Manurewa, meaning ‘soaring bird’, was an area highly prized by Maori for its natural resources in pre-European times.
Mature bush, access to plentiful fishing waters and fertile soils made this area particularly desirable, prompting frequent conflict between Thames and Waikato tribes.
European missionaries and farmers settled in the area from the early 1840s.
In 1867, Manurewa was constituted a District, and was able to boast eleven houses and four mud huts by 1874. With the opening of a railway station in 1875, the small rural village expanded, and by the turn of the century, Manurewa was well serviced with amenities such as a Post Office, a Telephone Office and a local school.
Nearby Wiri in the mid 1860s was a popular area, especially with travellers, who often used it as an overnight stopping point before continuing through to Auckland. At one stage, Wiri was home to a Post Office, a butchers shop and a hotel.
However, when the main trunk railway bypassed Wiri, it failed to develop as a residential area at that time. Today, due to its proximity to both the motorway and railway, Wiri is a prominent industrial area in Manukau City.
Following World War Two, rapid population growth occurred and Manurewa was ranked as the fastest growing municipality in New Zealand. By the 1960s, Manurewa Central was largely built up and new development shifted to peripheral areas.
Manurewa has been a Ward of Manukau City since 1965. Nathan Homestead was the site of the Council’s administrative functions until 1976, when the current Manukau City Council Civic building was opened on Wiri Station Road.
Manurewa continues to experience rapid growth and is second only to Howick for the rate at which this is occurring. The population is relatively young, with 37% less than 20 years of age and 7%, 65 years old or older.
The largest ethnic group is Europeans with 53%, followed by Maori (28%), Pacific Peoples (24%) and Asian (10%).
About 9% of the population holds a higher vocational qualification or higher, while 29% do not hold any formal qualification.
Manurewa has the fourth highest median household and personal income levels in the city and 47% of the working age population is employed as professionals, managers or clerks. About 20% of residents are employed in the manufacturing industry.
Source: Old records of the erstwhile Manukau City Council