28 September 2018 Kate Palmer

An innovative and environmentally sustainable approach has reinvigorated the unique and historically significant Te Onewa , creating a safe and accessible space for the public to reflect and enjoy spectacular views of the Waitemata Harbour.  

The restoration project was carried out by the Auckland Harbour Bridge Alliance (AHBA) and recognised by all involved an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of the headland to māna whenua and restore mauri to the site.    

Te Onewa was a major headland , occupied for many centuries. The site and surrounding area were sold to the Government in 1841, and the surrounding land was subsequently sold to private parties and subdivided into residential lots.  

David Ashby, WSP Opus Principal Bridge Engineer Asset Management, has worked on the Auckland Harbour Bridge for almost 50 years.  

“When Te Onewa was chosen as the northern approach to the bridge in the 1950s, any kind of cultural or historic associations tended to be disregarded in the name of progress. As such, the bridge became the dominant built feature at and over the Te Onewa headland. The values of the were affected by the presence of the bridge and the various modifications to the land over the years,” he says.  

The restoration project began in 2008. At that point Ashby says, Te Onewawas largely neglected, and full public access was restricted. The desire to increase and encourage public use of the site, and to acknowledge its historical and cultural significance, had to co-exist with the access limitations and safety protocols necessary to ensure the security of the AHB.  

“Aside from a memorial for workers who had died during the bridge construction, there was no celebration of the heritage and cultural significance of the site. An existing defensive ditch, remnant of the original fortification remained along the eastern part of the site and a small wooden pedestrian bridge was provided to cross the ditch. “ 

Key to success was resolving the many and varied needs of a diverse range of stakeholders, ranging from māna whenua, local and central government and local residents. While there were some shared concerns there were also a number of competing concerns and priorities.   

The objective was to provide an opportunity to allow people and future generations to experience Te Onewa  in relation to the natural environment of the harbour and coastal edge, the bridge infrastructure, and the history and culture of the site.  

From start to finish, this project was about working together collaboratively and rebuilding connections. A significant outcome of this collaboration was the design partnership with input from local iwi, residents and other stakeholders.  

In September, the project was recognised with a prestigious Engineering NZ Arthur Mead Award.  

Auckland Harbour Bridge Alliance  

In 2012 an Alliance was formed to manage and maintain the Auckland Harbour Bridge (AHB). The AHB Alliance (AHBA) partners include the NZ Transport Agency (the Agency) as the asset owner, Total Bridge Services (a joint venture between TBS Farnsworth, WSP Opus and Fulton Hogan) and Beca. This Alliance for bridge management and maintenance brings together people with expert knowledge under a culture of collaboration and drives behaviours to deliver excellent outcomes, foster innovation and provide the best value for money solutions.  

Te Onewa  upgrade  

The Auckland Harbour Bridge Alliance and Boffa Miskell with Auckland Council worked together to upgrade public and maintenance access and improve public safety in relation to Te Onewa