Work to pedestrianise the tihi (summit) and the summit road of Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill is set to begin.
From Monday 26 March work will start on reconfiguring the summit road entrance off Olive Grove and installing a new automated gate. The work will take around four to six weeks to complete. Safe access for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists will be maintained throughout this period.
Once construction is complete, the tihi and summit road will permanently close to all motor vehicles including motorbikes and scooters. The exception will be continued vehicle access for people who have limited mobility and cannot walk to the tihi; they or their drivers can phone the Auckland Council Call Centre to obtain an access code for the gate. For those who can walk, parking is available near the summit road entrance. Access through to Cornwall Park will remain unchanged.
The exact date of the closure will be determined as the construction work progresses and will be announced at least one week prior.
Paul Majurey, Chair of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority says the change recognises the maunga as sites of immense cultural and historical significance.
“The Auckland maunga were among the largest and most notable pā (fortified villages) in Aotearoa. Occupied by Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau for a millennium, they were the most extensive network of monumental and defendable settlements throughout the Pacific. They were home to many iwi / hapū, and were sites of birth, marriage, battle and burial,” says Majurey.
“Maungakiekie was one of the largest pā in the region and some of the best-preserved records of early Māori life in Tāmaki Makaurau can be seen here in the many terraces and pits shaped for dwellings, agriculture and defence.”
“To Mana Whenua, the tihi of a maunga holds great spiritual and cultural significance and has always been a place to be treated with respect and reverence. Honouring these values alongside creating an enhanced experience for pedestrians is at the heart of the vehicle access changes.”
The health and safety of visitors was also a consideration. The Maungakiekie summit road, which is extremely narrow in places, has long been criticised as one of the most unsafe roads for visitors on any of the Auckland maunga, with pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles all competing for space. Near misses are regularly reported.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority announced a decision in November 2016 that the tihi of Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill, Takarunga / Mt Victoria, Pukewīwī / Puketāpapa / Mount Roskill, Maungarei / Mt Wellington and Ōwairaka / Mt Albert would become pedestrian-only spaces. The changes were also signalled in the Tūpuna Maunga Integrated Management Plan which was publicly notified and the subject of a public submission and hearing process in 2016.
The tihi of Takarunga was closed to vehicles last Thursday, 1 March. Work is underway now to transform the tihi of Pukewīwī / Puketāpapa.
Majurey explains that the successful pedestrianisation of the Maungawhau tihi was pivotal in informing the decision on vehicle movement at other maunga.
“Since the changes at Maungawhau we have had consistent feedback from visitors that the maunga is a vastly more peaceful and safer place to be without cars driving up and over it. What is really pleasing is the increasing number of people who are understanding and connecting with the preservation of these taonga and the work to bring their natural qualities and cultural history to the fore.”
“The historic significance and the continued cultural connection over time sets the Auckland volcanic landscape apart from others around the world, and for this reason the Auckland maunga were placed at the top of New Zealand’s list for world heritage status several years ago.”
“The maunga will continue to be public places for people to enjoy. These changes are about rethinking how we interact with the whenua and better protect it.”
More information about the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, including the Tūpuna Maunga Integrated Management Plan, can be found at www.maunga.nz.
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