NZTA showcases NZ heritage in harbour bridge landscaping


The NZ Transport Agency has mixed nuts and bolts with some of New Zealand's best written and spoken words to complete the first stage of a landscaping project under the northern end of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Words spoken or written by a prominent Maori chief from Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau and seven of New Zealand's well known writers have been painted on piers supporting the box girder that carries northbound traffic above Stokes Point.

"Given the importance of the bridge as the critical transport link across the Waitemata Harbour, it is fitting to recognise these eight New Zealanders who themselves have links with the harbour and the North Shore," says the NZTA's acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton.

The paintings include excerpts of poetry and prose written by Janet Frame, Bruce Mason, Frank Sargeson, A.R.D. Fairburn, Maurice Duggan, Kendrick Smithyman and Robyn Hyde (Iris Wilkinson).  There is also a quotation from the Waitakere chief, Te Waatarauihi, speaking in 1860 of his relationship to the area.

The paintings are known as 'The Trestle Leg Series' - engineers describe the piers supporting both box girders (clip-ons) at Stokes Point as trestle legs.

The NZTA project team is lead by landscape architect, Cathy Challinor from the design and environmental consultancy, Boffa Miskell.  Local iwi representatives and literary experts and artist Catherine Griffiths contributed to the series, and specialist signage companies, Signright and Designcraft, installed the work.

"It's a unique opportunity to showcase heritage important to Auckland and New Zealand in such a special and public place," says Cathy Challinor.

The NZTA made a commitment to the Stokes Point community that the area would be landscaped when its project to strengthen the box girders on either side of the harbour bridge was completed.

"Our neighbours give us fantastic support, and we hope the new look outside their front doors will be welcomed by them and by visitors to the area," Mr Mutton says.

Stage 1 has cost around $150,000.  The second stage of the landscaping, also costing around $150,000, will start later this year.  Stage 2 includes improved lighting and paving, and more recognition of natural and cultural landmarks acknowledging that Stokes Point was previously home to a busy Maori community at Te Onewa Pa.

"It is our wish that all the landscaping will reflect the importance Stokes Point has had, and continues to have, to many, many different generations:  a place to live, and a place to celebrate a wonderful part of Auckland's natural environment, as well as its cultural and engineering heritage," Mr Mutton says.