Māori have traversed this area for close to 1000 years. There are many layers to the history of tangata whenau (people of the land) at this significant site.
The Symonds Street ridge is called Rangipuke and leads to Maungawhau Pā (fortified village on Mount Eden).
The stream at the bottom of the gully is named Waiparuru ('murky water')
The westward ridge is called Karangahape (The Call of Hape), after the Tainui ancestor. Newton Gully is called Te Uru Karaka (The Karaka Tree Grove).
Early Māori use of the area
Karangahape (The Call of Hape) is named for the Tainui ancestor who stood on the ridge here and called to his kinsmen on the beaches below as they arrived from Hawaiiki. Hape, also known as Rakataura, is a significant figure in the histories of many Auckland tribes.
The Symonds Street Cemetery is located in an area of intense Māori occupation and use. Seasonal fishing villages at the base of Queen Street and Grafton Gully allowed Ngāti Whatua, Waikato and Hauraki tribes to dominate the produce markets of early Auckland. These markets at Waipapa, now the base of Constitution Hill, were a vital trading link for early Pākehā settlers to the area.
Māori walked up from the coastal villages and along Rangipuke (the Symonds Street ridge) to reach Maungawhau Pā (Mt Eden fortified village), or followed the westwards track along the Karangahape ridge on the long journey to Cornwallis (also called Karangahape) near the mouth of the Manukau Harbour. The dense vegetation in Grafton Gully provided birds to preserve and eat, and supplied building materials. The freshwater streams, including the Waiparuru (Murky Waters) which flows at the base of the Cemetery on the eastern side, provided a water source for drinking and washing.
There are no historic Māori burials known in the immediate area of the Symonds Street Cemetery, though nearby is a site called Te Iringa o Rauru - 'the hanging of Rauru.'
Māori attitudes to the environment
Ngarimu to advise what we write here