Devonport, New Zealand

Coordinates: 36°49′54″S 174°47′47″E / 36.831667°S 174.796278°E / -36.831667; 174.796278
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Devonport and the Waitemata Harbour from Mount Victoria. Auckland CBD in the distance.
Devonport and the Waitemata Harbour from Mount Victoria. Auckland CBD in the distance.
Location of Devonport in Auckland.
Coordinates: 36°49′54″S 174°47′47″E / 36.831667°S 174.796278°E / -36.831667; 174.796278
CountryNew Zealand
Local authorityAuckland Council
Electoral wardNorth Shore ward
Local boardDevonport-Takapuna Local Board
 • Land112 ha (277 acres)
 (June 2022)[2]
 • Total4,673
Ferry terminal(s)Devonport Wharf
Hospital(s)Navy Hospital
(Duders Point) Vauxhall Cheltenham
Stanley Point
(North Head)
(Waitematā Harbour) (Waitematā Harbour) (Waitematā Harbour)

Devonport (/ˈdɛvənpɔːrt/ DEV-ən-port)[3] is a harbourside suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. It is located on the North Shore, at the southern end of the Devonport Peninsula that runs southeast from near Lake Pupuke in Takapuna, forming the northern side of the Waitematā Harbour. East of Devonport lies North Head, the northern promontory guarding the mouth of the harbour.

The suburb hosts the Devonport Naval Base of the Royal New Zealand Navy, the main facility for the country's naval vessels, but is best known for its harbourside dining and drinking establishments and its heritage charm. Devonport has been compared to Sausalito, California, US due to its setting and scenery.[4]


The Devonport shops contain a variety of antique, gift and bookshops, and a number of cafes and restaurants, making it a popular destination for tourists and Aucklanders.[citation needed]

Day trips combining a meal in Devonport with a trip up Mount Victoria or an exploration of the military emplacements on nearby North Head are popular. Of note is the Devonport Museum,[5] located near Mount Cambria. In April 2017 the museum was given a complete makeover[6] by local volunteers and a TV production company.[citation needed]

The navy base at Devonport features strongly in the local character, with the North Shore City Council having signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Navy which recognises the developing partnership between them.[7] The Torpedo Bay Navy Museum is also located in Devonport.[8]


Devonport covers 1.08 km2 (0.42 sq mi)[1] and had an estimated population of 3,230 as of June 2022,[2] with a population density of 3,047 people per km2.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [9]

Devonport had a population of 3,348 at the 2018 New Zealand census, a decrease of 66 people (−1.9%) since the 2013 census, and a decrease of 69 people (−2.0%) since the 2006 census. There were 1,275 households, comprising 1,590 males and 1,758 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.9 males per female. The median age was 45.5 years (compared with 37.4 years nationally), with 615 people (18.4%) aged under 15 years, 534 (15.9%) aged 15 to 29, 1,575 (47.0%) aged 30 to 64, and 627 (18.7%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 92.2% European/Pākehā, 5.2% Māori, 2.2% Pacific peoples, 4.1% Asian, and 3.0% other ethnicities. People may identify with more than one ethnicity.

The percentage of people born overseas was 35.7, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people chose not to answer the census's question about religious affiliation, 58.7% had no religion, 32.2% were Christian, 0.1% had Māori religious beliefs, 0.4% were Hindu, 0.3% were Muslim, 0.6% were Buddhist and 2.6% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 1,251 (45.8%) people had a bachelor's or higher degree, and 189 (6.9%) people had no formal qualifications. The median income was $45,800, compared with $31,800 nationally. 939 people (34.4%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 1,320 (48.3%) people were employed full-time, 513 (18.8%) were part-time, and 54 (2.0%) were unemployed.[9]


Around 40,000 years ago Devonport consisted of three islands of volcanic origin, Mount Victoria, North Head and between them Mount Cambria (now largely quarried away).[10]

The earliest evidence for Māori settlement dates from the mid-14th century (roughly the same time as the believed landing of the Tainui migration canoe, which is commemorated by a stone memorial on the foreshore).[11] A significant Māori settlement on North Head was ended by attacks from rival tribes in the 1790s.[12] About 50 Māori were still living in Torpedo Bay, with their meeting house just east of Cambridge Terrace, until they fled to the Waikato when the colonial government launched war on Waikato Māori in 1863.[13][14]

Jules Dumont d'Urville, a French explorer, is thought to have gone ashore in the area in 1827, possibly as the first European.[11] The first European building on the foreshore was a gunpowder magazine built in 1840.[15]

