The skyline of the beautiful harbour of Auckland is dominated by the Sky Tower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere at 1,076 feet in height. The best places to view the shipping in the port are from the observation deck of the Sky Tower, or on a Fuller’s harbour cruise from the Ferry Building on Quay Street, which runs behind the many quays of the port. If arriving by sea, one passes through the 47 islands of the Hauraki Gulf including Browns Island, and Rangitoto Island which is linked by a thin land bridge link to Motutapu Island, both nature reserves, and Waiheke Island with 8,730 permanent residents. The Rangitoto deep draft channel then leads to the port approach channel.
On entering the port approach channel with North Head to starboard and Hobson’s Bay to port, the Port of Auckland lies dead ahead on the south side of the channel. Auckland Harbour Bridge and Viaduct Basin lie immediately to the west of the quays, and beyond lies the remainder of the big natural water area of Waitemata Harbour. Great Barrier Island, just outside Hauraki Gulf, has 700 inhabitants, but Haratonga Bay on the island was the setting for a BBC series of Castaway, purporting to show shipwrecked survivors on an inhospitable and uninhabited island.
History Of Auckland
The Maori, the native people of New Zealand, settled the Waitemata harbour area in the 1300s, living a settled tribal existence under their many Chiefs. The land around this area and the islands in the Gulf of Hauraki are formed from 48 extinct volcanoes. The Maori gave the harbour the romantic name of Tamaku-makau-rau or ‘Land of a hundred lovers’ whereas the British simply called their new settlement after an Admiral. There were around five hundred minor tribal battles and skirmishes known as the ‘Musket Wars’ between the Maori and British and French troops as well as whalers and sealers during the period 1805 to 1840.
On 6th February 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in the Bay of Islands off the east coast of North Island, establishing a British Governor of New Zealand, and recognising Maori ownership of their lands and properties. After the initial signing at Waitangi, copies of the Treaty were taken around New Zealand and over the following months, the Chiefs of 530 Maori tribes signed the Treaty. However, the Maori and British interpretations of the Treaty differed, and a further two thousand Maori were killed in battle between 1843 and 1869. Capt. William Hobson, Lieut. Governor of the new British colony of New Zealand chose Auckland as its first capital. A population of three thousand people in 1843 quadrupled over the next thirty years, all dependent in some way or other on the first Queen Street Wharf of 1853 and the five hundred feet long Wynyard Pier in Official Bay completed in 1851.
The Auckland Harbour Board was established in 1871 by an Act of Parliament with thirteen members, and further wharves were added and massive reclamation works of the many mudflats were undertaken. Mechanic’s Bay and Freeman’s Bay lost their natural shoreline, while Commercial Bay, the site of much of the present Auckland waterfront, was totally lost to history in these first reclamations. The newly reclaimed land allowed the construction of a railway wharf and new dockyard facilities. New docks were also built on the other side of the harbour at Devonport, with the Calliope dry-dock at five hundred feet the largest dry-dock in the southern hemisphere when opened in 1888. Much of the dredging and reclamation was done by the twin screw bucket hopper dredger Hapai of 867 grt built in 1909 by Fleming & Ferguson Ltd. on the Clyde, which sailed out to New Zealand shortly after the twin screw tug Te Awina of 220 grt, named after a Maori, arrived from the same shipyard for the Auckland Harbour Board.
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