On Thursday 20th January, as the sun rose behind Rangitoto casting new light on the Gulf Harbour, I found myself gathered in Takapuna with other civic leaders, construction workers, designers, mana whenua, as well as Eke Panuku and Council staff to participate in the karakia whakawātea; a blessing of the site before construction begins on the new town centre.
Getting this project to the point of construction has been a massive undertaking, and something that I have been committed to supporting since coming into this role. Takapuna has, for too long, suffered from poor urban design, unrealized potential and it has sadly limped along as a struggling town centre next to one of our most striking beaches on the North Shore.
Where there should be people and vibrancy the place has been crippled by a great big slab of asphalt where cars have dominated and people have been excluded.
Thanks to political advocacy, strong community support and the endorsement of the Takapuna Beach Business Association, the potential of Takapuna is being unlocked by Eke Panuku who took on the challenge of urban regeneration; a journey that started in 2016.
The name for the new space Waiwharariki was gifted by Ngāti Pāoa Iwi Trust, endorsed by mana whenua iwi, and approved in the December Business Meeting of the Local Board alongside the dual name Anzac Square. Waiwharariki is the mana whenua place name for the area in Takapuna and there is archival reference to it in a letter written by Ngāti Pāoa Rangitira Wiremu Hoete Ruikakara Te Waero who writes to Bishop Selwyn, (translated) “…we are working at the home of Patuone at Waiwharariki, at the North end of Takapuna.” This letter was written on October 13, 1845. There is something quite special about returning names to the land.
Wharariki is a species of coastal flax that is commonly used to weave soft baskets, rourou (small food basket) and toys. The name seems like a fitting symbol for the weaving of the hopes and aspirations of so many different people who have felt passionately about this public space. Without the folding and knitting of ideas, without the rounds of consultation and feedback, the korero, the design and redesign, without the ambition and optimism and the unwavering commitment to seeing Takapuna’s potential be fully realized, we would not have arrived here. This woven basket, Waiwharariki Anzac Square, will be an inspiring and transformational space, a town centre designed around people and a gift to us all.
Elected member of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board for the 2019-2022 Election Term.