Stunning coastal shelf nears completion, opening downtown to the sea

Te Wānanga proud to put people at its heart

Last Updated : 22 Feb 2021
Stunning coastal shelf nears completion, opening downtown to the sea
Hero Pic Downtonw Public Space Cropped

Seemingly floating above the Downtown Ferry Basin, Te Wānanga, the new downtown public space is an impressive feat of engineering.

Eric van Essen, Programme Director of the Downtown Programme says over the last year thousands of tonnes of reinforcing steel and concrete has been used to create this new waterfront public space.

The Downtown Programme is delivered in partnership between Auckland Transport and Auckland Council. A design partnership with Mana Whenua elevated design thinking to deliver a project that expresses local identity, culture history and aspirations for the future. 

In a video released today, the extent of the works to construct the platform that extends over the Waitematā Harbour is revealed.


Mr van Essen says Te Wānanga was conceived and co-designed with mana whenua to be a tidal shelf interspersed with ‘pool’ apertures shedding light into the depths below.

“The calm of Te Wānanga is contrasted by the complex lattice work of reinforcing steel and piles supporting the concrete platform and the steel planters weighing up to 22 tonnes where pōhutukawa will be planted.”

Stunning coastal shelf nears completion, opening downtown to the sea (2)

Mr van Essen says construction will be completed by the end of April with Te Wānanga open to the public in May 2021.

“Planting and minor works will continue through May and June when the pōhutukawa removed from Quay Street early in the Downtown Programme, will be returned to become part of Auckland’s expanding Ngahere.”

Te Wānanga has been designed to enhance the waterfront environment and biodiversity by supporting coastal and marine habitats to flourish. Textured surfaces on the supporting piles will encourage the attachment of seaweeds, barnacles and periwinkles; mature trees and gardens will attract birds and insects and provide shade for people to enjoy the waterfront.

Its opening dovetails with other Downtown projects on the cusp of completion and signals the end of major construction activity on the waterfront.

Stunning coastal shelf nears completion, opening downtown to the sea (1)

Quay Street Enhancement and the Ferry Basin Redevelopment will be completed by the end of April, although all of the new ferry berths won’t be commissioned for use until mid-2021. 

NX1 and the Western bus services will return to the recently completed Lower Albert Street bus interchange by the end of April. 

Mr van Essen says the culmination of these projects combined with the recent completion of seismic strengthening of the Quay Street seawall and the enhancement of Galway Street, brings together all the major components of the Downtown Programme.

“We are very grateful for the support and patience of the people of Auckland as we enter the home straight, completing the transformation of Downtown Auckland to become a space that strengthens the connection between the city and the harbour.”

For more information on the Downtown Programme, visit the Auckland Transport website.

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