Mount Eden, or Maungakiekie, which sits in the beautiful, green acreage of Cornwall Park, is probably the most famous of Auckland’s 48 crater mountains.
Until about 30 years ago it was instantly recognizable against the city skyline because of the lone pine which stood on its summit. Then, in the 1970s the pine was felled by Maori activist Mike Smith, as a symbol of Pakeha colonialism. It was a gesture which echoed his ancestor Hone Heke’s attack on the flagpole in the old colonial capital of Korareka almost a century and half before. The tree was never replaced but its stump remains as a symbol of an era of protest that pushed Aotearoa New Zealand to re-examine and begin to consider the terms of its founding document, the Treaty Waitangi.
There remains another symbol on Maungakiekie, as impressive as it is significant. The John Logan Campbell memorial commemorates the man who bequeathed Cornwall Park and Maungkiekie to the people of Auckland. At the foot of the tall plinth is a small plaque to Logan Campbell. Above it towers a Maori chief in a traditional korowai or cloak. The monument is an enduring symbol of the enormous mutual respect of Logan Campbell and the Maori people and of the partnership between them.
Since ancient times, Maori have gathered on Maungakiekie to welcome the constellation called Matariki which appears in the sky in mid-winter, signalling the New Year in the Maramatanga or Maori calendar. Nowadays, the Matariki draws both Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders together for this unique celebration.
Maungakiekie’s fame was taken to the world by the U2 hit song written in memory of a Maori member of their crew, which speaks of One Tree Hill and the volcanic island Rangitoto, or blood red sky, which lies in the sea below . Now visitors from every corner of the globe seek out and make their pilgrimage to One Tree Hill where they look out across the sea to Rangitoto.