Pukekawa Auckland Domain gets extra love from a special committee

Pukekawa Auckland Domain is uniquely governed. Established in 2015, the Domain Committee is made up of 3 councillors, 3 Waitematā Local Board members and 2 Independent Māori Statutory Board members.  The Committee, led by Cr Desley Simpson and Deputy Chair Adriana Avendano Christie (in the photo above), has responsibility for parks, recreation and community services and activities in the Auckland Domain. It is working to the principles from the Auckland Domain masterplan 2016 including creating a safe, people friendly places and pathways for visitors to Pukekawa.

The Domain is our oldest and one of our largest urban public parks and provides a range of things to see and do. It was one of 24 parks across Aotearoa to receive a Green Flag Award in 2020. The award recognises and rewards parks and green spaces providing high quality and innovative recreational experiences for our communities.

Unfortunately for those needing to drive to access the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Wintergardens and use the open spaces for relaxing, recreation and playing sport are finding visitor parking increasingly hard to find.  We’ve seen an increase in vehicles parked at the Domain by commuters and workers who aren’t using our premier park’s facilities. The use of the Domain as a large commuter car park is also having a negative impact on the safety of walkers and riders. The Auckland War Memorial Museum has raised concerns that heritage views of the museum are being obscured by parked cars, and that the increase in vehicles circulating around the Museum Circuit is a safety risk to visitors and blocking access to the Museum for buses and coaches.

Accessibility improvement is a focus for the Auckland Domain committee and so we’ve agreed to take steps to improve visitor’s safety, open the heritage views of the museum, and to ensure there is access to parking for visitors.  From 8 June there will be changes to where and when people can park. Some carparks from Cenotaph Road and the Museum Circuit are being permanently removed and we’re introducing access restrictions to Titoki Street carpark.

Gates are being installed at the Titoki Street car park and will be used to limit access to the free, time restricted 130 parking spaces during weekdays. The gates will open at 9.30am and close at 10pm, Monday to Thursday and will remain open over the weekend. The change in access will be trialed over the next year before a final decision on these changes is made.  There is no change at this stage to the remaining 430 free, time restricted carparks in the Auckland Domain.

As a member of the Committee I’m very supportive of this positive step towards meeting Council’s obligations under the Auckland Domain Act 1987 “to make the Domain available as a place of public recreation and enjoyment” but it will take more radical changes to end the vehicle domination of our premier park. No one expects to drive through internationally renowned parks such as Hyde Park or Central Park or to park all day for free. We can aspire for so much better for our previous green spaces too.

First published in the Ponsonby News June 2021