Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area

Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area

The Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area spans across 27,700ha of public and private land located between metropolitan Auckland and the coast of the Tasman Sea to the west, between the Manukau Harbour coastline to the south and the Waitakere Valley to the north.

The area is characterised by its:

  • 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.

Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area (PDF 594KB)

The exact location of the heritage area boundary is shown on the Auckland Council District Plan (Waitakere Section) Human Environment Maps D0, D2, D4, E6, E7, F7, F8, G8, G9, G10, and G11.

An act to protect and enhance the Waitakere Ranges heritage features

The Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act 2008 aims to preserve the unique natural character and cultural heritage of the Waitakere Ranges.

The act responds to concerns about the effects that development is having, or could have, on the landscapes and heritage of the Waitakere Ranges. It recognises the national, regional and local significance of the Waitakere Ranges and promotes its long-term protection and enhancement for present and future generations.

The act also recognises that people live and work within this area and that many have contributed to shaping the landscapes that we see today and have helped protect its natural environment and human heritage. It seeks to set a benchmark for Waitakere Ranges’ residents goals for their communities and environment in 10, 50 and 100 years time.

It aims to protect and enhance the significant heritage features and character of each community in the ranges and to provide a rural transition from urban suburbs to bush and coastal areas.

Waitākere Ranges Strategic Weed Management Plan

The Waitākere Ranges Local Board has adopted the Waitākere Ranges Strategic Weed Management Plan to help protect the ranges from invasive weeds in a systematic, coordinated way.

Weeds present a huge and growing threat to the ecology of the Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area.

Find out more and read the Waitakere Ranges Local Board’s plans agreements, and reports.

Waitākere Ranges Strategic Weed Management Plan (PDF 8.7MB) 

Preparation of resource consent applications and pre-application meetings

The act does not in itself generate any requirements for resource consent but relies on the Auckland Council District Plan (Waitakere Section) to determine whether consent is required or not and where consent is required, its activity status.

For activities that require resource consent, and pursuant to section 13 of the act, the council must have particular regard to the purpose and relevant objectives of the act when making a decision on the resource consent application.

Therefore, the preparation of resource consent applications within or adjoining the heritage area should include an assessment of environmental effects which:

  • identifies the relevant heritage features within or adjoining the subject site (refer Section 7 of the act for a list of heritage features)
  • identifies the relevant objectives from Section 8 of the act, noting that Objectives 8a, 8b, 8c and 8d will always be relevant and the consideration of other objectives will depend on the location and type of activity; and
  • provide an assessment of the proposal and its effects against the relevant objectives to evaluate how these are achieved.

We have produced a guide to assist resource consent applications with this process:

Heritage features guide (PDF 59KB) 

In addition to making relevant guidance documents publicly available to assist with resource consent applications, we also offer prospective applicants the opportunity to undertake a pre-application meeting.
At a pre-application meeting, we can provide prospective applicants with feedback on possible design options submitted for consideration and any supporting assessment detailing the proposal’s effects on the heritage area.

Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

The act recognises the importance of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, which covers some 17,000ha, or around 60 per cent of the heritage area, as an accessible public place with significant natural, historical, cultural and recreational resources.

Section 19 of the act also requires the adoption of a management plan and the Regional Parks Management Plan 2010 fulfils this requirement.

Local area plans

A Local Area Plan (LAP) is a planning mechanism provided for under section 25 of the act and must be developed together with local communities.

The act acknowledges that within the ranges and foothills there are diverse places and communities, each with a distinctive character and future. LAPs must identify the boundary of the local area and set goals for retaining and enhancing the area's heritage features and character, while also providing for the community's wellbeing.

LAPs have been completed for:

Another is currently being prepared for Te Henga (Bethells Beach)/Waitakere River Valley.

A LAP is developed with co-operation between the council and local communities to draft policies and undertake supporting actions to implement the long-term vision for their area. For example, the protection of ecosystems (a heritage feature) might be achieved through a combination of council/community restoration projects, conservation covenants and monitoring. 

Section 27 of the act confirms that the council or any landowner is not obliged to implement the provisions of a LAP. However, we must still justify any decision which may have consequences significantly inconsistent with a LAP by explaining the inconsistency, the reasons for it and any intention to amend the LAP to accommodate the decision.

Section 28 of the act also allows us to include any part of a LAP that relates to the use, development or protection of natural resources in the Auckland Council District Plan (Waitakere Section) or Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan once made operative. 

Distrcit plan change 35 resulted in elements of the Oratia and Waiatarua Local Area Plans being included within section 5B of the District Plan’s policy section, titled ‘The Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area’.

Other mechanisms to implement a LAP may include support for the initiatives of local community groups or the inclusion of new works or projects in our Long-term Plan.

Monitoring reports

The monitoring report on the state of the heritage area’s environment and progress towards achieving the objectives of the act must be prepared at least every five years. This is a statutory requirement under section 34 of the act.

The report must also provide information on the funding implications of activities carried out.

The Waitakere Ranges Local Board commissioned the first monitoring report which has been adopted by the council and covers the period from April 2008 to March 2012 (the next monitoring report will cover the period from April 2012 to March 2017).

Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Monitoring Report, Volume 1: Summary of findings - June 2013 (PDF 1.4MB)

Waitakre Ranges Heritage Area Monitoring Report, Volume 2: Detailed results - June 2013 (PDF 5.8MB)

Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Programme

In March 2012, we endorsed the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Programme which comprises all council-wide activities to implement the act’s objectives.

The programme also includes projects specifically established under the act and identified during preparation of the first monitoring report.

Waitakere Ranges Local Board funds the delivery of the programme.

You can find further information about the implementation of the programme on the Waitakere Ranges Local Board’s plans agreements, and reports page.

Thrive sustainable business newsletter

Thrive is a newsletter produced by the Waitakere Ranges Local Board for small businesses operating in the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area.

The newsletter reflects the board's commitment to small scale business in the heritage area by providing local business news, information on accessing local and regional resources, profiles of sustainable practice, and a calendar of upcoming events and learning opportunities.

Download previous issues below:

Thrive Sustainable Business Newsletter - November 2014 (PDF 1.69MB)
Thrive Sustainable Business Newsletter - June 2015 (PDF 2.78MB)
Thrive Sustainable Business Newsletter - October 2015 (PDF 0.99MB)
Thrive Sustainable Business Newsletter - June 2016 (PDF 3.23MB)
Thrive Sustainable Business Newsletter - November 2016 (PDF 1.91MB)
Thrive Sustainable Business Newsletter - June 2017 (PDF 1.55MB)

Or if you would like to receive future editions by email or hardcopy please email:

or call 09 09 813 9150.

Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area design guides

These guides have been created for landowners, council decision makers, and design professionals.

They are intended to assist in making good choices on design and layout for building projects in the Waitākere Ranges.

  • Illustrating the importance of good siting and sensitive design to help create win-win outcomes for the landowner, community and the environment. 
  • Promoting sustainable living in the Waitākere Ranges.

Building Design Guidance for building in the bush in the Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area (PDF 5.76MB)

This design guidance for building or redeveloping in the bush of the Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area has been extracted from the forthcoming Building in the Bush Design Guide, which will be finalised after the Auckland Unitary Plan appeals to allow for the inclusion of current and relevant planning information.

Waitakere Ranges Foothills Design Guide (PDF 3.26MB)

This guide focuses on designing and building in the Waitākere Ranges foothills.

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