In the Maori language, Auckland is known as Tamaki Makau Rau, Tamaki of 100 lovers. It earned this name because it was a place desired by all and conquered by many.
Legend has it that the first human inhabitants of Auckland were the magical, fair-skinned Turehu poeple. While all Maori iwi (tribes) of the region claim descent from the Turehu, their tribal identities are generally linked to the ancestral waka that sailed to New Zealand from Hawaiiki, the legendary homeland of the Maori in the Pacific Ocean.
In the mid 18th century, invaders from the Ngati Whatua iwi conquered Auckland. Today the Ngati Whatua people are acknowledged as tangata whenua (the people of the land) of the Tamaki isthmus. The Ngati Whatua marae (tribal meeting house) occupies Bastion Point, overlooking the Waitemata Harbour.
Captain James Cook's charting of New Zealand's coastline in 1769 missed Waitemata Harbour but he left behind several place names such as Great Barrier and Little Barrier islands. In 1820, Samuel Marsden became the first known European to explore the Hauraki Gulf.
The region's first European village was established in 1833 around a spa and saw milling operation on the Mahurangi river, where Warkworth is today, and the missionaries followed soon after.
A pivotal year for Auckland was 1840. New Zealand's founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed by local Maori chiefs at Karaka Bay, Mangere and Awhitu. The same year Captain William Hobson, then the Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand, was invited by Ngati Whatua chiefs to establish the new colony's capital in Auckland. A sailing regatta was held to celebrate the raising of the union flag, a tradition which is still observed every year on Auckland Anniversary Day in late January. Auckland, named after Hobson's naval commander Lord Auckland, was capital for 25 years before losing the privilege to Wellington.
In 1842, the ships Jane Gifford and Duchess of Argyle deposited 500 Scottish settlers in their new home. Since then, Auckland's population has grown steadily and now sits at around 1.3 million, about a third of the national population.
Modern day Auckland stretches from the town of Wellsford in the north, to the rolling Bombay Hills in the south. It is surrounded by three harbours - the Waitemata, the Manukau and the Kaipara, New Zealand's largest. Administratively, it is divided into four cities (Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere) and three districts (Franklin, Rodney and Papakura).
From the first Maori waka and colonial ships, Auckland has attracted migrants. By the 1890s, it had a cosmopolitan flavour, with dozens of languages heard in the bustling streets and new inhabitants from Europe, China and India. This theme continued throughout the 20th century, particularly in the 1950s when the population was boosted by the post war baby boom". Many European immigrants were attracted from countries such as Hungary, Holland and Yugoslavia; bringing Auckland more cosmopolitan tastes and its first proper restaurants. Many rural peple relocated to seek work in the "bright lights" of the city, and large numbers of Maori migrated to Auckland.
Today, Auckland is the world's largest Polynesian city. Around 68% of its residents are of European descent, 11% are Maori, 14% are of Pacific Island descent and there is an Asian population of around 13%. In the city centre, Auckland's growing popularity as an international education destination has seen an explosion of ethnic restaurants and shops.