#ourmanukau Public Life Survey Reveals Challenges. Part 24 of #TransformManukau Series

Work to be done


Last month I volunteered with Panuku Development Auckland to do a Public Life Survey in Manukau City Centre both on a weekday and a Saturday observing pedestrian counts and activity in set areas. The two areas I covered were Hayman Park and the bus stops outside Manukau Rail Station (Tuesday) and Manukau Mall on the Saturday. Both were the 4pm – 8pm shift meaning I either caught commuters or the change over from shopping to entertainment class traffic.


The information gathered and sent back to Aikten Taylor on-behalf of Panuku will come out later on and inform Panuku when they create their design strategies to execute the five ‘Key Moves’ of the Manukau Framework Plan. None-the-less my own observations do feed into views on Key Moves Two and Five of the Framework Plan and how best to execute them through time. ‘Key Move Two’ being: #ourmanukau Key Move 2: Creating a Vibrant Heart. Part 22 of the #TransformManukau Series while ‘Key Move Five’ was: #ourmanukau Key Move 5: Enhancing Community Connectivity. Part 23 of the #TransformManukau Series


Tuesday at Hayman Park

Given I have the 4-8pm shift my main objective was to measure pedestrian counts in the Hayman Park area that included Davis Avenue Bus Stops (the interim area for the major stops until the Bus Station is open next year). So I am watching and counting commuter traffic whether it be workers or students. And what did I get? Students and commuters passing through making their way to their busses or the Manukau Train Station. Yes there was some activity in Hayman Park as people lingered but at all the observation points including Lambie Drive people were just passing through making their way to their commute stop.

This is the major problem with Manukau and is acknowledged in Key Move Two. Manukau is a 9-5 Monday to Friday economy with little attraction to stay back and linger into early evening as the observations would tell you. People were busy making their way to their commute stop to get home and even if they did want to linger the hospitality and retail spaces are in the opposite direction on Ronwood Avenue and Amersham Way.

Key Move Two would fix this problem:

Key move two – Creating a vibrant heart

Source: Panuku Development Auckland

The focus will be to create a healthy and vibrant heart at the core of central Manukau that can radiate out to surrounding areas.

Key elements of the move include:

  • supporting residential development
  • enriching leisure and cultural destination opportunities including Te Papa Manukau and new hotel developments, along with improving the links between existing attractions
  • improvements to the Civic Building and Kōtuku House
  • expanding and diversifying the retail offer to include mixed-use development on the Westfield Manukau City car parks
  • developing new commercial office space for key tenants
  • reimagining the public spaces including Manukau Plaza, Putney Way as a main street, Osterley Way as a north–south link, Amersham Way as a hospitality-focused street, Hayman Park as a destination park and Manukau Station Road as a boulevard.


Source: https://www.panuku.co.nz/manukau


‘Key Move Five’ would also assist moving people within, to and from Manukau as well making it a destination place rather than a 9-5 place

Key move five – Enhancing community connectivity

Manukau will continue to be transformed from a car-based centre. There will be better connections to surrounding communities through improved public transport, and easier walking and cycling options.

Key elements of the move include:

  • upgrading Great South Road as an important north–south urban avenue
  • delivering a mass transit route from the airport to Botany, via central Manukau
  • creating a comprehensive cycle network
  • making it easy, safe and attractive to walk around Manukau.


Source: https://www.panuku.co.nz/manukau


With help from the Saturday observations we can execute Key Move Two effectively to help Manukau evolve from that 9-5 economy


Saturday shows potential of Manukau in retail and hospitality

Saturday to be honest was the day I was looking forward to in the Public Life Survey event. My observation points were:

  • Outside Republic Bar on Amersham way next to the main northern entrance of the mall
  • Southern entrance of the mall on Putney Way
  • Manukau Station Road
  • Manukau Plaza


Manukau Station Road I can tell you right now is desolate and un-inviting in the weekend. While it could serve as an access link between Manukau Station and Rainbows End the legacy of the road being State Highway 20 (thus a primary arterial between the Airport, Wiri and State Highway One until the South Western motorway opened in 2012) means it is still a four lane wide road with a large grass median in the middle.

With a bit of humanisation (and the addition of a Light Rail Transit system (Option 1) Manukau Station Road would become a more attractive access link between the two stations and Rainbows End.


Manukau station road redevelopment options
Source: Panuku Development Auckland


AT’s proposals for the Botany Line to the Airport
Source: Auckland Transport


The Putney Way entrance Manukau Mall (southern entrance) was busy as people were entering and exiting the mall either to/from the car park or Manukau Station. While the mall is a primary anchor flipping that car park into a “Town Centre” development while humanising Putney Way would give some serious muscle into getting the southern end of Manukau City Centre playing its part as a vibrant heart.


Manukau Southern End 3.1 Money shot with blank lot 59


Manukau Plaza needs a bit of work with it isolated from the mall (blank walls) and lack of hospitality spaces (cafes) that would give you a reason to linger.

Manukau Court looking towards the mall

That said the Our Manukau group have been doing weekly markets and activities on Saturday in the plaza space showing what can be done to revitalise a large open space. Manukau Plaza is protected in the Unitary Plan so developments wont threaten it. As Manukau City Centre continues to development especially around its streets Manukau Plaza will become increasingly important as an open space in the middle of a high density urban core – a lung for people to “unwind” while still being in a highly urban environment.


The Republic Bar spot was my favourite and not just because you could grab a beer while counting and mingling.

Counting, mingling, enjoying a beer at the Republic Bar in Manukau


Republic Bar is next to the main northern entrance to the mall, the entrance that leads to the cinemas as well. This entrance will be naturally busy given it is a Saturday and the counts definitely confirmed that. As I started at 4pm people were going in and out of the mall, 5pm people were grabbing early drinks before heading to the cinemas with 6pm the mall closed and people either drinking, eating or going to and from the cinemas. The point being people were lingering which gave activity and life to this small piece of Manukau City Centre.

If this can be replicated down the length of Amersham Way to Hayman Park we would get a hospitality laneway full of bars, cafes and restaurants humming away on a Saturday night giving Manukau a start on some decent night life. Given Manukau Bus and Rail Stations are less than 800 metres away accessing transit after a night out would not be that difficult.


From Hayman Park to Manukau City Centre
Could this be a cafe/bar/hospitality corridor for Manukau City Centre?



In the end the Public Life Survey was a lot of fun and the observations rather stark on what Manukau has to offer, the challenges and opportunities ahead. Was great being a part of it although still need find time to read this:

Happy City



Looking down Davis Avenue from Hayman Park