Auckland, NZ’s largest urban area, straddles the isthmus between the Hauraki Gulf on the east coast and the Manukau Harbour on the west coast of the North Island. Auckland City Council is one of five municipalities that administer the region which extends more than 30 km from Albany and the East Coast Bays in the north to Papakura in the south, and which accommodates a million people, more than a quarter of the country’s population.
The other municipalities are Manukau City, North Shore City Council, Waitakere City Council and the Papakura District Council. Auckland is also NZ’s leading seaport, airport and commercial and industrial centre, and continues to be the fastest-growing region. It is the most cosmopolitan city in the country and, as the main tourist and trade gateway, it is more metropolitan in tone than many much larger and more populous secondary cities in other countries.
The settlement and later the province were named after the first Earl of Auckland, George Eden, who was Governor-
In 1853 the Province of Auckland was established, the largest of the six throughout the country, with the 39th parallel as the southern boundary, running from Mahia on the east coast through to the Whanganui River on the west. It was the most populous town and province in the 1850s, but its European population was surpassed first by Otago and then by Canterbury during the 1860s and 1870s. It regained the lead just before the end of the century and has held it ever since.
General of India when the settlement of Auckland was founded. Previously the Earl had been First Lord of the Admiralty and had given Hobson command of HMS Rattlesnake in which he first visited NZ in 1837.
There are no figures for the Maori population before this century, but it is certain that — with a large proportion of the Maori living in the region, at least since Cook’s arrival — the Auckland provincial region has always been the most populous area in NZ. In fact it is probable that the region centring on the isthmus carried more than 20,000 people even before the first Europeans arrived. A number of extinct volcanic cones made the area attractive for the construction of fortified Maori villages, the main ones being Mt Eden, Mt Albert, Mt Wellington, One Tree Hill, and Mt Hobson, all on the narrow isthmus between the two harbours. The whole isthmus is called after Nga Marama chief, Kiwi Tamaki, who dominated the area from a stronghold on One Tree Hill until the Ngati Whatua from the Helensville district took control during the second half of the 18th century. When Governor William Hobson bought the city site from the Ngati Whatua it had been relatively depopulated because of inter-tribal conflict.