The other day TV1 played a fascinating video from 1982 – 31 years ago – looking at what the potential future of the Auckland Waterfront was.


What surprised me was just how similar it was to either what has happened or is in current plans. In particular:

  • That Queens Wharf would become a public space – although I did like the idea suggested of having left all of the sheds there and turning the wharf into a street with shops and hospitality. We could have had the wharf as a really neat precinct.
  • That it predicted almost perfectly what would happen at the Viaduct Harbour.
  • That the Wynyard Quarter was suggested as a location to redevelop with housing and commercial buildings.

I guess the most disappointing thing about all of this is that despite the ideas, it appears nothing was done for about 15 years and even then improvements only got a push along thanks to us being to host the America’s Cup. I’d be interested to know from some of our older readers of this was the case or if there other things going on in the background that stopped improvements from happening sooner.

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  1. The other fascinating thing was this was presented by Stephen Smythe, of Greenways (good) and ElTrack (awful) fame.
    I know there were lots of big dreadful plans floating around in the late eighties, but the stock market and related crashes put paid to them all, as well as related developers for a long time.
    Joel Cayford has some good stuff on his blog. The Harbour Board showed of plans of boulevarding Queen St in early 80’s. but Joels suspects PR stunt from their other crazy plans.
    Embarrassing that is took until late nineties for anything to happen here at all, 20 to 30 years after most other major cities.
    Would have been frankly dreadful living in Auckland until late nineties with 0 waterfront accessibility.

    1. Seriously, how often do the South Auckland proles visit the waterfront now? The answer is never, because of a lack of income. This will change when the Living Wage of $18.40 an hour is brought in.

      1. That is a good point. Do need to ensure waterfront caters for people from all backgrounds. Viaduct and Princes fail at this, but see people of all ages, backgrounds and incomes at Wynyard. Do need some family friendly weekend PT fares and this will help too.
        Though also people of low incomes always seem to know about the great fishing spots on the waterfront, such as the far end of Wynyard past the tanks, Queens and various other quiet but beautiful spots we have all around the city.

        1. Is it just me or this a bit over the top? Catering to all people what does that mean? Cater to multi billionaires? What does catering to lower socio economic people mean having sausage sizzles?

        2. It means not taking large tracts of the best sections of Auckland (such as the waterfront) and turning them into places for the wealthy.

        3. Most of what is open so far at Wynyard are large open public spaces with free activities. An awesome playground, free, half court basketball, free, plaza with built in sun loungers, free, waterfront promenade with cool lifting bridge, free, grassed area perfect for picnics, free, big observation structure, free… all with free carparking and a free bus.

          Yes there are plenty of flash and quite pricey restaurants, but lets not ignore the truly great job they have done with the public areas either.

    2. Agree. Investment largely depends on the business cycle. 87 to about 2000 was very bad in nz. Little public or private investment. Even the property boom of the 2000s only only resulted in mainly lower rise in the city. It’s taken britomart 15 years to get to where it is.
      I imagine wynyard will soak up capital for the next 15. Releasing more land before then wouldn’t be in the interests of lots of people.

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