Te Ngākau – the Civic Precinct forms the highly-connected ‘heart of the city’ where people can walk between Wellington’s waterfront, the Golden Mile and our important arts, cultural and performance venues.
It’s home to many of the city’s key civic functions and is made up of Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui (Central Library), City Gallery, the Wellington Town Hall, Municipal Office Building, Civic Administration Building, the former Capital E building, the City to Sea Bridge, Civic Square, Jack Ilott Green and the Michael Fowler Centre.
This area was significantly impacted during the 2013 and 2016 earthquakes. Since then, discussion around further development of Te Ngākau has been continuing, largely due to changing concerns around the seismic resilience of many of its buildings and structures. The area also has other resilience issues such as vulnerability to rising sea levels.
The closure of Te Matapihi Ki te Ao Nui (the Central Library building) in March 2019, as well as the closure of the Civic Administration Building, has highlighted the resilience issues faced in the precinct. While these issues are challenging, they also offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure Te Ngākau is safe, well-designed, vibrant and fulfils its potential as the heart of our growing city.
What we’re doing
Projects are already underway to develop and/or strengthen some buildings and proposals to remove others.
A framework for guiding the future
Enhancing Te Ngākau Civic Precinct’s role as the thriving heart of our growing capital city, while protecting its iconic or heritage features has been the focus for the Council over the past two years.
In 2020 we started work to develop a vision and objectives for the Precinct which considered the physical structures in Te Ngākau and the how the spaces have or could be used, and which services are important for our community now and in the future. It also took into account previous planning works across the Precinct, and future planning initiatives which we are partnering with local and central government, and people living across the Wellington region. We are also considering options for Council staff to be accommodated in Te Ngākau and other projects within the Precinct, such as strengthening and modernising Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui (the Central Library) which will also house City Archives, the Council Service Centre and Capital E, and the Michael Fowler Centre car park development.
We worked with key stakeholders – including mana whenua representatives, sustainability, architectural and engineering experts, resident groups and events and arts organisations – to gather their feedback and ideas for how the spaces could reflect and engage their communities.
From this we developed a draft framework (visions and objectives) to guide any current and future developments in and around the area. The draft framework presented to the Council on 8 April 2021 for approval to take it out for public consultation.
People were asked to rate their level of support or opposition of the vision and supporting seven objectives, and add their ideas or feedback through a four-week consultation process which ran from Wednesday 19 May until 5pm, 16 June 2021.
The results of the consultation were presented to the Council on 30 September 2021. We received 76 submissions from 61 individuals and 15 on behalf of an organisation who represented inner city residents and businesses. There was strong overall support for the vision - Te Ngākau is the beating heart of our capital city: A thriving neighbourhood where creativity, culture, democracy, discovery and arts experiences collide on the edge of Te Whānganui-a-Tara - with 64.5% of submissions strongly or somewhat supporting the vision and 7.9% opposing it. All of the seven supporting objectives received strong support ranging from a low of 56.8% to a high of 86.3%, with the highest opposition at 10.9%.
Following the public consultation process and hearings we made a number of amendments to the Framework to increase the focus on increasing both greenery and green spaces in or near the area, and highlighting it’s role as a living space for people to use.
The Council adopted the Framework with one amendment to reflect the residential/office development planned (via a long-term lease to Willis Bond) for Michael Fowler Centre carpark, as the development agreement was approved at the same Council meeting.
The Te Ngākau Civic Precinct Framework will now guide current and future developments across the precinct as we go through a significant period of change for area to achieve the vision for Te Ngākau.
The Council previously reviewed the future of the Civic Precinct as part of the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan. You can read more detail in Supplementary Agenda (attachment 1, pages 23, 24) that went to the Council meeting of 25 February, 2015.
Following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, and before the Central Library closure, staff worked with independent consultants to develop concepts and ideas for the wider area to understand what the future precinct might look like. You can view this work below.