Local history

Street sign. Auckland street names

A guide to the history of street names in the Auckland region.

Names of roads, streets, crescents, lanes, etc fall into distinct patterns. They may celebrate a Royal connection such as Queen Street; note early administrators such as Hobson Street; celebrate activities once conducted there such as Customs Street; or note Imperial war heroes such as Kitchener Street (formerly the Germanic Coburg). Street names sometimes make poor attempts to substitute for the actual trees, foliage and natural landmarks that have been destroyed in the course of subdivision by using the names of removed species of plants or trees.

More often than not streets commemorate people, including famous writers, poets, essayists or dramatists, or local families or developers. Local or national politicians are also favourites. Unfortunately for most, while the name remains, the family or local politician is now forgotten. Who was the Mr Bond of Bond Street, which links Grey Lynn and Kingsland?

Note that continued purges of clashing street names, promoted by the Post Office, the Fire Service and the St. John's Ambulance, were a constant factor for local body street namers in the mid twentieth century.

There are a number of sources available to trace why a particular street may be named as it is, and by what names it may have been formerly known. John Davenport's Street names of Auckland: their story lists over 3,500 individual names, but excludes many names from the greater Auckland area. Also, some of the street name origins he offers are open to dispute by others. Local histories of various suburbs also give their own different opinions as to why local streets were so named.

Auckland Libraries' database Auckland City Street Names thus attempts to present verified information as to the origins of names, dates of formation, and any name changes for all streets within the boundaries of the Auckland City Council. Local historical societies and historians provided the material for Mangere, North Shore, Waitakere, Manurewa and Papatoetoe. While the photographic images section of the Auckland Libraries' website includes street scenes throughout the Auckland area, the Auckland War Memorial Museum Library links street names to their own database and some have direct links to photographic images.

Street names will, however, remain topics of conjecture. Current council policy is to give an official reason for the new name, but unfortunately that has not always been followed in the past.

- David Verran, Team Leader and Local History Librarian, Auckland Libraries

© Auckland Council