Wai Whauwhaupaku is located towards the end of Tram Valley Road. It has long been known locally as the Swanson Conservation Area and is located at the head of the Swanson stream, however the traditional Te Kawerau name is Wai Whauwhaupaku. This land was part of Te Kawerau ā Maki’s 2014 Treaty Settlement.
The area takes its name from the Whauwhaupaku, or the five-finger shrub which once grew in profusion in the area. The stream and its margins provided a wide range of food resources, tuna (eels), and harakeke (flax) used for weaving and the production of cordage. In drier weather, the valley was an important walking route between the tidal head of Wai Huruhuru Manawa (known locally as Huruhuru Creek), the inland pathways leading west to the Waitakere Valley, and east along the Pukewhakataratara ridge to the many settlements beside the upper Waitemata Habour.
Wai Whauwhaupaku is also the name of the stream which is of considerable significance to Te Kawerau ā Maki. It and its tributary stream, Waimoko, flow from the eastern slopes of the sacred hill and tribal identifier Pukematekeo. In pre-European times, the whole sub-catchment was clothed in dense native forest and was reknowned for its natural resources. The Waimoko tributary was named after the numerous native geckoes found in the area, and Paremuka tributary was named after the fine quality muka, or weaving variety of flax, that grew in that stream valley.
Over many generations the Wai Whauwhaupaku stream valley was used as an inland walkway. Canoes would be left at the head of the Wai Huruhuru Manawa (Huruhuru Creek) tidal inlet and travellers would then walk inland to the pa above Swanson known as Pukearuhe, or further on via the northern Pukewhakataratara ridge to the Waitakere River Valley and Te Henga.
The reserve is also valued by Te Kawerau ā Maki for its remnant biodiversity and as an area of open space in an area that is coming under increasing urban pressure.
Swanson Heritage Survey – Cultural Values Assessment 2016, Te Kawerau Iwi Tribunal Authority for Auckland Council
Te Kawerau ā Maki deed of settlement summary 22-feb-2014
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