Dams out West

Many people would not think of dams as being heritage assets, but there a number of historic but still operational dams in the Auckland region.

Ref: JTD-07B-03192, Huia Dam, 1941, West Auckland Research Centre
The Waitakere Ranges Water Supply System draws water from the ranges in West Auckland including the Huia, Nihotupu and Waitakere streams. During the 20th century, five large dams were constructed. These created the a series of reservoirs and associated tramways, piping, tunnels and filter stations. The main dams which are still in use include: the Waitakere Dam (1910), Upper Nihotupu Dam (1923), Upper Huia Dam (1929), Lower Nihotupu Dam (1948) and the Lower Huia Dam (1971).

Ref: JTD- 07B-03850, Spillway of Huia Dam, 1933, West Auckland Research Centre
Completed in 1910, the Waitakere Dam along with the Upper Nihotupu and Upper Huia Dams is 1 of 3 concrete gravity fed dams  found in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. These 3 dams plus another 2 earth dams - the Lower Niohotupu and Lower Huia Dams, are the main structures of the western water supply system. According to Watercare, these fives dams provide about 26% of Auckland’s water.
Ref: JTD-07B-03189, Huia Dam valve chamber and spillway, 1941, West Auckland Research Centre
As part of the Waitakere Ranges Water Supply System, Waitakere Dam is on the IPENZ Engineering Heritage Register along with the Upper and Lower Nihotupu Dams. These dams demonstrate progressive dam design by notable Auckland engineers and are of outstanding engineering significance. So the next time you enjoy a glass of water, remember to toast this hardworking heritage!

Ref: JTD-08B-03923, Nihotupu Dam, 1932, West Auckland Research Centre
Want to find out more? The Waitakere Ranges Water Supply System report is a good place to start and there is  a map of dams in the area on pg 23. Many sites associated with the history of water supply structures in the Waitakere Ranges are also detailed in Hayward Diamond's important publication 'Historic Archaeological Sites of the Waitakere Ranges, West Auckland, New Zealand' (1978).You can always search for images of dams in Local History Online, just enter the keyword dam.