Downtown shines as a uniquely Tāmaki Makaurau design

Last Updated : 23 Jun 2021
Downtown shines as a uniquely Tāmaki Makaurau design

Tāmaki Makaurau: herehere waka, herehere tāngata!

Tāmaki, the gathering place of waka, the gathering place of people!

Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Mana whenua involved in the design partnership and development partners have spent the last three years reimagining and remaking downtown as a place for all Aucklanders to visit and enjoy.

Last month, a significant element was brought to the downtown design, this time living shellfish to help filter the seawater and monitor aquatic health in the Ferry Basin. 

From early in the programme, Mana whenua worked with the design teams to bring their knowledge and understanding of place to every level of design.

In the design partnership with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and the team delivering the programme of six large scale projects, Mana whenua put forward a set of values. Those values have underpinned the design thinking and outcomes throughout each of these projects.

Mana whenua also brought a closer way of working. That aspect of the partnership has been important in developing the cultural competency of all involved.

38 seeded mussel lines filter seawater from beneath Te Wananga
Downtown mussels; Tonkin+Taylor

Programme Director Downtown Eric van Essen sees it as a template for the future.

In his address to Mana whenua at a recent dawn blessing for the Quay Street Enhancements Mr van Essen spoke these eloquent words:

“To the members of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Ngāti Tamaoho, Ngaati Whanaunga, Te Akitai Waiohua and Ngāti Maru who were with us this morning, but also the other iwi/hapū not present this morning whose kaitiaki have worked through the design partnership with their artists, the design team and the broader Downtown Programme team over the last three years - Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, Te Patukirikiri, Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua and Te Ahiwaru-Makaurau – tēnā koutou.

“To the talented Mana whenua artists, designers and ecologists who have delivered these artworks and the new native ecology that will remind people using these facilities on a daily basis that we are in Tāmaki Makaurau – Ted Ngātaki, Maaka Pōtini, Reuben Kirkwood, Charmaine Bailie and importantly Richelle Kāhui-McConnell who is sadly no longer with us - tēnā koutou.

“To the design crews who have worked with Mana whenua and their artists to deliver a streetscape and public realm like no other in Tāmaki Makaurau, which is not only hugely functional, but also meaningful and beautiful – tēnā koutou.

“To the Downtown joint venture team and construction crews who have laboured away bringing their skills and expertise to the fore in delivering these works and the project, who have taken particular care in their installation and protection of the artworks blessed today, and who made the site safe for us all to undertake our collective mahi this morning – tēnā koutou,” Mr van Essen said.

Auckland Council's vision for downtown is outlined in the City Centre Masterplan which was agreed unanimously by elected members in 2020 following extensive public consultation. The specific vision for downtown is detailed in Transformational Move 8: The Harbour Edge Stitch.

The wider vision articulated in the plan is to create a more welcoming, greener and vibrant city, with people-prioritised streets, well-connected by public transport to all parts of Tāmaki Makaurau.

With a focus on culture, design and ecology the team worked to create a downtown environment which is an expression of Tāmaki Makaurau; a place where marine and coastal life will flourish, and people will be drawn. 

The deployment of mussels was a milestone for Te Wānanga, perhaps the most stunning feature of the transformed downtown. Te Wānanga is a coastal shelf reaching out over the water with ‘tidal pool’ apertures letting light into the depths below.

It is a space that encourages a deeper understanding and appreciation of the relationship between different ecosystems – where the sea meets the land and where the land meets the sea. 

In early July Aucklanders will be invited to come down and explore the ‘new’ downtown, a place that embodies all that we love and celebrate about Tāmaki Makaurau - a place that we can all enjoy and be proud of.

Mai te moana ki te whenua, mai te whenua ki te moana

Ko Tāmaki Makaurau tēnei!

Connecting the sea to the land

Connecting the land to the sea

This is Tāmaki Makaurau!

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