Indigenous | Art

Multi-sensory artwork completes major park renovations in Tāmaki

An immersive, interactive artwork will be open to the public this weekend. The installation of Waimahara completes the upgrade of Myers Park in the central city.

Auckland Council’s Public Art team worked with artist Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Manu) to develop the artwork in addition to a boardwalk, 24 new native trees, wetland garden, flood mitigation elements to collect and drain extreme rainfall, concrete detailing in the underpass, and a new stairway to Queen Street.

“This piece Waimahara, is about remembering our responsibilities to water, for us as city dwellers and across the whole country,” Tipene says.

“This ancient river (Waihorotiu) used to flow from here to the Waitematā, and it still flows today but it’s our acknowledgement of our responsibility whether we live in Auckland or elsewhere,” Tipene says

Tipene, who started working on the project in 2012 said the homeless people who lived in at the underpass needed to have somewhere to stay before he continued the project.

“Until we figured that out, I did nothing for this project... So once we had a place for them - Homeground for our whānau, I knew I could continue with this kaupapa,” he says.

At the northern end of the park, visitors will see a shimmering aqua-blue light beneath the underpass and feel the emotion of mana whenua artistry, including an interactive soundtrack - Fully activated by March 2024.

Tessa Harris (Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki) has also contributed through the development of pātiki (flounder) patterning work for the new enhanced staircase reconnecting Mayoral Drive and Queen Street with the park. Pātiki once thrived in the nearby tidal area.

Myers Park development timeline

1913 - Business visionary and politician Sir Arthur Myers gifted six acres of land next to Queen Street to the city for Myers Park and he built a kindergarten there.

2012– Auckland Council and Waitematā Local Board began a staged redevelopment of Myers Park in 2012 and a new children’s playground area opened at the end of 2014.

December 2023- the final stage of the northern upgrade will be completed improving safety, accessibility, urban design quality, landscaping, and infrastructure in the park. An ambient form of the ground-breaking artwork Waimahara will open in the underpass of Myers Park by the end of the year.

March 2024 – once the speakers and a microphone are installed on-site in March 2024, this significant artwork – Waimahara - created by a multi-disciplinary team led by Mana Whenua, will be fully interactive and complete.

The upgrade has been funded by city centre businesses and residents through the city centre targeted rate, alongside council funding including contributions from the Waitematā Local Board and Auckland Council’s Regional Public Art capital expenditure fund.