PHOTO: An artist’s impression of what the waterfront could look like. Photo credit: Nick McKay/Eke Panuku/Auckland Council
Auckland’s waterfront is set to undergo a series of exciting transformations with several proposed projects, including the construction of a brand-new outdoor swimming pool and a Te Ao Māori showcase centre. The Auckland Council recently discussed these plans in a “confidential workshop” held on Wednesday, and while the costs of these projects are yet to be determined, the council is considering viable options for the redevelopment and commercialization of the Ports of Auckland (POAL).
Alongside the swimming pool and Te Ao Māori showcase centre, other enticing proposals were also put forward during the discussion, such as a water-based amphitheatre and an international event and exhibition venue. Auckland Mayor, Wayne Brown, expressed enthusiasm for these developments, stating that they aim to provide greater public access to the harbor and unlock the potential of valuable waterfront spaces. The vision is to create a world-class arts, culture, and entertainment destination that embraces Auckland’s identity and instills pride in its residents.
Mayor Brown reassured that progress is being made on this venture, indicating that there is a realistic pathway to reclaim a portion of land for public use within the next two to five years. The objective is to achieve this without compromising the functioning of the port and simultaneously ensuring significant well-being benefits for the people of Auckland. He acknowledged that this effort builds upon the work initiated by his predecessor and the previous council, making it a worthy pursuit.
However, not all parties are in favor of these proposals. The Maritime Union of New Zealand expressed concerns, deeming the projects a potential threat to the stability of Auckland and the broader economy. The union’s national secretary, Craig Harrison, criticized the plans, questioning their primary motive. He wondered whether they aimed to address Auckland’s short-term financial issues, transfer commercial real estate to developers, or cater to affluent city dwellers with saltwater pools.
Despite the opposition, the goal remains to transform Auckland’s waterfront into the most beautiful and beloved publicly owned harbor in the world. These projects signify the first step in achieving that ambitious vision, and the council will continue to deliberate and refine the proposals to ensure the best possible outcome for the city and its residents.