One of the earliest features of Ellerslie was the remarkable 'Ellerslie Zoological Gardens' developed as a tourist attraction by the pioneering landowner, Robert Graham to take advantage of the railway in 1873. In May 1872 Graham sold 90 acres to the Auckland Jockey Club for 3,000 pounds.
In 1848 Robert Graham purchased two large blocks of land and named them 'Elderslie' but through a clerical error it was renamed 'Ellerslie'. In his obituary he was remembered as a man who 'possessed a considerable mental ability, natural courage and determination, with a powerful constitution for endurance...' Before Graham ventured into the zoological gardens he lost money from growing and exporting potatoes to California where there was a food shortage, because the potatoes rotted in the heat of the tropics. He then exported oranges from Tahiti and made money. He spent three years in California where he met his bride to be, a young English woman named Sophia Swann. On his return his land was farmed and the cattle and sheep prospered. From 1868 he developed ‘Grahamstown’ one of the settlements which housed the community that rushed to Thames for the gold. Grahamstown had a population of 5,792 in the census of 1871. He built his first home on Ladies Mile and started a pub for his workers. Entertaining people was in his blood. A lion, a tiger, a bear, an eagle, monkeys and emus provided attractions for early visitors to Ellerslie. He planted flower gardens around a cricket ground. Thousands visited the village. Caledonian games were held in 1879.
Robert Graham started subdividing his land and Hannah Murphy, from an early resident family, recalled that local builder Peck and Sons was kept extremely busy constructing shops and houses in the 1880's. Some of the larger homes were built in Russell Crescent and Eaglehurst Road on 1/2 acre to 2 acre sites that included stables. The most prominent of these homes belonged to Jason Court son of the department store family George Court and Sons.
The Sir George Grey collection features a photo of Mr W H Smith handing over the title deed of 'Greenhills' in Russell Crescent, that became the Alexandra Convalescent Home, to Governor Lord Plunket for the Auckland Hospital and Charitable Aid Board in 1907. The Government owned 100 acres of Ellerslie, and in 1905 passed the Workers' Dwellings Act that enabled quality houses to be built for workers on low incomes. In the 1920's and 30's the village supported milk, bread, fish, grocery, haberdashery and drapery shops. Deliveries were made by horse and cart. The Ellerslie Village school opened in 1877, and by 1920 there were Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian churches.
Ellerslie's modern train station was opened in 2012 after shifting the rail tracks to give space for developments on the Southern Motorway and raising the rail overbridge so electric trains could pass underneath. In 2010-2012 ERROS saved the racecourse from extinction by land hungry developers.
In the last twenty years Ellerslie has undergone a revitalisation, and a dramatic demographic change! As elderly residents moved to rest homes, such as the Edmund Hillary Retirement Village that caters for 1,000 residents the houses they vacated were snapped up by double income families with children.
This change caused the local schools to double in number and more classrooms were built. The village felt the effect of more local commerce and this helpfully offset the effects of the establishment of large supermarket and shopping precincts in neighbouring suburbs. A cafe and restaurant culture developed. Sadly some businesses disappeared as victims of internet shopping. Sports clubs boomed as children sought to play their favourite sport. New office blocks from the Harp of Erin to the Penrose motorway interchange brought 5,000 office workers into the area. The moving of the Ellerslie rail platform to make way for a fourth motorway slip lane prepared the way for electric trains. The restoration of the Onehunga line service offered Ellerslie residents a frequent fast and reliable train service that has seen a trebling of passenger numbers using the Ellerslie rail station. Buses are also providing an excellent service to the City and East Auckland. The Housing Corporation's quality apartments behind the town centre have changed the social mix of people living in Ellerslie. Housing intensification has developed at a rapid pace. The future looks bright in Auckland's most liveable suburb. The active Residents and Business Association will do their best to ensure that Ellerslie is a sought after place to reside. The health and welfare of the residents will be a priority.
The Ellerslie Residents Association is very active in protecting the green space in Ellerslie and it seeks to ensure that every child will be able to joint a sports club and enjoy and active and healthy lifestyle.
It is essential that in the light of inevitable intensification of Ellerslie that public facilities are enhanced and enjoyed by all Residents. We are pleased to see that Michaels Park and Ellerslie Domain grounds have ben upgraded to much better surfaces adding thousands of extra sporting hours to these facilities.Night lighting technology has improved dramatically in recent years and Residents living close to these popular recreation areas will not be disturbed by lighting spillover.
Liston Park has been a disastrous mismanagement by Auckland Council and your committee is determined to see Liston park developed into a high class sports facility offering thousands of additional hours of sporting activities for the people of our suburb.
Pollution and Sound barrios on the motorway through Ellerslie are high priorities.The Auckland Council's webiste states that 300 people per annum die of respiratory pollution each year in the City. Ellerslie has some of the highest air pollution statistics in areas within 1 km of eastern side of the Motorway and this means that Ellerslie residents must be among this affected.
Crime reduction and a no tolerance policy on crime in Ellerslie is high on the agenda. The ERA seeks to capture the attention of our local Members of Parliament and the Minister of Police and Justice to allocate the appropriate Police resources to a village of 12,000 people to ensure that residents can go our at night to local bars and cafes and walk home without fear.
Unlocking traffic congestion caused by traffic is another priority for the future of Ellerslie. Electric and bicycle transport with feeder bus services to the rail station offer hope for a better quality of life for all Ellerslie Residents.