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Image courtesy of Auckland City Rail. Artist impression of renovated Mt Eden Station
Research_

Auckland City Rail Link

Integrating indigenous culture into design and delivery sets benchmark
The Better Infrastructure Initiative identified ten industry exemplars that share a vision for infrastructure’s future - in partnership with customers and stakeholders. Auckland City Rail Link is one of those 2018 exemplars.

Stewardship challenge

Auckland City Rail Link (CRL) is a 3.45km twin tunnel underground rail link whose construction is due to be completed in 2024. It is New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project and includes the redevelopment of Mount Eden Station and development of new underground stations at Wellesley and Victoria Streets, with extension of the existing rail line through Britomart Station to Albert, Vincent and Pitt Streets. The challenge for the CRL project team was to develop the project in a way that fits with the culture, beliefs and traditions of the Mana Whenua, the Māori tribal groups who have these rights in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. The potential was for the project to not only deliver from a technical engineering perspective, but to contribute socially to the community.

The project identified the aspiration to be exemplary in the practice of sustainability – encompassing the four well-beings (environmental, cultural, social and economic). As part of defining sustainability outcomes, the City Rail Link Ltd project team established a forum with Mana Whenua, the Māori tribal groups around Auckland.

In the Māori worldview, all natural and physical elements of the world are related through whakapapa (genealogy) and each is controlled and safeguarded through spiritual beings. All living things have mauri and it is essential to protect it.1

CRL designed the project to integrate seven Te Aranga pillars:

–   Mana: individual and collective high quality formal relationships

–   Whakapapa/Whakamana: names and naming as a means of reconnecting iwi narratives to place

–   Tohu: the acknowledgement of wider Mana Whenua cultural landmarks

–   Taiao: bring landscape elements back into urban areas

–   Mauri tu: maintaining and enhancing the environmental quality of water, air and soil

–   Mauri toi: reinscribing iwi narratives into architecture and urban design

–   Ahi ka: exploring opportunities to facilitate a meaningful living presence for iwi.

The design of stations is an example of the  integration of Te Aranga pillars. Station entrances  are influenced by the Maori creation story, each telling the story of Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatuanuku, the earth mother. Their close embrace was separated by their son, Tane Mahuta, who pushed them apart to bring light (Te Whaiao) into the world and, the state of creation into being (Te Ao Marama).

The architecture and materials used in each station entrance emphasises the relationship between solid earth on the ground and the sky above the entrance. The entrances express the deity identified for each location, representing the unique identity of the station. Ecology is embedded into the design to achieve integrated, cost-effective and innovative solutions to create healthy, diverse and restorative environments. The identity and integration of the stations into their local precincts will reinforce both their existing identities and a more pedestrian-focused future in line with the City Rail Link intentions and the objectives of the Auckland Plan and Auckland City Centre Masterplan.

While the project faces a number of engineering challenges, including transferring the historic Britomart Chief Post Office via pressurised hydraulic jacks onto tensioned concrete beams so that CRL infrastructure could be built underneath, the social outcomes from the project merit specific attention.

With an estimated 1600 jobs on offer at peak construction, CRL is targeting employment for  Māori, Pasifika and youth along with others who are marginalised in the workforce. To be successful, companies wanting to win contracts for construction will need to demonstrate how they are going to help CRL achieve its social outcomes strategy.

The pillars of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) have been incorporated, as well as the optimisation of performance for cost, maintenance and safety.

Mana Whenua, the Māori tribal groups who have these rights in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aucklandhave acknowledged the project as fitting with and supporting kaitiakitanga, which translates to guardianship or protection.2

The project demonstrates the opportunity to embed customer stewardship principles into infrastructure  projects from design to implementation and sets a benchmark for Australia and other nations to acknowledge and co-design infrastructure in collaboration with their indigenous people.

Mana Whenua, the Māori tribal groups who have these rights in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aucklandhave acknowledged the project as fitting with and supporting kaitiakitanga, which translates to guardianship or protection.The project demonstrates the opportunity to embed customer stewardship principles into infrastructure projects from design to implementation and sets a benchmark for Australia and other nations to acknowledge and co-design infrastructure in collaboration with their indigenous people.

 


  1. City Rail Link New Zealand. Kaitiakitanga. Available: https://www.cityraillink.co.nz/crlkaitiakitanga. [Accessed 30 July 2018].
  2. Auckland Council New Zealand. Engaging with mana whenua. Available: https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/building-and-consents/understanding-building-consents-process/prepare-application/prepare-resource-consentapplication/Pages/engaging-with-mana-whenua. aspx. [Accessed 21 Aug 2018].