About the Ranges

“In the Waitakere Ranges we have a rare second chance to watch a forest regenerate before our eyes.”
John Edgar 2006

Te Wao Nui a Tiriwa The Great Forest of Tiriwa He mihi

A greeting and acknowledgement

Ko Hikurangi te maunga.
Ko Te Wao Nui a Tiriwa te ngahere.
Ko Nga Tai Whakatu a Kupe te moana.
Ko Te Au o Te Whenua te tangata.
Ko Te Kawerau a Maki te Iwi.
Tihe mauri ora!
Nga tini mate kua huri atu ki tua o te arai, ka mihia.
Ka nui te aroha ki a koutou kua wehe atu nei i a matou.
No reira e nga mate, haere, haere, haere atu ra.

Apiti hono, tatai hono,
Te hunga wairua ki te hunga wairua,
Apiti hono, tatai hono,
Tatou te hunga ora ki a tatou.
Ka huri atu ki a koutou, nga uri o Tawhiakiterangi,
ara ko Te Kawerau a Maki.
He wahi mihi tenei ki a koutou e nga rangatira,
Me mihi hoki ki te whenua nei, i a Hikurangi,
Me nga tohu maha mai i Te Korekore, tae noa ki Te Ka a Maki.

Ahakoa he torutoru oku nei kupu,
Ka nui nga mihi,
Ka nui hoki te hari o te ngakau ki a koutou
Ka huri nga whakaaro ki nga korero o nga tupuna.
‘He kura kainga e hokia,
He kura tangata e kore e hokia.’
No reira tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

Pai Marire

Hikurangi is the mountain, Te Wao Nui a Tiriwa is the forest, Nga Tai Whakatu a Kupe is the sea, Te Au o Te Whenua is the ancestor, Te Kawerau a Maki are the people. Tihe mauri ora (an introductory call — literally I breathe and I am alive, referring to the first breath of life taken by a newborn baby). The many dead who have passed beyond the vale are remembered and greeted. Great is our love for you who have been separated from us.


Therefore I bid farewell to the dead. Join together the realms of humanity. Those of the spirit world be with themselves, may us the living be with the living.

I turn and acknowledge you the descendants of Tawhiakiterangi, also known as Te Kawerau a Maki. This is my brief greeting to you chiefly ones.

I also honour this land which is known as Hikurangi and the many landmarks extending from Te Korekore Pa, Muriwai to Te Ka a Maki (a hill at Huia).

Although these words are few, my greetings are profuse. My heart is full of joy and love towards you. My thoughts turn to the words of the ancestors — ‘The treasures of the land will persist, while human possessions will not persist.’ Therefore greetings to you all.

Place Names-Map Courtesy of Kate Murdoch. Note Hikurangi is the original name for the area today called the Waitakere Ranges


The traditional Maori name for the Waitakere Ranges is Te Wao Nui a Tiriwa — the great forest of Tiriwa. This evocative name once applied to a much larger area than what is now referred to as the ‘Waitakere Ranges’. Te Wao Nui a Tiriwa was a vast forested tract that equated approximately to the ancestral domain of the Te Kawerau a Maki people. It once extended from Paratutai at the northern Manukau Harbour entrance, to Waimanu (the Muriwai stream) in the west, and from Rangitopuni (Riverhead) to Te Whau (Blockhouse Bay) in the east.

Waitakere Ranges Coastline-Whatipu from Te Ahuahu

The Waitakere Ranges and their parklands of forest create a unique area adjacent to a major urban community. The Auckland region has two interesting and beautiful harbours, an unusual volcanic topography, and a huge gulf area to the east with many islands, including Rangitoto and the large island of Great Barrier, protecting the gulf sailing area. Within the urban area are many small volcanic cones between 10,000 and 40,000 years old, and on the western fringe of the urban area is the older volcanic remnant of the Waitakere Ranges, clothed in lush subtropical forest, leading to the dramatic black sand ocean beaches of the west coast.

Waitakere the wave-swept rock at Te Henga from which the Waitakere Ranges take their name-Image courtesy of Kate Murdoch


This western area from the foothills of the Ranges to the coastal settlements is the focus of the Society. Sixty percent of the Ranges are contained in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The forest suffered greatly in the 19th century, but is now regenerating with a new vigour, rich and beautiful with trees in vast numbers thrusting towards the sky. The area surrounding the park is in private ownership and is becoming semi-urban, but there too the forest is reasserting its dominance, where housing can be kept at bay. The Regional Park includes water catchment areas, surrounded by an area of wilderness forest and streams, criss-crossed by walking tracks which are the delight of tramping and hiking groups, naturalists, and lovers of nature. Following the cessation of volcanic activity about 15 million years ago, there were further earth movements with parts of the volcano being pushed higher and other parts subsiding.

“Waitakere Ranges -Paratahi Surf”

The ranges are characterised by

• exceptional landscape and beauty
• unique native forests, wetland, streams, lakes and dunes
• ecological diversity and wildlife
• inspirational, artistic and spiritual values
• associations and sites of significance to tangata whenua
• European heritage sites
• excellent recreational opportunities
• clean water and significance as a source of public water supply
• importance to the tourism and recreation industries and a regular film location
• attractive living environment.