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Overlooking Auckland’s city skyline and the sparkling Hauraki Gulf lies the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, high on Bastion Point. Located just 10 minutes east of the city along Auckland’s iconic Tamaki Drive, Bastion Point is a coastal piece of land steeped in cultural history. It’s a tranquil and beautifully maintained area with lovely gardens, a sunken pond and grand obelisk commemorating the burial place of one of New Zealand’s most beloved prime ministers.
Michael Joseph Savage was New Zealand’s first ever prime minister from the Labour party. He was immensely popular with the people of New Zealand having won public support for the social welfare programmes he introduced. After Savage died in office in 1940, he was buried on the headland inside a historic gun bunker, and the memorial you see today was built around his grave.
Sadly, the area surrounding Savage’s memorial has a more chequered history. Bastion Point’s Māori name is Takaparawhau, or Whenua Rangatira and is significant area in Māori history. This land was settled by the Ngati Whatua tribe and was either bought or confiscated by the government between the 1840s and 1950s. Ngati Whatua also loaned some of the land to the government for defence purposes during World War II. In the 1970s the government decided to sell the land for high-income housing instead of returning it to Ngati Whatua. This resulted in a peaceful protest and occupation lasting 507 days. Finally, the land was formally returned (with compensation) through a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.
Today Bastion Point and the Savage Memorial is an attractive place to visit year round for families, couples and single visitors. It’s a great place for flying kites, picnicking and admiring parts of Auckland from a height. On a clear day you’ll see many of Hauraki Gulf’s iconic islands and coastal land including Devonport, Rangitoto and Waiheke Island.
From Bastion Point why not take a walk down the hill to Mission Bay and Okahu Bay where you’ll find a range of shops, cafes and restaurants. You can also enjoy walking along the boardwalk on Mission Bay’s waterfront with an ice cream or hot drink!
You can visit the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial at Bastion Point on the Auckland Explorer Bus. Buses depart every 30 minutes in Summer and every 60 minutes in Winter.
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