Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Mayor Phil Goff at the opening of the upgraded Downtown Waterfront (Picture Supplied)
On July 2, 2021, I joined Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, mana whenua and Councillors to open Auckland’s transformed and upgraded downtown waterfront.
The upgrade was part of a $350 million programme of investment by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, including $42 million from the government.
It has created a world-class waterfront that is vibrant, people-friendly, accessible and attractive, a meeting place where the land connects to the sea, and where people can gather and look out over the beautiful Waitemata Harbour.
Nature comes alive
The focal point of this new public space is Te Wananga, the new harbourside park next to the ferry terminal. Seeming to float above the harbour, Te Wananga has been designed to resemble a tidal shelf, forming a connection between the land and sea and emulating the rocky edges and sandstone headlands of the Waitemata. A growing urban forest and native planting offer shade, shelter and carbon absorption while openings in the deck reveal the movements of the tide and new seeded mussel lines which filter the seawater below.
Nearby, Quay Street has been made more accessible and people-friendly, with wider footpaths, cycleways and tree planting including mature Pohutukawa. As part of the project, the seawall that Quay Street sits on has been strengthened, protecting the city for the next 100 years from rising sea levels and seismic events.
Faster, better ferry services
Six new ferry piers have also been built on the east side of Queens Wharf. These new piers, known as Te Ngau o Horotiu, are designed for patronage growth; ferry services have been the mode of transport fastest to recover since the Covid-19 crisis.
An aerial view of Quay Street from Princes Wharf (Picture Supplied)
Alongside other projects recently opened in central Auckland, such as Te Komititanga Square, the restored Chief Post Office, Amey Daldy Park and the upgraded Karangahape Road, Te Wananga will be enjoyed by Aucklanders and visitors from throughout New Zealand, and, when our borders reopen, will welcome tourists from around the world.
While these upgrades have caused some disruption during construction, it is great to see them being enjoyed by Aucklanders now they are complete.
Free transport to explore
It was also good to see on the day following the opening of the new downtown almost 120,000 Aucklanders making the most of free travel on buses, trains and most ferries to explore the region and enjoy the stunning weather.
Bus trips were up by 14% on the previous Saturday, ferry patronage was up 32% and trains up a massive 55%.
With Auckland’s huge growth and past underinvestment in transport infrastructure, congestion is a real problem in our city. Under our latest 10-year Budget, we are investing $37 billion over this period to address this problem, although it will take time.
Downtown Waterfront, a new attraction in Auckland (Picture Supplied)
A better-connected City
We want Auckland to become a better-connected city, with more accessible, reliable and efficient public transport, greater densification leading to less sprawl, and improved public spaces that prioritise people and the environment.
All of this adds up to a better, more interesting and more vibrant city.
By 2050, 2.4 million people are predicted to live and work in Auckland, with many commuting by bus, train, ferry, cycle, e-scooter and on foot.
The investments we are making in Auckland now will help ensure that it continues to be a world-class place to live, work and visit for generations to come.
Phil Goff is Mayor of Auckland. He writes a regular Column in Indian Newslink. The above article has been sponsored by