Counties-Manukau essays

A history of Manukau City Centre

Bruce Ringer


This is a brief history of the central Manukau area. During the 19th century, this area was known as Woodside. In the early 20th century the name Wiri came into use instead. When Manukau City was formed in 1965, the largely rural area of Wiri was chosen as the future site of its new city centre. From the 1970s onwards, this area had a dual identity, sometimes being referred to as Manukau and sometimes as Wiri.

In 1983 Manukau City Council decided to replace the name Wiri with ‘Manukau Central’. Wiri, however, continued to be used for the industrial area to the west of the city centre, while the term Manukau City Centre was more usually applied to the central commercial area.

Today the central Manukau area is mostly urbanised. This narrative combines a brief account of its development with mention of the few historical sites and buildings that survive from earlier years. 

Maori history

The wider Manukau area has a long Maori history, being one of the earliest settled areas in New Zealand. About 1350AD the Tainui canoe passed nearby, sailing up the Tamaki River, before being portaged across the Otahuhu isthmus, then passing through the Manukau Heads. At this time the Manuka or Manukau Harbour was given its name. (Naming the Manukau (Manuka) Harbour)

From as early as the fifteenth century, extensive food gardens were developed in the light, fertile soils surrounding the volcanic cones of the region.

There is today little remaining evidence of Maori settlement in the immediate vicinity of central Manukau. However, archaeological surveys have uncovered signs of intensive settlement towards the southwest, along the banks of the Puhinui Creek and inland as far as the volcanic cones of Matukutureia and Matukutururu, although the exact date of this settlement has been debated. [1]

According to a traditional story related by George Graham, these two mountains gained their names during the seventeenth century, when two Wai O Hua pa on the mountains were attacked by Ngati Whatua led by the warrior chief Kawharu. One of them was saved from destruction by the watchfulness of its commander; the other was lost because its chief had gone fishing and fallen asleep. The former thus became known as Matukutureia (‘the watchful bittern’), the latter as Matukutururu (‘the careless bittern’), and the wider area encompassing the mountains as Nga Matukurua (‘the two bitterns’). [2]

Matukutureia has particular significance for Ngati Te Ata, being the birthplace of that tribe’s eponymous ancestor Te Ata I Rehia. However, because of quarrying over the last few decades, little remains of either mountain today. Matukutururu, or Wiri Mountain, has been dug away almost completely, while only a portion of Matukutureia, or McLaughlin’s Mountain, has been preserved by the presence of a water reservoir on its peak.

Aerial view of Wiri Mountain and vicinity, 4 April 1961.

Aerial view of Wiri Mountain and vicinity, 4 April 1961, showing the effects of quarrying. Roscommon Road is in the middle foreground, Wiri Station Road to the left, and the railway line in the background. (White’s Aviation, no. 55258, copy courtesy of Ian Lawlor)

View of McLaughlin’s Mountain in 1962, showing Papatoetoe Borough Council’s pumphouse and water reservoir.

View of McLaughlin’s Mountain in 1962, showing Papatoetoe Borough Council’s pumphouse and water reservoir. (Photographer, Trevor Penman. Manukau Research Library, PAP: II, 3, no. 13)

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The first land purchases

In the early nineteenth century most of the Auckland region was depopulated by tribal warfare. Settlement did not resume until the mid-1830s.

The first Europeans to visit the area were traders and missionaries. Samuel Marsden visited the region several times, and on 14 July 1820 was the first European to sight the Manukau Harbour. The first missionaries to actually set foot in Manukau were James Hamlin and A.N. Brown, who on 16 March 1834, somewhere between Otahuhu and Papakura, held the first recorded Christian service in the area.

It was another missionary who made the first significant purchase of land in the region. At a tribal meeting in Otahuhu in January 1836 William Fairburn, a Church Missionary Society catechist, bought a large tract of disputed land stretching from the Otahuhu portage to the Papakura Stream, thence to the Wairoa River, thence to the Tamaki River. The area of his purchase was estimated at the time as 40,000 acres, but was in later years measured at more than 80,000 acres.

After the signature of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 the Government began to investigate all pre-Treaty land sales, including Fairburn’s claim.

In March 1841 Auckland was chosen as the capital of the new colony. The Government’s first major purchase of land south of the isthmus was the Papakura block in January 1842. This covered much of present-day Manurewa and Takanini, and overlapped towards its northern boundary with the Fairburn claim. (Fairburn himself had by this time resigned from the Church Missionary Society and settled at Otahuhu.)

