During his lifetime, accountant and historian George Graham (1874-1952) recorded much of the Maori history of Auckland. Graham lived near the southern end of Northcote Point in the early 1900s.

Onewa Pa on the Point, as Graham described it, was in early times a fortified village, pallisaded and entrenched. Maori fished in the bays and gathered berries and roots from nearby forests.

The oldest known inhabitants of the district were Ngati Tai, who in ancient times suffered severely from raids of Ngati Whatua and, in about 1650, of Ngati Paoa. Ngati Whatua then conquered the whole of the Auckland isthmus. Onewa was attacked again and again and in about 1740, the remnants of the Ngati Tai tribe were driven out. Ngati Paoa took over Onewa's Ngati Tai villages, but were driven back by Ngati Whatua. Gradually, the remnants of Ngati Tai returned in the early 19th century to their old villages at Onewa.

After the musket wars of the 1820s and early 1830s, peace returned to the Auckland area. A few Ngati Tai, with their last chieftain Heteraka Takapuna, continued to live at Onewa for some years.

In 1841, the North Shore was included in the vast Mahurangi block, sold by Maori to the Crown, and Onewa Pa passed from Maori ownership. Following the founding of Auckland in 1840, what is now Northcote Point was named Rough Point after Captain David Rough, Auckland's first harbour-master and superintendent of works. In 1848, the name was changed to Stokes Point by Captain J.L. Stokes of H.M. survey ship Acheron, during a survey of the Waitemata Harbour.

In the 1840s, the land on Stokes Point was subdivided into eight large lots and sold in the early 1850s to Phillip Callan, brickmaker, John McGechie, farmer, Major Isaac Rhodes Cooper and Colonel Robert Wynyard. In 1867, the end of the Point was subdivided by the Crown and became the Town of Woodside.

Callan had a brickworks at the southern end of Sulphur Beach, possibly from the early 1840s on the basis of an agreement with Maori. Another early colonial industry on Stokes Point was R. Clark's soap and candle works, present in 1848, reputedly near Sulphur Beach.

In 1854, James Reed was given a licence to run the Stokes Point Ferry and in 1859, Callan built his North Auckland Hotel on the Point to take advantage of the ferry service and the main route north. Sulphur works were built by James Tunny and James Pond next to Sulphur Beach in 1878, but did not last long. From the 1870s, Northcote was well-known for strawberry gardens in the Belle Vue Ave area.

By 1880, most of the Point had been subdivided and many of the old villas surviving today date from the 1880-1910 period.

From 1848, Stokes Point was administered as part of the Hundred of Pupuke, covering all of the North Shore. The hundreds were dissolved in 1856 and until 1866, the Auckland Provincial Council administered the roads. The North Shore Highway District, which included Stokes Point, was established in 1866 and became the North Shore Riding of Waitemata County in 1876. The Stokes Point district was renamed Northcote by Major Benton in the early 1880s, it is thought after the British aristocrat Sir Stafford Northcote. Northcote attained borough status in 1908, but became part of the newly created North Shore City in 1989.

The late 1920s saw significant growth in Northcote, with the cinema, bus barns and the concrete road being built in 1927, and the post office in 1929.

The construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge and motorway in the late 1950s drastically changed the Northcote Point environment. The eastern coastline was obliterated, the ferries ceased, shops closed, and the Point became something of a backwater. Rapid northward development took place and the Northcote Shopping Centre opened in December 1958.