#OurManukau Set for Major Development: Some Urban Geography Thoughts on my Home undergoing transformation change

Making use of underutilised land to deliver affordable housing and lively Centres

This story originally on LinkedIn

The story should have been honestly been on page one of the media publications this morning. The story of underutilised land, lack of housing, astronomical pricing in the City Centre and the perfect Christmas present presents itself. What was that story? This story: Developers invited to transform Manukau CBD

From that story:

Developers are being invited to submit expressions of interest to develop one or more of six big redevelopment sites in Manukau City’s central business district.”Five of the sites are being released to the market for the first time,” says Alan McMahon, national director of consulting at Colliers International. “The six freehold sites have a total land area of about 2.7ha and all have a Metropolitan Centre zoning, allowing for high-rise development and a wide range of permitted uses,” McMahon says.

“Five are used for street-level open car parking and the other site is Kotuku House at 4 Osterley Way – an office building of five levels along with basement car parking. Kotuku House, with a net lettable area of 3969sq m on a 910sq m site, will be offered for sale and leaseback to Auckland Council on a four-year initial lease term, with three rights of renewal of one year each.


McMahon says developments that will provide long-term employment opportunities, such as offices; or that will provide affordable housing, are the most desired options, but any use permitted under the zoning will be considered.


McMahon says the six sites for redevelopment are located at the heart of the Transform Manukau project area; close to new bus and train stations, tertiary education providers, offices, civic services, numerous retail, entertainment, leisure and cultural premises.

The car park sites include a 2542sq m corner site at 8 Davies Avenue, a 1753sq m site at 9 Osterley Way, and a 5569sq m corner site at 31-33 Manukau Station Rd adjoining the bus station.

Two sites have extensive road frontages with substantial profile for future developments. These are a 6500sq m site with about 140m of frontage at 14 Davies Ave; and a 9713sq m property at 50 Wiri Station Rd with about 230m of motorway frontage to State Highway 20.


“This is an opportunity to help reshape the future of central Manukau which is developing as the heart and soul of the south. “Panuku is helping to drive this growth through its ‘Transform Manukau’ programme, which aims to ensure Manukau Central reaches its full potential. “To achieve this, Panuku is making council land available for development, at the same time as investing in public amenity development and upgrades.”

Roger MacDonald, chief executive of Panuku Development Auckland, says the sites have the potential to ‘catalyse’ the regeneration of central Manukau.


He says Manukau is one of three Auckland centres outside the CBD prioritised for growth through to 2050; Manukau is also one of three council office hubs, with the second being the central city area, and the third serving the west and north.

“Council staff in southern Auckland are currently accommodated in the Manukau Civic Centre, Kotuku House, Papakura Service Centre and Pukekohe Service Centre. A future southern office hub will consolidate these locations to central Manukau.”

Farhi says Panuku is collaborating with a number of agencies to deliver a wider Transform Manukau programme, including the Southern Initiative and tourism and economic body ATEED [Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development].

“Panuku is also working closely with central government to achieve coordinated investment in housing, education, health, transport, and public and community facilities.

“The Transform Manukau programme envisions the area as a hub of affordable and sustainable urban living,” Farhi says.

“It aims to build a strong, permanent residential population that lives, learns, plays and works within central Manukau and its surrounding area, growing the population to 10,000 residents.

“Planned upgrades to Hayman Park and Puhinui Stream are designed to make these areas attractive, safe and accessible.


“As the anchor for growth in southern Auckland, and the largest civic centre outside of the CBD, Manukau will be a focus for much of this growth.”

The city and surrounding industrial and business areas produce 14 per cent of Auckland’s gross domestic project.

McMahon says Manukau already has a strong civic, administrative, educational and retail centre; excellent motorway connections; and several successful Auckland-wide attractions.

Being close to Auckland International Airport and the Wiri Inland Port also strengthens the city’s role as a key growth node; along with integrated new rail and bus stations; and a planned rapid transport connection to the airport.

McMahon says being close to public transport makes it easier and more attractive for people to live, work and study in this area.

“Manukau is also traditionally cheaper to establish offices or to buy or rent homes, than many other parts of the city, which will be a magnet for residents and businesses.”

He says Manukau is home to two major tertiary providers, AUT (Auckland University of Technology) and MIT (Manukau Institute of Technology) as well as numerous schools. It is also a strong visitor destination with leisure and entertainment facilities that include the Manukau Events Centre, Rainbow’s End and Wero Whitewater Park.


Source: New Zealand Herald

Below is a picture of the potential sites:

The red arrow is Kotuku House while the blue are the potential sites mentioned above. The yellow arrow is currently open grass next to the Bus Station and presents some prime opportunities.

