About Mission Bay

Mission Bay is a suburb of Auckland city, in the North Island of New Zealand. It is located seven kilometres to the east of the city centre, on the southern shore of the Waitemata Harbour. At the census of 2001, Mission Bay was reported to have a population of 5235. It covers an area of 266 acres (1.08 km2), about three quarter of which consists of low hills, surrounding the remaining quarter, which slopes down to the sea. The suburb’s beach is a popular resort.[1]

Present-day Mission Bay is built upon three parcels of land comprising part of the Kohimarama block that were bought from the Crown in the early 1840s. Most of the land subsequently passed into the hands of the Melanesian Mission, who sub-divided and sold it for building in the 1920s, at about which time the name ‘Mission Bay’ became commonly used to describe the area. Before this the district was referred to by a number of names, most commonly ‘Kohimarama’, but also, later, as ‘Flying School Bay’.

Mission Bay takes its name from the Melanesian Mission, which was based in the bay. Some of the mission school buildings still stand in the reserve, an area of parkland adjacent to the beach. The buildings, designed by Reader Wood, date from 1858 and are built of scoria rock quarried on the volcanic island of Rangitoto. The Melanesian Mission School, also known as St Andrew’s College, was founded by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn for the education of Melanesian children.

Mission Bay Reserve also has a link to the history of early aviation in New Zealand. Just after the First World War the Walsh Brothers (Austin Leonard Walsh 1881 – 1951 and Vivian Claude Walsh 1887 – 1950) located their flying school here, and for many years they used the bay as a landing area for their seaplanes.

The centre piece of the Mission Bay Reserve is the Trevor Moss Davis Memorial Fountain, constructed of Sicilian marble fluted to catch the light and ornamented by three bronze sea monsters gushing water. It plays regularly, sending dancing jets of water as high as 12 m (40 ft) in the air and at night it features a spectacular light show. The fountain was given to the citizens of Auckland in 1950 by Mr and Mrs E.R. Davis in memory of their son. It was designed by architect George Tole and created in eight months by sculptor Richard Gross, who also sculpted the Domain Gates and the monument at One Tree Hill. During the summer it is used as a swimming pool for young children.

The fountain was restored in February 2004 costing $150,000 after heavy rain damaged the electrical circuits. Workers patched and sealed the Sicilian marble facing, replaced the switchboard, installed new lights and replaced 2000 of the pool tiles.