Oratia is a suburb of West Auckland in New Zealand, located in the former Waitakere City.
It is approximately 16 km to the south west of Auckland CBD (Central Business District), and sits at the eastern edge of the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area. It is a relatively quiet community, bridging metropolitan Auckland with the wild forests and beaches of western Auckland.
It has heritage status and it’s special character and rural nature is protected by the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Act 2008. Information regarding this act and document protecting and preserving the area can be found here.
Council Documents Relating to Oratia and our Heritage Status
Oratia was first settled in the 1860s, with 40-acre (160,000 m2) land parcels granted to new immigrants. Cochrane’s orchard was possibly the earliest orchard in the area dating back to this time, although it no longer exists.
Sunnydale in Parker Road is the oldest surviving residence in West Auckland built around 1860 from Kauri timber milled on the site.
Oratia Cemetery has burial sites dating from 1867 onwards. The gateway entrance was built in 1935. Its Category II listing is attributed to historical and visual significance.
Thomas Parr, a pioneer orchardist and nurseryman, established a plant nursery called Albion Vale on West Coast Road in 1879. Now a Category I Listed Building, the house has been restored to its original design after being used for many years as “The Town and Country Roadhouse”, which was considered to be one of the finest restaurants in Auckland in the 1940s. The small Oratia Folk Museum is adjacent to Albion Vale. It was originally a small settler cottage built around 1870.
The Oratia Valley was settled by Dalmation migrants in the late 1890s and early 1900s. They planted orchards and vineyards, leading to Oratia becoming known as the fruit bowl of Auckland. A strong sense of community developed which continues today, although some of the old families have moved out of the area. Many of Oratia’s roads are named after the families who lived in Oratia in the 1800s, e.g. Parker, Carter, Shaw, Parr.
Many of the original orchards have now disappeared, and although still relatively sparsely populated compared to most of metropolitan Auckland, Oratia has developed into a community with many businesses and homes.
Despite its small size, Oratia has a number of amenities:
- There is a Superette, a garage for petrol and car servicing, a veterinary clinic, an osteopathic clinic, furniture makers and farm shops selling local produce.
- Oratia Settlers Hall is a small venue hosting events as well as a monthly country market.
- Parrs Park offers a large playground, basketball courts, skating facilities and space for field sports. It is the home ground for Oratia United, the local association football club.
- The Oratia Farmers Market sells a range of local produce every Saturday morning.
- Artisan Wines produces and sells wine from its own vineyard, and also has a restaurant.
- The Packing Shed Gallery and Cafe is situated in the original packing shed of the Tara Orchards built in 1908.
- “Just Plane Interesting” is a shop selling an eclectic range of antiques, curios and collectibles.
- The Otimai Girl Guide complex was opened in 1927, and now also operates as a venue for corporate events and private special occasions.
- Landsent is a large sub-tropical garden considered to be of national significance. A range of rare plants are grown here, many originally sourced from South America, and now forming a rare plant “gene bank”.
- Oratia Native Plant Nurseryis renowned for plant conservation, and is one of the earliest native plant nurseries in New Zealand.
Ann Endt, an Oratia gardener, had a rose named after her.
Gilian Painter is an Oratia writer who has had a number of books published about herbs and cookery.
Geoff Davidson of Oratia Native Plant Nursery received the Life Time Achievement Award from the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network in 2007 for his work to save species from extinction and being part of major initiatives to protect plants and plant communities.
Oratia District School established in 1882, provides primary (years 1-6) education for the area. It has a high decile rating of 9 and a roll of 542. It serves Oratia and a catchment area extending to the coast at Piha and KareKare. There is also a kindergarten located on the same site.
The Bruce Mclaren Intermediate school in Henderson, named after the New Zealand Racing Driver, provides education for year 7 and 8 students.
The local state secondary school is Henderson High School.
Liston College and St Dominic’s College in Henderson both offer Catholic education.
*** From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oratia
Important Council Documents regarding the protection and planning of Oratia’s Character:
Oratia Local Area Plan