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Our past to the future – rehabilitating Puketutu Island

Published: 10 July 2019

Puketutu Island, which lies off the cost of Māngere, is sacred to the people of Te Kawerau ā Maki, Te Waiohua and Waikato-Tainui. It was the first permanent home of the crew of the Tainui waka in Aotearoa.

Known as Te Motu a Hiaroa to Mana Whenua, the island was once a quarry. Thousands of tonnes of scoria and basalt rock were removed for construction projects, including the expansion of nearby Auckland Airport. The small island is currently undergoing a major transformation and will one day become a reserve for everyone to enjoy.

In 2012, Watercare bought a lease from the Kelliher Trust and transferred ownership to a trust with 12 iwi trustees. Since then, Watercare has been filling the former quarry with biosolids from the nearby Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant, so that by 2049, three small hills will be created (including the current one) to replicate the original cones on the island before it is returned to Aucklanders for enjoyment and use as a public park.

Watercare biosolids site foreman, Justin Smith says the treatment plant produces around 330 tonnes of biosolids per day, which are tipped into pre-constructed cells and are covered with earth each day.

“There are five stages of construction to create a ‘bowl’ and we’re currently in stage four. Once that’s finished in 2024-25, operational filling only will occur. This will be followed by contouring, application of topsoil and planting.”

The restoration work is not currently available to view as public access is restricted, although visits are sometimes possible during annual treatment plant open days that take place in spring each year.

Once completed, Puketutu Island will be Auckland’s only inner-city regional park with coastal views. This natural treasure will bring pleasure to many generations to come.

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