Devonport is one of the oldest colonial settlements in Auckland, and the first on the North Shore.[16] The Royal Navy survivors of HMS Buffalo settled at Devonport.[16] In 1841 a signal station for Auckland's shipping was erected on Mount Victoria (Takarunga), and the signal master, Robert Snow, and his family became the first Europeans to live in the area permanently.[15] From then until the 1860s, the settlement was called Flagstaff, because of the flagstaff at the signal station.[17] Flagstaff was subdivided for town sections and farms in the early 1850s.[15]

For the first half century or so of its existence Devonport was geographically isolated from the rest of the North Shore, and was sometimes called "the island" by the local inhabitants.[18] Only a thin strip of land beside the beach at Narrow Neck connected Devonport to Belmont and the rest of the North Shore peninsula. In the late 19th century the mangrove swamp that stretched from Narrow Neck to Ngataringa Bay was filled in to form a racecourse, now a golf course.[18] A new road was built along the western edge of the racecourse allowing more direct travel to the north.

On the southern shore, to the west of the centre of Devonport, a nearby deep water anchorage suitable for Royal Navy vessels, the Devonport Naval Base was established. William Hobson, then the Governor of New Zealand, considered the sandspit-protected area a better choice for a naval installation than the shallower Tamaki waters on the southern side of the harbour.[11] While some facilities have expanded and shifted in location over time, the area is still the primary base for the Royal New Zealand Navy. The Calliope Dock at Stanley Bay, part of the base, was opened on 16 February 1888 and at the time was the largest dock in the Southern hemisphere. The suburb also had one of the oldest New Zealand shipyards, now part of the Devonport Yacht Club area.[11]

The main centre of the suburb slowly shifted west from Church Street and the original wharf at Torpedo Bay, to its current location around the ferry wharf.[11] The settlement itself was renamed Devonport by 1859 after the English naval town of Devonport.[19] Devonport achieved Borough status in 1886 and was incorporated into North Shore City in 1989.

Devonport played a special role in the nuclear free movement. In 1981 the Devonport Borough Council voted to declare Devonport a nuclear-free zone, the first local council in New Zealand to do so.[20]

Devonport as seen from Mt Victoria. Victoria Road on left, Devonport Wharf at the rear.

In July 2007, Devonport was given permission to be excluded from a list of local Auckland growth node centres. The Auckland Regional Council accepted that while it was encouraging intensified growth (such as higher-density housing) around transport nodes such as Devonport, the character and historical nature of the Devonport Wharf area would make such a designation inappropriate in this case.[21]

In 2011 the Devonport community, led by parents and local publication the Devonport Flagstaff, launched a grassroots movement protesting the sale of the synthetic cannabis Kronic in local dairies. The battle was a success, and Kronic was banned from the area.[22]


Image of Devonport Ferry MV Kea
Devonport Ferry MV Kea

The first ferry services to Auckland city began in the 1840s. These were open sailing cutters operated by local seamen running passengers to the foot of Queen Street, Auckland's main road. In 1860 the first paddlesteamer ferries began operation.[10][18] These were in turn replaced by double-ended, screw-driven ferries in 1904.[18] Both passenger and vehicle ferries operated on the Devonport run until the opening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959. Immediately after the opening of the bridge, passenger ferry services to other North Shore destinations (such as Northcote and Birkenhead) were cancelled, as were all vehicular ferries. The Devonport passenger ferry was retained on a much reduced timetable. The majority of the ferries were scrapped, only a handful being retained until being replaced by more modern vessels. The last of the old-style double-ended ferries, the diesel-engined Kestrel (built in 1905), was retired from the commuter run in 1988 and was then operated for cruises and sightseeing.

In 2002 the Kestrel was moved to Tauranga to serve as a floating restaurant. The Kestrel changed hands again in 2010 and moved back to Auckland.[23] On 8 March 2016 the Kestrel broke up and sank while tethered in its Wynyard Quarter berth.[24] She was refloated, but her future remains uncertain.[25]

Local government[edit]

From 1876 until 1886, Devonport was a part of the Takapuna Riding administered by the Waitemata County, a large rural county north and west of the city of Auckland.[26] In 1886, the area split from the council, forming the Devonport Borough Council. In 1989, the borough was merged into the North Shore City, and in 2010 incorporated into the single unitary council, run by Auckland Council.

Within the Auckland Council, Devonport is a part of the Devonport-Takapuna local government area governed by the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board. It is a part of the North Shore ward, which elects two councillors to the Auckland Council.

