Owairaka (27 Summit Drive)

Mount Albert History Walk

Owairaka (27 Summit Drive)

Auckland, Auckland 0622, New Zealand

Created By: Auckland Council


The most common Te Reo Maori name for this maunga is Ōwairaka, ‘the place of Wairaka’. Wairaka came to Aotearoa on the Mātatua waka around 1350 with her father, Toroa, after having quarrelled with her husband about her enjoyment of surfing. Upon arriving in Whakatāne, she soon disagreed with her father concerning who she was to marry next, so she led part of the iwi to this place. She eventually returned to Whakatāne, but some of her followers remained behind. Many years later, Ruarangi of Tainui was besieged in his pā on the maunga and escaped by entering a lava cave which came out in Western Springs, although some versions of this legend say that he got stuck in the tunnel.

As a major source of volcanic scoria rock, Ōwairaka was used as a quarry by the Public Works Department, who took so much material that they lowered the summit by 13 metres. On 7 May 1874, the face of the gravel pit gave way while some contractors for the Waitakere Road Board were gathering scoria ash. Walton Pell was crushed, as was his son-in-law George Bray. Bray’s 12-year-old son, Samuel, was buried up to the waist before being rescued. The pit had “for a long time past been considered dangerous to work in”.

Since the late 1940s, the remains of the pit have been used by the Mountain Green Archery Club. In 1975, local archer Peter Preston won the first ‘telegraphic’ archery contest in New Zealand, with competitors playing at their own clubs and transmitting their scores to a control room in Wellington.

Follow Summit Drive down the mountain and then turn left at Stilwell Road.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Mount Albert History Walk


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