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.