Isthmus GroupMarine ecology ropes —Te Wānanga
Submission # 113
Environmental – Kaupapa Taiao
Identity – Place
Impact – Environmental Stewardship
Auckland, Tāmaki Makaurau
Te Wānanga is a new downtown public space envisaged as an elevated tidal shelf for human and coastal ecology. A shared space for people and habitat for marine life, advocating for the health of the Waitematā. Aiming to improve marine habitat, biodiversity, and water quality.
The ecology ropes and supporting waka floats are an integral part of the project and are a successful environmental and ecological initiative that will help improve the biodiversity and health of Tāmaki. The design response for the marine ecology ropes recognises and aims to build on work by Ngati Whātua at Ōkahu Bay, Revive Our Gulf, and other local scientific and community groups, and has parallels with international projects including the Billion Oyster Project in New York Harbour.
Te Wānanga, provides a unique opportunity to establish and promote the concept of ‘living systems’ in Auckland’s urban marine environment. The marine ecology ropes and supporting waka floats are one of a suite of marine ecology features being installed. Other initiatives to support coastal marine species, such as sea snails, seaweeds, sponges, crabs, bivalves, barnacles, and sea squirts, include coastal planting and the inclusion of textured surfaces and crevices in the concrete structure to create habitat for binding.
Ki uta, ki tai (of the land, of the sea), a vision developed with mana whenua provides the framework for the new, co-designed public space. It refers to a holistic Māori worldview about the movement of water through the landscape, from mountain to sea, and all the intricacies of ecology and biology in between. It is especially important at the coast and especially important to Tāmaki Makaurau, where we cherish the coast as a place of arrival and departure, of industry and recreation.
The kaupapa for the nested ecology within Te Wānanga focuses on;
1. Advocacy for the Waitematā and improved marine habitat and water quality.
Creating a shared space for people and coastal marine life. The public space can champion ecology, habitat, and water quality issues at a highly visible location at the harbour’s edge. Future opportunities for monitoring would enable a better understanding of the benefits of planned stormwater and wastewater network interventions on water quality.
2. Raising awareness and educating on ecological issues and solutions in the Waitematā Harbour and Hauraki Gulf.
By making visible ecology, habitat, and water quality initiatives. Revealing processes and fostering public engagement and potentially involving the community in the stewardship of the marine environment. Creates future opportunity for marine education.
3. Establishment of ‘living systems’.
Implementation of constructed ecology elements for marine species habitat. With a focus on shellfish and kelp species. Utilising features and structures required to support the public space for habitat purposes.
Suspended marine ecology lines is a technology borrowed from the mussel farming industry, it illustrates the role mussels play in water filtration (a single mussel filters 380 litres of water a day —mussel reefs once covered much of the Hauraki Gulf, but the natural filter for stormwater runoff collapsed from dredging in the mid-1900s, finished off by contaminated stormwater, sediment, and maritime industry side effects soon after).
Kāhui Kaiarataki members Richelle Kahui-McConnell (Ngāti Maniapoto) and Jarrod Walker (Ngāpuhi) worked with the Isthmus team to integrate a suite of marine ecology features into the design. Marine ecology ropes with kūtai (mussel) are anchored beneath the public deck and feature taura (rope), woven from flax and filled with mussel spat, wrapped around waka floats to re-establish native ecologies. These support the reestablishment of the rich and extensive kūtai beds that used to cover the seabed of Te Waitematā.
Te Wānanga, is a highly visible site, the place of arrival and departure to Tāmaki Makaurau by water, locating the Marine ecology ropes here, draws attention to seawater quality issues in Tāmaki and asks the question around advocacy. One project will not fix the problem, but it can highlight it and demonstrate solutions.
"When we design the environment around us; buildings, streets, wharves. Not enough consideration goes into the thought behind how does this new place help the ecology or biology around it. What does it give back to nature? Rather than what does it give us. I truly think this blueprint of how can we make the environment better around us and not just for us but the world, should be the future for urban planning.
Marine life such as the common mussel, filters 380 litres of seawater a day, to me that speaks volumes.
I think the coastal consideration this project demonstrates is world-class. Intelligently simple, it shows gain without compromise when the right thought process is used."
"An excellent interpretation of Te Ao Maori storytelling that creates a new and interesting relationship between the foreshore and downtown Auckland."
Credits & Collaborators: Blank - Jarrod Walker, Marine Ecology Consultant, Kaitiaki Working Group Blank - Richelle Kahui-McConnell, Ecology Consultant, Kaitiaki Working Group Blank - Tonkin + Taylor, Engineering Consultant Blank - Downer, Contractors
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