The Ngāi Tai tribe, descended from the people of the Tainui canoe, settled in Maraetai, Whitford, and Howick Other Tainui descendants were Te Kawerau-a-Maki.
From the early 18th century the Ngāti Pāoa people edged their way into the Hauraki Gulf and as far north as Mahurangi.
From 1600 to 1750 the Tāmaki tribes terraced the volcanic cones, building pā (settlements behind protective palisades). Across the isthmus they developed 2,000 hectares of kūmara gardens.
In 1821, wanting to avenge previous defeats by Tāmaki tribes, the Ngāpuhi leader Hongi Hika launched a series of attacks on the region. With 2,000 men and 1,000 muskets he stormed two Ngāti Paoa pā (fortified settlements), Mauinaina and Mokoia, killing hundreds and enslaving hundreds more. Hika repeated the slaughter at Te Tōtara, the Ngāti Maru fortress near Thames.
The coastal area of Auckland was a smorgasbord of resources for early Maori. Seasonal migration occurred where people would move to follow food sources. The Tamaki River was a shark and kawhai fishing ground; fish drying took place on the river between Pakuranga and Otara.
Wood pigeons were plentiful around Ohuiarangi, hence the name Pigeon Mountain. Kumara, taro, yams and gourds were grown on Browns Island (Motukorea) and on the fertile soils of Howick and stored in kumara pits on the peninsula.