In 1843, the Crown granted James Reddy Clendon a large portion of its Papakura land in partial return for land at Okiato in the Bay of Islands. The northern boundary of the Clendon Grant ran where Puhinui Road runs today, the southern boundary along Weymouth Road, and thus included the area on which Manukau City Centre now stands. Clendon never visited the area, and soon mortgaged or sold his land.

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Early European settlement

Most of the early purchasers of land in the Clendon Grant were speculators rather than settlers. The artist George French Angas, who travelled southward from Auckland in September 1844, reported passing William Fairburn’s rich and extensive farm at Otahuhu, and noted well-fed cattle grazing among the low fern. He then crossed the muddy upper reaches of the Tamaki River and entered the unpopulated wasteland of fern, low scrub and flax beyond.

“Our route lay through a sombre and desolate-looking region, almost without trees,” Angas recounted later. “The undulating country was closed with russet fern, and bunches of flax occurred in every direction …. Towards the close of day, we arrived at the termination of this volcanic and open district, and, on the borders of a dark forest, we descried a small clearing, with one or two huts belonging to European settlers … It was now sunset; and we suddenly struck into a belt of forest – a glen of profuse vegetation – through which the lingering beams of day were in vain struggling to penetrate.” [3]

In 1843 Edward Waters bought the plot of land on which Manukau City Centre now stands. He was reputedly running cattle there by or before 1846, and may have settled on his land in 1849. Another early purchaser of land in the area was the merchant Thomas McLaughlin, who in 1845 bought most of the northern portion of the Clendon Grant. His son, William McLaughlin, later built a fine house below Matukutureia, which thus became known as McLaughlin’s Mountain.

In the 1840s the Government established a ring of defensive Fencible or militia settlements to the south and east of Auckland. These included Howick, where settlement began in November 1847, and Otahuhu, where the first settlers arrived in May 1848. Not long after the settlement of Otahuhu, the Crown finally reached agreement with William Fairburn over his claim. Fairburn was confirmed in ownership of a total of 5493 acres in Otahuhu and East Tamaki. Under the right of pre-emption, the Crown kept the remaining land of the Fairburn purchase. Apart from a 5000-acre native reserve at Maraetai, most of this land was sold for settlement.

William McLaughlin’s homestead, ‘Puhi Nui’, probably during the 1890s.

William McLaughlin’s homestead, ‘Puhi Nui’, probably during the 1890s. The homestead was moved to Howick Historical Village in 1982. (Photograph courtesy of Joy Hanna. Manukau Research Library, PAP: I, 6)

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The birth of Woodside

In April 1851 construction of a bridge across the Tamaki River began, opening up the area to the south of Otahuhu. More intensive settlement began at Otara, immediately south of the river, and at Papatoitoi, as Papatoetoe was then known.

The new settlers’ top priorities included schools and churches. In 1854 a Methodist chapel and schoolroom was opened near the Great South Road a few miles south of the Tamaki River. About this time the locality became known as Woodside. [4]

On 22 December 1857 the hotelier and entrepreneur William Young started the first passenger coach service along the Great South Road between Auckland and Drury. Woodside was a convenient staging post between the two. By December 1859 a tavern known as the ‘Halfway House’ had been opened there. This hostelry was later renamed the Raglan Hotel.

The first Woodside Methodist chapel (centre).

The first Woodside Methodist chapel (centre). Detail from William Morley, The History of Methodism in New Zealand, Wellington, McKee, 1900, p. 225.

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St John’s Redoubt

In January 1862, as the prospect of war in the Waikato loomed, work began on improving the Great South Road for military purposes. Immediately prior to the outbreak of the war in July 1863, the local Maori people – the nearest settlements to Manukau were the villages of Mangere, Pukaki and Ihumatoa, and Te Aparangi near Papakura - were given a choice of taking an oath of allegiance or expulsion. Most chose to leave for the Waikato, and only a handful of villagers remained at Mangere.

On 21 July 1863 a group of Auckland militia began work on a redoubt or earth fort on a ridge above Woodside, one of a series of fortifications erected along the length of the Great South Road. It was named St John’s Redoubt, after Captain St John, the commanding officer of the Auckland Rifle Volunteers.

