Hōngongoi (July) has arrived, along with the polar vortex, we’ve passed the shortest day of the year and Matariki’s appeared in the sky. Here’s our weekly roundup for the week ending July 2nd.

Header image credit: Kawe Roes/Stuff

Kia rere e ngā tereina!

In celebration of Matariki, two trains at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway have been gifted new names by local iwi Ngāti Te Ata. Their new names, Tāiki and Te Tuhionorangi, recall a tupuna and a historic pā site of the area.

“We’re hoping Tāiki will normalise te reo Māori throughout our communities and increase understanding and use of the language in a very public and joyful way.”


Te Wānanga to open

Today Te Wānanga, the waterfront public space opens and the new ferry berths will follow on Monday marking the completion of the massive waterfront redevelopment.

On Friday 2 July the much-awaited Te Wānanga public space on the edge of a people-prioritised Quay Street will open for Aucklanders to experience, and on 5 July the six new ferry berths, named Te Ngau O Horotiu, located in the Ferry Basin will receive their first passengers.

The six projects delivered by the Downtown Programme reflect an investment of $350 million by Auckland Transport and Auckland Council, $42 million of which was provided by the New Zealand Government for Te Ngau o Horotiu.

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The programme has not only strengthened the seawall, protecting the city for the next 100 years from rising sea levels and seismic events, it has also revitalised Quay Street and Galway Street. A new bus interchange now operates in Lower Albert Street and six new ferry berths have been added to Queens Wharf.

The sixth project, and focal point of the new downtown, is Te Wānanga.

Seeming to float above the harbour, this new public space has been designed to resemble a tidal shelf, forming a living hinge between the land and sea and shaped to emulate the rocky edges and sandstone headlands of the Waitematā.

A growing urban forest (ngahere) and native planting offer shade, shelter and carbon absorption while openings in the deck reveal movement of the tide and newly attached seeded mussel lines filtering the seawater below.


Innovating Streets and equal opportunity in city-design

Maurice Flynn, Access Coordinator at CCS Disability Action Waikato was part of Hamilton City Council’s Innovating Streets project group. He’s written a very interesting piece about two local tactical projects, the importance of including disability perspectives and universal access principles from the get-go.

He also looks at the recent decision to end the two trial projects, and what this means. The whole article is a really good read. This bit caught our eye, given the loud headlines generated by some projects, and how vital it is that objection for the sake of it doesn’t compromise the very real needs of underrepresented people in our communities.

People need to be real about what they are complaining about. There’s by far the most noise from people who dislike the trial because either they now have to manoeuvre their car and pay more attention to what and who is around them, or they may have to walk 1-2 minutes from a nearby carpark. The inconvenience of this is not comparable to the genuinely life-affecting barriers that disabled people face every day. If you are angry about now having to walk from one of the 2100 carparks within 5 minutes’ walk of Ward St, you may need to re-look at your priorities. Threatening small businesses with taking your custom elsewhere because you now have to walk for a couple of minutes doesn’t really mean you were ever a ‘loyal’ customer.

The negative feedback has made it clear to me that a large majority of our community does not like change, however change is what our disabled community rely on to have equal opportunity of participation in the communities that we belong to. I think it is about time we do things differently and reprioritise how we do design within our diverse city.


Fare-Free Saturday – and an Amazing Race!

A reminder that tomorrow is free public transport day! Details here and below. Note: you don’t need to have a HOP card in order to enjoy this offer.

Also, if previous fare-free days are an indication, expect to queue for a while as ferries are extremely popular.

