‘Tearful story’ reflects unique City Rail Link project    

21 March 2024

Aucklanders already know the City Rail Link (CRL) project is delivering a world-class railway and now they can see first-hand that it is one unique to their city as well.

The last of 80 distinctive blue panels have now been fitted onto the upper levels of CRL’s Maungawhau Station to complete what is known as the station’s sky element – panels that serve both a modern day function while acknowledging the cultural heritage of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

The sky element panels, which wrap around the ventilation and air intake systems on top of the new station, are designed also to tell the Māori story of creation.  The striking pattern of shingles and blue triangles represent the tears of Ranginui (sky father) after being separated from Papatūānuku (Earth Mother).

“New railways are under construction all over the world but what makes CRL stand out from the rest is our rewarding partnership with mana whenua which has resulted in culturally significant station designs that people will not see anywhere else on the planet,” says Dr Sean Sweeney, City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive.

“We are so proud of our partnership with mana whenua and to have world-class project that is distinctly Tāmaki Makaurau,” he says.

The panels have been designed by iwi artist Tessa Harris (Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki) whose work embedding the narratives of Tāmaki Makaurau is visible right across the project – at Te Komititanga, the square in downtown Auckland, Porters Avenue Bridge and the Maungawhau Station building.

“It has been a privilege to bring the mana whenua narrative to Maungawhau Station,” Tessa says.  “The collaboration design process has brought stunning architecture that combines culture and functionality, in a way that is uniquely Aotearoa. When you view the shingles in different light, it is an ever-changing reflection like the shimmer of tears.”

Crews from CRL’s main contractor, Link Alliance, used a crane and elevated working platforms to lift the 80 panels into place, piecing them together like a puzzle.  Each panel varies in size and weight, ranging from 2250cm – 307cm in width, 2.5m – 3m in height, and 40kg – 90kg in weight.

The sky element feature is one of four separate elements that will tell the design kōrero (story) of a completed Maungawhau Station building and its ties to the surrounding landscape.

Each of the four elements reflects te ao (the Māori world view) and the station’s cultural relationships with the nearby Maungawhau (Mt Eden) volcano and Matāoho, the atua or diety of Tamaki Makaurau’s volcanic field.

The partnership with iwi through the project’s Manu Whenua Forum is further reflected in the traditional and cultural designs that enhance CRL’s two new midtown stations, Karanga-a-Hape and Te Waihorotiu.

For more information please contact:

Ewart Barnsley, CRL Media Advisor

M +64 21 567 862 | ewart.barnsley@cityraillink.govt.nz   

City Rail Link Ltd | Level 2, 25 Teed Street, Newmarket, Auckland 1023 PO Box 9681, Newmarket, Auckland 1149, New Zealand 

About the City Rail Link (cityraillink.co.nz)

CRL is New Zealand’s largest ever transport infrastructure project, involving construction of a 3.45km twin-tunnel underground rail link up to 42m below the Auckland city centre. It will transform the downtown Waitematā Station (Britomart) into a two-way through-station that better connects the city’s rail network and more than doubles rail capacity across Tāmaki Makaurau. Two new stations Te Waihorotiu Station – to become New Zealand’s busiest station when CRL is fully operational – and Karanga-a-Hape Station – the country deepest station – are being constructed as part of the new modern urban railway link, while Mt Eden Station is being rebuilt and renamed as Maungawhau Station.   CRL works closely with Auckland iwi through its Manu Whenua Forum to develop a new railway that is not only world class, but one whose award-winning design reflects New Zealand/Aotearoa’s unique cultural heritage.  The project is funded jointly by the Government and Auckland Council.