Committee Members

President

Anna Maria Fomison

Anna Maria Fomison

Anna was born in Otautahi (Christchurch) and moved north to Auckland in the 1980s with her young family.  After living for some years in Titirangi and Henderson Valley, she now lives in urban West Auckland, on the sunny side of the Waikumete Hill.

Anna is passionate about the environment and especially the Waitakere Ranges, the West Coast, the Manukau harbour, urban trees, restoration and conservation. Used to the flat, open spaces of Canterbury, the landscape and bush of the North Island, particularly the Waitakere Ranges made a huge impact on her.

“When I last flew back into Auckland and the aeroplane did the big sweep over the Waitakere Ranges and I saw them from that bird’s eye perspective, I was once again impressed with what a treasure they are but how vulnerable! Itis our responsibility to future generations to do whatever we can to protect this wonderful and regenerating remnant of the great forests. It’s an honour and a privilege to be able to contribute to helping protect such a precious landscape.”

The first environmental campaign Anna was involved with, at the beginning of the 70s, was the Save Manapouri Campaign which involved a staggering 10% of the population and was the first time she witnessed the importance and the power of lobbying to protect a precious landscape.

Anna has an MA (Hons) in English from the University of Canterbury and trained as a secondary school teacher in Christchurch.  Her background is in arts, literature, culture and heritage. She is currently freelancing as an oral historian, something she segwayed into after taking up the role of Oral Historian work for the Society. Anna joined the Executive Committee in 2003 and became Deputy President in 2005 and over the past 18 years has organised public relations events and displays,  worked as newsletter editor, website editor, oral historian and worked on the e-book “Making a Stand”.

During those years not only did she work alongside previous President John Edgar but she acknowledges she was fortunate to gain an in-depth understanding of what the Society is about and how it works. Her commitment is to work cooperatively with the Deputy President Sandra and the Committee to create a sustainable Society and to carry on the Society’s work to the high standard that John always achieved.

As our previous President John Edgar said

The Ranges are certainly better protected now than they were, and while some of the scars of “the thousand cuts” are slowly repairing, there will always be more work to do to ensure that this 30,000 hectare west coast forest that was devastated by logging 100 years ago, will in time recover its former wonder and beauty.

It will continue to be a wild and natural area where people live and recreate, but only, in the words of Professor E. M. Blaiklock, “if so we guard its grandeur”.

 

 

Committee Member

Mike Sweeny

Mike Sweeney

Mike Sweeney

Mike is of Scottish descent and has been a Kiwi since 1965.

Trained as an engineer Mike worked in industry in Auckland until the early 1970s.

Mike’s passion for health and safety in the workplace, workers rights and social justice lead to him taking up an organisers position with the Engineers Union.

Mike worked in various roles in the union for over 35 years including as the Auckland District Secretary for a number of years.

The union movement undertook much change during that period and Mike was at the forefront of making things happen,  within the Engineers Union and the greater union movement.

 Mike was a staunch advocate for workers playing a key role in industry in areas such as workplace safety and productivity along with advancing wages and conditions.

Mike was also renowned for his strong support for the advancement of women within the workplace, the union movement and in every aspect of society.

Mike moved to Titirangi in Waitakere with his partner in 2002. He says that move was the best he has made in his lifetime.

Moving from an urban environment to a bush clad property in Titirangi with the glorious Waitakere Ranges on the doorstep was life changing.

He was a staunch  advocate for long term protection for the Ranges. He had seen the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society in action and greatly admired the society’s achievements.

Mike strongly believes that the lessons that he learnt from the union movement around workers rights and social justice apply as much  within environmental protection. It’s about persistence, collective action and constant vigilance.

Treasurer/Deputy President

Sandra Jones

Sandra Jones

Sandra and her husband Bryn arrived in New Zealand from Melbourne in 1973.  Sandra had previously had no particular interest in natural history, but after setting up home in Titirangi, she developed a passionate interest in the surrounding bush and started learning about native plants.

Over the years she has served on the committee of West Auckland Forest and Bird, was long-term Secretary & Vice-President of the Auckland Botanical Society, Trustee for a time on the NZ Native Forest Restoration Trust, Treasurer of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society since 2002, and since her retirement, Secretary of the Little Barrier Island (Hauturu) Supporters Trust.

Sandra and her husband bought a Titirangi bach that was surrounded by 0.2 ha of native bush. A very real fear of the busy bulldozers in the area at the time spurred them into purchasing a 0.4 ha block next door and an optimistic view of the future (pre climate change worries) encouraged them to place a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant on the bush to save it in perpetuity.

