Current Projects

The Waitakere Ranges Protection Society Heritage Area Coordinator

In 2007 the Society created a new role The Heritage Area Coordinator.

This part-time role involves advocating the Society’s position regarding the requirements of the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act (WRHA). It involves consulting Auckland Council staff and/or councillors to clarify issues relating to the implementation of the WRHA, as well as monitoring implications that broader policies may potentially have on the Ranges landscape and ecology The aim is to measure and evaluate the success of the WRHA against its goals.

The role requires drafting written submissions on the District Plan and Auckland Council’s management plans and on resource consent applications.


Katherine Russell – Heritage Area Coordinator

Katherine Russell has joined the WRPS as the new Heritage Area Coordinator. Katherine and her husband were drawn to the Waitakeres a few years ago as the location to buy their first home because of the unique environmental and cultural history, along with the wonderful community feeling in Swanson. Katherine is excited to help protect and enrich the ranges to ensure that they are protected for many generations to come.

Originally from rural North Canterbury, Katherine studied at the University of Canterbury and has a Masters of Science with First Class honours in Geography. Her focus was on urban geography, particularly the rural-urban fringe, planning and resource management, and transport. Since moving to Auckland in 2010, Katherine has worked as a policy adviser at the Ministry of Transport, including a secondment to the OECD in Paris, France. She has also recently obtained a postgraduate diploma in International Development, with a focus on poverty alleviation, from Massey University.

Living in the Waitakere foothills, Katherine assists her husband with his ecology research including restoring and protecting their own 2 acres, spends time on crafts and music, and hopes to make an ongoing contribution to the local community.

The Waitakere Ranges Protection Society Oral History Project

The Waitakere Ranges Protection Society Oral History Project was initiated in 2004.

The aim of the project is to create a primary research source that will be available to both the local community and to national research projects. This is being achieved by recording interviews with key figures and founding members of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society. These topic-based interviews focus on the issues that led to the formation of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society in 1973, the history of the Society, its successes and its failures. 

These interviews are a precious record of the early days of the Society, how it developed, the issues and the story of the early campaigns. It is considered these interviews may provide information to other environmental groups which may lend insight into the nature and history of an effective environmental protection group.

Many of the key figures within the organisation are now recognised both nationally and internationally as leaders in their field. They include scientists, artists and politicians. Others are respected elders within the local community, some of whom have family histories in the Waitakere district going back for generations. The level of general interest in these well-known people makes them particularly worth interviewing.

The people being interviewed have a strong personal affiliation to the Waitakere Ranges, having spent much of their lives in this environment. It is this length of time which provides an invaluable perspective on the area’s history and the changes that have occurred over the last 30 years.

Much of the work they have undertaken and their trained observations of changes to the environment will be of interest similar groups working in other areas of New Zealand, eg conservation projects. This data also forms a valuable resource for national studies into the New Zealand environment.

Deposit and Repository

The original recordings, with abstracts and relevant documentation have been deposited in the West Auckland Research Center at the Auckland Library and at the Alexander Turnbull Library. Oral History Center along with relevant documentation.

Project History and Funding

Robyn Mason undertook the first interview in 2004. In 2007 and for the following two years Carole Shone took over the oral history project interviewing ten founding members. Since 2011 Anna Fomison has been managing the project.

This project is made possible by the generous funding of the Waitakere City Council (now Auckland Council), the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board and the Waitakere Ranges Local Board.

The interviews are recorded on a Fostex FR2LE Recorder and AJK clip on microphones


Interviewer: Robyn Mason
Interviewees: Dick Bellamy

Don BinneyDon Binney at Bethells

Interviewer: Carole Shone

Interviewees: Colleen Pilcher, Don Binney, Juliet Batten, Jessica Beever, Gary Taylor, Jeff Scholes, Mary Woodward, John Lewis, Dave McKay, Tony Randerson.


Interviewer: Anna Fomison

Interviewees: Dave and Barbara Harre, John Staniland, Geoff Davidson, Bob Ussher, Jack Colmar, Lynne Pillay, Dennis C Hamblin, Arnold Turner, Stanley Palmer, Bruce Hayward, Paul Walbran, Dorothy Wilson, Peter Maddison, Don Edmunds, Ewen Cameron, Warwick Brown.

  Colleen PilcherInterviewee Colleen Pilcher

For more information about the Oral History project contact Anna Fomison