Speaker by Various Artists

Hang on, what about Carlaw Park?

by Richard Simpson

The following post has been compiled from emails from Auckland City councillor Richard Simpson, and outlines his argument for Carlaw Park to be considered as the site for the Rugby World Cup stadium in Auckland. Cr. Simpson illustrates his ideas in this Powerpoint presentation (2.9MB, right-click to save). I would normally have asked him to write a formal guest post, but he is in transit from New York, and given that Cabinet meets on Monday to deliberate on stadium options, I thought the idea needed to be aired today. - RB


I believe we should seriously consider Carlaw Park as a site for the Rugby World Cup Stadium. This site would create a much needed punctuation point in Auckland's use of rail. Government will make a final decision on the 16th October.

The Stadium footprint would require the repatriation of of the original Domain land (including Carlaw Park) back into the Domain to ensure adequate space ie. Stadium would be built on the Domain. This would enable an almost complete reconstitution the Domain as it was in July 1840 when it was defined by the paths of the Waipapa (Parnell) and Waiparuru (Grafton) streams. The Domain has lost 4.3 ha (roughly 10 acres) of land since the November 1860 Public Domain Act of the first Prime Minister (Edward Stafford). Some of this missing land can be accounted for by he Hospital and the Bowling Green, the rest is Carlaw Park and a fat sliver on the Parnell side of the railwayline. This act of Domain definition was three months prior to the flagstaff being raised in Auckland ie. this was Auckland's genesis - Auckland was therefore born as a park the Domain is not a park in a city but Auckland is a city within a park- this thinking needs to be the basis of Auckland's future urban planning directions. This historical fact needs to be celebrated and inspired from with a much better standard of urban planning and design than the dross we have in the past accepted without fuss.

A Stadium on this Carlaw Park site would catalyse the use of public transport and transform Auckland into a world class city. Carlaw Park could be serviced by a new Musuem/Domain/Parnell Station on the Southern line, at the same time as a temporary Kingdon St Station on the Western line. Run concurrently this is more than twice the capacity offered by Britomart. For road transport Carlaw Park is serviced by SH16 at its front door.

This site is very near Auckland hospital for rapidly addressing serious injuries. In situations of major emergencies, the stadium at this site would serve as strategic assembly point (eg. as New Orleans Super Dome served during Katrina).

In wet weather, a covered stadium on this site could serve as a standby contingency for major events in the Domain. The Museum steps could serve a podium for the opening of the RWC and for prize giving etc. where hundreds of thousands of people could attend and participate. Auckland would shine at its best for international eyes.

There are many benefits a Stadium on this site could serve for better connecting Parnell, the University, Domain, and CBD together for pedestrians and cyclists. A stadium on this site could also provide car parking for these areas, and could enable the car parking in the Domain to be greatly reduced. This would return this premier park back to the people.

There are some strong arguments on the grounds of heritage and place making supporting this site. Some All Black test matches were even played at Carlaw Park in its early years.

I believe the special merits of this site warrant serious investigation into the feasibility of this option.


NB: I pointed out to Cr. Simpson what I regarded as two potential drawbacks in the proposal: access for hospital traffic at peak times; and whether the difficulty of gaining consents would preclude the stadium being used for concerts. He responded thus:

Good point on the issue of hospital traffic - the reality is this issue would be the same for a stadium on the waterfront.

Carlaw Park could be serviced far more efficiently by rail than Britomart; a deadend that limits rail frequency as trains have to back out to clear. (For example by two stations on two lines: a temporary Kingdon St Station for shuttle services from the west and a Museum/Stadium/Parnell Station on different dual track lines for the South and Britomart. I expect Britomart to be badly blackened by the dirty soot of these Diesel locomotives by the time of the world cup. We do not want Britomart to make Auckland a joke while it has its moment on the international stage._

Tickets for the game/concert could be integrated with rail tickets to further encourage rail as the major mode people would arrive on. This preferential seat ticketing for rail commuters, augmented with an efficient public transport to rail hubs and much better cycle way access could keep the traffic down to manageable levels.

Parnell has had Carlaw Park beside it for nearly a century. Concerts, monster truck derbies etc have all been held there. They are also used to the huge concerts in the Domain. While there will be some who protest, there is a win for people living nearest to the stadium.

Repatriation of the original Domain land would mean the Domain would reach right into Parnell to the properties in Heather St and Gibraltar Cres. 'Daylighting' Waipapa Streamwould significantly enhance the area, as would electrification of rail to remove the noise and vibration hostility of the current Diesel 'clunker' locomotives that work this track.

This backyard of Parnell facing the Domain could become its front lawn. Cafes could be set up in this sheltered valley where people could sit by the stream - with the Domain, Stadium and a sleek new Domain/Museum/Stadium station could serve as backdrop. The Domain could be featured as part of Parnell with easy access to via bridges to the Stadium and over SH20. All this should make the properties nearer the Stadium more desirable. Certainly there could also be interest in siting hotels near the Stadium and the Domain - tough design standard could be applied to enhance it. As you can see from some of the slides there are a few leaking trash-buildings in the area that I would like to see taken out/rebuilt to a respectable quality. The incentive could come with making the Domain their front door.

The supporters of the Domain should support these scheme. The creeping of the Stadium beyond the dimensions of Carlaw Park to enable a 60,000 + audience would be less than the land now taken up by the car parking littering the Domain. THis car parking could be removed and planted as park land. Also with Carlaw Park repatriated a large share of the 4.3 hectares (10 acres) of Domain land that has disappeared since Stafford's 1860 Public Domain Act (see slide on this). The current railway is taken as the boundary of the Domain - this was built in 1914, the original boundary was the Waipapa Stream much closer to Parnell. Caralw Park was in the swamp of the Waipapa - the Parnell bank of the stream was the private property boundary.

The nearby Museum steps could serve as a podium for the opening ceremony etc. and also for awards - this could enable crowds of well over 100,000 to gather and provide for spectacular television coverage.