Historian Vincent O'Malley stirred a rumble with his suggestion that Sir John Logan Campbell's time as "father of Auckland" had expired.

He felt the Ngāti Whātua chief Apihai Te Kawau had stronger claims, if anyone was to wear the mantle. Campbell, a Scot, was a merchant, farm owner, timber mill owner and brewer.

He seemed to be in Auckland forever and he generously left the city Cornwall Park.

But Te Kawau was generous too, and had a vision of a settlement shared by Māori and Pākehā to the benefit of both.


A plaque just unveiled on the Ports of Auckland frontage honours Te Kawau and his gift of 3000 acres to the Crown to establish the City of Auckland.

The plaque itself revises history in that it replaced an inscription which mentioned a purchase and not a gift. The wording was arrived at by the port company which financed the plaque and sought the advice of Ngāti Whātua.

The iwi says Te Kawau's offer amounted to a "sharing of the land."

Campbell's biographer, the historian Russell Stone dismisses the elevation of Te Kawau above Campbell as political correctness. Stone asserts that Campbell's intimate connection with Auckland and lasting influence makes him the pre-eminent candidate.

Perhaps it can be seen that Auckland has more than one father and, who knows, probably mothers as well. Looking back, the record suggests that both Campbell and Te Kawau helped create the foundations of the city.

Their stories are worth retelling. Where is the harm in embracing both?