Urban design has played a significant role in remodeling Grafton Gully. As well
as an upgrade of the roading and pedestrian network, Transit has taken account
of cultural, heritage and urban design values. Input from stakeholders, including
iwi and the local community is reflected in public artwork, planting, landscaping
Recreation of the original 'green oasis' feel of the gully was a key aim of the
urban design team.
Reflecting the history of the area, two significant pieces of artwork have been
incorporated as part of the Grafton Gully Project.
Designed by local artist Caroline Robinson, the ropeworks sculpture, comprising
a loose coil of metal, is made of fine strands, that pin and suspend the sculpture
from the Wellesley Street Bridge.
The strands are a metaphor for the stream systems that used to flow through the
gully, out into the Waitemata.
Ropeworks is also a tribute to some of the early colonial industry from the
Grafton area. The sculpture is located close to where the first mechanised rope
factory in New Zealand was set up in 1842.
Ropeworks was built in time for the opening of the Wellesley Street
Bridge in October 2003 and is clearly visible to motorists approaching
the Wellesley Street Bridge from the port exit of the Southern and
Also commissioned by Robinson for the Grafton Gully Project is the artwork
entitled Maumahara mo Waiparuru - "Remembering Ancient Pathways".
The title of the stonework Maumahara mo Waiparuru pays tribute to the historical
significance of the Grafton area in general and the Waiparuru Stream in
particular. Robinson worked with members of the local iwi and community finding
out the heritage of the area and reflecting it in the artwork.
The 80m sculpture is made up of earth and large basalt boulders from local lava
flows. The huge stones are arranged in a sinuous streaming pattern trailing
down the gully. Some of the bends are marked with galvanised steel
Artist Caroline Robinson, with her artwork, at the official opening of
the Grafton Gully Project.
Taking into account the historical significance of Grafton Gully, the Freeflow
team carefully planned to preserve significant findings uncovered during
This careful planning and protocol resulted in a number of significant finds
during the two year construction period. Many industrial items have been found
including remains of wells from old breweries, and artefacts from bottling
companies and engineering businesses. Many of the artefacts will be placed in a
museum and a detailed report on the investigations has been prepared.
Archaeological consultants, Clough & Associates Ltd, were responsible for the
excavation and documentation of all historic finds throughout the project.
The development of effective archaeological monitoring procedures, coupled with
concern for all aspects of environmental and heritage management, was recognised
in June 2002 by the New Zealand Archaeological Association. Transit, along with
project partners, was presented with an award for "outstanding efforts in public
Valuable finds included artefacts such as bottles, wheels and various
tools, as well as trenches filled with Manuka slash, and relics of a
drainage method used in early European settlements. A number of the
historic finds are on display at the Freeflow Public Information
Centre on the corner of Alten Road and Stanley Street in Grafton.
One of the most significant finds, a historic flue, has been rebuilt on the
project site. The flue is part of one of the original furnaces of the 19th
century Phoenix Foundry and serves as an archaeological reminder of the city's
The rebuilt flue is located on the corner of Stanley Street and the new Grafton
Road Bridge, a section of the popular Coast-to-Coast walkway.
Commemorating the city's early industrial heritage, primarily based around what
was Mechanics Bay (bordered by Beach Rd and The Strand); the flue is a good
example of late 19th century workmanship with its accurately bevelled arch bricks
allowing a curved construction.
The Phoenix Foundry played an important role in Grafton Gully from the 1860s
through to the 1950s, when it finally ceased operating. The flue was part of a
furnace that was used for melting scrap metal. The foundry was a large operation
spread over two acres. It was a major employer in the area and provided
engineering equipment for many industries throughout the North Island such as
flour milling, shipwrights and mineral extraction.
Associate Minister of Transport and Minister for Auckland Issues,
Judith Tizard, examines the completed flue.
Planting and landscaping
Along with artworks and archeological development, Grafton Gully urban design
has taken the form of intensive re-vegetation and embossed concrete barriers.
Specially designed embossed panels feature a selection of stylized natural leaf
shapes. These tie in with the re-established landscape, which includes native
broadleaf vegetation such as grasses and flaxes.
This urban design motif has been embossed on structures throughout