The militia stationed at St John’s Redoubt saw little action during the war, apart from the occasional false alarm. However, they often had to endure considerable discomfort. “We are having dreadful weather here,” reported one of them in November 1863, “only now and then a few hours sunshine, and not enough in the last week to dry the fern and blankets for our beds. The tents are, under these circumstances, little better than nothing at all, the rain coming through in torrents. Many of us have not had a dry bed for several nights. The bread we have is not fit for human food, so we have refused it altogether and commenced buying our own … during the little sunshine we have we try to while away our time as pleasantly as possible with quoits, cricket, races, boxing, &c….” [5]

By February 1864, the theatre of war had shifted to the Waikato. Those settlers who had fled to the towns now returned. It was perhaps a sign of new-found confidence that in December 1864 Charles Burton, proprietor of the Raglan Hotel, established a substantial brick and tile works near Woodside.

The war was also followed by the confiscation of much of the remaining Maori land at Mangere, Pukaki, Ihumatao, Wairoa and Kirikiri. Although some portions of the land were later returned, Maori never returned to the region in large numbers.

 St John’s Redoubt, Papatoetoe, from a drawing by Lieutenant Colonel A. Morrow.

 St John’s Redoubt, Papatoetoe, from a drawing by Lieutenant Colonel A. Morrow (originally published in James Cowan, The New Zealand Wars … Vol. I, 1845-1872, Wellington, Government Printer, 1955. Original held at Auckland War Memorial Museum).

The remains of St John’s Redoubt are today preserved as an historic site, and can be visited via a small reserve running between Redoubt Road and Boeing Place.

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A peaceful farming area

In November 1870, in recognition of Woodside’s separate identity, the name of the Papatoitoi Post Office, based in the Raglan Hotel at the time, was changed to Woodside.

A traveller who took the coach along the Great South Road in 1873 described a bucolic scene to the south of Otahuhu: “…[We] trundled again on the well-kept road, between thorn hedges, furze hedges, and post and rail fences, enclosing paddocks of splendid grass … the grass was as green as in October, and the cattle were in tip-top condition … We passed Papatoetoe, where a crumbling mound on a rise shows the site of the old redoubt; and here, for some time, we left the good land behind us. From this for several miles the soil changes its condition, and becomes a cold clay of the poorest character, through which more than one stream brawls over a pebbly bed …” [6]

At the time the settlements along the Great South Road south of Otahuhu were little more than villages. Local government was in the hands of elected highway boards, responsible for the upkeep of the roads and bridges in their respective areas. Woodside formed part of the Manurewa Highway District, with Papatoitoi Highway District to the north and Papakura Valley Highway District to the east.

In 1873 the Woodside Methodist school became a public school. After sectarian disputes arose between the Anglicans and the Methodists - on one occasion a Methodist minister tried to nail the doors of the building shut - the school committee began work on a new school building further to the south. This was completed in November 1875.

Teachers and pupils at Woodside School some time prior to the removal of the school building to Manurewa in 1906.

Teachers and pupils at Woodside School some time prior to the removal of the school building to Manurewa in 1906. The school building was demolished in 1972. The former headmaster’s house can still be seen today on its original site in Kerrs Road. (Manukau Research Library, Manurewa Historical Society Collection, MNA: I, 2, no. A2)

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The decline of Woodside

Despite its new school, however, Woodside did not have a promising future. When in 1875 the railway line between Auckland and Mercer was opened, it bypassed Woodside. The nearest stations were Papatoetoe and Manurewa. These settlements waxed as Woodside waned.

Ominously, on 27 August 1876 the Raglan Hotel burnt to the ground in suspicious circumstances. It was never rebuilt. The Woodside post office was closed in 1879.

Nonetheless the community retained some spirit. On 29 August 1880, local Anglicans opened their own church, St David’s, on the Great South Road. (The original building was enlarged by the addition of a chancel in June 1887 and a vestry in 1901). In 1901 the local Methodists also replaced their original chapel with a new church building.

But Woodside was being overtaken by Manurewa. In 1906 the Woodside school was shifted down the Great South Road and reopened as the Manurewa school. In 1909 the Methodist church was likewise trundled down the road to a new site in Manurewa.

Sketch of St David’s Church, Great South Road, Wiri, by Andrew Hall.

Sketch of St David’s Church, Great South Road, Wiri, by Andrew Hall, from Historic Buildings in Manukau City, Manukau City, 1980.

