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10 January 2022

Collaboration creates a better community in Mt Roskill

Freeland Reserve is a relatively large and undeveloped drainage reserve situated in the suburb of Mt Roskill, linking Balfron Avenue in the east to Freeland Avenue in the south and west

Our client, Kāinga Ora – Homes & Communities, has been building new houses in the neighbourhood creating the need to upgrade the stormwater treatment within Freeland Reserve to service the new community.

Context was briefed to provide designs for the upgrade, along with additional overall improvements to the reserve and its amenities, including landscaping, paved walkways, and the construction of footbridges and viewing platforms. We adopted a Blue-Green integration approach to urban flood resilience. This approach is recognised globally and in international literature and capitalises on the benefits of working with urban green spaces and naturalised water-flows. It is regarded as a more nature-friendly means of managing urban flood risk. Blue-Green integration also offers multiple further benefits, such as improvements in air and water quality, aesthetics, biodiversity, and amenity.

At the commencement of the project, Auckland Council was responsible for stakeholder engagement which included input and feedback. This was provided by Mana Whenua iwi Ngāti Tamaoho, Te Ākitai. Waiohua, Te Kawerau ā Maki, Ngāi Tai, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua, as well as, Puketāpapa Local Board, local school principals, environmental groups (Te Whangai Trust), community and residents.

Ongoing Mana Whenua involvement in this project has been prioritised. Kāinga Ora also worked with students on the storyboards and have developed these further through kōrero with Jeff Lee, Te Ākitai Waiohua and Hinengarangi Makoare from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as the artist (Artāhua).

The Context team attended several workshops and local board meetings to understand stakeholder feedback, making it an inclusive collaboration, giving ownership back to the community. This also led to the commissioning of CNC router design and pattern work on some of the landscape timber structures by local artist Numangatini Mackenzie.

Civil works alliance Piritahi is delivering construction of this project and while the upgrades are being undertaken to enhance the reserve for the benefit of the local community, they will significantly decrease flooding and improve water quality in the area. The upgrades will also enable additional overall improvements to the reserve and its amenities, improving access and general enjoyment for people in the neighbourhood.

To upgrade the stormwater treatment, trenches will be dug before sheet pilling – this process involves using an excavator to drive metal sheet piles into the ground to build three floodwalls on the boundary of the reserve. These will contain and allow for the treatment of stormwater within the reserve before it enters the stormwater network and will also help to reduce surface flooding. Piling also provides support and stability for existing embankments.

To support the creation of the improved wetland area, the land will also be built up and landscaped. We have been working collaboratively with Friends of Oakley Creek (a local group set up to protect and restore the ecological health of the area). Most planting in the reserve will be native specimens provided by the Te Whangai Trust and Plant People and will help improve the amenity and ecology of the reserve.

The project will include the installation of site furniture such as park benches, signage, picnic tables, and bike racks. It is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2022.