Cycle Action’s Richard Barter went along to the dawn blessing ceremony for the spectacular new Hinaki Eel Trap Bridge in Mt Roskill’s War Memorial Park, on Friday 5 June. Here’s his report:
I had the privilege of representing Cycle Action, joining local Iwi, community leaders, engineers and contractors, at a dawn ceremony hosted by Auckland Transport to bless Hinaki Bridge, in Puketapapa Mount Roskill War Memorial Park. The bridge, which is the final link in the new Dominion Road parallel cycle routes, spans Te Auaunga (Oakley Creek) between the park and Gifford Rd.
In design, it is symbolic of the woven flax eel traps traditionally used by Maori in the creek, and was designed by the engineering consultancy Beca and environmental design firm Boffa Miskell, in consultation with local iwi.
It was pitch black when I arrived on my bike at the War Memorial Hall car park, confident I was early. I joined some folk from Boffa Miskell heading to the bridge. On arrival, it was obvious that we hadn’t read the invite. A sizeable crowd was gathered on the far side and looked like they were getting underway. We skulked over, ducked under the barriers, and went to the back of the line.
The heavy rain earlier had stopped and the wind dropped as the sound of dawn birdsong enveloped us. The karakia started as we moved over Hinaki, flanked at each corner by pou standing erect guarding the crossing and anchoring it into the stream bed. We were told Te Auaunga was once a rich source of food for those who lived in the area, and sustained the surrounding wetlands and swamps.
Having cooled down after pedaling I stood shivering in multiple layers and a coat next to Kathryn King (with her bicycle) seemingly oblivious to the freezing conditions in a light jumper and t-shirt. Speakers recounted the collaborative journey that saw the Puketapapa Greenways merging into the Dominion Rd Parallel routes, advancing the regional cycle network. Most early morning walkers gave the gathering a wide berth with the exception of one plucky elderly couple who ducked through the middle of the crowd right past a white haired elder wielding his tokotoko as he shared his people’s connections with the waterway.
Then the sun which had just brilliantly lit up the cone of Puketapapa (Mt Roskill) faded into the cloud as the sound of traffic on SH20 began to drown out the tuis. A cup of tea was waiting in the hall; folk didn’t need too many reminders to head towards warm food. Check out the bridge sometime. It’s beautiful.
– Richard Barter Cycle Action Committee Member