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Birkenhead, New Zealand facts for kids

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Chelsea Sugar Refinery.JPG
The sugar refinery, a local landmark.
Basic information
Local authority Auckland
Electoral ward North Shore ward
Local board Kaipātiki Local Board
Date established 1883 (Approx.)
Population 10536 (2018)
Postcode(s) 0626
Ferry terminal(s) Birkenhead Ferry Terminal
North Northcote
Northeast Northcote
East Northcote
Southeast (Waitemata Harbour)
South (Waitemata Harbour)
Southwest (Waitemata Harbour)
West Chatswood
Northwest Highbury

Birkenhead is a suburb of Auckland, in northern New Zealand. It is located on the North Shore of the Waitemata Harbour, four kilometres northwest of the Auckland CBD.

In November 2010, the suburb was included into the North Shore ward, one of the thirteen administrative divisions of the newly-formed Auckland Council. Under the council, Birkenhead is part of the Kaipatiki Local Board Area.

It is surrounded by the suburbs of Northcote to the east, Glenfield to the north and Birkdale, Chelsea and Chatswood to the west. The southern part of the suburb is known as Birkenhead Point and lies on a promontory between Chelsea Bay and Little Shoal Bay, one kilometre to the west of the northern approaches to the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

The shopping area is known as the Birkenhead Town Centre with the term Highbury being used for the older shopping centre at the junction of Birkenhead Avenue and Mokoia Road.


Birkenhead was described as "wild and bleak" by the New Zealand Herald in 1883, as it was isolated from the city of Auckland by the harbour, and was little occupied. However, in 1882 it was chosen as the site of New Zealand's only sugar refinery, and in 1883 work began on what was later known as the Chelsea Sugar Refinery. The company built houses for its many new workers and thus the suburb of Birkenhead began. The Refinery was the main source of work for the area for many years, and still operates today.

Once the site of ancient kauri forests, Birkenhead was the site of temporary gum-diggers' camps: as men and women sought to dig up the lucrative fossilied resin. Auckland families would cross the Waitemata Harbour by ferry at weekends to dig in the fields around Birkenhead, causing damage to public roads and private farms, and leading to local council management of the problem.

In 1883 a farm estate called "Mayfield" was auctioned and subsequently subdivided for housing sections. Birkenhead was probably named after the town of the same name across the River Mersey from the city of Liverpool, developed during the middle of the 19th century by ship builder "John Laird". The English Birkenhead was noted for its elegant and expensive houses, its sea views and its charmingly laid out picturesque park copied by New York's Central Park.

Birkenhead was one of several areas on the North Shore popular as a location for the homes of successful middle-class people. These men, usually professionals or business owners, would use the Auckland Harbour Ferry Services to commute to Auckland. The wharves at Devonport, Northcote and Birkenhead were very busy until the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959 changed things forever. The ferry to Birkenhead was resumed in the 1980s and since the increase in congestion on the bridge, the usage of the Birkenhead Ferry has grown considerably.

Notable people

  • Clement Lindley Wragge, the meteorologist who began the tradition of using people's names for cyclones lived his final years at 8 Awanui Street, Birkenhead and planted palms in his, and neighbours', gardens.
  • Rudall Hayward was an early NZ film-maker, producing Rewi's Last Stand (see Cinema of New Zealand)
  • Hone Tuwhare, the poet, was briefly a Birkenhead Borough Councillor
  • Hon Mike Rann CNZM, former Premier of South Australia, Australian High Commissioner to UK and Ambassador to Italy, lived in Birkenhead from 1964 to 1977.
  • Edward Le Roy was a businessman who ran a tent making business in Auckland. Le Roys Bush and Le Roy Tce are named after him.


Highbury Shopping Centre

Highbury Shopping Centre is located in Birkenhead. It includes 600 carparks and 25 retailers, including a Countdown supermarket.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
2006 9,306 —    
2013 9,642 +0.51%
2018 10,536 +1.79%

Birkenhead, comprising the statistical areas of Birkenhead West, Birkenhead North and Birkenhead South, had a population of 10,536 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 894 people (9.3%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 1,230 people (13.2%) since the 2006 census. There were 3,780 households. There were 5,022 males and 5,514 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.91 males per female, with 1,836 people (17.4%) aged under 15 years, 2,037 (19.3%) aged 15 to 29, 5,010 (47.6%) aged 30 to 64, and 1,653 (15.7%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 75.7% European/Pākehā, 6.7% Māori, 2.9% Pacific peoples, 20.0% Asian, and 3.9% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

The proportion of people born overseas was 39.0%, compared with 27.1% nationally.

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 53.4% had no religion, 33.6% were Christian, and 7.3% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 3,495 (40.2%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 753 (8.7%) people had no formal qualifications. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 4,755 (54.7%) people were employed full-time, 1,281 (14.7%) were part-time, and 216 (2.5%) were unemployed.


Birkenhead is home to Birkenhead United who compete in the Lotto Sport Italia NRFL Division 1B.


Birkenhead School and Verran Primary School are coeducational contributing primary (years 1–6) schools with rolls of 401 and 282 respectively. Birkenhead School was founded in 1919 as an extension of Northcote School. Verran Primary School was founded in 1964. Rolls are as of July 2016.

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