Night photo, shot minutes after sunset.
“Māori used the hills and forests of the Hūnua Ranges primarily as a source of food and timber, and as a refuge rather than for permanent residence.
Rugged terrain, poor soils and difficult access meant this land was the last in the Auckland region to be settled by Europeans. From around 1870 parts of the forest were cleared for farming and for timber, but farming was always a marginal activity here.
However, the Hu-nua Falls have been a popular attraction for Aucklanders since Victorian times, when they were known as the “Wairoa Falls” and visitors travelled by steamer to Clevedon and took day trips to the falls.
Two manganese mines have operated in the Hünua Ranges. During World War II, ore from a mine in the Moumoukai Valley was transported from the hilltop via a flying fox to a railway on the valley floor.
But water was to be the main resource taken from the Hūnua Ranges. The four water supply dams there include the Mangatangi Reservoir, which is New Zealand’s largest water supply dam and second largest earth dam. The extensive 169-hectare lake holds 37 million cubic metres of water and has an average daily yield of 101,100 cubic metres.
The Auckland City Council had begun purchasing land in the Hünua Ranges for water supply purposes in the 1940s, acquiring almost all of the ranges by 1960. In 1965 the agency that was to become the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) took over metropolitan water supply and management of the water catchment areas. The land was transferred to the restructured and renamed ARC for park purposes in 1992. About a third of the land is planted in pine trees. A commercial forestry company leases this area from the Council and access is restricted for safety reasons.”