Waterfront tweaks: Waitangi Park
I agree with the general direction that waterfront developments are taking, but there are a few areas that could definitely do with some work. So, I'll start a little series of posts about parts of the waterfront that could definitely do with a little tidying up, or some more imaginative uses.
It's hardly park weather, but let's start with Waitangi Park. In my last update, I mentioned that it (or at least Area 1) is officially complete, but there are definitely some areas that could do with some work. My main gripe is with the cheap little blue plastic pipes at the head of the wetlands. I keep hoping that these are just temporary, and that there's a plan to have something more attractive here, perhaps when the pou whenua are installed in the park before Waitangi Day. This is the first above-ground manifestation of the Waitangi Stream, and surely its historical, cultural and ecological importance deserves something more distinctive and prestigious than some left-over plumbing.
The wetlands that constitute the rest of Waitangi Stream are looking lush and fantastic, and certainly have a more established feel than they did throughout last year. The exception is the "subsurface wetland" at the southeast corner. While the maze-like layout works well, and people seem to like threading their way through the various boardwalks and stepping stones, the gravel and reed-beds look sad and dead. There was a hint of new growth during spring, but that hasn't amounted to much, so there's a lot of work for the plant experts to do here. The little concrete "passing bays", with wood and red metal uprights, also look a bit odd and unfinished. I had heard that there were vague plans to put interpretive signs on these, and certainly it would be great to let people know about the important role the subsurface wetlands play in cleaning the stream water.
There are a lot of other problems with the greenery in the park, although most of those are presumably just teething troubles and will either sort themselves out when the plants become more established, or can be easily fixed as part of the park maintenance. The drainage in the field seem more problematic, and the entire northern edge resembles a second wetland for much of the time. I'm told that the ground never had time to recover from the compaction it suffered during last summer's concerts, and once the appalling winter set in, the damage was done. Perhaps once this "summer" is over, there'll be an opportunity to dig up the problem areas and re-seed them.
Finally, I don't think the Wind Garden is complete. The uprights for the wind screens have been installed, but there's still no sign of the screens themselves, apart from a single sheet of perforated metal lying around. Perhaps they're waiting for the poetry screens that were originally planned before the budget blew out, and they'd definitely be better than boring old metal screens. In the meantime, though, neither people nor the trees that are supposed to provide future shelter stand much chance of surviving a decent Wellington wind on this corner.
That probably all sounds too negative, but otherwise I think the park is working well, and the Chaffers Dock development should really liven things up when it (finally!) opens. Waitangi Park could still benefit from a few small changes and a bit of attention to detail, and I'm sure you've all got your own suggestions and niggles.