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Phoebe Falconer answers your questions about Auckland

Ask Phoebe: Major Newmarket project builds on park's quirky history

By Phoebe Falconer

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Work continues in Newmarket Park. Photo / Greg Bowker
Work continues in Newmarket Park. Photo / Greg Bowker

Having watched the destruction of Newmarket Park over many months, I am interested in determining the total cost of this project. Diggers, bulldozers and trucks have been destroying established trees and reshaping the land, obviously at huge expense. Could you determine how much, and when the restoration will be completed?
Roin Bailey, Newmarket.

And Philip Hart asks about progress on the rehabilitation of Newmarket Park. He feels the contractors are just moving piles of dirt around.

The total cost for the remediation and slope stabilisation of Newmarket Park is $6.2 million, says Marcus Herrmann, acting manager of land and water for Environmental Services, Auckland Council.

The history of the park is interesting. It is on the western slope of the Newmarket Stream gully, previously known as Slaughter House Creek, and was used as a public tip during the 1920s.

During the Depression in the 1930s, as an employment scheme, a flat area was created, filling in gullies and ridges. This was used as an athletics track, and later as a midget car racing circuit and golf driving range. The Auckland Football Association took a lease on the park in 1962 and it became one of New Zealand's foremost soccer stadiums, complete with grandstands. A major landslide in 1979 carried away one of the grandstands, among other things, and the park fell into disuse.

During excavation of the southern slope, all sorts of inorganic rubbish was found, including rusted metal, concrete, drums of petroleum-based material - everything you might expect at a dump, in fact.

There have been a number of further slips on the southern slope which have made the park dangerous for the public. The existing slope is too steep to rebuild so it will be flattened slightly to prevent further slips. The existing trees have had to be removed while the work is going on, but they will be replaced by native trees and shrubs, including kauri and tanekaha, tree ferns, rimu, totara, puriri and the like.

Where possible, the sacrificed trees will be cut up into logs to create habitats for lizards and other fauna on the replanted slope. That's a nice touch.

The council is also trying to save as many trees as possible along the Ayr St boundary. Improvements are also planned for the central part of the park, with new play equipment, seats and tables, walking paths and replanted gardens.

The bulk of the earthworks are due to be finished in May, followed by winter weed control and planting. The rest of the work in the main park area will be finished later this year, weather permitting.

The project is headed by the council's Environmental Services team. It will be handed over to the local parks team once it is finished.

- NZ Herald

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