History of Commercial Bay



Auckland’s Commercial Bay is where the city we know today began in 1840 when Ahipahi Te Kawau, the paramount chief of Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrēkei, invited Governor Hobson to establish a new capital. The home fires of the tribes of Tāmaki Makaurau burned in the area for many generations before that, as they do to this day.

The string of bays along the shore were ideal landing spots; the administrators settled in Official Bay; the tradesmen in Mechanics Bay; and the deepest bay with the best anchorage for trading ships was designated Commercial Bay. The landing, trade and exchange of goods took place in Commercial Bay from then on. Today Commercial Bay is still the home of some of New Zealand’s most important trading companies.

Over the last 175 years Commercial Bay has changed several times over. The fringing cliffs of Point Britomart and Smales Point have been levelled, the bay has been in-filled and long wharves have stretched out to meet the ships, as the shoreline has shifted to accommodate the growing city. Ships from across the globe have brought people and goods that have sustained the development of the nation. Sails and oars have given way to horses and trams, which in turn have yielded to cruise liners and underground trains. Great feats of engineering have been built, and dismantled, to make way for the next generation of development.

History has recorded the coffee merchants, green grocers, import-export agents, buyers, sellers, and traders of all kinds that have established their businesses in Commercial Bay to be at the heart of Auckland’s economy.

Today, Auckland is in another wave of development. The city’s economy is shifting emphasis, from importing goods, to exporting ideas. Established businesses are innovating, new businesses are growing, and Auckland’s trade with the world is booming. The abundant and sparkling waters of the Waitematā make Commercial Bay the heart of New Zealand’s trade story now, as it has been since 1840.