History 2017-05-19T00:12:14+00:00

The Hillary Trail – Taken from the original Hillary Trail brochure (Auckland Council)


Waitakere Ranges History

Local iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki’s ancestral association with this area goes back 700 – 800 years. They lived on land between the Manukau Harbour in the south and Muriwai in the north.  The sea supplied fish and shellfish while the forest provided birds, succulent berries and other delicacies.

Te Kawerau ā Maki still holds strong spiritual ties to the land and has inherited the role of kaitiaki (‘guardians’) from their tüpuna (‘ancestors’).  Their history and present day relationships are represented through carved pou  henua around the park. Look out for these at the Arataki Visitor Centre, Cornwallis, Whatipü, Karekare, Piha and Cascade Kauri.  For more information on the history of Te Kawerau ā Maki refer to a history page on their wesbite.

The arrival of the Europeans in the 1830s led to the most visible change in the area. The logging industry, and later farm clearance, saw native trees (including most accessible kauri) felled and thousands of hectares of forest destroyed. Bushmen dammed streams to float logs to the coast. They built several tramlines, including a 14km tramline down the coast from Anawhata to Whatipü, which was used to transport kauri logs to a wharf at Paratütai Island. Remains of the tramline can be seen on the coast between Karekare and Whatipü.

The park is home to numerous historic sites from Ma – ori pa – sites to remnants of the logging industry. Historic buildings in the park include Whatipü Lodge, Huia Lodge (formerly Huia School), Hinge House (a former mill manager’s house), Rose Hellaby House (Scenic Drive) and Keddle House (Anawhata).

Water was, and still is, a valuable resource in the area. Five major reservoirs were built between 1910 and 1970 and these continue to supply metropolitan Auckland with water today.

Waitakere Ranges Regional Park was formed over many years dating from 1900, when Auckland City Council began purchasing land for water supply and because of its scenic qualities. Originally named Auckland Centennial  Memorial Park, it was established in 1940 to mark 100 years since the city’s founding. This was enlarged through gifts of land by many generous donors, including Earle Vaile, the McLauchlin family, Spragg family, Sir William Goodfellow, Sir Algenon Thomas and Lady Rose Hellaby. The Auckland Regional Authority (later called the ARC) took over parkland management in 1964, and then the water catchment land in 1990.

Source: Auckland Council Website