Happy anniversary Taumanu!
This month marks the fifth anniversary of our award-winning foreshore reserve and beaches, Taumanu Reserve. Its opening, back in November 2015, marked almost 40 years since SH20 sliced through Onehunga Bay, our beaches and our access to the harbour. What’s important to acknowledge, is that these beaches exist because our community fought for them.
In the 1970’s, when the motorway cut through Onehunga, we were promised that some sort of mitigation would take place along the ruined foreshore, to compensate for the damage inflicted by the motorway. Even though the lagoon park was created, it didn’t in any way replace the beautiful sandy beaches that had been destroyed, and the view from the motorway to the harbour became one of rubble and rubbish. It seemed then that the promises had been forgotten.
It was not until 2007, with the upgrade of the SH20 motorway and a planned interchange, that the community swung into action. Many years of underlying anger came to the surface, dating back to when the motorway first ploughed through our harbour and divided the land from the beach. The community rallied, and the Onehunga Enhancement Society (TOES) was created, chaired by Jim Jackson. The Onehunga Business Association, local business people and residents, Bridget Graham and the Maungakiekie Community Board (now replaced by the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board) and the Onehunga Community News led the charge to create an organisation which would represent the views of those most affected by the new infrastructure.
TOES’ mission was to ensure that Onehunga got a better outcome from the next stage of SH20’s development. It enabled Onehunga to present a unified voice to the numerous panels, and tortuous backwards-and-forwards discussions that took place, once planning was underway. Public meetings were organised to disseminate information, and a website gave easy access to updates. Submissions dates were publicised, and locals took the opportunity to make their views known.
Jim Jackson says the project was originally quoted as $65m but he had it priced independently and was told it could be done for $35m. Only $28m was eventually raised – but despite this, Taumanu was built.
Through the ups and downs of the planning and design stages, as public debate centred on bridges, bird life, pohutukawa felling and the provision of disabled access to the water, TOES representatives pegged away in the background – attending meetings, sending out information, fronting interviews – all to keep the project in the public eye and ensure a quality outcome.