Between 1977 and 1980 Auckland Regional Authority acquired 96 Mercedes Benz 0303 buses with New Zealand Motor Bodies DP41D bodies. These buses were used for longer services and charters although in busy periods they could be found operating on many shorter servces (eg Onehunga) as well.
The first of these was number 1001. At the time ETA Foods who made peanut butter and marketed nuts had an advertising campaign around the theme of 1000 peanuts in every jar of peanut butter. Chief character of the ads which appeared on TV and in print media was an animated peanut called Peanut 1001. The connection between 1001 and peanuts in popular culture was so strong that the series became known as ARA "peanuts".
In 1985 bus 1010 was converted to a tag axle bus. 18 more were converted to tag axles for the 1990 Commonwealth games with capacity increased to 49 seats. Conversions were done at the ARA North Shore depot. These buses were disposed of in the early 1990's. Some were sold before ARA became Yellow Bus Company in 1991 also in late 1980's Auckland Regional Authority fleet 1005 had a accident and written off while owned by ARA