One Tree Hill (New Zealand)

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"Maungakiekie" redirects here. For the electorate, see Maungakiekie (New Zealand electorate).
One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill, Auckland, March 2015.jpg
Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill after the removal of the "one tree".
Elevation 182 m (597 ft)
Location North Island, New Zealand
Coordinates 36°54′0″S 174°46′59″E / 36.90000°S 174.78306°E / -36.90000; 174.78306Coordinates: 36°54′0″S 174°46′59″E / 36.90000°S 174.78306°E / -36.90000; 174.78306
Volcanic arc/belt Auckland volcanic field
Location of Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill in the Auckland area.
Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill with tree, in 1996.

Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill is a 182-metre (597 ft) volcanic peak in Auckland, New Zealand. It is an important memorial place for both Māori and other New Zealanders. The suburb around the base of the hill is also called One Tree Hill; it is surrounded by the suburbs of Royal Oak to the west, and clockwise, Epsom, Greenlane, Oranga, and Onehunga. The summit provides views across the Auckland area, and allows visitors to see both of Auckland's harbours.

The hill's scoria cones were erupted from three craters – one is intact and two have been breached by lava flows that rafted away part of the side of the scoria cone. Lava flows went in all directions, many towards Onehunga, covering an area of 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi), making it the second largest (in area covered) of the Auckland volcanic field, behind Rangitoto Island. The age of eruption is currently unknown, but it is older than 28,500 years as it has a mantling of volcanic ash erupted at that time from Te Tātua-a-Riukiuta volcano.[1]


Māori pā (fort)[edit]

The Māori name Maungakiekie means "mountain of the kiekie vine".[2] Māori also knew it as "tōtara that stands alone".[3] The mountain and its surrounds were home to the Te Wai ō Hua tribe from the early 1700s and probably before that time. Other Māori tribes in the Auckland area can also trace their ancestry to the mountain.

Maungakiekie was the largest and most important Māori pā in pre-European times. The cone and its surroundings are estimated to have been home to a population of up to 5,000.[4] At this time, the Nga Marama chief Kiwi Tamaki held the pa and used its strategic placement to exact tribute from travellers passing from Northland to the rest of the North Island through the rich isthmus. Its position between the Waitemata Harbour to the east (opening upon the Pacific Ocean) and the Manukau Harbour to the west (opening onto the Tasman Sea) offered a wide variety of seafood from the two harbours. The volcanic soil on the scoria cone was highly fertile, and the inhabitants terraced the slopes extensively. The hill was relatively easy to defend from raiding parties from other tribes due to its steep sides and imposing palisades. Waiohua occupation of the Māori pā ended around 1740-1750 AD when they were defeated in a war against the invading Ngati Whatua-o-Kaipara[5] The was abandoned around 1795 AD with the death of Te Taou leader Tuperiri[6]

European parks[edit]

The area contains two parks, Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill Domain, which are next to each other and thus often perceived as one. Cornwall Park is a private Park open to the public; it is administered by the Cornwall Park Trust Board which receives income from leasehold properties adjoining the park's borders. One Tree Hill Domain is a public park administered directly by Auckland Council.

In 1845 the Ngati Whatua, with the concurrence of representatives of the Waiohua people, sold a block of land which included Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill to a merchant, Thomas Henry. The Government under its preemptive rights excluded 115 acres of the hill itself from the sale and this was vested in the Crown. This is now One Tree Hill Domain.[7] In 1853 Brown & Campbell purchased Henry's land surrounding the recently protected One Tree Hill Domain. This land ultimately became Cornwall Park in 1901.[8]

Due to its height and relatively central location, the city has long used the park for its potable water reservoirs. The first was constructed in 1900 atop the western peak and, while no longer in service, the small structure is still visible today. Five further reservoirs were subsequently built underground, the latest of which was completed in 1977, and are currently used to maintain supply to the Onehunga area and to the reservoirs atop Mt Eden.