Mayors during Devonport Borough Council[edit]

During its existence from 1886 to 1989, Devonport Borough had 19 mayors. The following is a complete list:

Name Portrait Term of office
1 Malcolm Niccol 1886–1890
2 Ewen Alison 1890–1895
(1) Malcolm Niccol 1895–1896
3 Joseph Macky 1896–1901
(1) Malcolm Niccol 1901–1902
(2) Ewen Alison 1902–1907
4 William Handley 1907–1915
5 Alick Pickford 1915–1916
6 John Henderson 1916–1919
7 Horace King 1919–1923
8 Thomas Lamont 1923–1927
9 Ernest Aldridge 1927–1930
10 John Hislop 1930–1931
11 Hugh Ferry-Wheir Meikle 1931–1941
12 Robert Gordon May 1941–1944
13 John Raymond Miller 1944–1950
14 Clem Woodall 1950–1959
15 Fred Stevens 1959–1965
16 Jack Seelye 1965–1968
17 Ted Jackson 1968–1973
18 Pat Sheehan 1973–1980
19 Jim Titchener 1980–1989


Between the wharf and Mount Victoria are the Devonport shops and several landmarks:

  • The Esplanade Hotel – this is an elegant example of an 1890s seaside hotel, reminiscent of many an English seaside resort of the period. A modern extension was added on in the 1950s which has now been replaced by an apartment complex. The Edwardian building was sold for $7 million in 2015.[27]
  • Windsor Reserve – located just to the east of the Devonport Wharf; it is an area of open lawn notable for the 1980s toilet block[citation needed] and the Edwardian archway at the northern end.
  • King Edward Parade Reserve – to the north of the Windsor Reserve on the other side of the road is the King Edward Parade Reserve; here are located the Public Library, the War Memorial (a bronze soldier figure by Richard Gross) and under the Moreton Bay Fig trees a 1950s styled bandstand.
  • The former Post Office – an Art Deco building from the 1930s.
  • The Left Bank – a 1920s neoclassical building now housing a cafe/bar/restaurant.
  • The Victoria Cinema – built in 1912 and remodelled internally and externally in the 1930s in the then fashionable Art Deco style; this is apparently the oldest cinema in the Southern Hemisphere in continuous use. The cinema was purchased for $1.55 million in 2006 by the North Shore City Council on behalf of the city.[28]

Devonport Museum, a museum on local history, opened in 1977.[29] Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, a military and maritime museum, opened to the public in 2010.[30][31]

Devonport Wharf[edit]

Today, ferry services to Devonport Wharf are more numerous again, and are subsidised by Auckland Transport, . A crossing between the Auckland CBD and Devonport takes about 12 minutes, usually on the 'Seabus Kea', a newer double-ended ferry.[18]

The Devonport Wharf / Ferry Terminal received a variety of maintenance and repairs during 2011 in advance of the Rugby World Cup. Further structural works were carried out in 2012.[32]

In 2015 a $24 million redevelopment project to upgrade parts of Devonport including the wharf began. The renovation of the Devonport wharf is all but complete, with applications for retail services currently underway. The project includes an improved car park and an overall modernization of the building itself, as well as structural improvements and refurbishments.[33]

The Flea FM
Broadcast areaDevonport, Auckland, New Zealand
OwnerNorth Harbour Community Radio Trust
First air date
May 1999

Local media[edit]

The Flea 88.2 FM &107.1FM is a community radio station in Auckland, New Zealand.[34] It broadcasts with a legally restricted 1000 milliwatts from Mount Victoria, Devonport & also from Takapuna. The station is widely heard because of superior aerial location, with a studio located in the Devonport Ferry Building. The station was created by Mike Baker, in May 1999. It was originally developed to serve Devonport and the neighbouring suburbs. In recent times a second transmitter was added in the Takapuna area and the station now covers the Takapuna and Milford suburbs as well. The station founder, Mike Baker, died on 4 April 2009, at the age of 71.[35]


Devonport Primary School is a contributing primary (years 1–6) school with a roll of 224[36] located on the side of Mount Victoria with the address of 18 Kerr Street. The school was established in 1870 on a plot of land given to them by the Trevarthen family for the purposes of a chapel, before it was later renegotiated to be used as a school.[37]

Class at St Leo's Primary School c1900
Class at St Leo's Primary School c1900

St Leo's School is a state-integrated Catholic primary (years 1–6) school with a roll of 47.[38] It was founded in 1893.[39]

Both these schools are co-educational. Rolls are as of April 2023.[40]


North Shore United AFC[edit]

North Shore United are an association football club that play their football at Allen Hill Stadium, located near the southern end of Lake Road. The club, founded in 1887, currently play in the NRFL Division 1, a league in the third tier of New Zealand Football. The club is the oldest in both New Zealand and Oceania, winning the Chatham Cup 6 times and the New Zealand Club Championship twice.

