our history

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our history

our park's rich heritage dates back
more than 67,000 years

Cornwall Park's story began with the eruption of one of Auckland's largest volcanoes, Maungakiekie, more than 67,000 years ago. 

The eruption formed the cone hill shape (known as a scoria cone) that Cornwall Park and Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill sit on and around today. 

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From the late 1600s Maungakiekie was turned into a major pā by Ngāti Awa, followed by the Waiohua people in the 1700s. The Waiohua planted extensive gardens which may have fed up to 5000 people. 

In the famous Battle of Parau in the mid-1700s, the Waiohua people lost Maungakiekie to Ngāti Whātua and Maungakiekie became the main pā of Kiwi Tamaki, the paramount chief of the region at the time. 

In the late 18th century, Māori vacated the pā as it was no longer a strategic stronghold, and in 1845 Ngāti Whātua sold the land to merchant Thomas Henry, with the Crown keeping 115 acres of the hill itself — now One Tree Hill Domain. 

Sir John Logan Campbell and his business partner William Brown bought Henry's land in 1853, which ultimately became Cornwall Park, gifted to all New Zealanders, in 1901.

Today Cornwall Park is visited by a million people every year and is one of the most cherished parts of Auckland. 

Explore our history further below. 

Campbell Crescent heritage and restoration

Campbell Crescent is a significant historical area of Cornwall Park that underwent restoration work from 2017-2020 to continue Sir John Logan Campbell's legacy and vision.

Cornwall Park timeline

Maungakiekie has seen many changes since it first erupted 67,000 years ago. Today, Maungakiekie is split into two separate parks: One Tree Hill Domain is managed by Auckland Council and the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, while Cornwall Park is managed by the Cornwall Park Trust Board. This timeline focuses on the history and development of Cornwall Park.

Farming heritage

Cornwall Park has been a farm for many generations, with the land first cultivated by Māori, then used for livestock. Parts of it were leased out at first; in 1920 the Trust Board elected to operate it directly.

War and hospitals

Cornwall Park has always been a place of refuge and respite for the people of New Zealand since its opening in 1903, but once upon a time it also housed a war hospital serving American soldiers injured in World War II, and later was transformed into a pioneering hospital of women's health.

Early beginnings

Sir John Logan Campbell and his business partner William Brown and Campbell bought Mt Prospect Estate from Irish merchant Thomas Henry in 1853, renaming it One Tree Hill Estate.

Our founder, Sir John Logan Campbell

Sir John Logan Campbell is the founder of Cornwall Park and one of the early pioneer settlers of New Zealand. He arrived in Auckland at the age of 23 and became known as the "Father of Auckland’’ in later years.