Glenfield History Walk

This tour explores the early history of Glenfield and its development into the current Auckland suburb. Before the Auckland Harbour Bridge opened in 1959, Glenfield was a market garden and farming area servicing the needs of Auckland City.

Glenfield History Walk

Auckland, Auckland 0622, New Zealand

Created By: Auckland Council

Tour Information

This tour explores the early history of Glenfield and its development into the current Auckland suburb. Before the Auckland Harbour Bridge opened in 1959, Glenfield was a market garden and farming area servicing the needs of Auckland City.

Before the arrival of Europeans to New Zealand, the entire area between Oruamo (Hellyers) Creek to the top of the ridge was known as Opuawananga and was under the control of Ngāti Whātua. Over generations, Māori cut and burned most of the kauri and other trees in the area, leaving an open kānuka shrubland. A Pākehā man, William Webster, purchased the land from the chiefs Nanihi and Tuire in 1837. He named the area Te Pukapuka and harvested the remaining kauri. He left the task of cutting the kānuka to Thomas Hellyer, who arrived in 1840. After Hellyer’s suspicious death at his brewery the next year, ownership of the land lapsed. For the next forty years, it became a magnet for kauri gum diggers, few of whom stayed long.

What is now Glenfield Road began as a rural ridgetop track used by Māori travelling between the lower Waitematā Harbour and Hellyers Creek. It later became the Great North Road between Birkenhead and Albany, a grandiose title for a dirt path that passed through bush and farmland, barely wide enough for two bullock drays to pass. Many early property owners wanted to build their homes on the ridge to make the most of the road and its unimpeded views of Rangitoto and the Hauraki Gulf.

As the population of Birkenhead grew, it spread north along Glenfield Road until it reached the top of the ridge at Sunset Road and Cut Hill. Gradually, amenities appeared in the area, including several general stores and churches, a school, and a community hall. By the early 1900s, optimistic property developers began subdividing areas for residential neighbourhoods, although it took many more years for these to succeed. As late as the 1960s, Glenfield was still a mostly rural land of strawberry fields, farms, and pastures.

With the extension of the motorway to Wairau Road in the late 1960s, Glenfield evolved into a thriving population centre, with most of the farmland subdivided by the end of the decade. In 1974, the community was annexed to Takapuna City. It joined North Shore City in 1989 and the Auckland Supercity in 2010. There are still magnificent views along the busy main road, but the area is now heavily urbanised. Much of Glenfield’s heritage has been lost or forgotten. This tour recaptures some of that history and reveals the treasures hiding within the suburb.

Starting Point: Glenfield Library (90 Bentley Avenue)

Terrain: Concrete sidewalks and asphalt road crossings along a hilly ridgeline.

Parking: Free parking is available at Glenfield Mall.

Disclaimer: This walk is along public roads and includes historical facts about the buildings and the area. Most of the sites are private businesses or homes. Please respect the environment and do not trespass on private property. Neither Auckland Council nor private property owners accept responsibility for any loss, damage, or injury to you or your property arising from use of this tour.

Copyright 2022 Auckland Council. Auckland Council holds all copyrights associated with this tour. You may not copy or reproduce the content of this tour without permission from Auckland Council. Auckland Council has taken every care to ensure that the information contained in this tour is accurate, but accepts no responsibility arising from, or in connection with, your use of this tour and the information contained in it.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

