Te Ara Awataha is a place for children to play and learn, and wildlife to flourish. Its flowing waters are a symbol of nearby homes being connected, protected and safe.
“Te Ara Awataha is the backbone of Northcote,” says Claire Laybourne, Kāinga Ora Senior Development Manager. “Every part of the Northcote Development has been planned in consideration of Te Ara Awataha.”
The importance of restoring and protecting this taonga was first proposed by the area’s schools and community back in 2005. A group of students came up with the idea of the Awataha stream being a connected, open space through the middle of Northcote.
Since the 1950s, the stream had been confined in underground pipes. Bringing the stream above ground (daylighting) restored its mauri (life essence) and increased its capacity in times of extreme weather.
“Te Ara Awataha has an important role in enabling the wider urban regeneration of Northcote,” says Sara Zwart, Eke Panuku Project Lead. “In the past, in times of heavy rain, the residents in some of the streets beyond the town centre could kayak down the road as the flooding was so severe, and flooding in homes was a persistent problem.”
Because of this it was decided to lower Greenslade Reserve to help detain water in major flood events, preventing flooding in the town centre. The stream now re-emerges into a new wetland and the park has improved sporting facilities and public spaces.
The iwi and community lens was essential from the outset. ‘Take Mauri, Take Hono’, a new framework, was developed to influence and measure the uplift in mauri (life essence) from Te Ara Awataha.
Te Ara Awataha holds, moves and treats stormwater for current and future households. It’s a green space to walk, cycle, play and learn. The route means a safe connection between the community and local destinations like the revitalised town centre.
Te Ara Awataha provides bird and wildlife habitats, including nationally threatened species like the kōkopu, kōura, and longfin eels. And, for Claire Laybourne, one measure stands above the rest: “At the end of the day, success will be a space that is well used and loved by the community.”