What you need to know:

    • Fare-Free Saturday includes all buses, trains and commuter ferries, except Devonport and Waiheke Ferries. SkyBus services are also excluded.
    • It starts from the very first service on Saturday morning, through to the last services in the early hours of Sunday morning.
    • Tourist ferries, e.g. Rangitoto Island, are excluded, along with car/vehicle ferries
    • Please use an AT HOP card to tag on and off – you will not be charged.
    • Tagging on and off will help us know how many people have used our services on the day. If your card is registered, this will also help with COVID-19 tracing if required.
    • If you don’t have an AT HOP card you can still travel, your driver or AT staff will waive you aboard.
    • Please wear a face covering. During COVID-19 Alert Level 1 (yes that’s us) face coverings are required on all public transport.
    • Please scan with the Govt COVID Tracer app on all services.

These days are always a brilliant chance to go far and wide and test yourself and the system against the clock. If that’s your thing, join a bunch of like-minded urbanists for an Amazing Race, using Twitter and your navigational smarts. The fun starts at Britomart Train Station with a briefing at 1030am and an 11am start. For details, check out this Twitter thread and register here.


What value do we put on car parking?

It’s no longer free to park down by the ferry at Devonport. 50 cents an hour seems a bit steep for the car park’s usual patrons. Perhaps there’s a better use this extremely valuable triangle of waterfront could be put to?


CRL update

The CRL team continue to put out some interesting construction updates, such as these two this week.


One (lane) for the cyclists

Brooklyn Bridge in NYC is getting its first dedicated cycle lane. The innermost traffic lane is being barriered-off, painted green, and handed over to cyclists. Cyclists currently share the boardwalk above the traffic level with pedestrians and throngs of tourists. Cars? They’re just going to have to make do with one fewer lane.

This new bike lane comes after the –

largest one-year expansion of protected-bike-lane construction in New York City’s history (28 miles were installed citywide) and a biking boom that hasn’t waned, even in cold weather (bike counts over the East River were up 50 percent in November)

(via Curbed)


What’s not adding up?

The announcement of the EV Feebate Scheme last week has amplified the debate about the kinds of vehicles we drive and the effects those vehicles have on others and on our streets. Among the stories pitting EVs and double-cab utes against each other, this edition of Toby Morris’ Side-eye comic on the Spinoff is an example of really good storytelling. We’re all much more informed and concerned about climate change than we were a decade ago, he argues, but the choices we’re making at the car yard don’t seem to take that into account.

The Side Eye’s Two New Zealands: The double cab climate


Sleeping into innovation

Struggling to find a sustainable source of hardwood sleepers, KiwiRail landed on a 100% recycled polymer sleeper product made in the Netherlands. After a few years successfully using them on mainlines track and turnouts, the sleepers are going to be installed in tunnels and bridges too.

KiwiRail expands KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers application to tunnels and bridges


Speaking of Kiwirail

We’ve noticed that recently there seems to be a lot of track faults again. The Southern line is back to 20 minute frequencies during peak times due to “track faults identified between Papakura and Puhinui” and as of just over a week ago, AT said this was due to last for 4-6 weeks.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday old rail left beside the track at Morningside resulted in not only services being stopped early but trains needing to be checked for damage

“When the rail was removed it was left alongside the track for later collection, as is our usual practice,” said KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer Todd Moyle.

“Over the past week contractors have been cutting and stacking that rail ready for removal. On Wednesday afternoon it was found that a few units had clipped some of this rail.”

Moyle said KiwiRail was “taking this incident very seriously and working with our contractors to understand how this has happened”.

“The line was closed while inspections were carried out along that section of the line to ensure all the used rail is stored safely.”

The rail disruption from last year and early this year compounded the impact that COVID has had on passenger numbers and usage remains comparatively lower buses and ferries as a result. These kinds of incidents only further help to erode public confidence in using trains at a time we need many many more people to use them.


Puhinui Opening Set

Auckland Transport have announced the opening date for the new Puhinui Station – 26-July

The $69 million Puhinui Station in south Auckland will re-open on Monday 26 July 2021 – unlocking fast, frequent and easy connections to Auckland Airport.

The stunning architectural landmark includes mahi-toi (artwork) by Wāhi Wairua and the use of te reo Māori throughout – thanks to a partnership with mana whenua – with Te Ākitai Waiohua providing design leadership.

