Matthew Anderson (M.A.) Clark was the son of Archibald Clark, Member of Parliament and first Mayor of the Auckland Borough. From the early 1900s he contributed in a big way to the development of Titirangi, he was one of the founders of Exhibition Drive and Atkinson Park. His house from the early 1900s still remains,just off Scenic Drive next to the Clark Bush Reserve – donated to become part of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.
According to Cylopedia of New Zealand:
He was born in Auckland in 1851, is the fifth son of the late Mr. Archibald Clark, and was educated at Mr. Farquhar McRae’s High school, Auckland, and at the Elmbank Academy, Glasgow. In 1869 he entered his father’s warehouse to learn the business, and was admitted as a partner about six years later. Mr. Clark has been a member of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce for upwards of twenty years, and the beneficial influence he has exerted in that body was suitably acknowledged in 1895 by his election to the chairmanship, in 1897 the Chamber elected him to represent it on the Auckland Harbour Board.
Matthew’s brother was James McCosh Clark – another former Mayor of Auckland. James’ wife Kate McCosh Clark wrote two of New Zealand’s first childrens books. A Southern Cross Fairly Tale – was publised in 1891 and was a Christmas story translated to a include the native landscape and creatures of the new colony. A later work was titled Maori Tales and Legends.
The family business was Archibarld Clark & Sons – a large Auckland company at the time. Matthew was later the managing director. The warehouse of the company is the building that now houses the Elliot Stables dining area.
In Titirangi, he was involved in the establishment of Atkinson Park. He donated money towards it and was on the establishment committee.
He also donated towards Exhibition Drive. Prior to the building of Scenic Drive, Exhibition Drive started right in Titirangi village – next to Mr Clark’s front gate.
The Clark property contained one of the largest and oldest Kauri close to Auckland. This and a nearby tree were highlights of Exhibition Drive and featured in advertisements at the time. The trees are still there today- visible by walking Clark Bush track.
Along with several members of the Bishop family, Matthew was a founding member of the Auckland Blue Mountains Society, which later became the Titirangi Bush Preservation Society – one of the fore-runner of today’s Titirangi Residents and Ratepayers Association. The aim of the organisation was to prevent destruction of native forest.
Following his death, his property was advertised as being for auction.
Fortunately it seems this didn’t happen, as there are a lot of references to other members of the family living there later. The section of land with the historic Kauri on it was later donated to become part of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. Part of Clark’s Bush track crosses this land.
Arthur Mead, the city Waterworks Engineer, described this part of Scenic Drive in his book Waitakere Ranges:
On this portion of the Drive are some fine homes planned with regard to retaining as many native trees as possible on their grounds, giving a park-like effect. Between the filters and the Titirangi township centre, the Drive has the Mt Atkinson Park on the left and on the right a block of Centennial Park land donated by the Clark family.