Hinaki Eel Trap Cycle bridge

This bridge in Auckland New Zealand was about delivering a “Culturally Enriched Art Bridge”. A cycle bridge that attempts to embrace the craftsmanship of traditional Maori weaving patterns for eel traps traditionally used along Oakley Creek and reinterpret it into modern steel fabrication. The bridge also showcases the cultural story of Tuna Roa (a story featured on the entrance plaques in both Maori and English and reflected in the pou). The cycle bridge not only creates a unique user experience and leaves the community with a bridge it can be proud of, but it also helps educate and share Maori culture with the local and regional communities.

Dan was the lead bridge engineer and bridge architect for the Hinaki Eel Trap Cycle Bridge whilst working at Beca Ltd. Beca are one of NZ’s largest engineering firms and we actively retain very strong relationships with their multi-award winning bridge team.

Family looking at Hinaki Eel Trap Bridge

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Back in 2013, during the initial planning and resource consenting phase, Boffa Miskell worked closely with local iwi to develop an overall landscape masterplan for the wider Dominion Road Cycleway project. In that time it was conceived by all parties that a culturally enriched cycle bridge in the form of a Hīnaki (Eel Trap) would be suited for the crossing of Oakley Creek to reflect the heritage and use of the stream.

In 2014 the design team were asked to bring this idea to life and “make it happen”. Whilst working at Beca, Dan Crocker was given the role by AT and the iwi groups of Bridge Architect and Lead Bridge Engineer. Early concept work began in May 2014. The race was on and time was short as the Contractor (Dempsey Wood) – who would be tasked with building the cycle bridge – were due on site in July of that year and the bridge would need to fit with existing programmes.

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From Day #1 it was agreed that the best outcomes would come from close collaboration with all the represented iwi groups. Hana Maihi (from Ngati Whatua Orakei) was selected to represent these interests and inputs. Hana worked seamlessly alongside myself and my team (Sheena Chen and Paul Noble) to provide cultural direction to this project.

Joseph McCready working with Chris Judd led the landscaping in and around the bridge for Beca on behalf of AT. In collaboration with iwi, Joseph’s team developed a planting concept including basalt boulders to mark each entrance to the bridge and tell and share the story of Tuna Roa. The basalt boulder and bronze story plaque were created and delivered by local iwi artist Tessa Harris (Taonga Toi) and her team.

Alongside our iwi collaborators, the design design team led the project through a successful concept phase through to stakeholder buy-in, detailed design, building consent, and finally through to construction. The bridge was constructed on site by Dempsey Wood with the steel elements fabricated by Eastbridge in Napier between October 2014 and May 2015.

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Conclusion:

It is fair to say during the dawn blessing that AT, iwi, stakeholders and local community representatives (not to mention the Designers and Constructors) were very proud of what everyone had helped deliver. I believe together we have all achieved something truly remarkable and I am very proud to have been part of this journey…. I look forward to more adventures like this!

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