Great South Stories: Kirks’ Bush

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With the help of NZ On-air filmmaker Rupert Mackenzie under the working title 'Great South Stories' has taken cameras out to film an eclectic mix of stories about the lives of interesting characters.

Rupert has compiled 10 insightful and at time's confronting stories that take us up the driveways and behinds doors of those on the famed Great South Road.

For years Kirks' Bush on the Papakura side of Great South Road had an unsavoury reputation. Named after the Kirk brothers that owned it in the early 20th century, it was a place visited with caution, or quite simply not at all. Many of the trees in Kirks' Bush are old enough to have borne witness to the many iterations of Great South Road. It is unusual in-and-of-itself that this eye-catching stand of native forest has survived what has become Auckland’s urban sprawl.

In response to an advertisement placed in the local paper, Muriel Newman founded the volunteer group 'The Friends of Kirks' Bush' some 25-years-ago. Muriel and nine others set about removing graffiti on trees, advocating for boardwalks, removing invasive weeds, and cleaning up rubbish - all in a bid to transform the aesthetic of the area. By the time Margaret Gane joined in 2001, a lot of the weed species had already gone. 

But this story isn’t just about the restoration of Kirks' Bush. From my observations, it’s as much about the reclamation of Kirks' Bush as a place for the community to use. 

Great South Road is New Zealand’s longest road, starting in Auckland’s swanky shopping quarter of Newmarket and ending in Ohaupo, Waikato Dairy country.

Used by or home to car dealers, churches, residences, food outlets, farmers, the homeless, street rappers, volunteers, and schools, it is a road that intersects and connects our past, the present, and future.  

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