The Commonwealth and British Empire Games: A Selection of Memories from Auckland Council Archives

The Commonwealth Games in Brisbane has prompted the Auckland Council Archives team to look into the local government memory for the previous times Auckland held the games.

Here is a selection of interesting flashbacks from the Auckland Council Archives collection. Expand a section below to view the examples.

This is only a sample of the records and artefacts held by Auckland Council Archives, why not search for yourself on our online database or come for a visit.

The Commonwealth Games 1990

Perhaps the most import contribution local government made to the 1990 Commonwealth Games was the provision of venues.

Track cycling events were held in the newly built velodrome at the Manukau Sports Bowl, Clover Park, Manukau City. Mt Smart provided the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies together with the athletic events. Whilst swimming events were held at the purpose built Henderson Swimming Pool Complex (now known as West Wave).

Although not featured here, bowling events were also held on the Pakuranga Bowling Club's greens at Lloyd Elsmore Park, Highland Park and a number of shooting events were held at the newly developed Ardmore shooting range.

Mt Smart Stadium

Mt Smart Stadium was an Auckland Regional Council facility that was upgraded for the games. This included the installation of temporary seating which lifted its capacity from 12,000 to 36,000 and the track re-laid.

Manukau City Velodrome

The Manukau City Council provided the Velodrome as the venue for cycling events. The Velodrome was officially opened on 16 September 1989 at the newly developed Manukau Sports Bowl, situated to the east of the southern motorway between Orlando Drive and Boundary Road, Clover Park. The facility was jointly funded by Manukau City Council, Auckland Regional Authority and the Commonwealth Games Company.

Henderson Swimming Pool Complex (now known as West Wave)

West Auckland local authorities and the public had for years been supportive of the construction of a first class swimming pool for West Auckland.

Henderson Borough Council had proposals going back to the early 1960’s. In the early 1980’s and in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games being held in Auckland in 1990, Henderson Borough Council, the smallest of the four West Auckland local authorities, planned a facility initially called the Henderson Swimming Pool Complex. It was one of, if not the, largest projects in the borough’s history. Project management on this scale being outside the borough’s experience, it was handled by Babbage Partners Ltd. The complex was successfully used during the Commonwealth Games, and remains the largest and most successful facility of its kind in West Auckland.

Name changes to Aquatic Centre and then West Wave and additions to the broader fitness equipment facilities haven’t significantly changed the pool and diving board as the core of the complex, which even today would be easily recognised by a visitor from 1990.

Road Events

While not a venue as such, the Devonport Borough Council hosted the 30km Road Walk for the games.

Athletes Village

The 1990 Games village was built in Glen Innes (where University of Auckland's Tamaki campus is now located). As there was a lack of suitable accommodation in Auckland, it was decided to build a temporary village on land owned by the University of Auckland.

The village provided everything for the athletes including a dining and kitchen hall, medical centre, media centre, shopping centre, a recreation centre plus training facilities.

Organising and Promoting the Games

The Commonwealth Games Company and Auckland City Council staff designed a range of banners. All cities and boroughs in Auckland were encouraged to decorate their streets for the Games. The smaller street banners proved to be popular with souvenir hunters before the Games had even begun with the councils having to buy replacements.

There were 12 large banners down Queen Street, each colour representing a different event. The banners measured 8 x 16 metres and went through comprehensive design and testing processes for wind stress.


As well as documents relating to the games, Auckland Council Archives hold some memorabilia associated with the games.

The Empire Games 1950

The Commonwealth Games were known as the British Empire Games from 1930–1950.

In 1950 Auckland hosted the Empire Games. Eden Park was the main venue. Auckland Town Hall was the venue for boxing and wrestling. Western Springs stadium was the venue for cycling events, while the Olympic pool in Newmarket was the venue for swimming.

Eden Park

Eden Park was the main venue for the Empire Games. It is where the track and field events took place.

Western Springs

The track cycling events took place in the evening at Western Springs Stadium. Auckland City Council constructed new dressing rooms and conveniences plus a cycle shed.

Auckland Town Hall

The boxing and wrestling competitions were held at the Auckland Town Hall.

Newmarket Olympic Pool

Newmarket's Olympic Pool was the venue for the swimming and diving competitions. When it opened in 1940, it was New Zealand's first 50 metre swimming pool.

Organising the Games

In order to finance the 1950 British Empire Games, a non-profit company was floated. Subscriptions, share purchases and donations were called for from the councils and various businesses in the Auckland region.

Furniture and equipment was borrowed from many sources, including white coats for the officials from Westfield Freezing works!

One of the fun finds was a poem written for the games. Wynfreeda Spiers sent this poem to Auckland City Council in the hope that they would publish it for the Empire Games. The council forwarded it to the Empire Games Organising Committee for their consideration.