A multimillion-dollar overhaul of Napier’s iconic waterfront will revive the city’s coastal amenities and create a public skate park space for both locals and visitors to relax and have fun. BY MARY SEARLE BELL.
NAPIER IS A CHARMED CITY – sun drenched and stylish, thanks to its Art Deco heritage. To top it off, the city has wide views over Hawke Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Naturally, the waterfront is a haven for locals and tourists alike who want to embrace this scenic spot.
For years, the big drawcard to Napier’s waterfront was Marineland, with its dolphins, sea lions and seals performing for the public. The facility opened in 1965 and by its heyday in the 1980s over three million people had visited. Subsequent changes to New Zealand’s dolphin catching policy put the writing on the wall for Marineland and its star faded, eventually closing to the public in 2009. A few animals remained at the facility until 2014, when they were shipped to new homes in Australia.
Time has left this public space tired and worn. However, an exciting redevelopment project by the Napier City Council will soon see Marineland’s grandstand filled with people again. This time it won’t be diving dolphins they’ll be watching, but skaters performing tricks of their own, and other skate sports such as roller derby and quad hockey, along with concerts.
Renowned skate park designer Richard Smith has been charged with creating the new facility, which will cater to inline skaters and skate boarders of all levels. MCL Construction has filled most of the old pools and has started work on a ‘plaza style’ skate park. The revamp includes turning one old pool into a skate bowl, constructing wooden ramps and upgrading the grandstand – the council has the view that the facility will be multipurpose, enabling community events and concerts to be staged there.
The skate park is, however, one small part of the waterfront revamp – dubbed stage one. Stage two, which is under construction concurrently with stage one, covers the area north from the old Marineland site to the Sunken Gardens.
Contracting firm Russell Roads won the tender for stage two of the Marine Parade Redevelopment, and the contract includes paving work, landscaping, constructing water features and the installation of a variety of sculptural artworks.
Work began in August with site clearing and demolition. Russell Roads contracts manager Daryll Pugh says first the old skate park and car park had to be removed. The company then began the drainage works – as well as laying stormwater pipes to take water off Marine Parade, pipes also had to be laid for irrigation of the greenery and for the water features.
The hard landscaping also started – concrete was poured for a basketball court and the first of a network of footpaths was constructed. Although only six weeks in, Daryll says over 5000 cubic metres of gravel has already been used, with more to come.
There’s also major gardening work ahead with numerous trees and shrubs to be planted and open areas to be grassed. Laminated timber sitting areas, which will look a bit like rib cages, are yet to be installed too – these will house concrete viewing platforms that will look out to the ocean.
Designed by Paris Magdalinos Architects, the $5.7 million redevelopment was inspired by Maori mythology and the local environment.
Pathways will lead to lookout points aligned with Mahia and Cape Kidnappers, and will feature carvings and sculpted edges. There will also be a series of bubble-up water features leading to a feature pool with LED-lit computerised water jets.
It’s high-profile worksite and is receiving the expected level of public and media attention, and Daryll says it’s important the project goes well.
“It was a competitive tender that a number of contractors were chasing and we were lucky to win,” he says.
Daryll believes Russell Roads’ success in winning the tender is partially due to the company having more services in-house than its competitors, removing the need to use subcontractors for the large number of different disciplines that are required to complete the project.
He says the waterfront redevelopment is different from the kinds of projects the firm has tackled in the past, and it’s a great project to show that the firm can do much more than lay bitumen.
Russell Roads has a team of 15 working on site and Daryll says things are tracking well. The project should be complete before Christmas.