History & Heritage

History & Heritage

Devonport, at the very southern point of Aucklands North Shore, was one of the earliest settled areas of Auckland and has a rich Maori and maritime history. 

The three volcanic Maunga (Takapuna, Takarunga and Takaroro) were ideal for Maori Pa (fortified settlements) as they had quality soil to grow kumera and large tidal beaches to collect seafood. 

The Maunga are believed to have been occupied by Maori from about 1350AD. Our 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.

European settlement began in earnest in the mid 1800s, with farming and shipbuilding the main industries. In 1840 a flagstaff was raised on Mt Victoria/ Takarunga, (81 metres) and the town became known as Flagstaff.

A deep water anchorage suitable for naval vessels became the base for our navy.  The Calliope Dock, when it opened in 1888, was the largest drydock in the Southern Hemisphere. The Royal New Zealand Navy still has its national base here. The Navy also had a presence on North Head or Takapuna (65 metres), which is now administered by the Department of Conservation, and there are still military tunnels and bunkers there to be explored. Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve above Narrow Neck Beach has in the past housed both Navy and Army. 

In the 1880s surrounding farm land was subdivided and large wooden villas were built in a style which has now become part of Devonport's charm. The villas have been lovingly restored with beautiful gardens developed around them to enhance their street appeal. Most of the houses are built of solid timber from the kauri tree, Agathis australis, a native tree known for its straight growth habit and lack of knots.

Photographs of Devonport held in Auckland Libraries' heritage collections.