At the top of Bastion Point, overlooking Waitemata Harbour, is the Michael Joseph (MJ) Savage Memorial. A monument to the legacy of New Zealand’s well-loved 23rd prime minister, the memorial is surrounded by a peaceful park with gardens and panoramic views of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf—a perfect escape from the hectic inner city.
Michael Joseph Savage was New Zealand’s prime minister from 1935 until 1940, when he died of cancer at the age of 68. Savage was popular all through his time as PM, and is most remembered for leading the country into World War II and for spearheading a series of post-Depression reforms that laid the foundations for the modern New Zealand welfare state.
The Michael Joseph Savage Memorial was built shortly after his death; Savage’s body is interred in the central mausoleum. Towering above it is an obelisk from which you can enjoy stunning views of Waitemata Harbour, Auckland, Rangitoto Island, and more. The memorial also has a sunken garden, a reflecting pool, and a series of flower beds, and it is surrounded by an expansive open park where you can walk, picnic, or play a game of rugby or cricket. Many Auckland city tours pass by or stop in the memorial park.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park is ideal for history buffs and those looking for a quiet urban respite.
- Bring sunscreen in summer and raincoats in winter to protect yourself from the elements.
- The living Maori village of Orākei, with Orākei Marae at its center, is located on the park’s southern edge.
- The memorial is a short walk from Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium (to the west) and the shops and coastal cafés in Mission Bay (to the east).
- The many stairs around the memorial and its nearby gardens may make it difficult for people with mobility issues to navigate.
How to Get There
The memorial is a short drive east from Queen Street via the coastal Tamaki Drive. Alternatively, some city buses from Commerce Street travel out to Mission Bay. You can also walk along Tamaki Drive to the memorial; it’s about a 90-minute walk from Queen Street.
When to Get There
Visit the park on a sunny weekend day. This out-of-the-way destination is a great place to explore while Auckland’s central business district is crowded with shoppers, and the views of the city are stunning if the sun is high and the sky is cloudless.
Bastion Point’s Place in the New Zealand Story
Savage was initially buried in a historical gun bunker on Bastion Point; the memorial was built around him. But Bastion Point, or Takaparawhā, was originally Ngāti Whātua land that the New Zealand government confiscated from the iwi (tribe). In the 1970s, Maori activists occupied Bastion Point to protest a proposal to build mansions on the land; the 507-day occupation was a landmark protest in New Zealand history.