While the city was sleeping, Auckland’s urban ngahere/forest welcomed home the first two of seven mature pōhutukawa to Quay Street in a nine-hour crane operation last night.
After 40 years on Quay Street and an 18-month sojourn away from the downtown construction site, one tree was repositioned street-side in Quay Street and the other now takes pride of place in the city’s new Te Wānanga waterfront space.
Reaching out over the water and reuniting the city centre with the sea, Te Wānanga and the much-awaited Quay Street enhancements will open for Aucklanders in June.
Mayor Phil Goff says Te Wānanga will be a beautiful new public space on Auckland’s waterfront when it opens in June.
“I’m pleased to see these two large trees return and once again provide shade from the sun and much-needed greenery in our city centre. Trees make our city a more pleasant place to live and visit and studies show they have a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of the community,” he says.
Te Wānanga and Quay Street Enhancements are two of six projects in the Downtown Programme, brought to Aucklanders by Auckland Transport and Auckland Council. At the programme’s heart is a design partnership with mana whenua which elevated design thinking, ensuring the project expressed local identity, culture, history and aspirations for the future.
More than a year ago in an operation overseen by Auckland Council Senior Advisor Urban Forest, Howell Davies, each pōhutukawa tree was carefully uplifted from its original position in Quay Street.
The trees were moved to a temporary home in Teal Park where they were looked after by a dedicated team of Auckland Council arborists whose role is to nurture and enhance the 415,000 mature trees which form Auckland’s growing urban ngahere.
For Howell, seeing the first two mature trees returning home was an exciting moment for the city.
He says: “These beautiful trees will continue to provide ongoing benefits of shade, support well-being, attract birds, and absorb carbon for many generations to come. That’s the beauty of trees.”
“We are planting hundreds of new trees in public spaces around Tāmaki Makaurau and over a million seedlings in our reserves to increase the urban ngahere, capture our emissions, help reduce stormwater runoff, encourage biodiversity and provide habitat to bring new birdlife into the city.”
Howell says one of the future hopes is to hear tūī singing from the branches of these newly re-planted pōhutukawa and that all of the new plantings flourish.
Auckland’s Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy outlines how we are expanding our urban ngahere, addressing the unequal distribution of trees across the region and increasing the benefits of a green city.
And Auckland’s City Centre Masterplan has a vision for a green city centre, with new and enhanced living green corridors and open spaces. Streetscape projects such as Quay Street are an opportunity to enhance our Harbour Edge Stitch with more green space, trees and planting.