Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill

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One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill, Auckland, March 2015.jpg
Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill, in 2015.
Highest point
Elevation182 m (597 ft)
Coordinates36°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
LocationNorth Island, New Zealand
Age of rockAbout 67,000 years[1]
Volcanic arc/beltAuckland volcanic field

Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill is a 182-metre (597 ft) volcanic peak and Tūpuna Maunga (ancestral mountain) in Auckland, New Zealand. It is an important place culturally and archeologically for both Māori and Pākehā. 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 scoria cones of the hill 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 volcano erupted approximately 67,000 years ago.[1]


Tāmaki Māori history[edit]

Terracing on a slope of Maungakiekie.

In pre-European times, Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill was the largest in the Tāmaki Makaurau region.[2][3] The Māori name Maungakiekie means "mountain of the kiekie vine".[4] The terraces of the pā were constructed by Ngāti Awa chief Tītahi in the 17th century, and were traditionally known as Ngā Whakairo a Tītahi (the carvings of Tītahi).[5]

The tihi (summit) of the maunga was where the umbilical chord of Ngāti Awa rangatira Korokino was buried and a tōtara tree sprig was planted on top, giving rise to the name Te Tōtara-i-āhua ("The Tōtara That Stands Alone"), another common name for the mountain used by Tāmaki Māori.[6][7]

Maungakiekie is associated with the Waiohua confederation of tribes, who were active in the 17th and 18th centuries. The time of the third paramount chief of Waiohua, Kiwi Tāmaki, is associated with the time of the greatest unity and strength of the Waiohua confederation,[8] when the Tāmaki Makaurau region was one of the most populated areas of Aotearoa.[9] The cone and its surroundings are estimated to have been home to a population of up to 5,000.[10] Kiwi Tāmaki, the third paramount chief of Waiohua, moved the seat of power of the confederation from Maungawhau / Mount Eden to Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill.[11] Near the summit of Maungakiekie was a gigantic pahū pounamu (greenstone gong) known as Whakarewa-tāhuna ("Lifted from the Banks of the Sea"), which Kiwi Tāmaki used as a calling for the warriors of the Tāmaki isthmus to assemble.[12][13] During the later Waiohua period, the southern slopes of Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill south to Onehunga were known as Nga Māra a Tahuri ("The Plantations of Tahuri"), which were extensive kūmara (sweet potato) plantations managed by Tahuri, an agriculturalist and wife of Waiohua chief Te Ika-maupoho.[14][15] Kiwi Tāmaki and most of the people of Maungakiekie did not live permanently at the mountain, instead migrating across circuits of the Auckland region collecting resources.[16]

Kiwi Tāmaki's rule and the Waiohua hegemony over the Tāmaki isthmus came to an end in the 1740s, after war with the Te Taoū hapū of Ngāti Whātua from South Kaipara.[17] After the war, Te Taoū settled on the isthmus, and chief Tuperiri constructed a pā below the summit of Maungakiekie, known as Hikurangi.[18][11] Hikurangi was abandoned around 1795 AD, with the death of Tuperiri,[19][20] and Ngāti Whātua re-centred their activities around the Onehunga-Māngere area.[5] While Maungakiekie was no longer central to Ngāti Whātua life, it remained a central part of the iwi's rohe.[5]

European history[edit]

1845 watercolour the summit of Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill, with its single pōhutukawa or tōtara tree, that gave the maunga its Pākehā name.

