The new walking and biking paths along the Cobham Drive foreshore were blessed by Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika this morning with a mihi whakatau, and then officially opened by Wellington Deputy Mayor Sarah Free and MP for Ōhāriu, Greg O’Connor.
This part of Wellington’s coast holds strong connections for mana whenua iwi (Taranaki Whānui, Ngāti Toa Rangatira). Taranaki Whānui has worked closely with Wellington City Council on aspects of the landscape design and gifted the name Tahitai (one tide, one journey) for the harbour-side walking and biking route around Akau Tangi (Evans Bay) between Miramar and the central city.
The tohu pattern etched onto walls and viewing platforms along Cobham Drive and at Ōmarukaikuru (Point Jerningham) depicts Taranaki maunga and ancestral origins.
Deputy Mayor Sarah Free says it is fantastic to see this important section of the walking and cycling route from the east complete and in use.
“This is one of our busier biking routes so it’s very pleasing that this stretch is now safer and easier to ride than it was – and that people on foot now have a safer place to walk and run,” Mayor Free said.
“It’s also been very much a team effort on the improved resilience and environmental protection for the area. We have worked with a range of organisations including Places for Penguins, Predator Free Miramar, the Department of Conservation and Greater Wellington Regional Council,” she said.
“The 430m of new rock revetment has been engineered to spread the force of the sea and help to protect this coastline of reclaimed land, the new paths and state highway. The rock revetment will also provide better places for kororā (little blue penguins) to nest.”
Deputy Mayor Free said the number of Wellingtonians biking was continuing to grow with count data showing more people than ever riding into the central city from every direction during the busy morning peak.
Biking to work is an upward trend as evident from the cordon count, which monitors how people travel into the city between 7am and 9am, despite the 2020 survey being curtailed by COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown. The count has been done over a week in March every year since 2000.
The cordon counts show the numbers cycling into the city over the busiest two hours in the morning has continued to grow, tripling from under 800 per day 20 years ago to over 2500 people. This trend is backed up by data coming through from the electronic counters that record 24/7 although the 2020 numbers will also be down due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Switching to a lower-carbon commute is a practical way Wellingtonians can take action on climate change and help the city achieve its vision to be a zero carbon Capital by 2050,” the Deputy Mayor said.
“About 80,000 Wellingtonians live within a 15-minute bike ride of the central city – so with further safety improvements, the potential for a lot more people of all ages and abilities to be making some trips by bike is huge.”
Mayor Andy Foster said the result was a huge credit to the hard work of staff and contractors who have made it happen.
“The landscaping, seats, viewing platforms, coastal planting, bike parking and new streetlights with banners have transformed this recreation area and the wind sculpture walk into something really special. This is now a fantastic gateway to the city for visitors arriving from the airport, and a real opportunity to showcase and promote our city,” said Mayor Foster.
The blessing was held at the newly landscaped beach area beside Evans Bay Marina, where the name Te Awa-a-Taia features. Te Awa-a-Taia was the name for the sea channel between Motu Kairangi island (now Miramar peninsula) and the mainland. It is thought this channel disappeared in the mid-1400s after a huge earthquake.
The project was funded and developed in partnership with the Government, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Wellington City Council.