Te Kopuke Mt St John Volcano
Date: 1999-2000

Location: Epsom, Auckland

Client: Mt St John Preservation Society

Project status: The site for the proposed development was purchased by Auckland City Council in 2001



Te Kopuke Mt St John is a low rising volcano nestled between the more prominent cones Maungawhau Mt Eden and Remuwera Mt Hobson. The volcano was a striking feature of the city’s historic landscape however the western side is now covered with housing and private planting, so much so the volcano seems to have disappeared.


In 1999 an application was made to build a new house high on the south-western face. The development exceeded the residential density permitted within the special volcanic heritage zone. Landscape and visual assessments supported the application on the basis that the proposed house fitted in with the pattern of existing development. Much less weight was given to the landscape importance and values of the volcano.


Our analysis for the Mt St John Preservation Society placed the application within this wider context. We showed the development would reverse the volcano’s dominant character which is relatively unmodified on its other sides. The house site was in fact a critical mediating point between intense private development and public open space. It needed to be protected in order to enhance the volcano.


We also outlined other equally serious effects. The development would destroy two Maori terraces covering the greater part of the site, conceal significant views to and from the rim and block a critical turning point of the volcano.


Our assessment was used by the Society to convince Auckland City Council to buy the site for inclusion in the volcanic reserve. Council bought the land in 2000 and since then has purchased two further parcels of land on the western side. The volcano’s landscape values are slowly being resurrected.



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