In 1844, Ngāti Whātua chiefs sold a block of land which included Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill to a merchant, Thomas Henry.[21] Most of this property was removed from Henry in 1847, with the 115 acres of the hill and surrounding land becoming a Crown reserve, now known as the One Tree Hill Domain.[21][22] In 1853, Auckland businessmen John Logan Campbell and William Brown purchased Henry's land.[21] Henry had referred to his property as Mt Prospect, however after the purchase Campbell renamed the farm the One Tree Hill Estate.[21] Over the next 20 years, the farm was developed for cattle and sheep farming, and included potato cultivations.[5] During this period, Campbell and Brown spent most of their time in Europe.[21]

In 1874, Campbell returned to Auckland and took sole ownership of the property, planning to build an Italian-style mansion adjacent to the mountain.[23] Campbell's wife Emma did not approve of the designs or location, so by 1876 abandoned plans for the villa.[24] In 1878, he planted an olive grove at Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill,[25] the only commercially grown crop of olives in New Zealand until the 1980s.[26]

In 1880, after the death of his daughter Ida, Campbell decided to gift the One Tree Hill Estate to the public,[27] leasing the land to Chinese market gardener Fong Ming Quong in the mean-time.[28] In 1901, Campbell formally handed over the land to the public during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall in 1901 (who later became King George V and Queen Mary of Teck).[27]

One Tree Hill Domain[edit]

Crater of Maungakiekie, with Auckland city in the background.

One Tree Hill Domain, a 118-acre (48 ha) park, is owned by the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective (also known as the Tāmaki Collective) and administered by the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority (Tūpuna Maunga Authority). One Tree Hill Domain adjoins Cornwall Park's 425 acres (172 ha), creating a total of 540 acres (220 hectares) of public green space.[29][30]

The hilltop is always accessible by foot, but because of anti-social behaviour, including drinking, vandalism and crime, after-dark road access to the summit was closed in 2008.[7]

Due to the spiritual and cultural significance of Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill to Māori, and for pedestrian safety, the summit road was permanently closed to most vehicles in March 2019.[31][32][33]

The area contains two parks, One Tree Hill Domain and Cornwall Park, which are next to each other and thus often perceived as one. One Tree Hill Domain is open to the public and was formerly administered by Auckland City Council but since 2012 has been owned and administered by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.[34][30] All decisions are made by the owners, who have delegated minor day-to-day operations to Cornwall Park Trust. Cornwall Park is a private park, also open to the public, administered by the Cornwall Park Trust Board. The Trust's endowment includes income from leasehold properties adjoining the park's borders.[35]

Because One Tree Hill Domain is high and relatively central, the city has long used it for its potable water reservoirs. The first of these was constructed in 1900 atop the western peak; though it is no longer in service, the small structure remains in place. Five further reservoirs were subsequently built underground, with the latest completed in 1977. They are currently used to maintain supply to the Onehunga area and to the reservoirs atop Maungawhau / Mount Eden.[citation needed]

Cornwall Park[edit]

Cornwall Park, which adjoins the One Tree Hill Domain, was given by Sir John Logan Campbell to a private trust he had established to hold the land for the use of the public.[36]

Treaty settlement[edit]

In the 2014 Treaty of Waitangi settlement between the Crown and the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau collective of 13 Auckland iwi and hapu (also known as the Tāmaki Collective), ownership of the 14 Tūpuna Maunga of Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland, was vested to the collective, including the volcano officially named Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill. The legislation specified that the land be held in trust "for the common benefit of Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau and the other people of Auckland". The Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority or Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) is the co-governance organisation established to administer the 14 Tūpuna Maunga. Auckland Council manages the Tūpuna Maunga under the direction of the TMA.[37][38][39][30]



Detail of the obelisk

On the summit of the hill is an obelisk, a memorial to Māori.[40] 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.[citation needed]

Beneath it is the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell who bequeathed £5,000 for the obelisk. His grave 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.[40]

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.[41] 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.[41]

Stardome Observatory[edit]

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.

Summit trees[edit]

Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill with the lone Monterey pine tree, in 1996.
Young tōtara and pōhutukawa on Maungakiekie to replace lost single trees, 2022.

