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Why we celebrate Auckland Anniversary Day

Published: 22 January 2019

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Do you know why you get a January break?

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Auckland Anniversary Day at the end of January?

Officially, 29 January is Auckland’s anniversary, but the holiday has been ‘Mondayised’ so people can enjoy a long weekend.

In 1841, Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson decreed that 29 January would become Auckland's anniversary, marking the day in 1840 when he arrived in the Bay of Islands.

Members of Hobson’s team then sailed down the coast, arriving in Auckland on 18 September 1840. The group included Surveyor-General Felton Mathew and his wife Sarah, a prolific diary-keeper. The preliminary agreement for the purchase of the site of Auckland was signed with Ngāti Whātua leaders the same day and the new settlement of Auckland was established as the capital of New Zealand.

While many of us associate Auckland Anniversary Day with the Auckland regatta, the first was actually held on that same day in September. After the flag was raised, canons were fired in salute and toasts were made to the Queen; boat races were held between sailors, government officials and Māori.

Sarah Mathew recorded the events of the day: "As it was wished to make this somewhat of a holiday the gentlemen got up a boat race among themselves, another for the sailors, and a canoe race for the natives, which all came off with great éclat".[1]

For the next few years, horse races were held at Epsom on 29 January but in 1850 another sailing regatta was held. The Auckland Regatta has been held every year since, except for 1900, when it was cancelled due to the South African War.

Find out more about Auckland Anniversary Day

Rubbish and recycling

Some rubbish and recycling collections will be late from Monday 28 January. Find out more here.


Check out all the amazing events happening in Auckland over anniversary weekend. Highlights include the Ports of Auckland SeePort Festival and Vector Lights.


[1] Quoted in Tessa Duder, Sarah Mathew: explorer, journalist and Auckland’s ‘First Lady’. Auckland: David Ling Publishing, p. 108


Auckland International Buskers Festival

A line-up of international and local performers will hit the streets over Auckland Anniversary Weekend.

Celebrate the city's heritage for Auckland's birthday

To celebrate Auckland’s anniversary, Auckland Libraries has wrapped the city’s heritage in an easy-to-explore package with Kura Heritage Collections Online.

Vector Lights celebrates its first birthday

Watch Vector Lights this Auckland Anniversary Weekend, 25-28 January 2019.