29 April 2021

Connecting the past and present of Maungakiekie-Tāmaki

Connecting the past and present of Maungakiekie-Tāmaki

A new photographic exhibit helps tell the story of the significant change in the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki area over the last 100 years. From early portages and port towns to bustling urban neighbourhoods, this part of the Auckland isthmus has been central to the region’s growth and connection to the water of the Tāmaki River and Manukau Harbour.

The exhibit showcases a series of panoramic photographs, contrasting what Panmure, Mt. Wellington, Penrose and Onehunga looked like in 1920 compared to 2020.

By showing the landscapes side-by-side, the area’s history is connected to the present, fostering an appreciation and deeper understanding of how Auckland’s urban environment has changed as the isthmus has developed.

Exploring Maungakiekie-Tāmaki’s local history

This photographic heritage initiative, funded by the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board and delivered by Panuku Development Auckland, will help the local community and visitors better understand the area’s history and promote a deeper sense of place.

It’s part of a larger Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local History project that seeks to develop a broader historical record of the area’s photographic, oral and written history, and finding creative ways of sharing the area’s heritage with the community.

“These are such impressive visual storytelling additions to the Panmure streetscape.” says Chris Makoare, Chair of Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board. “It’s important to acknowledge the history of the area and I can’t think of a better way to do it. Seeing them in place, providing a platform for ongoing conversation and enabling growth in our understanding of our local heritage, proves how valuable supporting community projects like this is.”

Behind the camera

Deep in the vaults of Auckland Libraries’ Heritage Collections resides a collection of photographs on glass plate negatives from 1920 that provide striking images of the southern and eastern edges of the Auckland isthmus. Taken by James Douglas Richardson from the summits of Maungarei / Mount Wellington and Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill, these photographs were recently meticulously re-digitised and stitched together by heritage specialists at Auckland Libraries, revealing in beautiful detail the stunning and historic vistas from the maunga in the area.

Richardson was a prolific photographer and chronicler of Auckland, especially around the turn of the twentieth century and the first few decades thereafter. His extensive work, with over 9000 images catalogued by Auckland Libraries, helped document the region’s development.

“Diving into Maungakiekie-Tāmaki’s past was a real treat on this project”
— Renée Orr and Zoë Colling, Senior Librarians in the Auckland Libraries’ heritage engagement team

“The heritage team’s role is to promote and preserve Auckland’s history, and seeing it exhibited is always rewarding. The opportunity to delve into Maungakiekie-Tāmaki’s past and then share these treasures in a public place with the community and its visitors is a real privilege.”

For the modern-day panorama photographs, the help of Auckland-based photographer Sam Hartnett was called in. Focused primarily on art and architecture photography, Sam put his keen eye for detail to great use and captured the wonderous expanse of the isthmus.

Kura Heritage Collections Online

The original photographs are part of the Richardson Collection, which sits within the renowned Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections. These collections can be accessed through Kura, Auckland Libraries’ Heritage Collection online, which provides easy and free access to images, manuscripts, oral histories and indexes held in Auckland Libraries.

For more information and to explore the collection, please visit here: https://kura.aucklandlibraries.govt.nz/


Location: Next to the Panmure Library at 7 Pilkington Road, in front of the Panmure Community Hall car park. Additional display on the Gentle Care Dentist’s wall (facing Pilkington Road) at 70 Queens Road

Photographers: 1920 photos -James Douglas Richardson, 2020 photos - Sam Hartnett

Key areas and landmarks captured in frame: Panmure, Mt. Wellington, Penrose, Onehunga, Panmure Basin, Tāmaki River, Manukau Harbour/Mangere Inlet

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