Monte Cecilia Park and Pah Homestead
Monte Cecilia Park and the Pah Homestead are located in the Auckland suburb of Hillsborough. The park is one of the younger major central city parks, established after 2002. The Homestead is on a ridge at the west end of the park. It is believed a pā was located there during the 1600s and 1700s.
In 1844, William Hart purchased much of the area around the current park from Ngāti Whātua. He built a Regency-style villa and then sold this and the land to James Williamson in the 1870s. Williamson wanted to create one of the finest homes in NZ, so he pulled the villa down and built the current homestead in Italianate style. The design was based on Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Williamson farmed much of the surrounding land but also planted many exotic trees. Today, these trees include the largest hoop pine and Morton Bay fig in New Zealand.
Williamson was forced to sell off much of the land immediately before he died in 1888. The remaining property was taken over by the Bank of New Zealand, leased to the Anglican church and then purchased by the Sisters of Mercy for use as a convent in 1913. The homestead was renamed for Cecilia Mahler, the first of the order to come to NZ in the 1850s. From 1982 the homestead was used by the order as emergency housing for low-income families and immigrants. In 2002 it was purchased by Auckland City for development as a park and refurbishment of the homestead as an art gallery. Today, this includes a sculpture garden and cafe and it is now one of the best suburban locations for visitors to the city.
Access to the Pah Homestead is along Delargey Avenue from Hillsborough Road on the west side of the park, with plenty of parking space. Monte Cecilia Park is also accessible by foot from Herd Road and Mount Albert Road. From the top of the ridge at the west end near the Homestead, there are excellent views of Cornwall Park Maungakiekie and towards Manukau Harbour and Mangere Mountain.