If Manukau City Centre (zoned Metropolitan Centre in the Unitary Plan) was the core of Southern Auckland (Auckland’s largest and fastest growing sub region in Auckland) then these development sites are in the core of Manukau itself and all well inside the 400 metre radius from Manukau Bus/Rail Stations and the proposed Airport to Botany (A2B) Rapid Transit Line.

As said earlier all that area apart from Hayman Park is zoned Metropolitan Centre which allows for residential, commercial service/retail/hospitality, office and civic preferably as mixed use. The Airport is 15 minutes away, the City Centre 40 minutes by train, you have a readily accessible population base within 30 minutes of Manukau and of course Manukau serves as a gate way to the Waikato.

Manukau Opportunities 1 of 2 Source: Panuku Development Auckland

Exciting opportunities are about for Manukau and Southern Auckland. But! Yes there is a but: Manukau is my home and have been a staunch advocate to Auckland Council, Panuku and Transport Minister Twyford in making sure the objectives of Manukau being the heart and soul or rather Meeting Place of the South are met.

Davies Avenue potential axis Source: Panuku

So I have one request for these developments: DO NOT Forget human element:

#TransformManukau – Missing the Human Element. Part 8 of the Manukau City Centre – The Transform Series

From 2016 when the Manukau Framework Plan was being finalised and going live. Note the progression then through to now where Manukau currently is.

The human element is missing from Manukau 

In the previous post of this series (#TransformManukau – The Context. Part 7 of the Manukau City Centre – The Transform Series) I looked at the context leading up to where we are today with Manukau, and Transform Manukau led by Panuku Development Auckland.

As we know Manukau has economic clout in Auckland and a lot of potential to be The Thriving Heart and Soul of the South (the vision from the High Level Project Plan):

Economic Activity in Manukau. Source: Panuku Development Auckland

But as we also know with Manukau it sits in a value trough compared to the surrounding residential areas acting like a monolith. The monlith is big structures but lacking the local and people element. To make things a bit more complex in Transform we also have the case where: Human Geography Element Still Lacking in Council and Auckland in which I concluded there: “In short? We are great with the Physical Geography stuff (the tangible stuff we can use our five senses on) but like Transform Manukau (and as that series is fleshing out) Council and its CCO’s lack(ed) the capabilities (as of 2016 when the original post was written) in clearly articulating the Human Geography side – the people side. Without the Human Geography side and Human Geographers assisting Council articulating that Human Geography side (and story) then all we get is Auckland being one big monolith!”

Now Panuku realises that yes they are great with the Physical Geography side but it will certainly be interesting dealing with the Human Geography side. That said the person who I had met up with at Panuku for the story on Manukau articulated the Human Geography side extremely well. What it can come down to now is people and bloggers like myself to help articulate that human side of the Manukau story and generate feedback to help better Manukau (and the South). 

Improving the Quality of Life of the People

Panuku have created eight goals for Transform Manukau. Those eight goals being:

Goals of Transform Manukau Source: Panuku Development Auckland

Notice how all eight goals look at improving the quality of life for the people whether directly (green spaces, and connectivity between Manukau and the South) or indirectly through economic and social initiatives, and increasing economic participation in Manukau City Centre.

So how do we improve the quality of life for the people of the South through Transform Manukau? We do this in a two prong fashion:

  1. Having the communities in the front seat driving the implementation of Transform Manukau (rather than being led by the Council)
  2. Bringing the Local to Manukau

1) Having the communities in the front seat driving the implementation of Transform Manukau (rather than being led by the Council)

This is Goal 8 of Panuku and one of my main advocacy points to Council and Panuku (for the last five years) in having the community in the front seat driving the implementation of Transform Manukau. Note I have said implementation rather than “planning.” This is because Manukau has been planned to death and the community is getting consultation fatigue from it (simply put they switch off). What the community wants, what I would like to see and what Panuku wants to do is to get cracking – to implement these plans and get the ball finally rolling on Transform Manukau.

With communities (and that includes the business community) in the front seat of the Transform Manukau program the program itself would be adaptive to the needs of the Southern Auckland area (including Manukau) through a collaborative and empowerment regime rather than back seat passengers that has been a regular occurrence with another particular Council Controlled Organisation.

Public Participation. Source: International Association for Public Participation

With the community in the front seat driving Transform Manukau part two becomes easier to realise. 

2) Bringing the Local to Manukau

One thing Panuku made very clear in their sit down is that Manukau is great with the regional stuff like the mall, large format retail, Rainbows End, the police HQ and the courts. But what is missing in Manukau is the local stuff that would make people want to stay, linger, socialise or even live in Manukau rather than this 9-5 transactional economy Manukau currently has.

As I quoted above we are great at the physical stuff (and often that is where the regional stuff is often placed) but we are lagging in the human stuff (where the local would sit) that humanises a centre especially a Metropolitan Centre.

