Work will soon begin at Maungarei / Mt Wellington on a range of significant enhancements and a return of the tihi (summit) to a vehicle-free space.
Construction will include the build of new visitor car park and toilet block beside the Mountain Road entrance to Maungarei, a newly automated barrier arm at the start of the summit road and a turning bay for vehicles, removal of cattle stops on the summit road and a reduction and reconfiguration of the tihi car park.
This work will commence on Monday 9 July and the entire project is expected to take approximately twelve weeks to complete.
Pedestrian, cycle and vehicle access will continue during the construction period, with temporary closures to the summit road when cattle stops are being removed.
The exact date of the closure will be determined as the construction work progresses and will be announced at least one week prior.
Limited mobility access maintained
Once construction is complete, the tihi and summit road will permanently close to all private motor vehicles including motorbikes and scooters. The exception will be continued vehicle access for people who have limited mobility and cannot walk to the tihi; they or their drivers can phone a dedicated number to obtain an access code for the barrier arm.
This follows the very successful pedestrianisation of Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill in May this year, Takarunga / Mt Victoria and Pukewīwī / Puketāpapa / Mt Roskill in March this year, and Maungawhau / Mt Eden in January 2016.
Maungarei once a significant pā
Paul Majurey, Chair of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, says the change recognises that, as with the other maunga recently pedestrianised, Maungarei / Mt Wellington is a site of immense cultural and historical significance.
“Maungarei was a significant pā in the east of the Tāmaki isthmus and important examples of early Māori life in Tāmaki Makaurau still exist in the form of terraces, midden and pits shaped for dwellings, agriculture and defence. Track and trail enhancements to protect these features are part of our future planning,” says Majurey.
“To Mana Whenua, the tihi of a maunga holds great spiritual and cultural significance and has always been a place to be treated with respect and reverence. Honouring these values alongside creating an enhanced experience for pedestrians is at the heart of the vehicle access changes.”
Increasing safety for people walking via the road to the tihi was also a consideration. On Maungarei, pedestrians, cyclists and cars all share one narrow summit road, presenting health and safety risks for visitors.
Rethinking our connection
Majurey explains that the successful pedestrianisation of the Maungawhau tihi was pivotal in informing the decision on vehicle movement at other maunga.
“Since the changes at Maungawhau we have had consistent feedback that the maunga are vastly more peaceful and safer places to be without cars driving up and over them. People are really connecting with the preservation of these taonga.”
“Maungarei remains a public space for all visitors to enjoy. These changes are about rethinking how we interact with the whenua and better protect it.”
Josephine Bartley, councillor for the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki ward, says the changes are appropriate for the maunga.
“I appreciate the efforts of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority to preserve and protect this natural landmark, and improve the safety for pedestrians using it," she says.
"And, I ask for our community to support the overall vision of restoring and protecting the maunga.”
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority announced a decision in November 2016 that the tihi of Maungarei / Mt Wellington, Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill, Takarunga / Mt Victoria, Pukewīwī / Puketāpapa / Mt Roskill and Ōwairaka / Mt Albert would become pedestrian-only spaces.
The changes were also signalled in the Tūpuna Maunga Integrated Management Plan which was publicly notified and the subject of a public submission and hearing process in 2016.
More information about the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, including the Tūpuna Maunga Integrated Management Plan, can be found at maunga.nz.