What would your perfect park look like?
Would it have waterfalls? Comfy benches? Bridges carved like fish?
Last year, Auckland Council's Healthy Waters team kicked off the Taiaotea Environmental Project. It aims to transform Sherwood Reserve on the North Shore to attract native birds and fish – including the short-finned eel, banded kōkopu, īnanga to tūī and kererū – back to the area.
Quick to swoop in was a squad of small superheroes from Northcross Intermediate, and Sherwood and Browns Bay primary schools.
The students picked up their pencils and Play-Doh and sketched and sculpted designs of how they would like their restored reserve to look. The designs were largely inspired by nature and the surrounding landscape and the native species the Healthy Waters team was trying to attract back.
The most popular designs were of bridges – bridges snaking across the creek in the shape of fish or eels, bridges decorated with koru and fern handrails, a banded kōkopu-shaped bridge and a simple tree bridge.
The benches and seats the students drew included carved swans, ducks and pūkeko. There were a few fish-featured litter bins on the list – the idea being that park-users would be happy to 'feed the fish'.
The Healthy Waters project team took the drawings to see how they could integrate the kids' inspiration into the environmental design.
From a project perspective, the team wanted to bring nature back to the concrete-lined Taiaotea Creek, turn the existing pond into a new wetland to improve water quality and add a further 90 metres of “daylighting” (a new trend in stormwater management that frees streams from culverts and paved channels).
The kids' drawings gave the team inspiration. The designers loved the bridge ideas as much as the young artists; they added a boardwalk to the plans to connect people to the water, and they were all on-board with the fish and bird concept, designing one of the foot bridges to have a fish passage as well.
Isabella Mumford was one of the young designers from Sherwood Primary.
“It’s so exciting that we’re seeing our ideas become real,” she says. “Everyone is going to visit and enjoy the new reserve for years and we’ll have helped make it happen!”
Construction on the Taiaotea Environmental Project is supported by Hibiscus and Bays Local Board. Work is due to start in January 2019 and finish by mid-2020.