Cornwall Park Maungakiekie

Cornwall Park Maungakiekie

Cornwall Park Maungakiekie combines two parks into the largest park on the Auckland Isthmus, at 220 hectares. It sits between the suburbs of Epsom, Royal Oak, One Tree Hill and Greenlane. The 67,000 year old, three-crater volcanic maunga is the dominant feature. Cornwall Park is a flatter area on the ancient lava flow owned by the Cornwall Park Trust.

Maungakiekie means the mountain of the kiekie, a native vine. Up until the mid-1700s, it was the centrepiece of the Waiohua Confederation that dominated the Auckland Isthmus. The terracing was developed in the 1600s, and a substantial area of kumara gardens existed. As with other maunga pā, Maungakiekie was primarily abandoned following the invasion by Ngāti Whātua in the 1740s. Ngāti Whātua preferred other areas around the isthmus. In the 1840s, Ngāti Whātua sold the maunga and surrounding land to Thomas Henry. In 1847, Auckland City took possession of the maunga from Henry, and it became One Tree Hill Domain.

In 1853, John Campbell and a business partner acquired the remaining Henry land, which was farmed for 20 years. In 1874, he bought out his partner to establish a mansion for his family. But his wife disliked the location, and ultimately, he gave the land to the public. In 1901, the Cornwall Park Trust took possession.

Much of the park reflects this legacy, including the mature trees planted along the access roads, the first olive grove in NZ on the west side, and Huia Lodge. Today, there are more than 350 species of trees plus substantial flower gardens. The park has also been continuously farmed with sheep and cows. In September, lambs and calves are a common sight.

The obelisk on the top is more recent, dating to 1940. When (by then) Sir John Logan Campbell died, he was buried at the top of Maungakiekie. He also allocated funds to build a personal tribute to the Māori people in recognition of their “character and achievements”. A substantial statue of Campbell can be seen between Manuaku Road and the entrance to Puriri Drive.

The One Tree also has a history. There was a single tōtara tree on the summit at the time of the Waiohua Confederation. By the time Auckland was established, there was a single pōhutukawa, hence One Tree Hill. But this was destroyed by a colonist in the 1850s. 1875 John Campbell planted some trees, but only 2 Monterey pines survived. A vandal in the 1960s destroyed one, and a Māori protestor damaged the second beyond repair around 2000. Today, several native trees are growing on the top, and the strongest will be kept.

The main entrances to the park can be found on Greenlane Road, Campbell Road and Manukau Road. There are two cafes, and you can walk everywhere in the park. Check out the observatory near Manukau Road for night sky viewings.

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