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Waitakere ... naturally the West !

Framed by the bush-clad Waitakere Ranges and bordered by the wild Tasman Sea, Waitakere City in West Auckland has a character quite distinct from any other part of Auckland. Here the concept of an eco-city, linking both business and environmental excellence has produced a city that is productive as well as clean and green.

The suburbs reach up into the Waitakeres, where the houses cling tenaciously to the hillsides surrounded by gardens of native bush, their high perch giving them widespread views out over Auckland Central and the North Shore.

Centennial Memorial Park is the jewel in Waitakere's crown. Covering an area of over 10,000 hectares, it includes a sizeable chunk of the Waitakere Ranges, plus some of the West Coast beaches. Within the park are 200km of walking and hiking tracks, suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Beautiful native bush, cascading waterfalls and pretty bush streams are among the attractions of the Park.

Many Aucklanders head to Waitakere City for their weekend recreation - to enjoy bush walking, picnicking, scenic driving, fishing and boating. Surfers come from all around the Auckland region to ride the waves, fishermen perch atop rocky outcrops to cast a line into the sea.

Other visitors can hit the Waitakere wine trail. West Auckland wines are consistent award winners, which testifies to the excellent growing conditions and viticultural methods of this area. Boutique wineries and major producers are both in existence with many in picturesque countryside settings. Visitors are welcome at the vineyards where tasting of the wine is always enjoyable as are the vineyard prices.

Waitakere City has a rich Maori heritage. The coastal belt to the west of the Waitakere Ranges was favoured by the Maori of the Kawerau iwi (tribe) and about 50 pa were built here to protect the coastal zone. Signs of early Maori habitation are still evident in Centennial Memorial Park, especially on islands and headlands which formed natural defence areas. The Kawerau were force to retreat from Muriwai into the Waitakere Ranges following the invasion by the Ngati Whatua. Today Maori make up about 11% of Waitakere City's population, and Maori language and culture are undergoing a rennaissance. Many of the City's Maori preschoolers being educated in Maori at kohunga reo (language nests) and the Hoani Waititi Marae is a national centre for Maori culture, education and the performing arts.

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