Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One is a proposed five kilometre stretch of shared coastal pathway that will connect Wellington and the Hutt Valley along a restored harbour edge, building more resilience into this vital transport connection. The constrained coastal corridor means that additional land will have to be created; consenting a varied reclamation along the edge of Te Whanganui a Tara required a very high bar to be met under the provisions of the NZ Coastal Policy Statement and the RMA.
Wedged between the rail line and the state highway a narrow and incomplete one-way walking and cycling path has long existed, however most cyclists elect to ride on the highway shoulder towards Wellington, and have no option but to ride on the shoulder towards Pito-one. With cyclist numbers growing and new cycling infrastructure being rolled out in both Wellington and the Hutt Valley, the provision of a safe, physically separated route along the harbour had become imperative.
Since 2013 Isthmus has been working closely with Waka Kotahi, Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika, local authorities and an extensive consultant team to design a solution which would meet the cycling and walking objectives and reconnect the community with the coastal edge. To do so we had to navigate complex statutory requirements, protect and restore existing habitats and resolve complex technical constraints. A land-people-culture approach led to an overarching vision to restore of the mana and mouri of Te Ara Tupua. Listening to mana whenua revealed the names and stories of this landscape—the design will reconnect these sites of significance with the people and ecology along this stretch of the coastline. The project acknowledges the scale and significance of the dynamic physical landscape, all the while celebrating and breathing life into this layered cultural landscape.
Partnering with mana whenua
The project team formed a partnership with mana whenua to develop a set of project-specific design principles and a Kaitiaki Strategy which embed mātauranga māori at all levels to guide design outcomes. The coastline between Ngā Ūranga and Pito-one is home to many sites of significance to mana whenua. Ngā Ūranga was the pā site of Te Wharepouri, while Pito-one was home to the pā of Honiana Te Puni. Both sites are significant to Taranaki Whanui along with the bays and headlands between them.
An integrated approach to the the design means that te ao māori is embedded into the ‘bones’ of the project, for example the way that the new land has been shaped as well as the cultural expression of features on the land. Design concepts for project features including the bridge, the ūranga, path surface markings, signage and sculptures have been developed together with Taranaki Whānui to reflect the history of the land and people.
Ecology, resilience and user experience
The coastline between Ngā Ūranga and Pito-one is a crucial infrastructure corridor. Thousands of people and tonnes of freight move along it each day in trains, trucks, cars and buses. As well as providing a safe way to walk and cycle, Te Ara Tupua’s new seawalls and rock embankments (revetments) will help protect this corridor from the damaging effects of storms. These storms, like the one that washed out the rail line in 2013, will only become more frequent and more severe as our climate changes and sea levels rise.
At the business case stage several alternative routes were developed for public consultation. The harbour-side option was chosen because it offered a wider path, greater safety and connectivity, access to the coast and greater resilience benefits. The coastal route gave us the opportunity to naturalise the highly modified coastal edge and to preserve and enhance terrestrial and marine habitats. The new harbour edge will preserve existing gravel beaches—a nationally threatened habitat—for at-risk bird species and include safe offshore habitats for coastal birds. Eco-sourced native plants will further naturalise the restored coastal edge.
To enhance the coastal experience for users and reinstate natural character, six ūranga (landings) have been located at key sites along the length of the path. These gathering spaces encourage the appreciation of the natural and cultural history of the coastal landscape and create a more naturalised coastal edge. The precise location and form of each ūranga relates to the underlying geology; each has it’s own natural character and is named after these cultural landmarks—Piki Wahine; Tahataha Roa; Paroro-rangi Point; Karanga Point; Te Ana Bay and Horokiwi.
The path arrives in Pito-One at Honiana Te Puni Reserve. The reserve sits on reclaimed land and adjoins the beach, Korokoro Stream, and the Pito-One Interchange. It is a site of significance for Taranaki Whānui who have a relationship and ongoing connection—ahi kā—in the area and the mana and mouri of Honiana Te Puni. The upgraded Honiana Te Puni Reserve will become a destination offering increased presence for Taranaki Whānui and improved amenity for recreational users and existing clubs. New buildings and landscapes within the reserve have been designed for informal gatherings and events that celebrate the narrative of Honiana Te Puni and Taranaki Whānui.
As part of the consent team, Isthmus developed the overall masterplan for the project with inputs further supported by a landscape and visual assessment, simulations, and a comprehensive CEDF (Cultural and Environmental Design Framework). In early 2021 the project was approved by an Expert Consenting Panel under the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act. Enabling works could begin in mid-2021 and the project is expected to take approximately three years to complete.
Together the three sections of Te Ara Tupua will make cycling, walking, skating, scooting and running between Wellington and the Hutt Valley a safe and attractive option for more people. More users of the shared path will mean less emissions from transport and less pressure on roads and public transport services—the infrastructure to provide this has catalysed the restoration of an important cultural coastal landscape.
Lisa Rimmer, Sean Burke, James Pattullo, Tessa Macphail, Zach Barker, Alan England, Lydia Franken,
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
Mana whenua Partners