Welcome to Waiwharariki Anzac Square, home of Takapuna Central and a new generation of locals…
On Thursday 20th January, as the sun rose behind Rangitoto casting new light on the ocean, I found myself gathered in Takapuna with other civic leaders, construction workers, designers, mana whenua, as well as Eke Panuku and Council staff to participate in the karakia whakawātea; a blessing of the site before construction begins on the new town centre.
Getting this project to the point of construction has been a massive undertaking, and something that Aidan and I have been committed to supporting since being elected. Takapuna has, for too long, suffered from poor urban design, unrealized potential and it has sadly limped along as a struggling town centre next to one of our most striking beaches on the North Shore. Where there should be people and vibrancy the place has been crippled by a great big slab of asphalt where cars have dominated and the experience of shoppers tainted.
Thanks to political advocacy, strong community support and the endorsement of the Takapuna Beach Business Association, the potential of Takapuna is being unlocked by Eke Panuku who took on the challenge of urban regeneration; a journey that started in 2016.
The name for the new space Waiwharariki was gifted by Ngāti Pāoa Iwi Trust, endorsed by mana whenua iwi, and approved in the December Business Meeting of the Local Board alongside the dual name Anzac Square. Waiwharariki is the mana whenua place name for the area in Takapuna and there is archival reference to it in a letter written by Ngāti Pāoa Rangitira Wiremu Hoete Ruikakara Te Waero who writes to Bishop Selwyn, (translated) “…we are working at the home of Patuone at Waiwharariki, at the North end of Takapuna.” This letter was written on October 13, 1845.
Wharariki is a species of coastal flax that is commonly used to weave soft baskets, rourou (small food basket) and toys. The name seems like a fitting symbol for the weaving of the hopes and aspirations of so many different people in the community for this public space. Without the folding and knitting of ideas, without the rounds of consultation and feedback, the kōrero, the design and redesign, without the ambition and optimism and the unwavering commitment to seeing Takapuna’s potential be fully realized, we would not have arrived here. This woven basket, Waiwharariki Anzac Square, will be an inspiring and transformational space, a town centre designed around people and a gift to us all.
This week Eke Panuku formally announced the development partner, Willis Bond, who have been working with some of our best architectural practices to design a master plan for the new residential and commercial buildings to be constructed around the public space. This development is named Takapuna Central and will begin with a mixed-use building near Potters Park with frontage to Anzac street. It will offer 115 one, two and three bedroom apartments and penthouses as well as residential parking and 500 sqm of retail space which will create an active edge to the public area. This first building will begin construction mid 2023 once Waiwharariki Anzac Square is finished, and will be completed late 2025. The full development will ensure sustainability and livability through a targeted Homestar 7 rating for sustainable design.
Takapuna is changing rapidly, this is certain, and in the very near future we will have a whole new generation of residents and business owners, new retail stores and hospitality venues, events and activations; it will be a vibrant and welcoming metropolitan centre and I, for one, am excited.
By Aidan Bennett
The announcement that respected developer Willis Bond will be investing in Takapuna is a shot in the arm that the local economy needs after a tough couple of years.
While some of my fellow board members who are resisting change have expressed concerns over the perceived loss of community space and might be uncomfortable with the scale, I am excited about what the development offers, and it is a vital next step in Takapuna’s rejuvenation. The Devonport Takapuna Local Board has supported the project through developing, consulting on, then approving the town square concept plan.
I have made no secret of the fact that I entered local politics to see progress for our community and this is real progress. If you want high quality development, then you engage with the best developers, and this is what Eke Panuku have done in partnering with Willis Bond on the Waiwharariki Anzac Square Development. Willis Bond have a great track record going back 34 years.
Despite the disruptions of the past couple of years as a community we have made very good progress with the rejuvenation of Takapuna with the opening of the new Toka Puia carpark and completion of the Hurstmere Road upgrade.
Other initiatives nearing completion are the new toilet block and landscaping on Gould Reserve and the development of the Patuone Walkway from Auburn Reserve to Esmonde Road. The development of the new town square is also under way so this news of Willis Bond coming on board is very satisfying.
Takapuna is an area that is quite clearly not going to escape intensification so as a community we must be embracing this and ensuring that our infrastructure and amenities are keeping pace with this change. We must not put our heads in the sand and believe we can keep things like they were in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I am firmly of the belief that partnering with high quality private sector developers is an important part of the equation. Council clearly doesn’t have the funds to do it all alone.
It is clear that this Willis Bond / Eke Panuku partnership will also offer many other benefits, such as:- Low-carbon living; Housing choice improved; More customers for local businesses; Walkable community - all your amenities are within walking distance; Bus interchange on residents' doorstep.
I want to acknowledge my fellow local board members Toni van Tonder and George Wood who have also been consistent in their support for this type of progress in Takapuna.
Contact: Toni van Tonder email@example.com or Aidan Bennett, firstname.lastname@example.org