About Māngere Bridge
Friends of the Farm – a community group
Saturday 27 August 2022 was the official opening day for the new Māngere Bridge, linking Onehunga and Māngere Bridge. The new bridge was named Ngā Hau Māngere by mana whenua Te Waiohua. Translated it means “gentle, lazy winds”.
Transport Minister Michael Wood declared the bridge open and described it as “a significant stunning structure… It’s a magic project for our local communities and it’s a key part of building a safe walking and cycling network so that people have real transport choices in Auckland”. Other officials spoke, including Manukau Councillor Alf Filipaina who noted the contribution locals had made to the planning process, including long-term local Frances Hancock ( a founding member of Friends of the Farm).
For a few years, locals have been waiting for a new pedestrian and cycling bridge after the old one was declared unsafe and closed in 2018. However Waka Kotahi had identified the need to replace the old bridge well before that and had engaged with mana whenua, communities, businesses and Local Government partners between 2012 and 2015 to find out what people loved about the bridge, how they used it, and what they wanted for the new one. The valuable community feedback helped shape the design and layout of the new bridge. In particular the replacement bridge needed to ensure the important walking and cycling connection between communities was maintained as well as creating an appealing public space, and making travel through the area more accessible and enjoyable.
The bridge’s layout has been designed to promote safe and accessible use by a variety of users, including people travelling on foot or by bike, recreational users and people fishing. By maximising the views from the bridge, the connection to the wider harbour area and surrounding landscape is enhanced.
Key features of the new bridge are:
Local fisherman Eddie Waite said the old bridge was an underrated gem of a fishing spot. He and his children would cast a line there after school nearly every day, and they were looking forward to trying out the new fishing areas. Eddie shares tips on his Salty Beard Fishing Instagram page. He said the bridge had been a great spot for catching kahawai or snapper, and he had even seen orca chasing stingrays as the tide came in. The new bridge was a bit higher off the water, and with the strong current, Eddie said it was good to use a heavy rig. And as you walked or rode across, you would see the silvery blue, green and red colours of the local fish in the painted railings on either side.
Waka Kotahi’s $38 million project began in early 2020, before Covid-19 lockdowns slowed progress. However, Grace Doughty from Waka Kotahi said materials had arrived just in time to be readied for work to continue as soon as restrictions lifted.
“One of the important things for Waka Kotahi is looking at ways we can reduce our carbon emissions when we’re in construction,” Grace Doughty told Checkpoint. “We heard loud and clear from the community how much they loved the old bridge. It stood here for about 100 years and obviously had many cherished memories from whānau and friends. So we’ve worked with Heritage New Zealand to salvage pieces of the old bridge which are placed in a heritage garden on the northern abutment on the Onehunga side. The purpose of that is to help create a link for the past and the present.” Doughty said.
Looking closely at the timber inside the salvaged piles, one can see how well the old concrete preserved the wood. Other items decorate the garden, including an old iron anchor that was found during construction. Unused timber from the project has gone to the local pony club in Māngere to be used for fencing and jumps.
On the Māngere Bridge end of Ngā Hau Māngere a rain garden captures the stormwater that runs from the bridge and filters the water before it flows into the sea.
The walkway underpass under the motorway bridge will be closed at the end of 2022.
Since the official opening there has been a constant stream of people walking over the new bridge. And not just walkers – cyclists, scooters, pushchairs and skateboards, old and young people, family groups and exercising walkers are all enjoying the new space.
Some locals were disappointed that they missed the official “cutting the ribbon and opening the bridge” ceremony. So some enterprising people led by Pauline Anderson, Chairperson of Māngere Bridge Progressive Business Association organised an “official unofficial” opening of Ngā Hāu Māngere.
The second opening was arranged using social media and people gathered just before 6pm on Father’s Day, Sunday 4th September 2022 to share some stories about the history of Māngere Bridge.
Pauline Anderson recounted the history and statistics of the bridges. Judith Dobson spoke of her parents’ (Bill and Naomi Kirk) involvement in the community and evolution of the bridges including a great story of Bill cycling over the bridge more than 60 years ago to get on public transport to attend Auckland Boys Grammar school. She said one day he needed his bicycle for a race at school and the only way to get it there was to cycle all the way. He arrived at school exhausted with no hope of winning. However he decided to enter the race, fate intervened and all the other participants were caught up in an accident. He came from the back and won the race.
Val Payne (former Chairperson of Māngere Bridge Residents and Ratepayers) and long time resident of Māngere Bridge wrote a speech which was read by current Chair David Aldiss.
Tim Hart of Māngere Bridge Baptist Church said a blessing for the bridge and residents. A blessing and Karakia was also performed by Te Puea Marae, who led a beautiful waiata. Rev Mark Barnard of St James Church also spoke.
All speakers were invited to cut the ribbon along with one local child from the community. David Aldiss offered his scissors to another child. Adele Whittaker was quick to take up this offer and was very excited to participate in this history making event. Beautiful cupcakes adorned with a picture of our new bridge were enjoyed by attendees.
The local community is very grateful to the Māngere Bridge Progressive Business Association for planning this informal gathering for residents.
Story by Robyn Martin for Friends of the Farm – September 2022