Tāmaki Bridge History Walk

A historical walk across the Tāmaki River, exploring the boundary between Papatoetoe and Ōtāhuhu.

Tāmaki Bridge History Walk

Auckland, Auckland 0622, New Zealand

Created By: Auckland Council

Tour Information

This walk acknowledges aspects of Māori and colonial histories in the district. The land bordering the Tāmaki River was an important portage spot for early ancestors of the Tainui waka and Te Waiohua. It served as an important avenue of trade for Māori on the east and west coasts until the 1860s. Popular items included vegetables, dried fish, and flax, transported via waka through Papatoetoe for trade across the wider Tāmaki Makaurau area. The flat and narrow terrain made the area unsuitable for pā—fortified settlements, especially with numerous war parties passing through the area during the 1700s and early 1800s.

In January 1836, missionary William Thomas Fairburn purchased a vast swathe of land from local tribes, covering the area from the mouth of the Wairoa River to the South as far as Papakura. The Crown later reviewed this claim and significantly reduced the size the acquired area. The remaining parts were sold as Crown grants, including the land south of the Tāmaki River that later became Papatoetoe. Settlement was encouraged with the opening of a bridge across the river in April 1851, connecting it with the southern part of Ōtāhuhu.

Over the years this connection between the two suburbs became central to the formation of the communities on both sides of the bridge, allowing access, trade, and transport between locations that were interspersed at the time. Signs of this long history are still visible today.

Terrain: Concrete footpaths alongside a busy road. Only cross the road when instructed and when safe to do so.

Starting Point: Grange Road, Papatoetoe

Parking: Street parking, including along side streets. Taking public transport to the starting point of the tour is encouraged. The nearest stop is at the corner of Great South Road and Grange Road.

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 2023 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

William John Young moved to Papatoetoe with his wife Jane in 1860, purchasing a 112-acre block of land fronting the Great South Road opposite the Presbyterian Church from Mr Overton. The property was known as ‘The Grange’. The original ... Read more
‘Great South Road’ as a term that first came into use around 1849 when Ann’s bridge was built in the northern part of Ōtāhuhu. When the bridge across the Tāmaki River was added in 1851 the route grew southward as far as Papakura du... Read more
Papatoetoe Intermediate School marks the former boundary of the land owned by Mr A. W. Hall, who Hall Road was named after before the street was renamed Grange Road. The intermediate school was built by the Auckland Education Board in 1952.... Read more
On the corner of Bairds Road and Great South Road is the DB Breweries complex. This site was originally the homestead of the Baird family, who first purchased their land in 1850. Named Fairview, the home stood opposite to where the brewery... Read more
While not the same as it once was, across the road you can see the site of one of the earliest supermarkets in the country. The store was built by greengrocers Tom Ah Chee, Norm Kent, and John Brown and, despite being located in Papatoetoe,... Read more
Tāmaki Bridge first opened in 1851. The exact date of its completion is unknown, but it was reported as half-finished in April. It was originally built as dry-stone scoria piers connected by wooden platforms, and a newspaper at the time, t... Read more
The Tāmaki River has long been a transport route for both Māori and Pākehā. The Ōtaki Creek, a small branch of the Tāmaki River, was the first stage of a toanga waka portage between the Tāmaki River and the Manukau Harbour. The waka ... Read more
The heart of Ōtahuhu emerged in the 1850s along the Great South Road north of its intersection with Atkinson Avenue. By the late 1860s, more land was needed to support the rapidly-expanding township and a new large subdivision opened south... Read more
The Tāmaki Estuary is a significant wildlife habitat for the region. From here you will be able to see the intertidal mudflats that house extensive shellfish beds and mangrove forests along the length of the river. These mudflats house cou... Read more
First opened in 1904 as St Mary’s Women’s Home, the buildings here originally served as an Anglican home for unwed mothers. The building with the orange tiled roof is the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, which was dedicated in 1911. The whi... Read more
Also known as South Auckland Muslim Association Mosque, the proper façade of the structure can be viewed front on from 26 Mangere Road. The initial property, much smaller than its current size, was first purchased by the New Zealand Muslim... Read more
The garden at the intersection of Māngere Road and Great South Road is home to the Nixon Monument—one of only a handful of memorials erected during the period of the New Zealand Wars from 1843 to 1872, and the only one erected for a loca... Read more
In the same garden as the Nixon Monument is the unmissable bronze statue of a mounted soldier. This monument of a New Zealand Mounted Rifleman was unveiled by Governor-General Sir Charles Fergusson during the ANZAC memorial service in 1928 ... Read more
This sundial stands as a memorial to the former staff of the Ōtāhuhu Railway Workshops who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars. The monument was first unveiled at the Ōtāhuhu Railway Workshops on 29 October 1949. It ... Read more


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