TE RANGI HIROA RESERVE
Te Rangi Hiroa Reserve is comprised of a series of parks, green space, bush and streams that run between Birdwood, Don Buck, and Glen Roads in Massey. The reserve is named after Sir Peter Buck, Te Rangi Hiroa being his maori name. It was named as a sign of respect for his legacy to the county as a whole, as the area does not have a specific connection to him.
The reserve area has several significant historical features, but most prominent are the notorious camp of Don Buck that was said to be located at the intersection of Glen Road and Don Buck’s Road and the Birdwood Winery Estate that was located near the intersection of Birdwood and Glen Roads.
The most recent development in the reserve is the opening of a purpose built Youth Park at the Birdwood Road end of the reserve in October 2016.
THE BIRDWOOD WINERY ESTATE
The Birdwood Winery Estate established by Simun Ujdur was one of the significant early vineyards in West Auckland. “In its heyday Birdwood Vineyards, along with Corbans and Vidals, ranked among the three largest in New Zealand.” (Warlord, 2015)
Ujdur arrived from Croatia in 1895. After working on the gum fields he became a photographer, shifting to viticulture in 1914. The Estate bordered Don Buck ’s corner, and was established during the active years of the infamous gum diggers camp. As the winery became a successful business, Simun Ujdur became centrally involved in the Dalmatian- Croatian community. He was also the president of the New Zealand Viticulture Association for 20 years (Waitakere City Council, 2002, p. 32).
Apart from winemaking, Ujdur was know as a great appreciator of the literary arts, amassing an extremely large personal library at the estate. “His library was reputed to contain 35,000 volumes, and was considered to be the largest private library in the Pacific at that time” Waitakere City Council, 2002, p. 32).
Ujdur was also know for his “close links with Maori, both from working the gum fields and as neighbours and workers at the winery” (Waitakere City Council, 2002, p.32). This connection was commemorated in 1999 with the erection of a plaque at the winery site that celebrates the historic links and intermarriage between Croatian and Maori communities. Maori and Croatian communities have continued to celebrate their unique shared heritage at an annual Tarara Day held each March at the Birdwood Estate. Tarara was the name given to Croatians by Maori due to the Croatians fast rate of speech. Activities at the Tarara celebrations include the recreation of gum diggers camps, music, shared food, and dance.
One of the lasting features of the estate is the dramatic entranceway that is lined with Japanese cedar planted over 90 years ago.