Māngere bridge renamed by mana whenua

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A new $38 million walking and cycleway connecting Onehunga and Māngere will be officially opened on 27 August. Photo / Supplied, LDR

By Stephen Forbes, Local Democracy Reporter

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is to unveil a new $38 million walking and cycleway over the Manukau Harbour this month.

Despite construction setbacks due to Covid-19, everything is now on track for the official public opening at noon on August 27.

The new walking and cycleway will provide a new link between Onehunga and Māngere and has been named Ngā Hau Māngere by mana whenua, which means the "gentle lazy winds".

The old Māngere Bridge, which connected the two suburbs, was more than 100 years old and was closed for good in late 2018 due to safety concerns.

Work on the project started in late 2019 but it came to a grinding halt during the alert level 4 lockdown in 2020.

Auckland Manukau ward councillor Alf Filipaina said the new bridge had been a long time coming but it was an important project for both Māngere and Onehunga.

It would not only be safer but also it would also improve access for cyclists and pedestrians in the two suburbs, he said.

"And for me, the fact it will connect Māngere and Onehunga has to be a good thing."

He said the nearby State Highway 20 motorway bridge included an underpass for cyclists and pedestrians but he said concerns had been raised by the public over the years about how unsafe it was.

"Something had to be done about it," Filipaina said.

The old underpass is expected to be closed in December.

In a statement on the project in April, Waka Kotahi said the new bridge would be an asset for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as the wider community.

The new walking and cycleway has been named Ngā Hau Māngere, which means the "gentle lazy winds". Photo / Supplied via LDR

The new walking and cycleway has been named Ngā Hau Māngere, which means the "gentle lazy winds". Photo / Supplied via LDR

The structure's deck is eight metres wide with two fishing bays extending that to 12m and bench seating for people to sit and enjoy the harbour views.

"When open, the bridge will provide not only an important strategic connection as part of the wider walking and cycling network in Auckland, but also become a place for whānau and friends to gather, sit and even enjoy a spot of fishing," a spokesperson said.

Waka Kotahi said the Manukau Harbour had for a long time been an important food source for the area and the old bridge was a popular fishing spot for generations.

During public consultation for the project, locals said they would like to see that tradition continue.

Artwork on the bridge, designed in partnership with mana whenua, would reflect the area's history and the fact the Ōtāhuhu portage was an important passage for many waka that travelled through the area.

"The community have played an important role in the design of the new bridge, which reflects what they loved and enjoyed so much about the old Māngere Bridge. We look forward to celebrating its opening with the community and visitors to the area," the Waka Kotahi spokesperson said.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air