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.

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 embarking on a new chapter. 


Unitec, through its subsidiary Wairaka Land Company, is currently undertaking due diligence of the Unitec campus, expected to be completed by October 2017. Due diligence is required before any sale of land or building developments commence in new zoning designations in the Wairaka Precinct that are permitted in the new Auckland Unitary Plan.

Current indications from the Wairaka Land Company are that the block of land on which the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua is located will be the first block on the campus to be sold.

The Future

The Sanctuary Mahi Whenua is a beautiful place and important to many people in our community. We think that the Sanctuary could be a hugely valuable part of future communities at the Wairaka Precinct if it's protected as community green space, as illustrated in Unitec's October 2015 submission on overview of zoning and Masterplan (see also vision section).