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Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) was the largest and most important Māori pā in pre-European times. It is home to the Auckland Archery Club.

Auckland’s Tūpuna Maunga (ancestral mountains) hold a paramount place in the historical, spiritual, ancestral and cultural identity of the 13 iwi and hapū of Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau (the mana whenua tribes of Auckland). The maunga are at the heart of Auckland’s identity and represent a celebration of our Māori identity as the city’s point of difference in the world.

Aucklanders and visitors to the city know of the historical occupation of the Tūpuna Maunga by Māori, or they will experience, or may recognise, the terraced areas and other archaeological features. However, the fundamental significance of these treasured places is often not fully realised.

The continuous relationships of Mana Whenua with the Tūpuna Maunga express unbroken, living connections across the oceans and time. This is underpinned by the fundamental Polynesian ethos of kinship with the physical, spiritual and human worlds.

Māori settlement of Aotearoa was the final iteration of over 3,000 years of a distinct Polynesian cultural tradition, based on maritime migration to, and adaptation of, hundreds of islands. Māori settlement of Aotearoa was the extreme extent of more than 30,000 years of Pacific expansion through migration.

Over time, as Māori society developed in Aotearoa – the last temperate habitable landmass on Earth – Tāmaki Makaurau emerged as a singular centre. The Tūpuna Maunga were developed into the most extensive network of monumental and defendable settlements in Polynesia, supported by expansive areas of volcanic soils suitable for agriculture.

Combined with a highly strategic maritime location, this made Tāmaki Makaurau an unparalleled centre of Māori social organisation – and the most active nexus of complex inter-tribal relationships and connections, transit and trade in Māori society.

The Māori name Maungakiekie means “mountain of the kiekie vine”. Māori also knew it as “tōtara that stands alone”. The mountain and its surrounds were home to the Te Wai ō Hua tribe from the early 1700s and probably before that time. Other Māori tribes in the Auckland area can also trace their ancestry to the mountain.

Maungakiekie was the largest and most important Māori pā in pre-European times. The cone and its surroundings are estimated to have been home to a population of up to 5,000. At this time, the Nga Marama chief Kiwi Tamaki held the pa and used its strategic placement to exact tribute from travellers passing from Northland to the rest of the North Island through the rich isthmus. Its position between the Waitematā Harbour to the east (opening upon the Pacific Ocean) and the Manukau Harbour to the west (opening onto the Tasman Sea) offered a wide variety of seafood from the two harbours. The volcanic soil on the scoria cone was highly fertile, and the inhabitants terraced the slopes extensively. The hill was relatively easy to defend from raiding parties from other tribes by its steep sides and imposing wooden palisades. Waiohua occupation of the Māori pā ended around 1740-1750 AD when they were defeated in a war against the invading Ngati Whatua-o-Kaipara The pā was abandoned around 1795 AD with the death of Te Taou leader Tuperiri.

In 1845 the Ngati Whatua, with the concurrence of representatives of the Waiohua people, sold a block of land which included Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill to a merchant, Thomas Henry. The Government under its preemptive rights excluded 115 acres of the hill itself from the sale and this was vested in the Crown. This is now One Tree Hill Domain. In 1853 Brown & Campbell purchased Henry’s land surrounding the recently protected One Tree Hill Domain. This land ultimately became Cornwall Park in 1901.

2014 saw the landmark Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Deed passed into law. As part of this Treaty of Waitangi settlement, 14 Tūpuna Maunga were returned to the 13 mana whenua iwi and hapū of Auckland, marking an important milestone in the restoration of these iconic taonga (treasures). Māngere Mountain and the Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill northern land ownership remains with the Crown but are administered through the Maunga Authority for the purposes of the Reserves Act 1977.

The Tūpuna Maunga are revered by mana whenua as the creations of Mataaho (the guardian of the Earth’s secrets) and Ruaumoko (the god of earthquakes and volcanoes). They were significant areas of settlement, of agriculture, of battles, of marriages, of birth and burial.

The Tūpuna Maunga are places to be honoured, respected and protected for those who have gone before and for the many generations to come.

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