Mt Eden – (Maungawhau- hill of the whau tree)
Starting 250,000 years ago, small basaltic volcanoes erupted across the Auckland Isthmus.Some were violent eruptions where magma encountered water,but in the case of Mt Eden the magma rose without meeting water and produced a steep sided cone from localised scoria and ash, and fields from the quiet outpouring of lava flows.
The crater is circular, about 180m in diameter and 50m deep.
The southern side of the crater rim is the highest point on the scoria cone(196m above sea level), and is the highest point on the Auckland Isthmus.
The Isthmus of Auckland is one of the most remarkable volcanic districts on the earth.The volcanoes are unique in their number(50) , and the peculiar shape of their cones and craters.
Most of the volcanoes in Auckland are thought to have grown by eruptions lasting a few months or possibly a few years.
Maungawhau is named after the Whau tree, one of the world’s lightest woods it was used for fishing floats and utility rafts. New cultivation techniques brought from the Pacific saw massive production of Taro and Kumara. Huge gardens spread from the base of Maungawhau through the modern day Mt Eden suburb with volcanic rocks used as passive solar heating for seed raising beds to help tropical crops adapt to the colder environment.
Te Tuahu o Hua Kai Waka on the slopes of Maungawhau is the ancient shrine where ceremonies were performed for significant events and battles. Maungawhau is also the repository of koiwi (human remains) with burials across the mountain and the Mt Eden suburb. Tangata Whenua continue to observe customary practices on Maungawhau. Matariki or the Maori New Year is one such practice observed before dawn in June each year.
The road to the summit of Maungawhau is named for Puhihuia, a highborn daughter of Te Waiohua. Ponga of Ngati Kahukoka from Awhitu was visiting Maungawhau and although he was of lower social status they eloped to the anger of Puhihuia’s disapproving parents. They escaped across the Manukau Harbour to Awhitu followed by an avenging taua. War between the Iwi was avoided when Puhihuia faced a series of duels. She defeated her opponents and the taua returned accepting Puhihuia’s choice of a husband.
The early Maori Tribes took advantage of the Volcanic cone to gain an advantage over their enemies by having advanced fortifications established . This Pa was an established village with sleeping huts and food storage.
Today the Volcanic cone is a major Tourist sightseeing destination. For a guest to walk from Eden Park Bed and Breakfast is a 40 min walk. To catch a sunrise from this Volcanic point is a “must do ” in Auckland City.
There are various organisations dedicated to the preservation of the Historical nature of this unique place
The friends of Maungawhau are a non profit organisation that welcome any assistance that guests may have to offer. www.maungawhau.co.nz