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Clark: The Waitakere Ranges

5 June, 2008 - 16:01
The Waitakere Ranges

Speech notes for address to Waitakere City Council. Waitakere City Council chambers, Henderson, Auckland

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Thank you for the invitation to help celebrate the passage of legislation to protect the Waitakere Ranges for your city, for residents across the Greater Auckland region and for all New Zealanders.

The idea of special protection for the Ranges as an iconic part of New Zealand’s landscape began some time ago. Today’s celebration is the culmination of years of hard work and effort from many people.

First let me acknowledge the work of the Waitakere City Council, led by Mayor Bob Harvey, Waitakere City Councillors, and Council staff.

Promoting the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Bill has been an important undertaking for the Waitakere City Council, and their determination to see it through has been critical to gaining a Parliamentary majority.

Our thanks must also go to Auckland Regional Council and Rodney District Council for their support.

Then there are the many community organisations which have supported the legislation all the way – including :

* the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society
* the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society
* the Henderson Valley Ratepayers Association
* the Titirangi Ratepayers and
* the Laingholm District Citizens Association.

There were also :

* the founding members of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society
* Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt
* Justice Randerson
* Gary Taylor and
* John Edgar

Let us also recognise the Kaitiaki of the Ranges - Te Kawerau a Mahi and Ngati Whatua, whose support for this legislation has been vital to its passage.

Within our Labour Government, Lynne Pillay, MP for Waitakere, became the sponsor of the Bill, supported by West Auckland colleagues Chris Carter, David Cunliffe and Darien Fenton.

What is now protected by the Waitakere Ranges legislation is an important natural area which includes nationally significant landforms, landscapes, and biodiversity.

The ranges cover 27,720 hectares of public and private land in close proximity to urban Auckland.

The area is a vital asset for Auckland citizens, both in term of infrastructure and recreation.

Watercare Services leases 6,600 hectares of land to serve as the catchment for a lot of our drinking water. And an estimated 2.5 million people visit the magnificent parkland and beaches of the area every year for recreational purposes. They come to walk in ancient forests, experience new birdlife, learn about our early history, or escape to the Wild West coast beaches.

The heart of the heritage area is the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. These hills were gifted to the people of Auckland as a regional park to commemorate the first century of development of our metropolis.

All here are familiar with the communities which are adjacent to the Ranges from Oratia, to the wild west coast beaches of Piha, Karekare and Bethells, the Manukau Harbour heads area of Whatipu, the bush areas of Titirangi and Waiatarua and the urban villages of Waitakere and Swanson.

The people who live here have a connection to the land – from tangata whenua, to descendents of the early orchardists, winemakers, and gum-diggers, to the strong arts and craft communities.

As Lynne Pillay said when she introduced the Bill to Parliament, "the needs and interests of the social and economic wellbeing of the local communities have been woven together with the wider national significance of the area, and the need for protection."

And Mayor Bob Harvey once remarked that "the Waitakere Ranges are an indelible, blue image on the western horizon – a glorious backdrop to New Zealand’s most populated, thriving metropolis."

With this legislation in place I am sure that this glorious backdrop will remain for generations to come.

Congratulations to all who have worked so hard for this legislation to protect the ranges. Our government is proud to have helped you realise your vision for the ranges, which we share.


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