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Wiri between the wars

Even the name of Woodside disappeared. When a post office was re-established at the location in July 1908, it was called Wiri. (The name is believed to come from the first name of Wirihana Takaanini, a son of the nineteenth century Ngati Tamaoho chief, Ihaka Takaanini.)

In 1913 a railway station was opened at Wiri, and the road to the station was improved. In a foretaste of the area’s industrial future, in 1917 land was set aside for quarrying purposes at Wiri Mountain. By this time Wiri itself was a mere wayside settlement of little more than a church, a store and a few scattered houses. In April 1922 a modest little public hall was also opened there by Prime Minister William Ferguson Massey, who was also the local MP. (The old Wiri hall)

At this time, the Great South Road, which ran through Wiri, was in notoriously poor condition. Improvements began after it was declared a main highway in 1924. By 1927 it had been concreted all the way to Papakura.

The Great South Road Beautifying Society was formed at this time. At its foundation meeting on 29 September 1927 members condemned the presence of what they termed “bizarre advertising” along the Great South Road.[7] Possibly they had in mind the car mounted on a pole that an Auckland garage, Cadman Motors, had erected at Wiri. (The ‘car on a pole’ in various models remained a local landmark for many years.)

In the late 1920s the Dilworth Trust began planning a large school at Wiri. The Depression years intervened, and the school was never built, but a bridge that was built across the Puhinui Stream at the time survives in isolation today in the fields between Kerrs Road and Browns Road. (The bridge to nowhere)

The Wiri area in 1943.

The Wiri area in 1943. Detail from the topographical map, Manurewa, Department of Lands & Survey, 1943, scale 1: 25, 000.

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Post-war growth

After the Second World War, the city of Auckland began to stretch its urban tentacles southward. The growth of South Auckland was facilitated by the advent of a reliable region-wide water supply from the Hunua dams in 1953, the opening of the southern motorway as far as Wiri in December 1955, and its further extension to Takanini in 1963, and the development of a reticulated sewerage system following the opening of the Mangere sewage treatment plant in 1960.

The early growth took place on the fringes of the boroughs. Signs of changing times included the development of a small semi-rural subdivision at Redoubt Road in 1952, and the opening of the Meadowcourt Motel to the south of Papatoetoe in 1953, perhaps New Zealand’s first American-style motel.

In 1958 Manukau County Council and the Auckland Regional Planning Authority discussed plans for the development of a new industrial area at Wiri. The attractions of the area were the ready supply of a large area of flat land and the proximity of both the motorway and the railway line.

The first major enterprise established at Wiri was the Alcan Industries aluminium factory, opened in November 1961. The Vibrapac concrete block plant began production about the same time. The Nestle instant coffee factory was opened in May 1962, and the Fibremakers NZ Ltd nylon yarn factory in 1965. Later comers included Dalgety’s wool store in 1972, supposedly the largest wool store in the southern hemisphere, and the Ford vehicle assembly plant in 1973.

Aerial view of the southern motorway at the Redoubt Road intersection, 20 December 1955.

Aerial view of the southern motorway at the Redoubt Road intersection, 20 December 1955. The future site of Manukau City Centre is to the left. (White’s Aviation, 40465)

Aerial view of the Alcan buildings, Wiri Station Road, ca 1962.

Aerial view of the Alcan buildings, Wiri Station Road, ca 1962. (Photographer, Trevor Penman. Manukau Research Library, MNA: II, 3, no. 70)

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A new centre for a new city

At this time, South Auckland was still administratively divided. The growing boroughs of Papatoetoe, Manurewa, Howick and Papakura were bordered by rural or semi-rural Manukau County. Moves towards amalgamation during the 1960s were mostly resisted by the boroughs. Losing patience, Manukau County Council began planning towards the development of a central administrative and commercial centre at Wiri. In March 1964 it advertised for expressions of interest in developing a new city centre there.

On 3 September Manukau County and Manurewa Borough amalgamated to form Manukau City. The name ‘Manukau City’ was chosen by public poll. (How Manukau City got its name) The population of the new city in 1966 was 73,172.

In August 1966 the new city administration bought land in the Wiri area in order to safeguard the development of its planned city centre. In March 1971, after a protracted planning process and considerable political controversy, Fletcher Development accepted an offer of sole development rights to the city centre. The plans combined provision for a commercial complex, a city administration building, and a range of public spaces.

