Te Aro

The Land

Te Aro, circa 1880.

The land itself has been far from stable: most of the Te Aro flat was an impassable swamp until the 1855 earthquake, and a series of reclamations have driven the shoreline northwards. This map shows the area in about 1880, when the shore followed what are now Wakefield and Victoria Streets.

Shoreline plaque, Taranaki St.

Vicino is located in the middle of the block labelled "216", which in 1880 was bordered by Courtenay Pl, Taranaki St and the waterfront. Earlier, the shoreline was even further south, as shown by one of the familiar "Shoreline 1880" plaques set into the Taranaki St pavement just metres north of Vicino.

Maori History

Te Aro Park today, with ponds showing the former course of the Waimapihi stream

This photo shows what is now Te Aro Park, which was the site of Te Aro Pa (this has also been referred to as a kainga, or unfortified village). This was built by Ngati Mutunga in 1824, and was subsequently home to Ngati Ruanui, Ngati Haumia and Ngati Tupaia.

The aforementioned "impassable swamp" was the pakeha view of Te Aro flat: to the Maori these wetlands were vital sources of eels, shellfish and flax. The Waimapihi stream (the course of which is reflected by the Te Aro Park ponds and weirs) and the Waitangi Lagoon (at the other end of Courtenay Pl) were part of this food source, and after the uplift of the 1855 earthquake allowed the marshes to be drained, the loss of these resources became a factor in the dwindling of the local Maori population.

Pakeha History

We're sniffing through the archives and reading the history books, and we hope to put together our own personal view of Te Aro's history. In the meantime, the Council's Shoreline Heritage Trail is a good place to start.

Maintained by Tom Beard (tom.beard@paradise.net.nz)