Cornwall Park[edit]

Statue of Sir John Logan Campbell

Cornwall Park is the legacy of Sir John Logan Campbell. Originally the land was a farm owned by him on the outskirts of Auckland. Upon his return from Italy in the 1880s he intended to build a great family residence on the slopes of the hill (where the current tearooms are) and planted many trees including olives on the slopes. Eventually he constructed a house closer to town (the land is now part of the Parnell Rose gardens). By about 1900 he realised that Auckland's suburbs were spreading at an alarming rate and he decided to leave the Greenlane property to the city as a park. Parts of the park, about 120 hectares (296.5 acres), are still run as a farm today, providing Aucklanders with access to an example of rural life in the heart of the city.[9]

The park was designed by the landscape architect Austin Strong and is based on Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.[10][11]

Campbell initially intended the name to be Corinth Park after the noted region in Greece. It received the name Cornwall Park because of the Royal visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1901 by the Duke & Duchess of Cornwall (later King George V & Queen Mary). John Logan Campbell was asked to be honorary Mayor of Auckland during the visits, and he took the opportunity to gift the park to the people of New Zealand and asked that it be called Cornwall Park. In return he was knighted.

One Tree Hill Domain[edit]

One Tree Hill Domain (118 acres / 48 hectares) is an Auckland Council-administered park adjoining Cornwall Park (425 acres / 172 hectares) creating a total of 220 hectares (540 acres) of public green space.[12]

Due to the use of the hilltop as a nightly party stop for boy racers and other (often drunk) groups of youths, it was decided in 2008 to close off the road access to the summit at night. Walking up to the hilltop is still possible at night.[3]

Treaty settlement[edit]

In the 2014 Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Tamaki Makaurau Collective of 13 Auckland iwi, the volcano was officially named Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill and ownership was vested to the collective. It is now co-governed by the collective and Auckland Council in common benefit of the iwi "and all other people of Auckland".[13][14][15][16][17][18]



Detail of the obelisk

On the summit of the hill is the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell surmounted by an obelisk. Campbell bequeathed £5000 for an obelisk on the summit of Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill as a memorial to Māori.[19] Prior to its construction, the One Tree Hill council suggested the funds be diverted to provide finance for swimming baths in Cornwall Park because of engineering difficulties in erecting the obelisk. Israel Goldstine, mayor of One Tree Hill, opposed this, stating that the money had been set aside for a specific purpose, and if it were impossible to conform with Campbell's wishes, the council should adhere to his wishes as near as practicable.[19]

Campbell, like many european New Zealanders of his generation, had expected that Māori would gradually die out and that an impressive memorial would be a most fitting symbol to perpetuate their memory.[20] By the 1930s this had obviously not happened, and some considered the term "memorial" was inappropriate with many Māori objecting to its use. During construction of the obelisk, a suggestion was made that it should be described as a centennial tower to mark the centennial year of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and not a memorial.[20]

Before the obelisk stands a bronze statue of a Māori warrior. The stone obelisk was designed by Richard Atkinson Abbot and completed in 1940, but the unveiling of the obelisk was delayed until after World War II on 24 April 1948. This was in keeping with Māori custom of not holding such ceremonies during a time of bloodshed. The grave of Sir John Logan Campbell is a plain granite slab, ornamented only by a bronze wreath. It lies in the middle of the viewing platform, on axis with the main memorial plaques on the Obelisk base and the bronze Warrior Statue.

Stardome Observatory[edit]

Main article: Stardome Observatory

The Stardome Observatory (previously known as Auckland Observatory), is located within One Tree Hill Domain, and contains two telescopes and a planetarium. The observatory has, amongst other research, discovered and named the asteroid 19620 Auckland. Its current functions combine entertainment and education (via the planetarium and via public access to the older telescope) as well as ongoing research with both telescopes. It is operated by a charitable trust.

Acacia Cottage[edit]

Cornwall Park is home to Acacia Cottage, one of the earliest surviving timber buildings in New Zealand, and also the oldest extant in Auckland. Built in 1841, it was originally the home of William Brown and John Logan Campbell and located behind their store. It was relocated in 1920 from its original location off Shortland Street, in what is now the heart of the CBD of Auckland City. In 1956 it was moved again within the park to a more prominent location. It is listed as a 'Category I' site by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.[21]

Trees on the hill[edit]

When Auckland was founded as a colonial town a tree stood near the summit which gave the hill its English name. Two accounts identify it as a pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa). This tree was cut down by a white settler in 1852, in an act of vandalism in one account,[citation needed] or for firewood in another.[3] It seems likely this was a different tree from the tōtara (Podocarpus totara) which, as a sacred tree, had given the hill one of its Maori names. A radiata pine was planted in the 1870s to replace the previous tōtara .[22] John Logan Campbell repeatedly tried to grow native trees on the hill's summit, but the trees failed to survive - with only two pines, originally part of a shelter belt for the native trees, surviving for long. However, in 1960, one of the two was felled in another attack,[3] possibly for firewood.[citation needed]

Crater of One Tree Hill, with Auckland city in the background.