During the Waiohua confederation of the 17th and 18th century, the summit of the maunga was known for its single tōtara tree.[6]

When Auckland was founded as a colonial town a tree stood near the tihi which gave the maunga its English name. Two accounts identify it as a pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa). This tree was cut down by a Pākehā settler in 1852, in an act of vandalism in one account,[42] or for firewood in another.[7] An exotic Monterey pine was planted in 1875 by John Logan Campbell to replace the tōtara or pōhutukawa.[43][44] Campbell repeatedly tried to grow native trees on the tihi, 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.[7]

The remaining tree was later attacked twice with chainsaws by Māori activists to draw attention to injustices they claimed the New Zealand government had inflicted upon Māori. The first attack happened on 28 October 1994, the anniversary of the 1835 Declaration of Independence.[45] A second attack in October 2000 left the tree unable to recover, and it was removed the following year by Auckland Council due to the risk of it falling.[46] In 2007, the chainsaw used by activist Mike Smith in the first attack was placed on sale on auction site TradeMe,[47] but withdrawn by the website after complaints and a poll of users. It was later listed on eBay.[48] The chainsaw is now in the collection of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.[49]

A dawn ceremony conducted by Tūpuna Maunga Authority took place upon Maungakiekie on 11 June 2016 planting nine young tōtara and pōhutukawa grown from parent trees on the maunga. The strongest single tree will eventually remain and kiekie will be added.[50][51]

