History & Heritage


Kingsland’s history is connected with the original settlement of Auckland. In 1835, Thomas Mitchell, a Sydney trader, purchased land from Ngati Whatua rangatira Apihai Te Kawau for £160. But after much selling and reselling, the Land Claims Commission disallowed the purchase.

It wasn’t until Aphai Te Kawau gifted 3,000 acres to the colonial government in 1841, that Auckland began to take shape. Land continued to be bought and sold, and in 1852 John McElwain purchased fifty-five acres of land at ‘Kingsland’. After which, John McElwain’s brother George gifted him an adjoining 60 acres.

Cabbage Tree Swamp Road was one of the original streets in the area. But the settlers of Mt Albert, Morningside and Kingsland appealed for a change of name – and ‘Kingsland Road’ was born. The district at the end of the road came to be known as Kingsland.

After some years, John McElwain decided to subdivide his farm. In 1882 two hundred and twenty seven allotments were laid out. Kingsland Avenue - along with First, Second, Third and Fourth Avenues – provided road access to the properties. Prices for allotments in the subdivision ranged from £28 to £100.

By the 1880s public transport came to Kingsland with rail and bus connections into the city. This was the catalyst for the commercial and residential development of the neighbourhood. Trams serviced the area by 1903, and by this time Kingsland was seen as a well-established residential suburb.

The Kingsland Tram Disaster 24th December 1903

On Christmas Eve 1903 Auckland's worst tram accident occurred.  Three people were killed and dozens were injured when the brakes on a tram heading for the city failed at Eden Terrace .  It careered backwards half a mile down New North Rd and collided with an oncoming train that had left the terminus in Kingsland village.  Click link for article 
Hunt for 1903 Kingsland tram tragedy relatives begins - click link for story
Motat still applying lessons from 113-year-old Kingsland tram tragedy - click link for story
Kingsland Tram Disaster Remembered by James Duncan - click link 


Kingsland Heritage Icons  highlights historic sites and buildings in Kingsland village.   Click here for printable pamphlet

Kingsland 'Land of Kings' is a new heritage walk with a focus on some of Kingsland's early movers and shakers.  Click here  for printable pamphlet 


Click here  for more detailed historical information and timeline.


For a glimpse of the Kingsland of yesteryear click here.


Held annually from the last Saturday of September to the second Sunday of October - see www.heritagefestival.co.nz

gems from the past
The life and times of a 1930s Kingsland Kid - for a digitised copy of ‘The Gully Boys’ by Len Gale click here.