Ōwhiro Bay Sea Wall
Built in the 1930s to protect the road from the elements, the original mortared brick sea wall protects the primary transport route of Ōwhiro Bay Parade, linking significant local population areas in Island Bay and Ōwhiro Bay suburbs to Wellington city. Around 5000 vehicles use the road daily.
In 2010, Wellington City Council identified structural deficiencies in the sea wall and has instigated a programme of work to replace the wall in sections over the next decade.
History of Ōwhiro Bay
There are a number of coastal kāinga, pā, ngakinga, urupā and overland tracks connecting the settlements around Wellington’s south coast.
Ōwhiro Bay, with a flowing stream and kainga near the stream mouth, was a favoured place of residence where signs of cultivations including terraces and food storage pits, middens, implements such as knives and worked flakes, as well as a mere have all been found.
The kainga has been recorded by ethnologist Elsdon Best as being of Ngāti Ira iwi, which was later occupied by Ngāti Awa.
Ōwhiro named for ‘a moonless night’, as whiro is the first day of the lunar month, was a known centre for fishing, with the settlers who arrived after the New Zealand Company helped to survive by fishing for ‘mutton shell’ or the ubiquitous paua by those at the kainga.
At the mouth of the Ōwhiro stream is a wave-built shingle beach ridge, ponding the stream mouth as it flows across the beach to the sea. This is Te Hapua-o-Rongomai, the pool of Rongomai, named for the atua or god Rongomai, a personified form of a meteor, who was said to have descended to earth at the mouth of the stream.
Te Aranui o Pōneke / the Great Harbour Way road and bridge around the coast is built just over this area.