We present a statistical analysis of the time evolution of ground magnetic fluctuations in three (12?48 s, 24?96 s and 48?192 s) period bands during nightside auroral activations. We use an independently derived auroral activation list composed of both substorms and pseudo-breakups to provide an estimate of the activation times of nightside aurora during periods with comprehensive ground magnetometer coverage. One hundred eighty-one events in total are studied to demonstrate the statistical nature of the time evolution of magnetic wave power during the $30 min surrounding auroral activations. We find that the magnetic wave power is approximately constant before an auroral activation, starts to grow up to 90 s prior to the optical onset time, maximizes a few minutes after the auroral activation, then decays slightly to a new, and higher, constant level. Importantly, magnetic ULF wave power always remains elevated after an auroral activation, whether it is a substorm or a pseudo-breakup. We subsequently divide the auroral activation list into events that formed part of ongoing auroral activity and events that had little preceding geomagnetic activity. We find that the evolution of wave power in the $10?200 s period band essentially behaves in the same manner through auroral onset, regardless of event type. The absolute power across ULF wave bands, however, displays a power law-like dependency throughout a 30 min period centered on auroral onset time. We also find evidence of a secondary maximum in wave power at high latitudes $10 min following isolated substorm activations. Most significantly, we demonstrate that magnetic wave power levels persist after auroral activations for $10 min, which is consistent with recent findings of wave-driven auroral precipitation during substorms. This suggests that magnetic wave power and auroral particle precipitation are intimately linked and key components of the substorm onset process.