It’s Friday again and Christmas is just around the corner. Here’s our final weekly roundup of the year.

This week in Greater Auckland

CRL Cash Grab

The Herald wrote about how the YMCA are trying to get $18 million out of the Auckland Council for the CRL passing under their property on the corner of Pitt St and Greys Ave

YMCA North Inc wanted $18 million compensation for Auckland Council compulsorily acquiring land under its valuable city site for the $5.5 billion City Rail Link but the council only offered it $262,000.

The amount of compensation due under the Public Works Act for an underground portion of YMCA’s land in Greys Avenue being used for the 3.4km underground rail project was at the centre of three judicial hearings in the last year: first in the Land Valuation Tribunal, then two High Court cases.

YMCA argued that it deserved the $18m compensation for the council taking underground land beneath a 1684sq m portion of its site, restricting future apartment development opportunities with big subterranean car parking.


YMCA argued that its land could best be used for an apartment development. That would be the highest and best use of the site where about 329 units over 11 levels could be built.

Crucially, up to 455 car parks in a six or seven-level basement would be needed to support a project of that size to make it meet market expectations, it said.

But that “highest and best use” of its land was now severely compromised as a result of the acquisition and covenant.

The suggestion that they need 455 car parks to make a development in the city viable is laughable. There are plenty of developments, far much less well connected than this site that are being delivered with far lower parking ratios and some with no car parking at all.

Thankfully it seems that the High Court agreed.

Speaking of the CRL, they’ve been reached plenty of milestones over the last week, including:

New Auckland Transport Board Chair

Auckland Transport finally has a new permanent board chair.

Auckland Council has announced the appointment of Richard Leggat as chair of the Auckland Transport board from 1 February 2024.

Mayor Wayne Brown led the selection panel and welcomes Richard Leggat to the leadership of the Auckland Transport board.

“Richard was the panel’s preferred candidate from a very strong field. The panel appreciated his strategic and straight-forward approach, and he will bring a fresh perspective to lead Auckland Transport.

“He is well placed to drive the initiatives and innovations needed to improve transport outcomes in Auckland. It is no simple task, and I look forward to working with him to fix Auckland.”


“Richard will become chair of Auckland Transport from 1 February 2024.

This is a great appointment and Richard has been involved in transport for some time, particularly around cycling, such as being on the panel for the previous government’s Urban Cycleway Programme.

Myer’s Park upgrade complete

Earlier this week the council celebrated the completion of the upgrade to Myers Park and the Mayoral Dr underpass – also covered here by 1 News.

The much-anticipated upgrade of Myers Park is now complete, with a boardwalk, 24 new native trees, wetland garden, flood mitigation elements to collect and drain extreme rainfall, concrete detailing in the underpass, and a new stairway to Queen Street.

The Auckland Council project set out to make Myers Park more attractive and inclusive. The inclusivity of the park will be realised further when Waimahara – the mana whenua-led, multi-sensory artwork in the underpass – becomes fully interactive by March 2024.

They’ve also put additional focus on the artwork included as part of the upgrade to the Mayoral Dr underpass

This summer, Aucklanders and visitors who step into Myers Park will discover something deeply meaningful and magical.

At the northern end of the park, they’ll see a shimmering of aqua blue light beneath the underpass and feel the emotion of mana whenua artistry in a contemporary form they might never have experienced before.

Named Waimahara, this new artwork will seek to awaken the senses of visitors to the presence of ancient waters, now flowing beneath the ground, in this inner-city valley.

Auckland Council’s Public Art team has worked with artist Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Manu), a team of talented mana whenua composers and several NZ companies, including IION and Kaynemaile – to create an extraordinary artwork; unique in New Zealand, if not the world.

Opening by the end of the year, initially in an ambient (not interactive) form, Waimahara is integrated into the landscape of the Mayoral Drive underpass in Myers Park. A sensorial experience of light and audio effects – made up from birdsong, taonga pūoro, water sounds – will greet visitors in this distinct Tāmaki Makaurau site. The presence of visitors and active weather can both further intensify and change the light and sound experiences in this place.

Road Crashes costing us

Radio NZ Reports:

Road crashes are costing New Zealand in more ways than one. As the summer holidays roll in, a former top road safety cop wants everyone to slow down on the roads.

The latest data from the Ministry of Transport shows the social cost of crashes was $9.77 billion in 2021 – 4 percent of gross domestic product or GDP.

New Zealand was also far behind other countries with 7.3 road deaths per 100,000 people for 2022.

That compared to 2.1 in Sweden and 4.5 in Australia.

Chief executive of Global Road Safety Partnership and former assistant commissioner of Road Policing David Cliff said any crash at more than 30 km/h increased the likelihood of serious harm, so one solution was to adjust speed limits.

“If New Zealand were to take this bull by the horns and halve the trauma rate that’s potentially around a $5 billion [a year] saving… Multiply that across 10 years you’re talking about $50 billion. Huge opportunities for New Zealand to reduce its trauma levels.”