The first commercial building erected at the new city centre was the Wiri Trust Hotel. This was formally opened on 22 April 1974 on a greenfields site to the west of Great South Road. The area was still so rural that during the opening ceremony cows from an adjoining paddock wandered across and gazed ruminatively through the windows.

On 23 July 1975 the old Woodside Methodist cemetery, which had remained in use after the Woodside Methodist church had been moved to Manurewa, was closed in order to widen Wiri Station Road. A closed cemetery and memorial park were dedicated nearby on 26 November 1978. Woodside Methodist Cemetery.

The Manukau City Council administration building under construction, 15 February 1976.

The Manukau City Council administration building under construction, 15 February 1976. The old Wiri public hall can be seen in the middle foreground. (Photographer, Larry Purdy. Manukau Research Library, MCW: II, 1, no. 24)

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The mall

On 20 October 1976 Prime Minister R.H. Muldoon opened the first stage of the Manukau City centre mall. The mall was described at the time as the largest enclosed shopping centre in the country. [8]

The Manukau City Council administration building was ready for occupation in December 1977. It was formally opened by Governor General Sir Dennis Blundell on 19 February 1977. Just over a year later, on their second official visit to New Zealand, the Queen and Prince Philip paid a brief visit to the city centre mall. Prince Charles and Princess Diana also visited in April 1983, when they were treated to a fire brigade demonstration.

Invitation to the official opening of the Manukau City Centre mall.

Invitation to the official opening of the Manukau City Centre mall.

Invitation to the official opening of the Manukau City Centre mall. (Manukau Research Library, ephemera, Commerce, 20/10/76)

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A growing city

Manukau City gradually replaced Otahuhu as South Auckland’s main administrative centre. The Labour Department was the first Government department to establish an office at Manukau, in June 1976; many others followed. Perhaps the most notable of the new Government buildings was the Housing Corporation building, opened in August 1979; perhaps the most elegant was the Government Life building.

Manukau City Council’s plans to attract a university, a regional hospital, a central police station and a district court to the area, however, met with less success. Likewise plans to develop suitable housing close to the city centre. In September 1973 the Wiri Village Consortium announced plans for an innovative ‘rental village’ development at Wiri. The land was subsequently sold to the Government and was developed as a standard low-cost tract subdivision.

In December 1975 Manukau City Council itself began development of a more upmarket 56-lot Redoubt Road subdivision across the motorway. In November 1977 Broadlands began work on the Totara Heights subdivision nearby, and the Goodwood Heights subdivision commenced less than two years later. Both developments were notable for preserving the many existing stands of mature native bush in the area.

The needs of the Wiri estate were not neglected. The banks of the Puhinui Stream, which ran through the subdivision, were carefully landscaped. Wiri Central Primary School was opened in 1979 and the Wiri community house in 1980.

Looking northward from Manukau City Council administration building, August 1981.

Looking northward from Manukau City Council administration building, August 1981. Friendship House is to the right, the Housing Corporation building in the centre, the Government Life building to the left, partially obscured. (Photographer, Gwen Anderson. Manukau Research Library, ‘Manukau yesterday’ album, ALB: I, p. 8)

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The heart of the city

Did the new city have a heart? It certainly had adequate public spaces nearby. The first Manukau City Council had shown great foresight when it bought the 364-acre Totara Park estate in April 1966, thus ensuring the preservation of a large open space relatively close to the city centre. Immediately to the west of the city centre, Hayman Park, named after Mike Hayman, Manukau City Council’s first city planner, was developed from 1973 onwards.

Although the city centre had neither a church nor a cathedral, in 1976 a consortium of churches opened an outreach centre at the city centre. This was appropriately known as Friendship House. The first Friendship House, a relocatable building, was replaced by a permanent building in June 1979. In June 1980 a Government-funded multi-purpose health centre was opened on Wiri Station Road.

The city centre also developed as an entertainment centre. In 1978 a skate park known as ‘Skatopia’ was opened on the corner of Wiri Station Road and Great South Road. In December 1982 this was replaced by the Rainbow’s End adventure park. For many people over the years this was the ‘face’ of Manukau City.

View looking southward towards Manurewa from the Manukau City Council administration building, ca 1983.

