Mt Smart Stadium is sited on a 22-hectare Auckland Regional Park owned by the City of Auckland. It was originally a volcanic hill that stood 86 metres high, and local Maori called it Rarotonga, which means “below south”.
In the 1840s the hill was named by the Surveyor-General for his friend Lieutenant Henry Dalton Smart, who was a career officer in the British Army and who was in New Zealand from 1840 to 1842 with the 28th Foot Regiment. Lt Smart witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by 60 Maori chiefs in Kaitaia on 26th April 1840. He also served as aide-de-camp to Governor Hobson and commanded the mounted police; actually they were just a handful of soldiers with eleven horses that had been sent to New Zealand from New South Wales.
On 5th January 1841, Lt Smart was one of the key movers behind the first horse race meeting in Auckland, staged at a rough course cut out of the bush and named Epsom Downs (and later Epsom Racecourse). Lt Smart acted as a steward for the event.
Mt Smart, or Rarotonga, was acquired by the Crown in the mid-1800s to serve as a quarry for road and rail construction. Over the following 100 years the cone of the volcano was completely quarried away, leaving the present day amphitheatre where the stadium is sited. The centre of the cone was just to the west of our No. 1 arena.
In 1942 the Mt Smart (Rarotonga) Domain Board was created and was charged with turning the former quarry site into a public recreational reserve. By 1953 a plan had been approved for a stadium and early formation work was completed in 1965. The stadium was officially opened in 1967. It comprised the No. 2 grandstand, a cinder athletics track and the northern toilet block. The cinder track was replaced by a rubberised ‘Tartan’ track in 1975.
The stadium was extensively redeveloped to accommodate the XIV Commonwealth Games in 1990. This upgrade included the construction of the No. 2 Arena (now the Mt Smart athletics stadium), the laying of Rekortan synthetic tracks in both stadiums and the construction of the West Stand in the No. 1 Arena (now the Mt Smart football stadium). In early 1994, further development of Mt Smart Stadium was undertaken to accommodate Winfield Cup Rugby League. The New Zealand Warriors’ first game was held at Mt Smart on 10 March 1995.
The Mt Smart football stadium playing field has continued to be re-configured and extended to accommodate rugby league and rugby union, in addition to soccer. by using removable material to grow across the running track surface at both ends and the western side of the field. The field has been further levelled and upgraded to ensure that it is able to withstand sustained heavy use under any weather conditions.
The addition of a new 8,000 capacity East Stand, completed in January 2005, has further improved the facilities by providing an additional 5,000 covered seats, a new club lounge for up to 1,000 patrons and a gymnasium and office base for the New Zealand Warriors.
Mt Smart was formerly known as Ericsson Stadium. We were renamed Mt Smart Stadium in 2006.
Today Mt Smart Stadium is owned by the City of Auckland.