Welcome to the virtual home of the Sanctuary
Mahi Whenua gardens and food forest


This majestic green space, located on the Unitec Mt Albert campus, is home to more than 400 species of plants and trees. The fertile soil and beautiful surrounds have been providing food and enjoyment for centuries to creatures and humans. It is a green avenue for the public accessing the Oakley Creek Walkway. Find out more about the rich history of the land in the Origins section.

Since 2011, the space has operated as a successful organic community garden and food forest, run by volunteers, in a partnership arrangement on the Unitec Institute of Technology campus at Mt Albert, Auckland. Over 60 members and their families are directly involved.  In June 2017 the group became an Incorporated Society and charitable organisation.

The Sanctuary Mahi Whenua is recognised as the space of many sustainability firsts for Auckland. These include the city's first multi-layered food forest, the first engineered swale and the first ecostructures. To read more about urban sustainability and the role Mahi Whenua plays read more in the nuturing the land page.

The gardens and food forest are under threat



Current notification from Unitec's land development company is for the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua to be vacated by 1 May 2018 so the block of land on which the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua is located can be sold by the end of 2018. The Sanctuary Mahi Whenua will not be retained as an entity.

Sign our petition at change.orgShow your support for retaining the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua in its current position. Help keep this biodiverse green space for the enjoyment of the wider community and future generations whilst still providing much needed housing. Both can be achieved with vision and the will to do so..


[Wairaka is an important ancestress for Māori. To associate her name with Unitec’s preparation of land for sale demeans her value.  Consequently, any reference by our Society to Unitec’s preparation of the masterplan for the sale of  land will be under its own banner – Unitec's land development company].

The Future

The Sanctuary Mahi Whenua is a beautiful place and important to many people in our community. We have put forward to Unitec's land development company how the Sanctuary could be integrated into any development. Our Society believes that it will be a valuable part of future communities at the Wairaka Precinct if it is protected as community green space, as illustrated in Unitec's October 2015 submission on overview of zoning and Masterplan (see also vision section).