So what is the local stuff needed to humanise the Metropolitan Centre that is Manukau City Centre (and its surrounds)? Well a critical mass of a permanent population base (whether it be apartments in Manukau City Centre itself or terraced housing in the residential estates south of Manukau City Centre) would be a good start as that critical mass attracts commercial development (viability) and further investment from the public sector (Council and Government). The commercial development especially if things like bars, cafes, and small format retail would give people a reason to stay, linger, socialise, and attract more people to live and work in Manukau.

A risk though in driving for that critical mass of a permanent residential population in Manukau is that the new residential population decide to go elsewhere to socialise and even work resulting in Manukau still losing out as a 9-5 transactional economy.

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

The question is though what goes first to attract people to Manukau in order to build that critical mass and bring that Local (the people) to Manukau? Do we go with the physical stuff first like big apartment blocks or even more offices followed by open spaces or do we go open spaces first THEN the apartment blocks and offices? If I put my Cities Skylines hat on we go open spaces first then the apartments and offices. 

The reason for going for the open spaces first is two-fold:

  1. Increase the quality of the area already to existing users
  2. Make the area more attractive to new residents and workers

There is also a third reason being cheaper to lay down first rather than retrofit later on when the developments are completed. 

Good open spaces right off the bat before the development for new residents and workers also gives reason for existing users of Manukau to socialise, linger and even purchase more services and goods. This in turn through Economics 101 acts as the catalyst to more wanting to come to the area in both living, shopping, working, and selling those goods and services. But remember the aim is to bring the local (the people) to Manukau.

Hayman Park – under utilised potential in the heart of Manukau City Centre

Large format retail form good regional anchors and have a place in Manukau given Manukau is the regional hub for half a million people. But the encouragement is also needed on small format retail including hospitality to give the people inclusionary feel of a and in a large Centre (Manukau can be rather isolating to a person or a group of people). And to do this we need to understand both the people already coming to Manukau like myself and those already in Manukau like the businesses in order so that we can be good active front seat drivers to Transform Manukau (rather than a passenger steering out the window bored silly).

Intensification must be done well. The two apartment towers in Manukau City Centre

How to get the Local going and having the communities in the front seat driving the implementation of Transform Manukau

I will go project specific with the Davies Avenue axis in the next post. In the meantime and I raised the idea for Panuku to actively consider (and they are) of placing an easy to access community office in Manukau where the public and businesses can walk in, check out what Transform Manukau is, get information on Transform Manukau and give ideas on Transform Manukau. This community office would be the front-of-house interaction point between Panuku and the South.

The community office would also be the ‘vessel’ or catalysis allowing the people to be in that front seat helping to drive Transform Manukau. The catch is to get it a budget line from Council to make it happen (if Council is serious about being people first). 

There is certainly more that can be done in articulating the Human Geography side of the Transform Manukau story. This post is not designed to be the be-all end-all exhaustive list of what to do. But rather a chapter in the ongoing articulation of Transform Manukau and how Transform Manukau can improve the quality of life for the people of the South.

Why Transform Manukau

From: #TransformManukau – Missing the Human Element. Part 8 of the Manukau City Centre – The Transform Series

That was written in 2016 so it is good to see how far Transform Manukau/Our Manukau has progressed through to now.

My Part 9 post that covered Davis Avenue back in 2016 also serves as a good anchor point to how the heart of Manukau has progressed through to today: #TransformManukau – The Davies Avenue Axis. Part 9 of the Manukau City Centre – The Transform Series

We fast forward to 2018 and see this: Construction begins on south Auckland’s first destination playground 

A brand new multi faculty playground that includes different play areas for different ages and of course the flying fox!

It is good to see however, a destination playground being built in Manukau’s largest and most central park that will no doubt bring more people in and hopefully attract more residents as new residential apartments are built.

Also the Human Geography element I mentioned in 2016 that was lacking has been fulfilled by Panuku as they through their #OurManukau team use tools such as: social media, community and place activation in Manukau Plaza, community events and human or rather cultural inspired designed on things such as the Putney Way streetlights next to the bus station. All and again Human Geography elements that are slowly but surely personalising Manukau City Centre from one giant 9-5 Monday to Friday monolith (that look liked any other 1990s Town Centre) of the past into 21st Century people’s place that brings: the many people, the many cultures, many demographics giving Manukau and the South its heart and soul. That heart and soul coming from us being allowed to personalise our and that heart and soul! This Panuku must not forget as urban development with the Private Sector begins right in the heart!

In conclusion we can see from 2016 to 2018 the careful work Panuku has put in to get us from Plan to Urban Development while keeping the community informed along the way. Again I do advocate for making sure the human element is not forgotten as this one in a century development opportunity comes about not only in the heart of the Manukau but the heart of the South!

Finally from Panuku where the High Level Plan was with Auckland Council in 2015:

Panuku on Manukau (Panuku also reads the blog) Source: High Level Project Plan presentation to Auckland Council