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.
67,000 years ago
Maungakiekie was formed in a volcanic eruption, creating the iconic scoria cone we see today. Walking around the park you will come across scoria and basalt rock formed during this eruption.
Māori arrived in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) in 1350, after which Maungakiekie became a central pā.
3 November 1817
Sir John Logan Campbell is born in Edinburgh.
20 July 1839
At age 23 Sir John Logan Campbell graduates from the University of Edinburgh as a Medical Doctor and leaves Greenock, Scotland as a ship surgeon on a voyage to Australia, in the hopes of becoming a sheep farmer.
Sir John arrives in Adelaide, where he meets his future business partner William Brown. He spends the next four months travelling around Australia before deciding to try his luck making a living in New Zealand.
Sir John and William Brown live with local Māori in Waiomu, Coromandel, for three months before moving to Motukorea/Browns Island. Sir John originally lands in Wellington before sailing to the Coromandel, and later visits Waiheke Island via waka with Māori from Waiomu.
Sir John and William Brown arrive in Auckland to set up their trading business Brown & Campbell Co. from a little canvas tent on the shores of the Waitematā. Not long after this Sir John sources timber from Northland to build Acacia Cottage on what is now Shortland Street.
Irish settler Thomas Henry purchases 400 hectares of Maungakiekie land from Māori and renames this Mt Prospect Estate.
The Crown confiscates part of Maungakiekie from Thomas Henry, which is then quarried for basalt and scoria rock.
Sir John and William Brown purchase Mt Prospect Estate, rename it One Tree Hill Estate and lease it out to farmers.
Sir John establishes the Olive Grove, planting 11,000 grape vines below the plateau (as part of an unsuccessful winery experiment) and 5000 Olive tree seedlings in a nursery bed on the plateau.
The Crown-owned land at the summit of Maungakiekie (now known as One Tree Hill) is declared a public reserve. Quarrying is still taking place on the volcanic cone.
Sir John plants a young tōtara in the middle of a grove on top of the maunga with five Monterey pine trees around it to act as a windbreak. Unfortunately, it did not survive the harsh conditions. Only one pine remained as the iconic “One Tree” until 2000
8 October 1880
Sir John's daughter, Ida, dies of Brights Disease in London. He leaves Auckland on 25 August for London but sadly arrives five days after her death on 13 October. Ida’s death shifts Sir John’s priorities, causing him to invest all his time and energy into the creation of Cornwall Park. Sir John had four children, tragically only Winifred survived until old age.
Sir John decides he is going to give his One Tree Hill estate to Auckland, later gifting it to the whole of New Zealand.
The Rongo Stone is known as Te Toka-i-Tawhio, “the stone which has travelled all around” comes to Cornwall Park after Sir John recovers it sitting at the base of Te Tātua-a-Riukiuta (Three Kings volcano). Rongo stones are important features found in many historic kūmara gardens and Māori settlements. You can see this one at number 6 on our heritage map.
The One Tree Hill Estate is renamed Cornwall Park after the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall & York in honour of their visit to New Zealand in 1901. It is officially gifted to the people of New Zealand in 1901, but it takes two more years before developments are complete.
24 August 1901
The Cornwall Park Trust Board held its first meeting to commence management of the park in fulfilment of Sir John’s vision.
American landscape architect Austin Strong works closely with Sir John to create a park plan and landscape design to be enjoyed by all New Zealanders. The design of the sweeping tree-lined drives leading through the park was planned from the very beginning, providing access and amenity whilst highlighting the natural beauty of the slopes of Maungakiekie.
The Auckland Golf Club, of which Sir John was president, is allowed to lease a portion of Cornwall Park on a temporary basis.
Sir John is knighted by the King of England.
26 August 1903
Huia Lodge is open to the public. It is built in the Queen Anne Revival style to house the park caretaker and serve as a stop-off point for visitors making their way to the tihi (summit) of Maungakiekie. The front room was designed as a tea parlour for visitors, with refreshments served on sunny days.
May 24 1906 (Empire Day)
The people of Auckland pay by public subscription for a statue and water fountain of Sir John Logan Campbell to be placed in the middle of Campbell Crescent. It is officially opened on what was then Empire Day, a day no longer recognised in New Zealand.
The summit road is opened to traffic and Sir John gifts an additional 41.6 hectares of adjacent land to the park.
A further 57.6 hectares are added to the parkland and the kiosk (now the Cornwall Park Bistro) is constructed.
The Maungakiekie Golf Club moves in and leases Cornwall Parkland until 1943.
22 June 1912
Sir John passes away aged 94. A small section of land is transferred to the park trustees atop Maungakiekie for his burial site. Sir John’s funeral contained the largest funeral procession in Auckland’s history.
Acacia Cottage is moved from Shortland St to Cornwall Park and restored as a heritage building.
The Cornwall Park Trust Board employs Farm Managers to form the Cornwall Park farm on areas previously leased to independent farmers.
The US Army 39th General Hospital is built within the park for American soldiers.
The Obelisk is completed in 1940, but due to World War II, it was decided that the opening ceremony would be postponed according to Tikanga Māori which states it is inappropriate to unveil a monument during a time of bloodshed. The ceremony eventually takes place on 24 April 1948.
After the US military leaves the site, the Auckland Hospital Board requests urgent access to these facilities to help cope with the post-war baby boom. The hospital remains in Cornwall Park until after the official National Women’s Hospital was built next door, with the last of the staff moving out in 1975.
The Memorial Steps are constructed as a memorial to Sir John. They are designed by prominent civic architectural firm Gummer and Ford.
After the last of the hospital staff leaves Cornwall Park in 1975, the land is restored and developed for use by the public. Trees are planted, and the Band Rotunda is built.
Simmental cattle are Introduced into the park.
Huia Lodge is recognised as a heritage building and following restoration, it is transformed into the Cornwall Park Information Centre.
October 26, 2000
The lone pine on One Tree Hill/ Maungakiekie is eventually felled after being attacked several times over the century as it became a health and safety risk to allow it to remain.
The Maungakiekie Education Centre opens as a place to host exhibitions and workshops. Its name is later changed to the Lindo Ferguson Education Centre in honour of his achievements as chairman of the Cornwall Park Trust Board.
The park celebrates its centenary.
11 June 2016
A dawn ceremony conducted by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority takes place on the summit of Maungakiekie, where a grove of three tōtara and six pōhutukawa saplings are planted, grown from parent trees living on Maungakiekie. A shelterbelt of native shrubs is planted around the trees to protect them from the exposed summit conditions. In the next few decades, arborists will undergo a process of selection that will see the strongest of these trees standing tall to become the hill’s next “One Tree”.
Huia Lodge is updated with new displays to become a discovery hub.
Maintenance is undertaken on the Sir John fountain in Campbell Crescent in 2018 to restore the statue. A new planting area of native plants surrounding the fountain is installed. This is the first major project of the 100-year master plan.
Cornwall Park closes its internal roads to cars during the Covid-19 lockdown to encourage people not to drive to the park and stay home as per New Zealand Government guidelines. There is an overwhelmingly positive response, so when the country emerges from the lockdown the decision is made to keep Twin Oak Drive, Olive Grove and part of Kenneth Myers Drive closed to cars as a trial. The closures are made permanent a year later in 2021.