In 2008, the Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area Act was passed to provide the area with an extra layer of statutory protection. The legislation established the Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area which spans around 27,700ha of both public and privately-owned land. The approach taken was at the time, and still is, novel in the New Zealand context. This case study explores the effectiveness of the legislation in protecting the high landscape values of the area. It also provides a set of recommendations on how the current management regime can be further strengthened to ensure that the Waitākere Ranges are protected and restored for the benefit of future generations.
- The focus of the Heritage Act needs to shift to enhancing and restoring the ecological health of the Heritage Area. Local area plans could be repurposed to this end and harness community efforts towards it.
- Dedicated funding should be provided by Auckland Council to support restoration efforts.
- An independent oversight and implementation entity is needed – whether as a separate body or a specific function the Local Board is tasked with. This body would be responsible for overseeing the implementation of local area plans and Heritage Area monitoring, and would champion the area and lead restoration on behalf of the public.
- Continued advocacy is required. The Waitākere Ranges Protection Society has been invaluable in undertaking this role, and we encourage it to continue to protect the Heritage Area as well as foster a new push to prioritise restoration.
- The pending reform of the resource management system poses a challenge to the connection between the Heritage Act and the expected new legislation. This is an issue EDS could usefully assist the Waitākere Ranges Protection Society with.
- Given the ecological values of the Heritage Area, we consider there is a role for DOC to play in advocating for the recognition and protection of the area and providing technical assistance for those undertaking conservation work within it.