Harbouring our connection with nature a winner

The Dunedin waterfront — a blank canvas. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The Dunedin waterfront — a blank canvas. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
It is time for Dunedin residents to put their thinking caps on about the city's waterfront development, writes heritage developer Stephen Macknight.  

With all the talk and plans for the revitalisation of the waterfront, I think it is about time the residents of Dunedin had a say in what they what they would like to see, and how it could be made to work for them.

I will make a few suggestions as to how I could see it developing, and I would encourage others to also provide some thoughts on what they would like to see. These ideas could either be used to complement the existing proposals, in place of them, or perhaps as a first stage.

To me, the most important feature of our waterfront is that it is a marine environment very close to the city. I see this as the aspect that we should be enhancing and giving a unique Dunedin flavour to.

Rather than mainly putting the emphasis on building new and expensive structures, we could go the other way and create a marine park, allowing people connections with the natural environment.

To achieve this, we could enhance and recreate habitat to encourage coastal wildlife to visit and live in the area.

Sea birds, wetland birds, seals, little penguins and marine creatures could all encouraged to stay in greater numbers.

We could then provide unique and intimate viewing opportunities for the wildlife and coastal flora. This could be underwater viewing windows or walkways through the rocky beach where rocks can be turned over to see crabs and other coastal wildlife up close.

Sheltered viewing areas where birds can be seen flying on the wind, and floating walkways, either on or even just below the water surface, could also bring people close to the marine environment.

Beyond this, I can see areas for people to enjoy the waterfront for play and recreation.

This could be a sandy inner harbour beach, similar to Macandrew Bay, with access to an area of sheltered water, and an area of sand with perhaps some play equipment that encourages interaction with this environment.

Walkways, cycleways, through various coastal and wetland environments, would also provide opportunities for these connections.

There are also opportunities for the built environment that can help bring people to the area and link with this environment.

A harbourside fish and farmers’ market, something along the lines of a scaled-down version of the really successful Christchurch Riverside Market, could work well. This manages to provide authentic local food suppliers and eateries on a full-time basis, something we should surely be aspiring to as the next step beyond our excellent Saturday morning farmers’ market.

If we were to really pursue this model of linking people to nature in a interactive and fun way, I’m sure we could create something very special and very unique, as we do have both the environment, and people with the skills, that could make this work.


The city would do better to deal with it's housing, power, refuse and roading issues before we go anywhere near 'window dressing'. We don't need more tourists nor fantasy bridges, we need stability and quality in our infrastructure. No point having frills and thrills while we have leaning power poles, pot holes, garbage in the streets, homeless with no where to sleep. and tides rising. We have a hospital to build, but no where for the construction workers to live. When the hospital is built, where do the medical staff and their families live in the longer term, and at what cost? I know, Dunedin is certainly not alone with these problems, but can we at least stick to our basic knitting? We're not in great shape right now.