Coast |

Te hokinga mai.
Taumanu Reserve.


A true ‘landscape’ project, Onehunga foreshore project is about creating land and habitat and has three simple objectives: recreate the harbour edge, re-establish the mana of the coast by creating new places for people and new habitats for flora and fauna, and reconnect people with the sea by spanning the wide expanse of the motorway.

A concept sketch shows the line of the foreshore prior to motorway construction (1970s) and the newly created foreshore, headlands and beaches.

At Taumanu Reserve, the key moves have been to acknowledge and build on the existing volcanic landscape, replicate the original coastal cliff alignment by displacing the line to the seaward side of the motorway, build a new coastal-edge landscape behind it and connect the coastal edge via a new pedestrian and cycle bridge.

Throughout, the design references the volcanic and cultural significance of Onehunga and focuses on rebuilding the ‘natural’ characteristics of the coastal edge by using the geologies and coastal processes of surrounding areas as a guide for a new landform.

The new coastline stretches out for more than a kilometre and within that area are nine new beaches – three layered with sand one metre deep to encourage swimming, and one gravel and shell beach planted to deter animals from disturbing the nesting birds.

Community projects in the open space are good only if they respond to the users. For this to work, the objectives and benefits need to be laid out. Often, conflicts between users are resolved when advocates of different specialist groups come together.

— Greg Hannah, Auckland Council

A new crossing, Taumanu Reserve Bridge, is a low, elegant pedestrian bridge designed to be of the land. Throughout the project, the influence and guidance exercised by a Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Working Group underpinned the grounding of the Onehunga project in its cultural context through the application of mātauranga Māori into project processes and some of the physical manifestations, such as the bridge’s artwork.

The interior paneling was the result of collaboration with artist Bernard Makoare, and abstracts ideas about tides, fish scales, the patterning of mudflats and spiral shells. One side of the bridge has a hardwood timber balustrade – a reference to the maritime history and construction of the nearby port; the other balustrade integrates the timber cladding with the bridge’s steel truss, a subtle reference to the form of flax, which once grew abundantly on this coast.

Mana whenua played an important role in the works at Onehunga, with the five Māori groups with traditional links to the area (Ngāti Te Ata, Te Ākitai, Ngāti Tamaoho, Ngāti Whātua and Te Kawerau a Maki) as kaitiaki, providing advice to the consultants, ensuring that the story of the land is told through the new works.
— Sean Burke, Isthmus

Concept showing layering of headland rock elements.

Team Members
David Irwin, Sean Burke, Nada Stanish, Alan England, Matt Jones, Travis McGee,
Past Team Members

Danbi Park, George Woolford

Consultant Team
Tonkin & Taylor
Bernard Makoare (artist)

Fulton Hogan
Smith & Davies

Auckland Council

2017 NZILA Te Karanga o te Tui
2017 International Federation of Landscape Architects, Outstanding Award Parks & Open Space
2017 International Federation of Landscape Architects, Outstanding Award Infrastructure
2016 Best Awards, Public and Institutional Spaces (silver pin)
2016 Winner WAN Transport Award