Over the years, Sandra has botanised most of the tracks in the Waitakere Ranges, many of them numerous times (pre kauri die-back). A list-maker by nature, she has kept detailed botanical records of the Waitakeres’ plants for thirty-five years. A few years ago, Sandra and two botanical friends, Waitakere residents Anne Grace and Harry Beacham, began the task of recording (using a hand-held GPS) the location of rare plants in the Waitakeres, particularly those in vulnerable positions on track-sides, for the Auckland Regional Council Parks Service and Department of Conservation records.

Sandra’s dream is that one day Bill Gates will toss her a coin (a $US2b one would be nice to be getting on with). It might not save the world or even solve Auckland’s transport problems, but think what it could do for the Waitakeres! In the meantime, and in the real world, she does what she can.

Committee Member

Susanne (Susie) Vincent

Suzie Vincent

Suzie Vincent

Susie has lived in the Waitakere Ranges for about 30 years, first in Titirangi and for the past 20 years, in Laingholm.

Born in England, her first career was in social work in the inner city, followed by a period in university research. She moved to New Zealand in 1981 and soon after, landed in the ‘people’ end of organisational consulting, working mostly in strategic change, leadership development, and culture change, including 14 years for PriceWaterhouse-Coopers, and working from her own company.

She has worked for civil society organisations as a non-stop volunteer since 1999. First, she chaired the governance team of Amnesty International NZ for about seven years, learning a lot about advocacy and New Zealand’s commitment to the values framed in international law, as well as the art of campaigning, and how to build a movement of volunteers. Alongside the Executive Director, she helped refocus the organisation and double the membership, as well as helping teach local leaders worldwide about governance. She has also consulted quite widely to the NZ voluntary sector, helping leaders and boards with strategic and leadership development, governance and how to focus to achieve a mission.

From around 2010, her passion has been on environmental and societal wellbeing, campaigning on national and local issues with a number of groups and particularly in the Ranges. She has been active on the Titirangi Residents and Ratepayers group for about ten years and is Chair of Laingholm and District Citizens Association, continually opposing bids by local or national government bodies to dilute environmental protections and supporting all initiatives for restoration and protection.  She joined the WRPS committee in May, 2021.

 

 

Heritage Area Coordinator

Eva Wrassky-Bulmer

Eva Wrassky-Bulmer

Eva lives in Oratia and has always been in love with the West Auckland coast and bush.

She has always been passionate about the environment and has had a variety of roles working with other environmental organisations. She is really excited to be supporting the work of the WRPS and loving the HAC role so far. Eva is currently in her final clinical year completing a Bachelor of Natural Medicine, previously has also studied permaculture and holds a degree in Political Science and International Relations. She is a passionate gardener so can usually be found there, if not out walking with her partner and son at a West Coast beach.

Committee Member

Heather Tanguay

 Heather Tanguay

Heather Tanguay

Heather has a lifelong interest in the preservation of the environment and was a member of Palmerston North City Council for 9 years and member of the Planning and Environment and Hearings Committees.

She was Mayor of Palmerston North City for 3 years whose principals to Local Government have been that the four wellbeings of Environmental, Community, Economic and Cultural must be given equal status in decision making.

In 2018 Heather and husband Jerry were finalists in the Mayoral Conservation Awards for their work in restoring the Milan Reserve.

Heather and Jerry were awarded the Rata Award for the Love Your Place 2020 Awards for their work in facilitating the restoration of the Milan Reserve, empowering locals to take back the reserve and plant hundreds of trees.  The Milan Reserve has been enhanced, with a named Nature Walk to show the diverse community of native species living in the area.

Heather was instrumental in starting the Glen Eden Residents’ Association and served on the Combined Residents’ Committee and awarded the QSO for Services to the Community in 2021.

 

Committee Member

Tim O’Shea

Tim O'Shea

Tim O’Shea

New (returning) Committee Member Tim O’Shea has returned to the WRPS committee. Tim, his wife Vicki and their three daughters lived in Henderson Valley for 16 years, in the foothills of the Ranges, in a home that was set in a beautiful, peaceful, natural bush environment. They now live in Te Atatu Peninsula.

It was his love of the Ranges and Foothills, and appreciation of its unique and precious environment that got Tim involved with the Henderson Valley Residents Association (HVRA) from its inception in 2001. As Chair of the HVRA, Tim took a very active role in the “Ranges Coalition”, a working party which came together to bolster support for the Heritage Area Bill, counter the SPAN group’s vociferous and self-interested attempts to railroad the legislation, lobby Waitākere City Councillors to include the Foothills in the boundaries of the proposed Heritage Area, and ensure its onward passage to Parliament.

