In the “swinging 60s”, the leafy hills of Waitakere were one of the few places Aucklanders could enjoy a wine or cocktail with a meal. Down in Oratia was the Harres’ Town & Coun- try Roadhouse located in the old Parr homestead, Albion Vale. Up West Coast Road was the Lanes’ Back o’ the Moon. And Rolf Feijen and his partner H Romyen ran one of the first licensed restaurants in Auckland when they converted the old Waiatarua Boarding House (then in flats) into the smart and fashionable Dutch Kiwi Restaurant
The timber firm of Mander & Bradley milled Nihotupu. Francis “Frank” Mander and Samuel Bradley were principals of the company. They bought the rights to mill Wasley’s bush in 1895 from a firm called Clinkard & McLeod who had acquired it from the Wasley family in 1890.
Mander was Onehunga-born and started his working life at 10 years of age. He was in his mid-40s when the Nihotupu operation started, but this was not his first timber-milling venture; he was a lifelong timber man and had already milled at Awhitu, Kaipara and the Northern Wairoa. Mander was later a Member of Parliament and newspaper proprietor.
This year the Oratia Church celebrates 150 years of serving the community since its opening in 1872
The distribution of our newsletter must be effective and widespread (congratulations Tony Bacon). Since my letter in the March newsletter about mystery tunnels found in Waiatarua I have been contacted, from Waihi where he now lives, by Peter Beveridge, son of Bill Beveridge. Bill was a park ranger between 1970 and 1990 who, in recognition of his extensive knowledge of all things relating to the Waitakere Ranges became colloquially known as “Mr Waitakere”.
Mary Bendall was the only woman amongst the original Crown Grants awarded for settlement at Waiatarua. Mary’s land – which eventually amounted to 264 acres – was at the junction of West Coast Road and today’s Scenic Drive and ran westwards over the hill to today’s Quinns Road.
What distinguishes Mary as a settler was not just that she was the only woman, but that she was a widow with four children aged between 11 and 19 years when she emigrated and chose this remote high point of the Ranges as her new home.