Not many better sites

Newshub ran a classic NIMBY article about locals oppose a development in there area. It was full of all the usual complaints and loaded language about the horror that someone else might live in their neighbourhood. This one though also includes some great comments Scott Caldwell and developer Mark Todd of Ockham. But one thing that I really did have to laugh at was this from the resident opposing change.

Cope said he supports increased density, but that this is a poorly thought-out spot for a mid-rise.

This is the site.

It’d be hard to find too many better spots for an apartment than right next to a train station 2 stops from the city, also on a cycleway that will connect to the city.

A threat to our health

With the new transport minister launching a full culture war against any form of transport that isn’t a car or truck driving on a road, by Dr Kirsty Wild and Alistair Woodward have written a great piece about why not investing in active modes is a threat to our health.

One way we can reduce the pressure on our health care systems is to tackle our high rates of preventable diseases and injuries. In transport this means making it easier and safer to walk, cycle and use public transport. Far from being a ‘waste of money’, as Brown has suggested in his letter to councils, walking and cycling projects are some of the ‘best buys’ in health.

Walking is our most popular form of exercise, across all age groups, genders and ethnicities. Nearly 60 percent of adult New Zealanders get their primary exercise from walking. It’s also the ‘base layer’ or foundation of our transport systems, with almost all transport trips (including driving and public transport) involving some walking. In Wellington, over a quarter of all transport trips (27 percent) are made on foot. Walking is our cheapest and most equitable transport mode. If you doubt its importance, ask yourself if you’d rather be unable to drive for a week, or unable to walk.

Yet despite its critical importance to both our health and the effectiveness of our transport systems, walking is becoming less safe. Rising levels of traffic are making it harder and more dangerous to cross roads, and even to use footpaths (which, in New Zealand, cars too often cross). This has led to declining levels of walking among adults and kids. It’s also having a flow-on effect on our ability to use public transport. Walking and cycling are the foundation of our public transport systems. If you can’t safely walk or bike to a bus stop, you can’t catch the bus. We need to make walking safer (with raised crossings, better paths and so on) if we want to protect the walking people already do. It’s also essential if we want to reduce our carbon footprint.


A Christmas tree that would give Mayor Wayne Brown

We hope you have a great and safe Christmas.

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  1. Id hate to think what the actual/real cost of building and maintaining that artwork going under the Myers Park overbridge in what is effectively borrowed money. If Auckland Council really wants to reign in spending they need to stop saying yes to proposals like this, or at least defer them until it is fiscally prudent. It reminds that they contributed most of the cost of that controversial (many would say stupid) state house ‘artwork’ taking up space on the wharf downtown, with 8 chandeliers using power 24/7. But i guess that got the tick because of the Maori artist and tenuous connection of the chandeliers to early navigators

    1. Isn’t Santa bringing you any presents.

      Public Art enhances a city. We need more of it IMO.

      Plus “The work sits at the water’s edge on Queens Wharf, facing the Waitematā Harbour – an out-of-place piece of residential architecture on the utilitarian wharf. It was donated to Auckland by real estate firm Barfoot & Thompson Ltd and other anonymous benefactors in 2017 and is the largest gift of public art that Auckland has ever received.”

      1. We can still do public art without it being ‘at any cost’. The CBD is home to two of our top learning institutions, I can’t think of a more appropriate way to showcase how important those places are to the city centre than tapping their talented students for public artworks.

      1. ‘In slang, a troll is a person who posts or makes inflammatory, insincere, digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages online or in real life, with the intent of provoking others into displaying emotional responses, or manipulating others’ perception, thus acting as a bully or a provocateur’. Wikipedia

        Just because someone (DM) has an opinion that is not the same as yours, does not make him a troll. I would say “Don’t feed the fluffy bunnies and they will go away”, but if that happened, 75% of the posters on GA would disappear.

        It’s Christmas, try to be charitable and respect everyone’s opinions, not just the ones that you agree with.

        1. Making an inflammatory comments about GA posters, then insisting everyone be charitable.

          Thanks Karen.

        2. Oh plzzzz – Scott was being far less charitable but not a word from anyone else to call him out.
          I’d like to think 2024 could bring a few new year resolutions from all social media users:
          1. Don’t be a fluffy bunny
          2. Accept other people may not agree with you and respect others opinions
          3. Accept that opinions are not always facts
          4. Understand that the CO2 cost of internet arguments is the equivalent of taking 3 million cars off the road (see item 3)
          Other than that, I wish you all a happy and safe Christmas and a more inclusive New Year.

        3. You’re just shitty because you agreed with a troll and said troll was called out for it. Enjoy your new clown government.

  2. Fun fact – the original owners of the Downtown shopping centre (now Commercial Bay) actually got a development consent with underground parking before the CRL was approved, so CRL had to pay them out there too. The underground car park from memory was like 3 levels for a future skyscraper (similar to what was built in the end, except that the CRL tunnels take a wedge out of the basement plot so it is a bit odd-shaped down there in some areas).

    But that was 3 levels. To argue that 6-7 levels of car parking are needed in the City Centre is indeed laughable.