Closed off for construction since September 2019, the new station will connect trains with the electric AirportLink bus service, providing a sustainable and easy 10-12 minute journey to Auckland Airport from Puhinui Station.

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The station opening also coincides with the recently upgraded State Highway 20B and Puhinui Rd/Lambie Drive Improvements – providing dedicated T3/bus lanes and reliable travel times for customers.

Some of the new design features for the fully-staffed station include new escalators, stairs and large lifts to accommodate customers with luggage. There’s also public toilets that use recycled storm water for flushing, drop-off zones and short-term parking bays; along with new and larger platform shelters, a HOP ticket gateline, improved safety, lighting and CCTV.

The station was designed by Aurecon, with architectural design by Jasmax, and constructed by a McConnell Dowell and Built Environs joint venture. It’s future-proofed to allow for additional platforms and KiwiRail’s third and fourth rail lines.

It will be great to see the station open, and there’ll also be a public open date from 11am to 3pm on Saturday 24 July.

One issue with it though is AT are warning that people won’t actually be able to use the station on weekends for most of the rest of the year due to Kiwirail works for the 3rd main and some of these closures will extend through to 2024 when the works are completed.


Apartments in our heritage

And finally, a nice weekend read. If you, like us, were baffled that Auckland was recently named ‘the world’s most liveable city’ by The Economist, you’ll enjoy reading about the post-war socialist ideals behind a collection of apartment buildings in Wellingon and Auckland. These modernist apartment blocks were built as social housing, and represent a different urban form and density our cities could have had. However, the apartments were not loved by 1950s and ’60s New Zealanders, and gradually fell into disrepair:

This sad fate might stem from the hostility towards these buildings at the time, in a country which overwhelmingly favoured suburbia; something Plischke summarised by saying that New Zealanders believed flats were only ‘for prostitutes and intellectuals’.

The Greys Avenue Flats, now demolished.

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43 comments

  1. Are Kiwirail just completely incompetent that they can’t even perform the basic functions of track maintenance or renewal?

    1. Yes.

      They blamed AT’s EMUs for the rail fatigue (without explaining how Papakura-Pukekohe was affected). Now they are blaming their contractor for failing to do the repair job safely.

      Where does the buck stop at Kiwirail? Clearly not with management.

      1. Did they blame the EMU’s? I haven’t seen anything explicitly saying that.
        I would also be interested in a report, hopefully they’ve done / are doing one investigating how this maintenance disaster happened and what is being done to prevent it in the future. I would OIA it, but who knows if it exists and what its called.

        Hopefully the contractor or kiwirail has to pay damages to AT for the damaged EMUs.

      2. Why haven’t KR brought a works train in to pick all the Rail up ? . And when you go via the Southern Line there also is so much rail sitting besides the track there also which could do the same .

        1. I noticed spare rails and sleepers too close to the track when I was last on the train south of Papakura. It was in January (so it may have changed), but we commented on it. Concrete sleepers placed really close to the train as well as discarded just track sitting around. Think I’ve got some photos of some of it.

        2. Hedi I am still in the process of edit another Rail repairs video with film I have shot from the train showing all the track and sleepers that are laying besides the track of the last month or so , and the piles are quite staggering .
          And the shape of some of the track wouldn’t take much to shift it towards the live rails .

        1. incompetence – inability to do something successfully; ineptitude
          criminal negligence – opening rail corridors to public when unsafe.

  2. How much extra capacity do the new ferry berths give? What extra services could we realistically add?

      1. Nope, that was single-occupancy commuting in a monster truck with a snowplow fitted.

        In all seriousness there was an accident on the NW, but it was in the opposite direction. Past Lincoln Road the buses would have been stuck in the same garbage I was.

    1. A miracle – IRD looking at Ute compliance:

      Parker said the advice from IRD was that double-cab ute owners weren’t exempt from paying FBT, despite a popular belief that there was an exemption in place. Instead, IRD thinks the existing rules aren’t being properly enforced.

