One Tree Hill
Maungakiekie is the most extensively developed Māori pā (village settlement) in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland and one of the largest pre-European archaeological site complexes in New Zealand. It is also one of the largest pre-iron-age forts in the world.
At the height of its occupation it was home to thousands of people. Its four tihi (summits) were all heavily defended by ditches and wooden palisades. On its peak was the ‘tihi’, the most sacred and heavily defended part of the complex and the flanks were extensive (terraces) for whare moe (sleeping houses), rua (roofed storage pits) for seasonal storage of kūmara and other crops, tāpapa (garden mounds) and hāngi (earth oven) pits.
The terraces and pits exist today as the last remaining remnants of this historic monumental fortress. These important archaeological features are highly sensitive to erosion and visitors must not walk on or through them.
Maungakiekie means “the hill of the kiekie vine”, which once grew abundantly on this maunga.
Maungakiekie is one of the oldest volcanos in the Auckland volcanic field and the second-largest with 20 square kilometers of lava flow fields surrounding a large, complex scoria cone.
The age of the maunga is not precisely known but it is older than 28,500 years old, as it is blanketed with up to 3 metres of ash blown over from Te Tātua a Riukiuta / Big King, 2 kilometers away. This cap of orange-brown bedded ash can be seen in the old quarry on the southern slope of Maungakiekie.
The tihi (summit) of the maunga stands at 184 meters above sea level and is made of scoria that fountained explosively out of the adjacent crater. Two craters in the southwest and southeast of the maunga are horseshoe shaped, having been breached by lava flows that carried away the scoria ramparts on their downhill sides.
Lava bursting through the northern lower flanks of the main peak resulted in lava flows that spread broadly out and completely surrounded the volcano. To the north the flows may have reached Khyber Pass Rd in Newmarket.
Maungakiekie has a history of notable trees on its tihi (summit). One historic name for the tihi is Te Tōtara I Ahua after the sacred lone tōtara that grew there until it was felled by Pakeha vandals in 1852. The name One Tree Hill also stems from this lone tōtara tree.
In the 1860s John Logan Campbell began tree planting, including a grove of several Monterey Pine trees on the tihi. The grove eventually became a single Monterey Pine which most people in recent times associate as the one tree of One Tree Hill. The pine was first vandalised in 1994 and then again 1999. The tree was completely removed in 2000 as it had become unsafe.
In June 2016, during a dawn planting ceremony attended by hundreds of Aucklanders, the Tūpuna Maunga Authority returned native trees to the tihi, planting a grove of three tōtara and six pohutukawa on the same spot as the previous Monterey Pine tree. The intention is that a single tree will ultimately remain when it is able to survive on its own.
Sir John Logan Campbell died in 1912 and is buried on the tihi of Maungakiekie. The 21-metre obelisk also on the tihi was bequeathed by him as a memorial to the Māori people. It is made of basalt and Coromandel Granite and was finally completed in 1948 and unveiled by the Māori King, Koroki.
To recognise the cultural, historic and archaeological significance of the maunga, the summit road and the tihi (summit) at Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill was permanently closed to private motor vehicles, including motorbikes and scooters, in May 2018.
If you have limited mobility and cannot walk to the tihi, you can request to drive to the tihi in your own vehicle. Call us on 09 379 1340 to request an access code for the gate at the start of the summit road.
CORNWALL PARK BOUNDARY
The maunga of Maungakiekie and western part of the reserve extending to Manukau Road and encompassing the Stardome Observatory and Sorrento function centre is part of the Treaty of Waitangi redress and is managed by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.
Abutting the maunga is Cornwall Park which is managed separately by the Cornwall Park Trust.
Parking is available at the start of the summit road and parking time limits are enforced to give all visitors equal parking opportunity.
Summit Road gate opening times:
- Summer: 7am-8.30pm
- Winter: 7am-7pm.
Times align with daylight savings.
670 Manukau Road, Epsom, Auckland