Craigavon Park

The block of land, now known as Craigavon Park, is today bounded by Kinross Street, Connell Street, Connaught Street and Portage Road. The park caters for a variety of activities including a fitness trail and children’s playground, and is popular as a dog-walking area.

An Auckland draper, William Henry Smith, acquired the land during the years 1897 to 1905. The Smith family used the park for playing, camping, picnicking and other recreational pursuits.

On William’s death in 1912, the property was left to his widow, Mrs W.H. (Caughey) Smith, and she in turn gifted the land to the City of Auckland in 1929 on condition that it be used “as and for a public park”. This gesture was to commemorate the visit of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Lord Craigavon, after whom the park was named. Lord Craigavon had been a childhood friend of Mrs Smith. Commemorative plaques at the park entrance on the corner of Connell and Kinross Streets and at the opposite corner, mark this commemoration.

The Manukau Harbour and its shores have a long history of use by Maori. Craigavon Park stood in the pathway of the Whau portage, which extended overland from the Whau River inlet to the Manukau Harbour. The Maori people would rest on the land that now comprises Craigavon Park after dragging their waka from the shallow upper reaches of the Whau River before descending down to the beach. The headland above the beach was part of a fortress overlooking the Maori entrance to the portage. These defences linked with Te Whau Pa overlooked what is now Blockhouse Bay. Whoever controlled Te Whau Pa had control of the traffic through the portage.