The current Glenfield Library was the first such structure erected in Glenfield. It was built in 1974 shortly after the community became part of Takapuna City. Prior to its opening, Glenfield residents were part of the County of Waitemata, ... Read more
Much of the land between Bentley Avenue and Downing Street along Glenfield Road was owned by the Douglas family. Bob Douglas worked for the Harbour Board and walked every day to the ferry terminal at Birkenhead to go to work. Their home wa... Read more
The Edmonds family was one of the first to live on Stanley Road on the west side of Glenfield. During World War I, three Edmonds boys went off to fight and only Billy returned. After the war, Bill and his wife, Jessie, bought a tract on the... Read more
On 6 December 1883, thirty sections of the subdivided Mayfield Estate, encompassing 250 acres along the west side of today’s Glenfield Road, were put up for auction. Initial sales did not materialise, but most lots were sold by 1890. By t... Read more
The first block of shops is relatively new. Speedy Estate Agents and Land Developers built the second block in 1957. It currently hosts Cooper & Company (Harcourts) and a medical clinic. In the older block, Ted Gruebner opened an IGA (I... Read more
Two pines on Mayfield Reserve mark where the first school in the community stood. The school opened in 1891 with 38 children aged 5-15. One of the first pupils, Billy Edmonds, remembers:  I commenced school in 1893, when Charles Clark was ... Read more
Before subdivision took place, there were pockets of bush and farmland as far as the eye could see. Beyond the houses on this stretch was the Cullingford Farm. Some lucky schoolchildren had money to spend at Annie Cullingford’s shop that ... Read more
Next to the Cullingfords were 25 acres owned by John Gracie, who ran the first carrying service in the district using a large dray and four horses. Gracie was active in the community as a member of several clubs, and he helped organise fru... Read more
To the north of the Gracie family lived the Williams family. Mr Williams worked at the Devonport Naval Base and commuted to Devonport from Glenfield daily. Meanwhile, his wife milked their 12 cows by hand and separated the cream. The entran... Read more
John Sim built this homestead as part of a large horticultural property where he produced early crops in two large glasshouses as well as outdoor fruit, flowers, and vegetables. Sim was greatly concerned with community affairs and a frequen... Read more
The Mouat family had a citrus orchard and later grew hothouse tomatoes. Their story dates back many generations. In 1832, one of their ancestors, Richard Driver, went ashore with two fellow sailors from a whaling ship anchored off Port Chal... Read more
This beautifully maintained villa is one of few such buildings in Glenfield. The land around it passed through several hands before it was acquired by Hugh McIlwain on 8 February 1904. In late 1911, he refinanced his mortgage, presumably to... Read more
One of New Zealand’s most famous poets died here in October 1972. James K. Baxter was 46 years old and had been to the nearby doctor’s office with chest pains. Nobody knows what happened at the doctor’s. When he came out, he tried to ... Read more
Shopping at the corner of Glenfield Road and Wairau Road began when Mick Malmo established an old army hut as a grocery store and post office. By 1952, Malmo could feel the city encroaching. He moved his family to the isolation of the Far N... Read more
All the land between Wairau Road and Hogans Road was once part of the Butt farm. George Butt was of Māori descent and previously owned a store in the Hokianga. When the family moved to Glenfield in 1927, they shipped their kauri home by ba... Read more
Phillip and Dot Hogan moved to Glenfield from the Hunuas in 1914 and bought a 15-acre property from the Mackay family. The Hogans built their house high up on a hill that overlooked Rangitoto and the Hauraki Gulf. This presented few problem... Read more
One quiet day on the Somme, two of Glenfield’s young men were killed, not much in the grand scheme of things, but a tremendous loss for the district. James Edmonds was killed a few days before the armistice. Personal losses for the distri... Read more
Frederick and Elizabeth Chandler originally moved to Mayfield in 1906 and purchased 56 acres on the east side of the road across from the school. They built their first home back from the road along the ridgeline. Later, they built a second... Read more
This English Cottage-style house mostly hidden behind the hedge was built by brothers Colin Hugh Wild and Stanley John Wild. The Wilds bought the land from Margaret Ethel Blackman in 1930. Shortly afterwards, the brothers purchased the 245-... Read more
Keith Timmins was an Englishman who moved to Glenfield and married Mabel Wheeler in 1926. He soon became a Waitematā steam ferry captain and purchased around five acres from the Chandler family in 1928. He hired Felix Mullions, a famed Art... Read more
The Clement family owned all the land south from The Knowle to Camelot Place. It covered six acres and was developed into a commercial orchard. The family lived in a stylish villa across from Mayfield School. Schoolchildren would often cros... Read more
The Jericevich property once occupied twelve acres along Glenfield Road between Camelot Place and Bentley Avenue. Maria was born in Korčula, Yugoslavia (in modern-day Croatia). She became a permitted immigrant in 1940, which required that ... Read more
As Mayfield’s population grew, the need for a venue for church services became increasingly clear. It was not until 1915, though, that anything was done. In that year, the Douglas family donated land for a religious structure. And then th... Read more


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