The interconnections between city life and engineering are often concealed or go unheeded. These heritage walks reveal some of Auckland’s engineering achievements and illustrate the powerful impact of the engineer on architecture, settlement patterns, health, convenience and trade.
In 1840, Apihai Te Kawau of the iwi (tribe) Ngati Whatua invited Captain William Hobson, the Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand, to found the capital of the new Crown Colony on the Waitemata Harbour in the area known as Tamaki Makaurau (loosely translated, ‘the bride sought by many lovers’). Hobson was attracted by the region’s central position, sheltered deep harbour, fresh water supply and the agricultural and commercial potential of the region. Until the capital was shifted to Wellington in 1865, the fledgling city was the centre of government and headquarters of the military, churches, industry and business.
Engineers formed the landscape, built the physical infrastructure and developed roles for government, local authorities, special purpose boards and private firms. The very early engineers of Auckland came from abroad, but from the last quarter of the 19th century many were trained in New Zealand.
While some of Auckland’s engineering achievements are internationally remarkable, many were conventional technical responses to local circumstances. Whether innovative or derivative, each initiative made a significant contribution to the building of this city and its region.