The remaining tree was later attacked twice with chainsaws by Māori activists to draw attention to injustices they believed the New Zealand government had inflicted upon Māori (as the tree was not a native New Zealand species, they considered it an appropriate target). The first attack happened on 28 October 1994, the anniversary of the 1835 Declaration of Independence.[23] A second attack on 5 October 2000[24] left the tree unable to recover even though substantial efforts were made, and so it was removed on 26 October due to the risk of it collapsing.[3] The chainsaw used in the first attack was later placed on sale on popular New Zealand auction site, TradeMe in 2007,[25] but later withdrawn by the website after complaints and a poll of users. It was later listed on eBay.[26]

Partly due to uncertainty as to what species of tree should be replanted (a new pine or a tree native to New Zealand), the summit stands empty at the moment, except for the obelisk. A new nickname, "None Tree Hill", soon became popular. Plans are ongoing to plant a grove of pōhutukawa and totara trees at the summit, but concerns by local iwi over Treaty of Waitangi claims have so far prevented any actual planting,[27] though the Auckland Council is growing a number of seedlings in the hopes of reinstating a grove as soon as the treaty claims are settled.[28] The Council has removed repeated illegal plantings, usually of pōhutukawa, while waiting for the Treaty claims to be settled.[29]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Irish rock band U2 wrote a song about the hill, "One Tree Hill", which appeared on their album The Joshua Tree. It was written to honour New Zealander Greg Carroll, an employee of the band who died in a motorcycle accident in Dublin on 3 July 1986.


  1. ^ Hayward, Bruce W.; Murdoch, Graeme; Maitland, Gordon (2011). Volcanoes of Auckland: The Essential Guide. Auckland University Press. ISBN 978-1-86940-479-6. 
  2. ^ Cornwall Park website. Retrieved 8 November 2009
  3. ^ a b c d e "Vandals force One Tree Hill to be locked". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 8 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  4. ^ One Tree Hill Domain (Maungakiekie) (from the Auckland City Council website. Retrieved 2007-12-10.)
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1] From Tamaki Makau-Rau to Auckland
  7. ^ [2](One Tree Hill Domain Origin)
  8. ^ (Brochure "Sir John Logan Campbell" - Cornwall Park Information Center )
  9. ^ Cornwall Park (official website of the park)
  10. ^ "Park Formation". Cornwall Park. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  11. ^ "Cornwall Park Management Plan" (PDF). Auckland City Council. 1983. p. 23. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  12. ^ "Coast to Coast walkway". Auckland City Council. 
  13. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (27 September 2014). "Volcanic cones regain Maori names". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act 2014". New Zealand Legislation. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act 2014 registration guideline". Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "NZGB decisions - September 2014". Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "Protection of tupuna maunga assured under ownership transfer". Auckland Council. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "New governance structure for treasured tūpuna maunga". Auckland Council. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Maori Memorial. Obelisk on One Tree Hill. Scheme to divert fund.". Auckland Star. 19 March 1931. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "Delay encountered". Auckland Star. 22 August 1940. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "Acacia Cottage". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  22. ^ "One Tree Hill loses its tree". BBC News. 26 October 2000.
  23. ^ The Evolution of Contemporary Maori Protest (from a Tino Rangatiratanga website)
  24. ^ "Attempt to attack One Tree Hill". Television New Zealand. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  25. ^ Trevett, Claire (19 January 2007). "One Tree Hill chainsaw goes on sale at $5000 plus". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  26. ^ McKenzie-Minifie, Martha (22 January 2007). "Chips flying as chainsaw seller tries to rev up interest on US auction site". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  27. ^ Orsman, Bernard (10 June 2006). "Fresh hope sprouts for One Tree Hill". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  28. ^ "One Tree Hill seedlings". CityScene. Auckland City Council. 25 July 2010. 
  29. ^ "One Tree Hill being regularly patrolled". The New Zealand Herald. 10 February 2005. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  30. ^ "Building a Winning Team: The Making of One Tree Hill" (Documentary). One Tree Hill: The Complete First Season: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. 

Further reading[edit]

  • McLauchlan, Gordon (Ed) (1989). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of New Zealand. David Bateman Ltd. ISBN 1-86953-007-1. 

External links[edit]