Auckland Travel Guide

History

Main article History of Auckland
Early Māori and Europeans

The isthmus was settled by Māori around 1350 and was valued for its rich and fertile land. Many (fortified villages) were created, mainly on the volcanic peaks. Māori population in the area is estimated at about 20,000 people before the arrival of Europeans. The subsequent introduction of firearms, which began in Northland, upset the balance of power and led to devastating inter-tribal warfare, causing iwi who lacked the new weapons to seek refuge in areas less exposed to coastal raids. As a result, the region had relatively low numbers of Māori when European settlement of New Zealand began. There is, however, nothing to suggest that this was the result of a deliberate European policy. On 27 January 1832, Joseph Brooks Weller, eldest of the Weller brothers of Otago and Sydney bought land including the sites of the modern cities of Auckland and North Shore and part of Rodney District, for "one large cask of powder" from "Cohi Rangatira".

After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February 1840, the new Governor of New Zealand, William Hobson, chose the area as his new capital, and named it after George Eden, Earl of Auckland, then Viceroy of India. The land that Auckland was established on was given to the Governor by local Maori iwi Ngāti Whātua, as a sign of goodwill and in the hope that the building of a city would attract commercial and political opportunities for the iwi. Auckland was officially declared New Zealand's capital in 1841, and the transfer of the administration from Russell (now Old Russell) in the Bay of Islands was completed in 1842. However, even in 1840 Port Nicholson (later Wellington) was seen as a better choice for an administrative capital because of its proximity to the South Island and Wellington became the capital in 1865. After losing its status as capital, Auckland remained the principal city of the Auckland Province until the provincial system was abolished in 1876.

Growth up to today

In response to the ongoing rebellion by Hone Heke in the mid-1840s the government encouraged retired but fit British soldiers and their families to migrate to Auckland to form a defence line around the port settlement as garrison soldiers. Amongst the first settlers were some Catholics and in 1841 they established Auckland's first school of any sort which held its first class on 27 September 1841. By the time the first Fencibles arrived in 1848, the rebels in the north had been defeated, so the outlying defensive towns were constructed to the south stretching in a line from the port village of Onehunga in the West, to Howick in the east. Each of the 4 settlements had about 800 settlers, the men being fully armed in case of emergency but spent nearly all their time breaking in the land and establishing roads. In the early 1860s, Auckland became a base against the Māori King Movement. This, and continued road building towards the south into the Waikato, enabled Pākehā (European New Zealanders) influence to spread from Auckland. Its population grew fairly rapidly, from 1,500 in 1841 to 12,423 by 1864. The growth occurred similarly to other mercantile-dominated cities, mainly around the port and with problems of overcrowding and pollution. Auckland had a far greater population of ex soldiers than other settlements, many of whom were Irish. About 50% of the population was Irish which contrasted heavily with the majority English settlers in Wellington, Christchurch or New Plymouth. Most of the Irish, though not all, were from Protestant Ulster. The majority of settlers in the early period were assisted by receiving a cheap passage to NZ.

Trams and railway lines shaped Auckland's rapid expansion in the early first half of the 20th century, but soon afterward the dominance of the motor vehicle emerged and has not abated since; arterial roads and motorways have become both defining and geographically dividing features of the urban landscape. They also allowed further massive expansion that resulted in the growth of associated urban areas like the North Shore (especially after the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge), and Manukau City in the south. According to the 1961 census data, Māori and Pacific Islanders composed 5% of Auckland's population; Asians less than 1%.

A large percentage of Auckland is dominated by a suburban style of building, giving the city a low population density characteristic of most New World cities. However, due to a history of strong population growth and the city's location on a constrained isthmus, Auckland has among the highest population density of any urban area in Australasia.

source: Wikipedia

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