      – Hopefully this stops people from claiming there’s some sort of blanket clause which means no FBT on utes, although everyone seems to be a tax expert when it comes to some things. Usually around election time.

    1. How many trains were damaged by this fiasco at Morningside? Today the message is 6 car trains will be 3 car. This on top of the mysterious and ongoing (from days to weeks to who knows) fault near Puhinui which has already reduced the Southern line to 20 minutes. What is the extent of the damage and how will this impact fare free day tomorrow?

    2. Has that not been part of the Road User Forum’s strategy for years?
      Not content with just lobbying for more general road priority, but also, but normally more descretly, advocating for actual denial of transport resources for alternate modes.
      Hence even after the unforecasted huge success of the Northern Busway, in the initial Northern Motorway extensions and the massive upgrade to the Northwestern motorway zilch provisions were made for busways.
      Their times irrational opposition to even inexpensive cycleway, or even better pedestrian, provision, on the basis of modest loss of car parking falls into the same category.
      It took a change in Government to reverse years of managed decline in the rail system.
      As rail lane length can also be used as road freight lane length, not laying the rail tracks serve would serve only to remove a possible competing mode for the life time of the ships.

  3. Great to see a 2.4 metre wide two-way cycle lane being built on the Brooklyn Bridge. The same width paths could be built on the edges of the Auckland Harbour Bridge clipon decks allowing for walking and cycling, but still allowing a 7 metre wide carriageway for two lanes, wider than the 6.1 metres for each pair of lanes provided on the central bridge.

    Looking forward to visiting the Puhinui Station with its platforms ready for 2016 metre long 9 carriage trains!

  4. Can some one in the know advise us of the programme to establish the third/fourth rail adjacent the current system. I rode the train yesterday and there is not much evidence of progress so far.
    Some of the worksites will cause major disruption over time but there are parts that can be done in preparing track bed that’s easily accessed now.
    Thanks DFP

  5. Where are they going to put the third main at Puhinui? From the picture there doesn’t seem to be much room under the station. Is it going to go around the side?

    1. There’s actually room for 6 lines. 4 stopping tracks with platforms, and 2 bypass tracks. They can fit another track beside each of the current ones, going through the station, through the ‘tunnels’, formed by the platform access stair / escalators, and I think the two bypass tracks go around the whole thing, perhaps requiring some house demolition.

    2. I am guessing however from what I can see the Western Track will be freight only so there won’t be a platform on that side. Provision is made on the eastern side for a platform. You can see that new supports for the overhead have being installed along with work being done on widening the right of way and building up of the embankment to allow for an extra track. Some properties have had there backyard cut back to allow for this and new fences have being erected. There is the road overbridge at Cavendish road which is only two tracks at the moment don’t know what happens there.

  6. I’m delighted to hear that “New Zealanders believed flats were only ‘for prostitutes and intellectuals’.” Such a vote of support from Mr Plischke for apartment living. I’m happy to report therefore that the apartment building I designed and in which I live, must therefore be chock full of hookers and brainiacs, and I’ve never met such a nice bunch of people. They come across as ordinary city workers, students, retirees, families, government officials, etc, but now I am enlightened as to their true vocations in life. Marvellous.

    1. Lol. “What the public think and want” was hijacked by the loudest voices in the 1950’s and 60’s as much as it is today. There were plenty of people then who didn’t want to split their funds and time on a house and maintaining it. But there was a narrative to keep up, and keep it up we must.

    2. For more context about the intellectuals and prostitutes comment and a good read about the post war era of Auckland with a fair amount of it happening in Greys Ave, I can recommend ‘The Basset Road Machine Gun Murders’ by Scott Bainbridge. The street was known for sly groggers and prostitutes (John Banks’ parents and Madame Flora amongst others). Slightly pre dating those big flats that have just been demolished I think but all happening in the central city and suburbs.

