Karori Town Centre: Public Space Improvement Project

Creating attractive, comfortable and sheltered spaces in the town centre’s Library Square and England Lane for people to enjoy.

About the project

Project work involves three areas:

  1. The Library Square – we aim to create an attractive, comfortable and sheltered space in front of the community library.
  2. England Lane – we want to improve people’s accessibility as they move around the town centre. People will find better signage, access to and visibility of the Community Centre, the Arts and Craft Centre and the Recreation Centre.
  3. A section of the car park in front of the Karori Community Centre (KCC) – the connection of the lane will extend to the KCC entrance, improving pedestrian connections across the car park. The conditions of the disabled parks will be improved to enable better accessibility as well.


We had a great opening event to celebrate the completion of this project in early December 2022. We had a great turnout from members of the community filled with kai, song, and play.

Thank you to everyone who came to support this project, keep an eye on our channels in the new year as we will be doing a profile piece on the upgrades in this area.


Urban design principles

Public engagement

From August 2018, the Urban Design Team had met with and gathered feedback from the public and Karori residents. They formed a small working group to come up with ideas that would enhance and support “Karorians” way of life.

The collaboration took place over four workshops. The group comprised Karori residents from a diverse range of ages, genders, families, associations and trades.

March 2019 marked the end of the public engagement and consultation process when the group met to talk about some recognised design principles: wildlife habitat design and heritage interpretation.

Wildlife habitat design

Built in the hollow of the valley, surrounded by green hills and local wildlife, Karori is sensitive to change and urbanization. Modern development, including roads, tree felling, fences, and walls restrict the movement of wildlife. Excessive night-time lighting also negatively impacts animal behaviour, especially that of nocturnal animals.

These principles consider ways to protect wildlife within the town centres:

  • Connect and enhance habitats that predate Karori’s built environment to promote safe movement.
  • Bring the natural landscape of the surrounding hills into the heart of Karori with native plants.
  • Favour urban interventions that promote non-slippery pervious surfaces and natural insect shelters to increase the potential for wildlife (and people) to move around and feel safer doing so.

The design incorporates a particular selection of trees, planting and garden bed materials to encourage Karori’s native wildlife the opportunity to thrive. Holes will be drilled into one of the garden bed walls within the Square to enable insect habitats to become established.

Heritage interpretation

Heritage interpretation enables us to bring to life narratives that strengthen place making and foster a stronger sense of identity within an area.

Karori’s name means “the rope of bird snares” in Te Reo Māori. It refers to the hunting of birds before urbanisation took off around the 1840s. Both the original Te Reo Māori name of Karori ‘te kaha-o-ngarore’ and its direct translation will be featured within the Square.

The town centre once had an abundance of bird life, especially around the Karori Stream, which is piped underground today. With the stream now hidden, our memory and the location of it has faded.

As an important natural element of Karori’s past, it’s worth acknowledging the stream’s existence. This will be given reference to through an artwork within the Square, with engraved blue stone pavers illustrating the wider water catchment that connects Karori to the South Coast. This will be joined with a text work that provides a narrative around the work and the streams of Karori. It’s a great reminder of the suburb’s pre-urbanized state and that nature was once a visible feature.

The Square will also feature a line of poetry from Katherine Mansfield, engraved into the built environment. Katherine, a well-known writer, was once a resident of Karori and within her story Prelude (1916), she reflects on her experience living in the suburb as ‘a debt of love’.

Further work

The Council are also exploring other ways to create a vibrant town centre. Karori Town Centre development projects include:

  • development of the St John's site.
  • improving people and vehicle movement and safety around Karori's town centre.
  • 30km zone implementation is complete.

We will provide more detail as it becomes available.

Contact us

Urban Design team
Phone: 04 499 4444
Email: ud.karori@wcc.govt.nz