North Shore RFC[edit]

North Shore Rugby Football Club is a Rugby Union club located in Devonport that play their games at Devonport Domain. Founded in 1873, it is one of the oldest clubs in New Zealand.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "ArcGIS Web Application". Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Population estimate tables - NZ.Stat". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  3. ^ Upton, Clive; Kretzschmar, William A. Jr. (2017). The Routledge Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 351. ISBN 978-1-138-12566-7.
  4. ^ In Auckland, Life Is AlfrescoThe New York Times, 5 October 1997
  5. ^ Devonport Museum
  6. ^ Devonport Museum reopens after major revamp
  7. ^ Navy and North Shore City Council Join Forces (from the Royal New Zealand Navy website. Accessed 2008-05-11.)
  8. ^ "Visit us". Torpedo Bay Navy Museum. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. Devonport (133000). 2018 Census place summary: Devonport
  10. ^ a b About Devonport 1 (from the website)
  11. ^ a b c d e Set sail for adventure on dry landThe New Zealand Herald, Travel: NZ Special Issue, Tuesday 6 November 2007, Page D7
  12. ^ About Devonport 2 (from the website)
  13. ^ Verran, David. "Maori and Pakeha on the North Shore, 1840 - 1926". Birkenhead Heritage Society. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  14. ^ "Torpedo Bay Timeline". Torpedo Bay Navy Museum. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  15. ^ a b c North Shore Heritage. Volume 2: North Shore Area Studies & Scheduled Items List (PDF). Auckland Council. 2011. p. 131. ISBN 978-1-927169-23-0. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  16. ^ a b Duder, John (2011). "Auckland Ferries". In La Roche, John (ed.). Evolving Auckland: The City's Engineering Heritage. Wily Publications. pp. 117–119. ISBN 9781927167038.
  17. ^ North Shore Heritage. Volume 2: North Shore Area Studies & Scheduled Items List (PDF). Auckland Council. 2011. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-927169-23-0. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  18. ^ a b c d e Destination History – Devonport Archived 14 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (from the Fullers Ferries website. Retrieved 2007-09-14.)
  19. ^ Wises New Zealand Guide, 7th Edition, 1979. Page 83
  20. ^ "Shore now a Peace City". North Shore Times. 1 December 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  21. ^ Development gets thumbs downThe New Zealand Herald, Tuesday 17 July 2007, Page A9
  22. ^ "Grassroots battle against Kronic proves a success | NATIONAL News". Archived from the original on 1 July 2011.
  23. ^ "The Kestrel Plans A Return To Devonport". The Devonport Speculator. 24 August 2010. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
  24. ^ "Historic Auckland ferry the Kestrel sinks". The New Zealand Herald. 8 March 2016. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  25. ^ "Harbour ferry Kestrel and our waterfront in danger from bureaucratic group-think – Mike Lee". Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  26. ^ Reidy, Jade (2009). "How the West Was Run". In Macdonald, Finlay; Kerr, Ruth (eds.). West: The History of Waitakere. Random House. pp. 238–239. ISBN 9781869790080.
  27. ^ "Grand old Devonport lady gets new owners". 9 November 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  28. ^ "Heritage status stymies plans for theatre". 12 May 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  29. ^ "Devonport Museum". Devonport Museum.
  30. ^ "Torpedo Bay Navy Museum". Torpedo Bay Navy Museum.
  31. ^ "Royal New Zealand Navy Museum on NZ Museums". Te Papa.
  32. ^ "Devonport Wharf's makeover completed". Media release from Auckland Transport. 9 September 2011. Archived from the original on 24 September 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
  33. ^ Transport, Auckland. "Devonport Wharf redevelopment". Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  34. ^ "Battle of the Auckland airwaves". The New Zealand Herald. 12 December 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2009.
  35. ^ "Dunedin radio identity dies", Otago Daily News, 6 April 2009, retrieved 4 August 2012
  36. ^ Education Counts: Devonpost Primary School
  37. ^ "Archives". Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  38. ^ Education Counts: St Leo's School
  39. ^ "Our History". St Leo's School. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  40. ^ "New Zealand Schools Directory". New Zealand Ministry of Education. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  41. ^ Peacocke, Isabel Maude (entry in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography)
  42. ^ Robinson, Dove-Myer (entry in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography)
  43. ^ "Taylor, Mary". Retrieved 16 October 2017.

External links[edit]