On the 20th April 2005 Tim chaired the public meeting at Henderson High School which was hosted by local community groups including WRPS to rally support for the Bill. Up to 800 people attended this enormously successful meeting, which many saw as the turning point in the Heritage Area campaign.

As Chair of the HVRA, Tim worked closely again with WRPS to bring together local resident groups to successfully fight the abolition of the Waitākere Ward under the Local Government Ward Review.

Tim was also one of the organisers for the anti TPPA protests in Auckland which drew in tens of thousands of protesters. He is proud of the fact that during all those peaceful protests, not a single person was arrested.

Tim has always been a passionate anti-racism stalwart. After the events of 15th March in Christchurch, Tim took an even more active role in identifying far right extremists in New Zealand.

After many years of fighting for worthy causes, Tim took the opportunity to have a break from “community activism and volunteering” to get settled into his new role in real estate sales, but recently Tim decided that it was “time to re-join his friends at WRPS and help them carry on their great work”.

 

Dr Trixie Harvey

Dr Trixie Harvey

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the death of our dear friend Trixie Harvey, who passed away yesterday surrounded by her family.

Trixie was on The Waitakere Ranges Protection Society committee from 2002 to 2015. Together with husband Bruce she edited The Waitakere Ranges – Nature, History, Culture (2006) and researched and wrote the history of the Society Saving the Ranges (2013). As a plant scientist her research into native plants, ecology and genetics led her to become a champion of conservation especially in the Waitakere Ranges.

She was a member of the Society for Horticultural Science, The Auckland Museum Institute, Forest and Bird Society, Auckland Botanical Society, the West Auckland Historical Society and Friends of Whatipu. In the past few years she convened the Waitakere Ranges Conservation Network that brought together the many community groups doing conservation in the Waitakere Ranges.

Our sincere condolences go to her husband Bruce and her family and friends.

Committee Member

Robin Taylor

Robin (Rob) Taylor

Robin (Rob) Taylor

Robin (Rob) Taylor is a self-employed IT Consultant and has been a WRPS supporter for over 30 years.

Originally from South Taranaki, he has a BSc (Hons.) in Physics and has been a keen tramper and   conservationist since his student days at the University of Canterbury.

Moving to Wellington to work in the Ministry of Energy, Rob was active in the native forests campaign and  opposed PM Muldoon’s Think Big projects, which led him to leave the public service to work for ECO. He subsequently taught science at Wellington High School, before moving into the IT industry with IBM and Apple.

Rob and his family have lived at Karekare for the  last thirty years; he has been heavily involved in the local R&R, and was a neighbour and co-conspirator of the late John Edgar.

Rob was active in the Heritage Area campaign, and  served two terms on the Waitākere Community Board. 

He is the current secretary of the Waitākere Ranges      Combined Ratepayers Association.

 

 

John Edgar

John Edgar

We are very sad to tell you that John, our WRPS president of 22 years, died at Auckland Hospital on 3 April.

John dedicated his life to protecting the environment and especially his beloved Waitakere Ranges with its significant heritage and ecological values.

John had unconditional commitment to and responsibility for both Waitakere Ranges Protection Society and to the protection of the Waitakere Ranges and
made a long and effective contribution. The legacy of collaboration, determination and inspiration to achieve permanent protection of the Waitakere Ranges left by John Edgar is something for which future generations of New Zealanders will always be grateful. John Edgar gave the Waitakere Ranges a voice.  He will be deeply missed.

John gave the Waitakere Ranges a voice.

John Edgar was on the committee of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society (WRPS) since 1996 and since 1998 has been President making him the Society’s longest-serving president at 22 years, retiring in 2020 due to ill health.

He was a long-term resident of Karekare and was a sculptor with many public sculptures to his credit in Auckland, Waitakere, and the United Kingdom.

John had dedicated his life to the preservation of the Waitakere Ranges and its significant heritage and ecological values. Many issues were tackled during John’s tenure as President, and he led the Society through an extremely challenging period when the Waitakere Ranges was threatened by subdivision and development.

John always had an unconditional commitment to and responsibility for both WRPS and to the protection of the Waitakere Ranges and made a long and effective contribution.

Under his leadership the Society achieved permanent legal protection for the Waitakere Ranges through the enactment of the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act 2008, a piece of legislation designed to protect the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area from further subdivision and development. It was the result of 35 years of campaigning by the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society.

