the Auckland Rugby Union since 1925, hosting major international rugby games.
There are several prestigious secondary schools located in and around Mt Eden including St Peter's College, Epsom Girls Grammar School and Auckland Grammar School, as well as the Epsom Campus of the University of Auckland (previously the Auckland College of Education).
There are three War Memorials in the Mount Eden area;
- The War Memorial Gates at the Mount Eden Normal Primary School in Valley Road (opposite the former Mt Eden Borough Council Chambers)
- The War Memorial Gates at the entrance to the Former College of Education (end of Poronui street, designed in 1932 by the Auckland Education Board architect Alan Miller, built of Portland stone left over from building the Auckland War Memorial Museum)
- The 1958 Mount Eden War Memorial Hall located near the intersection of Dominion and Balmoral Roads
Mount Eden Prison
To many New Zealanders the name Mount Eden is linked with Mount Eden Prison, which was built in a castle style between 1882 and 1917. It is constructed out of the local basalt rock, one of the very few buildings built in this uncompromising material. Built with prison labour it was designed by P.F.M. Burrows and is similar in appearance to Dartmoor Prison in England.
Mt Eden is well served by trains and buses, and is only 5km from Auckland’s CBD. The train station is located at the north side of Mt Eden, between Ngahura Street and Fenton Street. Mount Eden Railway Station is a part of the Western Line; trains run regularly into the city and the western suburbs beyond.
The centre of all the shopping and business activities in Mt Eden village is Mt Eden Road, between Oaklands Road and Grange Road. By vehicle Mt Eden can be accessed from the Southern Motorway (SH1) by taking the Green Lane off-ramp, and continuing onto Balmoral Road or from the City end – via Symonds Street and Mt Eden Road. Mount Eden domain is located just north of the village centre along Mt Eden Road.
- "Volcanoes - Mt Eden". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 5 November 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "Chronology of Events" (PDF). Maungawhau-Mt Eden Management Plan. Auckland City Council. Chronology of Events. p. 70. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- Rudman, Brian (18 December 2006). "Brian Rudman: May the new plan to save Mt Eden work better than the last". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- What's Doing In; Auckland - The New York Times, 18 February 2001
- Lovell-Smith. Mt Albert Historical Report. unpublished. pp. 2–4.
- Angelo, Faye M (1989). The Changing Face of Mt Eden. Mount Eden Borough Council. pp. 15–21.
- Scott, Dick (1961). In Old Mount Albert: Being a History of the District. Southern Cross Books. p. 41.
- "Electorate Boundaries". Elections New Zealand.
- "Albert-Eden Local Board". About the Albert-Eden local area. Auckland Council. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- "Public Transport". Auckland Transport. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- The Lively Capital, Auckland 1840-1865. Una Platts. Avon Fine Prints Limited New Zealand 1971.
- Colonial Architecture In New Zealand. John Stacpoole. A.H & A.W Reed 1976.
- Volcanoes of Auckland: The Essential guide - Hayward, B.W., Murdoch, G., Maitland, G.; Auckland University Press, 2011.
- Friends of Maungawhau website
- Mt Eden Village - Mt Eden Business Association
- Mt Eden Village Centre
- The Mount Eden Village People
- Maungawhau Heritage Walks:Four Mt Eden Neighbourhood Walks
- Eden Garden