Ūrunga Plaza opens to the public
10 September 2020
- Wynyard Quarter
As the sun rose on 4 September,
Taiaha and Clay Hawke from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei led the karakia whakawātea from the southern corner of Park Hyatt Auckland, along the water's edge, through to Karanga Plaza to cleanse the recently completed public space, Ūrunga Plaza.
The direction of the whakawātea (blessing) was conducted to reflect the flow of the outgoing tide, and simulate the route of waka heading out to fish on the Waitematā Harbour.
Ūrunga Plaza and the adjacent promenade is a new public space wrapping around the Park Hyatt Auckland Hotel that connects Karanga Plaza to the viaduct promenade for the first time. Named by the Waitematā Local Board, Ūrunga, when directly translated to English means ‘entry’, and this name has a point of entry theme that follows the notion of the adjoining Karanga Plaza, which means ‘welcome’.
Included within the public space, are four 9 metre tōtara pou whenua which have been erected on the east and west facade of the Park Hyatt Auckland. The Tōhunga Toi Ake (artists) who have created these pou are Vern Rosieur, Wikuki Kingi, Sunnah Thompson, and Lawrence Makoare. Together, the pou whenua tell the stories of Tamaki Makaurau.
The public space was designed by Isthmus Group, with the intention for visitors to meet under the canopies of native trees along the water’s edge. Inspired by the timber milling history of the site, a series of recycled and sustainably sourced timber stacks have been arranged in a wave like formation to create a dynamic and engaging place for visitors to enjoy views to the harbour and city.
Complimented by a series of rain gardens and native vegetation the woodstack concept seeks to provide an abstract narrative of the history of the site and explore the notion of regeneration through the reintroduction of native coastal planting and tree species.
Panuku Priority Location Director Fiona Knox says, “I was so fortunate to be part of the blessing by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei this morning. A stunning sunrise, which made this already beautiful space look majestic. So much work and attention has gone into both the Ūrunga Plaza and the adjoining Park Hyatt Hotel by so many people and we are really looking forward to Aucklanders and visitors discovering and enjoying this new space.”