    1. Commercial bay is at sea level so basement depth is limited. Compare to the original sky city consent, which was 2 levels deeper than 6 levels built (they ran short on time).
      To me it sounds very strange that the tunnel could be constructed through a space that hadn’t been purchased. The value of compensation should have been sorted out long ago. YMCA are perhaps claiming a bit much but they do have a big site. The tunnels certainly prevent a deep basement on one side. Perhaps the tunnels should have been built on the other side of the road, where apartments on multiple titles already exist and a case for a deep basement can’t be argued.
      The Meadowbank station apartments look good, shame they’re not larger. They’ll make it quieter for the adjacent houses.

  3. Art, poetry, music, architecture, books; are what make the great cities, great. Auckland has a long way to go in terms of being considered a “city”, we have less than half the population of what an international city would be considered, and we need to build a lot of apartments between now and five million population.

    The Waihoratiu Path is a beautiful addition to our inner city, with the Myer’s Park connection just leaving the Basement Theatre / Grey’s Ave car park as the only further connection that needs to be made; perhaps a four metre wide path through the car park, to not offend the defenders of car parks, too much.

    We are very close to being able to wander whilst pondering all the way from The Ferry Building to Saint Kevin’s Arcade, before meandering and loitering all the way back down the waterfall / rapids / swamp/ river / stream / sewer to Waitematā Subway Station.

    Pohewa / Pāhewa:

    How beautiful to pave paradise: with a wiggly wiggly windy pedestrian and young child friendly route right through our inner city!

    And no more underground car parks, my children are almost run over every time we walk through the city, no more PLEASE?

  4. What’s not to like about Richard Leggart,a cricketer,played for Canterbury,and bowled leggies, probably a dab hand with a tennis racquet as well.
    Simon Cope,may need to get out a bit more,l’d like to think l may be able to help, a walk around Cornwall Park,One Tree Hill would expose him to a diverse range of Aucklanders,in hopefully a non threatening environment, l am there a couple of times a week, he is welcome to join me.

  5. The Council should not back down on the Ockham development. It would set a nasty (albeit not legal) precedent. There is a Cope in every inner city neighbourhood.

    Once a “new face” to the area (he only arrived post 2000), he wants to now block others coming. He wants public space (the street) privatised for his use, but not afford new entrants the same privilege. He complains about traffic noise but probably drives out and back every day. He agrees with providing more housing supply and density, just not near him.

    His petition is a littany of emotive language, some with sinister undertones, and baseless claims. If Council sides with these people, despite developers meeting all requirements, there is no hope for Auckland.

    1. Govt has just sided with him, is the sad fact. “Yes to development, but not where people already are!” is practically their housing strategy.

    2. Council needs to tell these entitled tossers to move to the farm if they don’t like living with other people next door.

      Unfortunately the new government is a NIMBY protection society. They paid good money for the new government you see.

  6. Hi, Thanks for a great year of ‘weekly roundups’. I’ve loved following the links to discover stuff I wouldn’t have found on my own.
    I’m going to forward on the Wild & Woodward piece to my new (youngish) National MP asking her if she really wants to align herself with Simeon’s antics.

    Have a great Christmas and New Year. We appreciate your work and look forward to what you can provide us next year.

    ​Meri Kirihimete / Merry Christmas (NB: in the correct order)

  7. Love the new Meyers Park under pass & The Strand station upgrade, need to see these both very soon.
    All the items interesting.
    Yes walking & active modes so healthy, we need more of this encouraged by the new government, not diminished.

  8. Poor Rb Scrooge. The Ghost of Christmas Past might make mention of deadly attack on the homeless sheltering under the Myers Park underpass, a place where no-one would willingly go after dark. The Ghost of Christmass Present might show the homes in the new Kainga Ora wrap-around rehab of apartments on Greys Ave and the City Mission’s base on Federal Street, a short walk from Myers Park. And the Ghost of Christmas future might warn of unhappy travellers trying to inch their cars through the crowded, fume-ridden streets of tax-cut Auckland, desperately looking for the Last Free Car Park Space. Or perhaps of people walking about, enjoying the wonders of an evening’s artworks, as Scrooge’s rusting car is towed off to the Great Electric Furnaces of Glenbrook, to be recycled for bike frames and bus parts.
    God Bless you, Everyone!

  9. A threat to our health. I laid a complaint with the advertising standards authority over a McDonald’s tv ad,” its good to be the driver”. The gist of the complaint was ,it promoted distracted driving. I have just received the reply,the complaint was not upheld,but not a unanimous decision.
    So ,one of the leading causes of health issues/deaths ,decides to link up with another cause of horrendous injuries/ deaths in a bid to promote sales of their product. Sometimes l wonder what people are thinking at times,l,m imagining the story boarding part of the pitch,and everyone gushing over it,without giving much thought to the externalities, maybe the “whatabout ” person was off sick ,that day.

  10. Whilst I agree that there should be large scale developments next to railway stations I do feel for the residents who are going to be shaded by this development especially # 19.

  11. And at long Last there is somewhere at The strand for those that want a Toilet , Snack or a Drink or a Sit Down before the train/s depart ;-

  12. For those that are getting their Child a Thomas the Tank Engine set for Christmas , do not show them this as it may make them Sad

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