Situated within Auckland City, Parnell is New Zealand’s first suburb, established in September 1841. Parnell Heritage Inc. was established to further the preservation, knowledge and appreciation of the heritage of Parnell.
The area now known as Parnell, situated on the fringe of today’s Auckland CBD, has very few traces of the original early Maori settlement. There are many Maori oral history accounts of the settlement and battles over ownership of the land. In approximately 1750 Ngati Whatua, from Riverhead, took possession of the area following a clash with Waiohua.
The most prominent early European explorer to visit the area was Captain D’Urville in 1827. In 1840 Ngati Whatua gifted 3,000 acres of their land to Captain Hobson to help with the establishment of the new capital of New Zealand. The land was then sold to help secure revenue for the new Government. The first land sale was in the downtown Auckland area in April 1841. The 119 lots sold very quickly.
Pressure from new immigrants wanting land resulted in the Government surveying and selling off “suburban”, “cultivation” and “small farms” sections on 1 September 1841. The “suburban” land of 25 lots encompassed the triangle of land between Manukau Road (now Parnell Road), St Stephen’s Avenue, and Conquest Place (now Gladstone Road). One of those 25 lots was purchased by Robert Tod.
By 4 September 1841 he had subdivided the three acres lot into 36 allotments which he advertised for sale as the “Village of Parnell”. So the name of Parnell and the first suburb in New Zealand were established. The name Parnell has since spread over an area of 200 acres where more than 10,000 people now live.