Te Auaunga: Walmsley and Underwood Reserves Te Auaunga: Walmsley and Underwood Reserves Te Auaunga: Walmsley and Underwood Reserves Te Auaunga: Walmsley and Underwood Reserves Te Auaunga: Walmsley and Underwood Reserves Te Auaunga: Walmsley and Underwood Reserves Te Auaunga: Walmsley and Underwood Reserves Te Auaunga: Walmsley and Underwood Reserves

Te Auaunga: Walmsley and Underwood Reserves

Restoring the stream provides wider benefits for the community

Te Auaunga is an exemplar of water sensitive design in the sense that it preserved and restored the natural environment, provides stormwater infrastructure with multiple benefits, and creates an environmental framework that enables urban intensification, uniquely within a brownfield development.

The project restored 1.5km of Te Auaunga, daylighted seven piped tributaries, restored eight hectares of open space, and treated the water quality of the contributing catchment. Community amenities were added, including shared pathways and pedestrian bridges, community orchards, an outdoor classroom, and community fale and atea space. Natural play areas were introduced, with ngā taonga tākaro to interpret the environmental and cultural narratives of the site.

Collaborative design was undertaken with mana whenua, the local community, local government and other stakeholders. This was facilitated through design workshops, a community liaison group, governance meetings, public open days, and school workshops to ensure all views were considered within the project objectives and final design.

At the start, Te Auaunga was typical of many channelised urban streams with mown grass and pockets of exotic trees. Historically, Te Auaunga meandered through Wai o Rakataura, a very large wetland, formed by the confluence of lava flows from Puketāpapa and Owairaka. Archaeological records indicate ongoing Māori settlement near Te Auaunga and farming by early pioneers. The area was developed as a public housing estate from the 1950’s.

The community is challenged by high scores for socio-economic deprivation, which is likely to be directly attributable to flooding and sewer overflows in the catchment. Additionally, the area has the lowest level of open space per head of population in the Auckland Region.

Despite poor ecological values in the project site, the stream’s location within Walmsley and Underwood Reserves provided significant potential for enhancement. The restitution of the original stream-wetland system provided an opportunity to attenuate flooding while also treating urban stormwater. The remedy of these issues along with upgrades to open space is expected to significantly improve living conditions for residents. The local community will ultimately experience the long-term positive impacts made possible by this infrastructure project.

In accordance with the aspirations of Mana Whenua, the entire adjacent contributing catchment was treated, through gross pollutant traps, floodplain and tributary wetlands, swales, and raingardens. The restoration of Te Auaunga and Wai o Rakataura is a missing link that connects coastal habitats to hill-country environments, across diverse geologies and hydrologies.

In addition to physical improvements to the stream and reserves, the project delivers many social benefits to the community, including a local plant nursery employing disadvantaged youth and long-term unemployed, and apprenticeships on a work-to-employment scheme. These initiatives fostered community place-making and development and gave a voice to local community aspirations.

Two new pedestrian bridges were designed by Boffa Miskell, EDC and AECOM. The bridges have a ‘broken back’ section to give emphasis to the rising ground on one side (toward Owairaka). The transparent railing, the simple planes of the piers, and the darkly painted beams emphasise this horizontal form.

The local community had a strong desire for an outdoor classroom space and community fale to operate as a heart for the finished Reserve. Mana Whenua saw this as an opportunity to deliver manaakitanga, as a place for welcome, nourishment, and restitution. Boffa Miskell engaged M+H architects to work with the artist Filipe Tohi and the community to design a multicultural fale. Boffa Miskell developed a location, ātea space, and waharoa with the Architect.

The development of Walmsley and Underwood Reserves meant an entirely new suite of furniture, structures, and other landscape items. Boffa Miskell collaborated in the design of all these elements, and supervised their installation. The curation of these varied elements was especially important to ensure the cohesive identity of the project amongst the many design deliverables.

Te Auaunga restored the environment, to provide for the community. The project relied on innovative use of natural and renewable resources to achieve holistic benefits. Te Auaunga demonstrates effectively working across disciplines, and with technical groups and stakeholders, to deliver a large-scale bioengineering project with enhanced community outcomes.

Our role

Boffa Miskell were Design Lead in a team with AECOM NZ for planning, consent, and design. We were also the project Landscape Architect, Ecologists, and Streamwork Designer. Our role continued through 18 months of construction supervision.

The facts

ClientAuckland Council Healthy Waters
Project teamMark Lewis
Sarah Collins
Hanna O'Donoghue
Caroline Patton
Sarah Flynn
Worked with


Auckland Council


Fulton Hogan

McCoy + Heine Architects

Filipe Tohi

Harko Brown

Kaitiaki for: Te Kawerau a Maki; Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki; Ngāti Tamaoho; Te Akitai, Waiohua – Tāmaki; Ngati Te Ata; and Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei

Project date2016 - 2019