The Whau is a tidal creek flowing through the western suburbs of Avondale, New Lynn, Green Bay, Blockhouse Bay and Kelston, along side the Rosebank Peninsular and into the Waitemata Harbour, in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Te Whau is part of the vast area known as 'Te Wao nui o Tiriwa' or 'The great forest of Tiriwa', the ancient Maori name for west Auckland and surrounding area.
Maori have used the Whau for centuries as an important transport route, a portage known as Waitahurangi, which gave access between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours and the east and west coasts of the North Island. The Whau was rich in food resources while large trees nearby also provided materials for waka building, hence the name of a creek at the headwaters of the Whau on the eastern side, known as 'Te Kotuitanga', or, 'the dovetailing of canoes'.
The Whau also played an important role in the colonial history of the area. It was the center of a thriving brick and pottery industry and continued as an essential transport route. There were even plans to construct the portage as a canal with locks at the Manukau harbour end.
Now days the Whau suffers from the usual degradation of an urban catchment. Run off from roads, industry and storm water plus the effects of much stream undergrounding in culverts and pipes has created significant problems for the ecosystem. However many initiatives to address ecological restoration are underway and many groups regularly use the Whau as a place for recreation, sport and activity.
This is a very short summary but much more information is available on
Or in the books:
West: the history of Waitakere, Finlay Macdonald and Ruth Kerr eds.
Fire on the Clay: the Pakeha Comes to West Auckland, Dick Scott.