Sanctuary Mahi Whenua

Community Garden produce

At the market: Every Sunday in the Carpark

Contact: Trevor Crosby

Call/text: 027 698 9962



Instagram: @sanctuarymahiwhenua

Facebook: /SanctuaryCommunityOrganicGarden

Garden: Unitec Hortecology Sanctuary, 1A Carrington Road, Mt Albert

During COVID closures: Not available

About Sanctuary Mahi Whenua

  • The Sanctuary Mahi Whenua was founded in 1999 as a Certified Organic teaching garden for horticulture at Unitec Institute of Technology, until horticulture teaching ceased.

  • It became a Community Garden in 2011 in a partnership arrangement with Unitec, and has been looked after by 40+ volunteer families.

  • Organic Certification ceased when the area became a community garden, but all volunteers continue to maintain the principles for a certified organic garden.

  • In 2018 Unitec sold campus land to the Crown, which included the Sanctuary, and this land is in the process of being returned to mana whenua according to the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act 2014. Under the sale agreement between Unitec and the Crown, the area occupied by the Sanctuary was to remain as an entity.

  • The site has been gardened since pre-European times. Some 12 Maori gardening implements were found in the cultivated area in 2007, and one is now displayed in the floor at the Unitec marae.

  • When the site was an asylum (Oakley/Carrington Hospital) the gardens provided food for both staff and patients.

  • When the area was purchased by Unitec, it became a Certified Organic teaching garden for horticulture.

  • The food forest was established with nursery trees in 1999–2000 from an open grass site, followed by a mixture of subtropical and temperate fruit trees. The food forest is now being redeveloped.

  • The cultivated area is about 1700 square metres, divided into communal and individual plots. The total area of the Sanctuary is about 7,000 square metres — the cultivated area, food forest, headland shelter, composting area, swale, shed, and compound (with tunnel house, greenhouse, and hardening-off area).

  • There are a number of significant trees in the Sanctuary, including some from the Three Kings Islands and similar offshore locations: these originated mainly from duplicates at the Mt Albert Research Centre.

  • Some produce from communal areas is sold at the community table at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market (Grey Lynn Community Centre, Richmond Road, Sunday mornings) to help defray some of the ongoing running and maintenance costs of the Sanctuary.

  • Plants in the food forest, headland shelter, and swale provide year-round food and shelter for insects and birds. Sunflower seeds and red amaranth provide food for birds of the areas (mainly finches) when mature, and in return their guano helps fertilise the garden.