In the years before the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act came into being there was a huge amount of work that John, on behalf of the Society, with the support of legal counsel and planning experts, put into challenging a multitude of Resource Consent applications, as well as putting considerable work into submitting on Regional Parks Management Plans and District Plans.

In January 1999, John Edgar anticipating the battles to come, made an appeal for funds to fight in the Environment Court. WRPS had had a busy year in 1999, appealing eight of the 106 points of the Waitakere City Council’s (WCC) proposed District Plan.

Drastic changes in subdivision rules in a Structure Plan by WCC led to the Society appealing the decision to the Environmental Court. Also over the course of this year there was a project managed by WRPS in collaboration with local iwi, DOC, ARC, and Landcare scientists, which focused on invasive wasp species. This project was inspired by a hearing from Dr Jacqueline Beggs of Landcare about the impact of their activities on insects in the forest.

In 2000, WRPS worked alongside ratepayer groups in Piha, Huia, Laingholm, Karekare to express concern at new resource consent applications which threatened to greatly change the areas in which they were proposed. The Society had a great deal of work to do preparing submissions and challenging the Council on individual issues in the appeals to the Environmental Court.  Millennial Medals were given to many members of the Society including John Edgar. The possibility of a Waitakere Heritage Park was revived at the AGM of 2000.

There were two important subdivision proposals in 2000 that WRPS challenged the Council on in the Environment Court. One was a 14-lot proposal in Titirangi, the other was in Karekare. In September 2000 WRPS was able to announce an important victory concerning the proposal in Titirangi, when the Environmental Court cancelled the subdivision consent. This was a major victory as it established some important principles that would be applied in subsequent cases. The second case was won when the Environment Court upheld the 4-hectare rule and disallowed the Council’s intention to reduce the subdivision size. It was a significant year on many counts, and by the end of the year the Commissioner for the Environment began a fruitful liaison with the Society to promote the concept of a heritage area.

The legal appeal undertaken on behalf of WRPS to the Environmental Court regarding the Auckland Unitary Plan (the Auckland Combined Plan) (2016) is another important and significant example of the notable work and effort put into various achievements WRPS has had under John’s leadership.

Another notable action was that John Edgar invited Morgan Williams, the then Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to visit the Waitakere Ranges, which resulted in his locally famous description of the situation as ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and a study report (June 2001).

John’s leadership has resulted in endless successful legal challenges to inappropriate developments or activities within the Waitakere Ranges.  Under his leadership WRPS have spoken out on a huge range of issues from the national response to Kauri Dieback, fighting to reinstate general tree protection, collaborating on submissions presented to the hearings on the then proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, sharing costs of expert witnesses during the planning hearing for the proposed replacement water treatment. The countless hours which have gone into attention to detail in writing submissions and being prepared to take legal recourse where necessary cannot be underestimated.

John Edgar’s willingness to give of his time and energy as well as providing the resources of the Society to those needing support has been pivotal to the success of many local conservation campaigns, whether they were about a single tree or many hectares of native bush.

In addition to all the battles the Society has fought under John’s leadership, the following books were also produced :

Waitakere Ranges: Ranges of Inspiration: Nature, History, Culture –  Edited by Bruce and Trixie Harvey  2006

The book is a collection of essays, articles, art and writing from over  70 contributors. The book was a long-term project of 25 years that was finally realised in 2006.

Saving the Ranges: The first 40 years of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society – Edited by Trixie and Bruce Harvey

The book tells of the many people who have contributed to the conservation and protection of the Ranges and makes it clear the work of the Society would not have flourished without the hundreds of members who have given their support.

Making a stand- the History of the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act 2008 written by Wayne Thompson is an E-book format that is currently undergoing production with publication due very soon.

John Edgar has always worked collaboratively with other organisations to achieve the goals of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society. This is exemplified by the Society’s support for Te Kawerau ā Maki in placing the rāhui onto the Waitakere Ranges forest to prevent further spread of kauri dieback disease. John worked alongside Forest & Bird, The Tree Council and Friends of Regional Parks as well as scientists and biosecurity experts from around the country and a huge outpouring of public support for Te Kawerau ā Maki to ultimately secure Auckland Council’s agreement to enforce the rāhui and close tracks in the regional park until they are upgraded.

The legacy of collaboration, determination and inspiration to achieve permanent protection of the Waitakere Ranges left by John Edgar is something for which future generations of New Zealanders will always be grateful. John Edgar has given the Waitakere Ranges a voice.

Anna Fomison

President

Waitākere Ranges Protection Society