An interesting and vicarious history surrounds Mtunzini's founder - John Dunn - who became diplomatic advisor to King Cetshwayo after the Zulu Civil War of 1856. and also took 49 Zulu wives in addition to his British spouse. John Dunn was born in 1834, and was one of six children. He lived a wandering life as a hunting guide and transport rider until 1854, when he became assistant to the British Border Agent at Nonoti, Lower Tugela. After the civil war 1856, Dunn resigned his post to become Cetshwayo's diplomatic adviser. In return he received 10 oxen and an extensive stretch of land. Dunn's land was the present magisterial district of Mtunzini. He divided it into areas, each under the control of a favourite induna or headman. He had married Catherine Pierce, but also married a further 49 Zulu women, as was the custom of his adoptive people. This was a way of ensuring strong political and economic bonds.
After the Anglo- Boer war of 1879 the British appointed Dunn as one of 13 chiefs to rule the Zulu Kingdom. Dunn died on 5 August 1895 and as there was no successor. On 1 October 1895 a temporary magistrate's post was created at Mtunzini. This date is recorded as the 'official' birth of the town. Monuments Moyeni, Mtunzini Moyeni became his headquarters and means 'The Windy Place'. Dunn's grave is on the property, and his descendents are still settled in the Mtunzini area.
Raffia Palms, Mtunzini The grove was planted by Mr C.C. Foxon in what is thought to be in 1903. The original seeds came from Maputaland and the Mtunzini Grove is a national monument. The Indaba Tree is also a cultural attraction and this tree is located in the Umlalazi Nature Reserve. The site is marked with a plaque and It was here under the biggest milkwood tree in the area that John Dunn held court sittings and celebratory gatherings. Mtunzini Moyeni is one of several settlements established by John Dunn.
Mtunzini is surrounded by three major industrial growth points, namely Empangeni, Richards Bay and Isithebe. Zinkwazi Beach and Tugela mouth are the only other two coastal towns on the North coast aside from Mtunzini and Richards Bay. The present role of Mtunzini is that of a "Holiday Town". Port Durnford, Mtunzini Area was established during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 by the men of H.M.S. Forester, and used for disembarking troops and supplies. Cetshwayo was brought through here and banished to the Cape after his capture in 1879. Port Dunford which is essentially a forestry station is situated North of Mtunzini.