  7. The Spinoff piece is very good. Thanks for the link to that. The gif of the top five selling vehicles shows the dramatic change.

  8. I didn’t realise the Greys Ave flats had been demolished. That was a lucky to get them down before some twit protected them like the Godawful Auckland City Council building at 1 Greys Ave.

  9. I cringed last night as I, an older white person, watched a succession of older white people talk about preserving vast chunks of heritage housing much of which is well past its use by date. I lived in houses around Mt Eden, Mt Albert, Sandringham that were not insulated and needed 80 year old timber replacing then. Many places were what real estate sales people referred to as “fubars.” (beyond all recognition are some of those words. They don’t add to the character of any street. Let’s have a sensible conversation about what is worth preserving, starting with the premise that if the house is close to a rapid transport route it should be considered for redevelopment.
    Let’s avoid a conversation that has the inherent theme that I don’t want poorer people in my neighbourhood – they only paid $700k for their apartment and my house is worth $2.5 million.
    Disclosure: I live opposite a four storey apartment and 400m from 8 and 20 storey apartments. Life goes on.
    If a developer wants to buy my house for a 6plus level apartment, show me the money.

  10. Looking at all that roof area at Puhinui why’o’why didn’t AT install Solar panels on the roof ? , as this building will consume alot of power with all those lifts and escalators operating all the time .
    In America they are installing them on a number of urban networks to help cut down the costs of electricity usage .
    So why can’t they do it here ? .

  11. “It’s no longer free to park down by the ferry at Devonport. 50 cents an hour seems a bit steep for the car park’s usual patrons. Perhaps there’s a better use this extremely valuable triangle of waterfront could be put to?’

    Why not increase the hourly parking charge at Devonport to $5.00 per hour. This might encourage the lazy Devonport residents to use the local bus service get to the ferry.

    1. BusDriver
      Why indeed are prices so low. Why can you park in the Devonport centre at no charge? And Milford. And no doubt a host of other town centres.

      And even where parking is charged, prices are so low that people park all day. I was speaking to our local fruit shop owners and I said, these cars in front of your shop, seem to be there for a couple of hours. All day was her reply. So parking that is intended to benefit shop owners does not. And the consequence in Takapuna is that AT has spent $30m on a car park, money that should have been spent on active mode share. It could have provided another 5km of bike lane? Too ambitious a target?

      Auckland is paying dearly that the Parking Strategy is not applied, all over Auckland. So when I hear the Mayor say we need government to make changes to achieve emissions targets it ignores all the levers that are available to AT.

      It must be disappointing for you BD that the Devonport bus runs only every 30 minutes. Tens of thousands of cars and a handful of buses. I wonder if the Local Board, many of who live there, and the local councilors have a plan to do better?

  12. Is it just me or is the new waterfront a total let down?

    I was expecting some activation of the water front like in Wellington. But it’s just a deck extension of what was there before. No access to the water. Why couldn’t some of the new deck space been stepped down so we could sit at the water level. Very early concept drawings appeared to even show steps down into the water.

    1. Give it a few years , and where those trees are the base of the metal rubbish skip that they are in will be at water level so will that make you happy ? as the bottom will full out of them .

    2. Swimming is incompatible with busy ferry berths. Steps right down to the water can go in other places along the waterfront.

    3. Steps into a deep harbour in such a high risk environment would lead to fatalities. It is an area with at times significant tidal movement and is busy with manouevreing vessels. There are also significant adjacent under wharf and under quay areas. It is also immediatly adjacent to a substantial night time entertainment area dependent on plying patrons with alcohol to survive economically.

      1. Yes i understand why you don’t want swimming next to manouvering ferries, but they could have had one of the plaza platforms down at water level so you could get up close and personal with the water.

        Though i would have thought the tidal and vessel movements were wrose 600m over on karanga plaza in the viaduct, yet they have public steps down into the water there.

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