A three minute read on the history of Mt Eden

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Mt Eden (Maungawhau) is a suburb in Auckland with the mountain being a mark on the skyline for many parts of the Auckland isthmus. Mt Eden consists of three cones and is 196 meters above sea level. The mountain archaeological sites bear testimony to the occupation of the mountain by Maori and the mountain remains a focal point for the residents of the suburb. In 1986 a road was built to drive up the summit and at the same time in order to protect the cone, 27 hectares of the Mt Eden domain was set aside as crown land.

The climate, plenty of food, fertile volcanic soil and essay access to the harbours was a great advantage life in Mt Eden for the Maori’s. It as thought to be as early as 1200 Chief Titahi taught the people how to develop terraced gardens on the side of the mountain, he also taught them how to make stone walls to provide protection and defensive against the enemy. In the 1700s when the Europeans came to the area, they cleared the land of the scoria rocks and made fences with them to distinguish the property boundaries. During the 1840s the land was divided into small farms and then most of the land was subdivided into large suburban plots in 1870 and the principal roads were formed by the Crown. The first school, Mt Eden Normal was opened in 1877 on the corner of Mt Eden and Valley Road.

The development of Auckland was dependent on the availability of land, transport the desire of the middle class to move of the    crowded inner city. The population of Auckland had increased by around 25% from 1874 to 1881. However, more dramatic increases were soon following with the population of Auckland Borough doubling from 1881 to reach 33,161 people in 1886.

At the height of development around this time, these centers provided most of the everyday services, supplies, and  entertainment needed by the surrounding suburb. The shopping precincts located on the earliest roads in the area, developed in  conjunction with the rapidly increasing population and improvements in public transport particularly the tramlines, with a significant period of built development in the 1920s and 1930s.

Estate agents touted the lifestyle benefits of living away from the city and the social prestige a suburban address enamored. Suburban life offered the fresh and open space that was missing from the small allotments and narrow lanes of the inner city. Allotments in subdivisions in Mt Eden, Morningside and Kingsland found buyers amongst settlers and speculators alike.

At the dawn of the twentieth-century, housing had largely replaced the farms, which had graced Mt Eden, Balmoral, and Sandringham. The increase in the residential population was accompanied by the development of roads, public transport, churches, schools, and early business and industry.

Volcanic stone was used extensively for early road building, as well as walls and fences and remains an important characteristic of the area. Allotment sizes demonstrate a pattern of more substantial suburban development and the area retains its early housing stock to a large degree, including large one and two-storied timber villas. The villa including its architecture, decoration, and surroundings form a lasting expression of the Victorian middle class in NZ, reflecting a love of home and comfort, spacious interiors, decoration, and display.