In 2021, The Spinoff produced a short documentary centred around the chainsaw called "The chainsaw used on One Tree Hill and heard across Aotearoa".[52][53]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hopkins, Jenni L.; Smid, Elaine R.; Eccles, Jennifer D.; Hayes, Josh L.; Hayward, Bruce W.; McGee, Lucy E.; van Wijk, Kasper; Wilson, Thomas M.; Cronin, Shane J.; Leonard, Graham S.; Lindsay, Jan M.; Németh, Karoly; Smith, Ian E. M. (3 July 2021). "Auckland Volcanic Field magmatism, volcanism, and hazard: a review". New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics. 64 (2–3): 213–234. doi:10.1080/00288306.2020.1736102.
  2. ^ Fox, Aileen (1977). "Pa of the Auckland Isthmus: An Archaeological Analysis". Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum. 14: 1–24. ISSN 0067-0464.
  3. ^ Bulmer, Susan (1994). Sources for the archaeology of the Maaori settlement of the Taamaki volcanic district (PDF) (Report). Department of Conservation. ISBN 0-478-01552-6. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  4. ^ Cornwall Park website. Retrieved 8 November 2009
  5. ^ a b c d Mackintosh 2021, pp. 125.
  6. ^ a b Mackintosh 2021, pp. 125, 216.
  7. ^ a b c d "Vandals force One Tree Hill to be locked". The New Zealand Herald. NZPA. 8 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  8. ^ Patterson, Malcolm (February 2021). "Ngāti Te Ata Cultural Values Assessment Report" (PDF). Environmental Protection Authority. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  9. ^ Margaret, McClure (6 December 2007). "Auckland region - Māori history". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  10. ^ "Parks in Auckland | One Tree Hill Domain (Maungakiekie)". Auckland City Council. 10 December 2007. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012.
  11. ^ a b Blair, Ngarimu (2 June 2021). "Statement of evidence of Ngarimu Alan Huiroa Blair on behalf of the plaintiff" (PDF). Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  12. ^ Ballara 2003, pp. 206–211.
  13. ^ White, John (1891). "History of the Wars in the Auckland District - By Nga-ti-whatua Tribe". The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions: Nga-Puhi [Vol. XI]. p. 51. Retrieved 22 March 2022 – via New Zealand Electronic Text Collection.
  14. ^ Graham, George (1919). "Rangi-hua-moa. A Legend of the Moa in Waitemata District, Auckland". The Journal of the Polynesian Society. 28 (2 (110): 107–110.
  15. ^ Patterson, Malcolm (21 March 2008). "Ngati Whatua o Orakei Heritage Report for State Highway 20; Transit Manukau Harbour Crossing" (PDF). Environmental Protection Authority. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  16. ^ Te Ākitai Waiohua (2015). "Cultural impact assessment by Te Ākitai Waiohua for Bremner Road Drury Special Housing Area" (PDF). Retrieved 29 June 2021 – via Auckland Council.
  17. ^ Stone 2001, pp. 36–45.
  18. ^ High Court of New Zealand (9 February 2021). "In the High Court of New Zealand: Auckland Registry CIV-2015-404-002033 Between Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust and Attorney-General and Marutūāhu Rōpū Limited Partnership" (PDF). Retrieved 1 March 2022 – via Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.
  19. ^ Stone 2001, pp. 48.
  20. ^ Ballara 2003, pp. 206–234.
  21. ^ a b c d e Mackintosh 2021, pp. 121.
  22. ^ [1] Archived 3 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine(One Tree Hill Domain Origin)
  23. ^ Mackintosh 2021, pp. 122.
  24. ^ Mackintosh 2021, pp. 129.
  25. ^ Mackintosh 2021, pp. 119.
  26. ^ Mackintosh 2021, pp. 146.
  27. ^ a b Mackintosh 2021, pp. 134.
  28. ^ Mackintosh 2021, pp. 136.
  29. ^ [all decisions are made by the owners Auckland Council] accessed 10 February 2016
  30. ^ a b c "Tūpuna Maunga significance and history". Auckland Council. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  31. ^ "Work begins to make summit of Maungakiekie, One Tree Hill vehicle free". 1 News. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  32. ^ "Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill summit becomes vehicle-free". 1 May 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  33. ^ "Changes to vehicle access on Tūpuna Maunga". Auckland Council. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  34. ^ "Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act 2014". New Zealand Legislation. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  35. ^ "Ground Leases and Conditions of Entry". Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  36. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  37. ^ "Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act 2014 No 52 (as at 12 April 2022), Public Act – New Zealand Legislation". Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  38. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (27 September 2014). "Volcanic cones regain Maori names". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  39. ^ "NZGB decisions - September 2014". Land Information New Zealand. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  40. ^ a b "Maori Memorial. Obelisk on One Tree Hill. Scheme to divert fund". Auckland Star. 19 March 1931. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  41. ^ a b "Delay encountered". Auckland Star. 22 August 1940. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  42. ^ "The History of One Tree Hill, the volcanic mountain known to the Maori people as 'Maungakiekie' | NZETC". Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  43. ^ Mackintosh 2021, pp. 123.
  44. ^ "Axe taken to One Tree myth - New Zealand News". NZ Herald. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  45. ^ The Evolution of Contemporary Maori Protest Archived 18 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine (from a Tino Rangatiratanga website)
  46. ^ "Warrior's chainsaw massacre rings on". NZ Herald. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  47. ^ Trevett, Claire (19 January 2007). "One Tree Hill chainsaw goes on sale at $5000 plus". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ "Chain saw". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  50. ^ Simon Maude (11 June 2016). "Hundreds turn out for One Tree Hill planting". Auckland Now. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  51. ^ "Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill planting symbol of new Auckland". OurAuckland. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  52. ^ Rose, Hanahiva (15 April 2021). "The rise and fall of the pine on One Tree Hill". The Spinoff. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  53. ^ The chainsaw used on One Tree Hill and heard across Aotearoa | The Single Object | The Spinoff, retrieved 17 July 2022
  54. ^ "Building a Winning Team: The Making of One Tree Hill" (Documentary). One Tree Hill: The Complete First Season: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.
  55. ^ Castro, Adam-Troy (2006). My Ox Is Broken!: Roadblocks, Detours, Fast Forwards and Other Great Moments from Tv's 'the Amazing Race'. BenBella Books. p. 136. ISBN 9781941631454.
  56. ^ HaMerotz LaMillion. Season 1. Episode 19. Channel 2.

Print references[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Volcanoes of Auckland: A Field Guide. Hayward, B.W.; Auckland University Press, 2019, 335 pp. ISBN 0-582-71784-1.
  • McLauchlan, Gordon, ed. (1989). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of New Zealand. David Bateman Ltd. ISBN 1-86953-007-1.

External links[edit]