View looking southward towards Manurewa from the Manukau City Council administration building, ca 1983, showing the new roller coaster at Rainbow’s End. (Photographer Gwen Anderson. Manukau Research Library, ‘Manukau Yesterday’ album, ALB: I, p. 5)

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Manukau Court

For some time the land at the western end of the Manukau City mall was left undeveloped. In September 1986, however, a major extension to the mall was opened. This was followed by the development of a landscaped public space between the mall and the council administration building. Manukau Court, as the plaza was known, was formally opened on 13 December 1986.

 Police awards ceremony in Manukau Court, December 1988.

Police awards ceremony in Manukau Court, December 1988. (Photographer, Gwen Anderson. ‘Manukau Yesterday’ album, Manukau Research Library ALB: I, p. 11)

View additional images of the redevelopment of Manukau Court.

Aerial photograph of Manukau City, 12 May 1986.

Aerial photograph of Manukau City, 12 May 1986. The southern motorway runs from top to bottom at the right of the photograph, the Manukau City centre mall is in the bottom right quadrant. (Air Logistics photograph no. 13-71-3a, courtesy of Aerial Survey)

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Greater Manukau

In November 1989, as part of a nation-wide round of local government reform, Manukau City amalgamated with Papatoetoe City and Howick Borough. Manukau City Centre thus became the administrative centre of a city of 219,500 people.

During the harsh economic times of the early 1990s the city suffered some reverses. In 1994 developers proposed building a ‘Superdome’ on a site to the south of the city centre. These plans never came to fruition, nor did similar plans for a Polynesian-theme tourist village. During the late 1980s and early 1990s a number of the manufacturing concerns in the Wiri industrial area closed down. Particular blows to the city were the closure of the Vehicle Assemblies NZ plant in March 1997 and the Nissan assembly plant in July 1998.

In October 1997, however, the first stage of the Manukau SuperClinic was opened to the south of the city centre. In September 1998 Manukau City Council sponsored a Manukau City Centre Development forum, the first step of a project aimed at revitalizing the city centre.

During the millennium year 2000 the eastern and western parts of the city were symbolically linked by the opening of Te Irirangi Drive between Manukau City Centre and Botany Town Centre.

Another significant event of the year was the unveiling of Richard Shortland Cooper’s Millennium sculpture on the corner of Wiri Station Road and Great South Road on 2 September 2000. This work symbolized the youthful nature and changing ethnic composition of Manukau City. Towards the end of the year the Manukau District Court building was opened on Wiri Station Road.

In 1991 the ‘Renaissance Centre’ was launched, the city centre’s first high-rise apartment building. (This was beaten for the title of tallest structure in the city by the opening of the 18-storey ‘Fear Fall’ at Rainbow’s End in August 2001).

Aerial photograph of Manukau City Centre, 30 May 1992.

Aerial photograph of Manukau City Centre, 30 May 1992, looking westward towards the Manukau Harbour. (Air Logistics photograph no. 14-117-07, courtesy of Aerial Survey)

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The new century saw the resurgence of Wiri as a commercial and distribution centre. In August 2003 Nestle Ltd opened a new $20 million food manufacturing plant and Ullrich Aluminium opened new headquarters in Wiri Station Road. In September 2005 Ports of Auckland began work on a 10-hectare inland port facility nearby.

Another auspicious event was the opening of the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre between the Great South Road and the motorway in 2005. The first concert held at the Events Centre on 3 April 2005 featured the Manukau City Symphony Orchestra, and the programme included ‘The Journey’, a work commissioned from its composer-in-residence, Leonie Holmes.

As part of the revitalization process, on 19 November 2005 the new-look Manukau Square was formally opened. Like its predecessor, Manukau Court, it won a New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects award.

Progress continued. In February 2007 the first stage of the new Counties Manukau police headquarters was opened in Wiri Station Road. St John Ambulance opened a new base nearby in October 2007. In March 2008 a Kadampa Buddhist Centre was opened on Great South Road north of the city centre. In July 2008 Auckland University of Technology unveiled plans to establish a university campus at Manukau City. In September 2008 Sky City opened a large new cinema complex in the Westfield mall.

TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre from Great South Road, 3 July 2005.

TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre from Great South Road, 3 July 2005. (Bruce Ringer, Manukau Research Library/ digital collection)

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The future

By 2008 Manukau City Centre thus had some of the conventional trappings of a city: its long-awaited district court; if not a hospital, then at least a major medical facility; even the promise of a university. Ironically, in the same year, as the Government’s plans for a single Auckland supercity developed, Manukau found that from November 2010 it would no longer in fact be a city centre.

