History of Madills Farm

Early History:

In pre-European times the Madills Farm area would have been largely lagoon and raupo swamp. The general area was known by Maori as Waipara ra - meaning duck water, after the pārera or native grey duck that thrived in these local wetlands areas.

Up until the late 1920's - punts were used as transport across the lagoon.

In 1842 the Crown sold a 200 acre block between the beach and Kohimarama Rd to a Captain Porter.

In 1860 the land was then on-sold to Bishop Patterson of the Melanesian Mission (for £3,500).

It was in 1919 that Mr William Madill - a local farmer took over the lease of a 119 acres block - that included what is now known as the Madills Farm Reserve area.

More Recent History:

In 1943 the Melanesian Trust Board commenced a sub-division development from Speights Rd to Kohimarmara Rd. The development was to include 550 new houses, a group of shops, and a 30 acre space to be set aside as reserve land to be developed by the Council for recreational purposes.

Council did not finalise the purchase of this land until 1959, and in the meantime the land had been used for land-fill and was known locally as the "dust bowl" and was a wilderness of wattle, blackberry bushes and weeds.

In 1964, 3ha at the southern end of the Reserve was levelled and a child's playground built. The remaining 27ha was not developed until the late 1970's when tons of soil were brought in and the area was levelled and grassed.

In 1975, Council considered an extensive proposal to develop playing fields for rugby, hockey and soccer - as well as building a $400,000 sports complex / community hall on Madills Farm. This was vigorously opposed by local residents who considered it incompatible with the quiet atmosphere of the Kohimarma suburb. A compromise was reached whereby four playing fields were developed, but the sports complex concept was abandoned.

In 1980, Council built the current facility on Madills Farms, which was to be the committee room for the local community board, and included changing rooms and toilets for sports and equipment sheds for ground maintenance.

In the late 1980's, the Eastern Suburbs Associated Football Club was granted the lease for the building and the winter time use of the sports fields. And in the 1990's the Kohimarama Yacht club was similarly granted a lease to erect a boat-shed on Madills Farm to house their safety craft. A 5th football field was also added to 4 existing fields around this time.

In 2004, Madills Farm was designated as an "off-leash" dog exercise park, and the training light facilities on Madills Farm were upgraded and extended.

Over the last decade - extensive ground maintenance and drainage work has been undertaken on all five playing fields in an effort to improve the playing surface and reduce the wear and tear on the fields over the winter playing season. These operations have severely impacted both summer sports use, and neighbouring residents with the summer months on Madills Farm being characterised by large earth works, extensive fencing and constant machinary operations.


Jackson, Elizabeth T (1976). Delving into the past of Auckland's Eastern Suburbs: Sections 4 and 5: Mission Bay and Kohimarama. Auckland.

Eastern Suburbs AFC - 75th Jubliee Publication "Go the Lily whites" - 2009

Wormald, Nancy - local resident 1975 - 2011.

Can you help - do you have any interesting historical facts we can add to this overview?