Frith Walker's international placemaking tour

18 October 2019

  • Blog

Frith Walker, Manager - Placemaking at Panuku, has had a whirlwind six-week tour of speaking events; showcasing the mihi of urban regeneration and placemaking on both the local and international stage.

Placemaking Week has come and gone and Frith Walker has been flat tack, organising and promoting her unique craft all over the country and the world.


Starting off in early September with the 2019 Sustainable Development Goals Summit hosted by Auckland University, Frith spoke on a panel chaired by long-serving Auckland Councillor, Penny Hulse, and was joined by Rob Creemers, Shahin Najak, and Parekawhia McLean from Counties Manukau District Health Board. The panel covered a range of topics around engaging local communities, the value of collective leadership and the convergence of varying sector interests.

But she didn’t stop there. The next step was a trip down to Palmerston North to meet with the PlacemakingX team, for whom she is a representative. PlacemakingX is an international organisation that creates events to promote the art of placemaking as a means of creating “thriving, equitable, and sustainable” cities. They run events worldwide and have been assisting with the promotion of our very own Placemaking Week here in Aotearoa.

The very next week Frith flew out to Halifax, Canada where she had been invited to speak at the Art of City Building Conference. Her topic was about the importance of creating spaces and events that reflect the people, character and needs of the area they belong to. This year’s AoCB conference was themed “Moving People”, focusing on human mobility including transport, logistics, safety, inclusivity and recreation. Watch her full talk here. You can also read more about Frith’s thoughts on this subject here.

In her words, strong relationships with mana whenua are not only important, but absolutely vital. “To both recall what it means to be deeply, physically connected to place, and to turn to indigenous peoples to guide us in how to regain that knowledge. This does not just mean hiring artists or getting local iwi to bless your project at the ground-breaking. This means working to shift all of our systems to put place and people first.”

After a short reprieve back in New Zealand, Frith headed to Common Earth, an international consortium initiated by the Commonwealth Secretariat and based in London. The event discusses the concept that healthy environments must be viewed as a common asset, and that this should be reflected in our public spaces. Frith attended as part of a delegation of regenerative practitioners from Aotearoa to present on our work to numerous thought leaders from around the world. The team were extremely well received with Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, also in attendance.

Looking forward, Frith is off to the Trafinz conference in November. She remains incredibly proud to come home to her role at Panuku, and support our vision of shaping spaces for Aucklanders to love—a mission that all of these travels have cemented as being the job of a lifetime.