Whether Manukau City Centre will need to change its name remains to be seen. It will no doubt remain a significant commercial and administrative sub-centre. It will also have closer transport links with other parts of the region. On 30 June 2006 work began on the Manukau motorway extension, planned to link SH1 and SH22. In June 2009 work began on a spur line from the southern railway line at Wiri, and on 20 September 2009 the first sod was turned at the site of the planned new railway station at Manukau City Centre.

Part of Manukau’s future lies as an educational hub. In June 2009 Manukau Institute of Technology also announced plans for a branch campus in Hayman Park, close to the future railway station.

With the recent release of an urban design structure plan, the centre has a clear framework for its rejuvenation and long-term development (“a new vision for the city and surrounding areas”). [9]

Community renewal projects are currently underway in the Rata Vine and Wiri areas, the closest housing estates to the centre.

On 28 July 2008 the Minister of Conservation announced plans to establish a new historic reserve, known as the Matukuturua Stonefields, incorporating McLaughlin’s Mountain (Matukutureia) and the remnants of nearby stonefields gardens. [10]

Work also continues on a long-term project, initiated by the conservation group, Te Ara O Puhinui, to reafforest and establish a walkway on the banks of the Puhinui Stream. If completed, this walkway will reaffirm the area’s natural and human heritage, linking the historic Puhinui Reserve via the city centre to the unspoiled native bush of Totara Park.

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This lists sources only where a direct quotation or close paraphrase has been made. For other sources, see Manukau’s Journey.

[1] Ian Lawlor, Puhinui (N42/17) Excavation Report, 1981, Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland, 1981; Stonefields of South Auckland [poster], Auckland, Auckland Regional Council, 1996; cf. Simon Bickler et al., Puhinui Reserve, Manukau City: Archaeological Survey and Assessment, Auckland, Clough & Associates, August 2008.

[2] George Graham, Maori Place Names of Auckland: Their Meaning and History, ed. D. R. Simmons, Auckland, Auckland Institute & Museum, 1980, p. 18; George Graham, Nga Matukurua = the Two Bitterns: a Tale of Manurewa, [poster], n.d.

[3] George French Angas, Savage Life and Scenes in Australia and New Zealand, London, 1847, vol. II, pp. 3-8.

[4] See Coxhead family papers: The Coxhead Family in Aldbourne and Auckland, Inglewood, 1999 (limited circulation); “[Robert Coxhead] named the area around Kerrs Road ‘Woodside’ after Woodsend [sic] in Aldbourne, Wiltshire, where he grew up …”,  Joyce Wilson, ‘The Three Roberts: Men of the Land’, 2004 (limited circulation); these items accessed December 2009 courtesy of Jenny Clark, Papatoetoe Historical Society.

[5] ‘Volunteer Camp, Papatoitoi’, Daily Southern Cross, 20/11/1863, p. 3.

[6] Lieut.-Colonel J.H.A. St. John, Pakeha Rambles through Maori Lands, London, 1873, pp. 66-8.

[7] ‘Great South Road Beautifying’, NZ Herald, 28/9/1927, p. 10.

[8] ‘Manukau City Centre’, Home & Building, vol. 39, no. 2, 1977, pp. 38-45, 62-3; ‘Manukau City Council Chambers & Offices’, ibid., pp. 50-5.

[9] Randles Straatveit Architects, Manukau City Centre: Built Form + Spacial Structure Plan, Volume 1, Manukau City, 2008; Boffa Miskell, Manukau City Centre: Built Form + Spacial Structure Plan, Volume 2, Manukau City, 2008.

[10] 'Preservation for old Maori gardens', NZ Herald, 28/7/2008, A5; 'Stonefields in safe hands', Manukau Courier, 7/8/2008, p. 3. ‘Matukuturua’ cf. the more usual ‘Matukurua’ may represent the revival of an earlier usage (Roimata Minhinnick, pers. comm., 12/8/2009).

Publication history: First published as ‘Manukau City Centre: a brief historical narrative’, in, Manukau City Centre: Built Form + Spacial Structure Plan, Volume 2, Manukau City, 2008, pp. 41-5. Revised and expanded for publication on the Manukau Libraries website in April 2010.

Copyright © Auckland Libraries. This text may be freely used for the purposes of private study or research and for non-commercial publication provided that the author and Auckland Libraries are duly acknowledged.

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