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Completion of stage one of the largest urban park in a century lays the foundation for Wellington's Waitangi Precinct development

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With its vibrant blend of urban park, apartments, retail spaces and public utility buildings, redevelopment plans along the city-owned waterfront in Wellington have been boosted with the completion of stage one of Waitangi Park.

Part of a three-stage project, the park is a six hectare area of urban parklands designed by Wraight Athfield Landscape and Architecture. The company was selected through a competition to find a standout concept for the park's redevelopment.

Wellington City Council decided the winning design created an interesting mix of quality landscaping and architectural design, and asked Wellington Waterfront Ltd to set about its implementation.

Communications managerfor Wellington Waterfront, Barbara Bercic, says that the project had to address cultural and historical factors.

"The council wanted a contemporary, dynamic urban park that recognised the history, ecology and culture of the area and linked the city to the sea."

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Included in the design is a large open field, walkways, and state-of-the-art activityareas such as a skate park and childrens' playground.

The ecological aspects of the design focus around the raising of Waitangi Stream, which had previously been diverted underground, and the collection, filtration and redistribution of water in the park's catchment area. The stream now filters through a wetland area that helps to treat the water through absorption by plants. The water is filtered through a gravel bed, before being dispersed into the harbour.

The shoreline holds particular Maori cultural significance, historically being a place of arrival, departure, foodcollection and recreation. Access to the shoreline was a central factor to the park layout.

There are several metaphorical references throughout the park. Pavers are arranged and stepped in reference to historical shorelines, whilst undulations in the field represent waka hauled up onto the beach.

Feedback from visitors and locals since the park's opening has been strongly positive, says Bercic.

"Waitangi Park, along with the other project proposals, combine a Wellington flavour, contributing to the waterfront's holiday atmosphere."

Stages two and three of the development are still being finalised and include designs by Melbourne architect John Wardle and Dutch architects, UN Studio.

Part of the larger Waitangi Precinct project also includes the refurbishment of the old Herd St Post Office building and the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Both buildings will offer a blend of apartment and commercial retail space. The Post Office building, to be known as Chaffers Dock, is scheduled for completion later this year. The Overseas Passenger Terminal proposal is well-advanced in its development planning.

For more information, contact Wellington Waterfront Ltd, PO Box 395 Wellington. Phone: (04) 495 7820, website:www.wellingtonwaterfront.co.nz .

First published date: 23 June 2006

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