New artist’s impressions show Myers Park metamorphosis

Last Updated : 05 May 2022
Myers Park Underpass Render Close Lo Res Credit Auckland Council

Today, 28 April, Auckland Council has unveiled artists’ impressions of a groundbreaking new work of public art set to transform a utilitarian underpass at the northern end of Myers Park into an interactive experience of light and sound, opening this summer.

This artwork installation, envisaged as a ‘whakarongo environment’, is designed to evoke an ‘awakening of the senses’ in the Myers Park underpass.

Created by Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei) and a multi-disciplinary team, this unique artwork aims to offer a multi-sensory experience of the taniwha Horotiu – the kaitiaki (guardian) of the Wai O Horotiu stream.

The sculptural form of Horotiu is achieved with rows of more than two thousand moulded scales hanging from the underside of the overbridge – illuminated in gold light and moving with the breeze.

Read more about the team’s collaborative artistic journey on OurAuckland.

Integrated into the enhanced underpass landscape, the new work of art creates a cultural stage activated by weather conditions and pitch and rhythm changes detected with the singing of specially commissioned waiata.

The waiata, which speak about the rippling waters of Wai o Horotiu and Te Ao Māori values associated with water and the ‘water cycle’, have been composed by Moeahi Kerehoma (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei), Tarumai Kerehoma-Hoani (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei) and Tuirina Wehi (Ngai Tuhoe). A mana whenua choir singing these bespoke waiata, will be recorded with Justyn Pilbrow at Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios later this year.

The waiata can be learned and performed by anyone who visits the underpass as part of the sensory experience. The sound – the pitch and rhythm of your voice - can trigger varying levels of light and sound in the underpass; a metaphorical response from Horotiu – kaitiaki of this place.

This is a uniquely Tāmaki Makaurau addition to Auckland Council’s collection of public art, scheduled to be completed and opened for Aucklanders and visitors in early 2023.

The Myers Park underpass upgrade is part of a wider programme of work known as the midtown regeneration. Informed by the City Centre Masterplan, the programme is designed to ensure the city centre is a vibrant place to which people are drawn.

The vision for midtown is described as a part of Auckland where our history, art and culture can be seen and heard and will spill out into public life; where people choose to spend time and socialise; a place that is attractive and feels inclusive and safe.

Waitematā and Gulf Ward Councillor Pippa Coom says Auckland's historic Myers Park sits at the heart of midtown, an area undergoing significant renewal.

“The Wai O Horotiu stream which extends from this valley to the Waitematā is a significant city centre waterway, remembered and celebrated within this project. The waterway is now piped underground.

“I am delighted to see the work begin and our spectacular new public artwork take shape, woven with rich mana whenua stories of place,” says Cr Coom.

The northern end of Myers Park will also see these improvements in place for Aucklanders and visitors to enjoy mid-summer 2022 / 23:

  • New stairs from Queen Street – mana whenua artist Tessa Harris (Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki) has developed a pattern which has been integrated in the balustrade screening on the stair. The pattern represents pātiki (flounder), once found in the tidal area not far from this point. The stairway connects the Mayoral Drive and Queen Street corner with Myers Park
  • New landscape design with native planting and a new timber boardwalk
  • Improved pedestrian access through the underpass

The Myers Park underpass upgrade work begins in early May. While the construction will mean changes to some of the park’s access points, the park will remain open for the public to enjoy throughout construction.

Wayfinding and hoardings will provide clear directions for people using the park while the northern end and underpass are temporarily closed off.  

During the upgrade, Auckland Council is enabling a programme of free events and activations in the park. Already underway is the Out & About activations programme which will be delivered each weekend and during school holidays, encouraging local families to come to Myers Park. Further activations will be added in the coming months. 

To find out more about the Myers Park underpass upgrade and the wider programme of work in midtown, visit Progress AKL, or contact myersparkunderpass@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz to subscribe to regular updates on this project.

The Myers Park underpass upgrade is funded by Auckland Council, the city centre targeted rate and the Waitematā Local Board. The artwork is funded by Auckland Council’s Regional Public Art capital expenditure fund.

A pocket timeline

  • Centuries ago – Māori narratives describe a stream flowing through the city, fed by a spring in Myers Park – with Māori settlements living and thriving here. The stream, now piped underground, was watched over by the taniwha Horotiu – the kaitiaki (guardian) of the Wai O Horotiu stream valley.
  • 1913 – business leader and politician Sir Arthur Myer gifted six acres of land adjacent to Queen Street to the city for Myers Park and he built a kindergarten there.
  • 2012 – Auckland Council and the Waitematā Local Board began a staged redevelopment of Myers Park. Phase 1 included upgrades to lighting, the children’s playground area and the historic play pool.
  • May 2022 – the next two phases of the redevelopment of Myers Park, to improve safety, urban design quality, landscaping and infrastructure within the park, will begin.
  • Late 2022 – installation of the new interactive work of public art will begin, with completion expected mid-summer. Mana whenua have created a significant artwork to encourage deeper understanding of cultural context, environment and place.
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