Two Tairāwhiti streets get temporary changes next year

Wednesday, 22 November 2023

Next year, short-term changes will be made to Grey Street in Gisborne, and the Main Street in Uawa, to make them more vibrant and people-friendly.

A portion of each of these two streets will be re-designed to help improve access and connections between areas as well as make them great places where walkers, bikers, mobility scooters, cars and trucks can all co-exist.

These two projects are led by community groups, supported by Gisborne District Council and funded through Waka Kotahi’s Streets for People programme.

The Streets for People programme, Hei Huarahi Oranga,  is funded by $30m from the National Land Transport Fund.

Funding has been awarded to 13 councils across the country to enable them to partner with their communities to evolve streets to become more people-friendly.

“Our streets play a vital role in creating safe, inclusive, vibrant and sustainable towns and cities,” says Council Community Lifelines Director Tim Barry.

“We want everyone to be able to move around safely and easily using a variety of transport options in this region.”

Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust (TAT) led by Haimona Ngata and Amy Spence, and Hei Huarahi Oranga (Streets for People) Uawa steering group led by Bessie Macey, have been engaged as community partners for the Grey Street and Uawa projects, respectively.

“As a Council, we’ve stepped back to make sure these are community-led projects.”

Mr Barry says both groups are made up of hard-working, mostly voluntary, members who work on community-based projects as well as their day jobs.

“They’re dedicated to improving our region and trying to effect change with how our residents get from A to B.

“At some point, we’re all going to have to use our cars less and adopt more walking and cycling.

“It’s a vision that absolutely aligns with Council’s strategic plans. We want our region to be more attractive for people to walk, ride bikes or scooters, take public transport, and improve road safety and routes to schools.

Up the Coast, the Uawa project aims to reinvigorate theTolaga Bay township and create a vibrant space where they can use the street with seats, table and shelters, while also making space for drivers who pass through Uawa.

It’s expected this will be rolled out next year after the Grey St project.

The Grey Street project starts on January 15, 2024.

“These changes are temporary to help our community see what’s possible and gather their feedback on the changes.

“We hope they form a pathway to permanence because the purpose of these projects is to design streets that are safer and a more positive destination for people,” says Mr Barry.

“Grey Street is an area frequented by children on their way to the Skate Park, the Pump Track, the beach, or Kiwa Pools. We want streets that are inclusive for everyone, and to make sure our tamariki have a safe way to get from A to B on their bikes or scooters.”

TAT members have timed the impact these changes will have on drivers down Grey Street, and it’ll add 1.36 minutes to their driving time.

Other changes include the removal of angled parking on the Skate Park side as it’s difficult for drivers to see what’s coming from behind the car beside them when they exit these parks.

Parallel parks will replace them, and people will also be encouraged to use Kahutia Street for more parking.

The Kahutia Street/Grey Street intersection will also become a left-hand turn only, and there will be a disabled car park installed outside Ocean Dental.

The temporary transformation of the street will include bespoke concrete planter boxes used as traffic calming measures, and concrete separators will run the length of the new dual-direction cycleway.`

Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust chairperson Haimona Ngata says they’ve met with Tā Derek Lardelli who will design the artistic look of the Grey Street, Streets for People project.

Tā Lardelli has created a Tohu: designs, colour and the branding that will weave through the project and is called ‘Tai Uehā’.

  1. Tai - the connection of the project to the people of Tairāwhiti.
  2. Uehā - which is the stance Tanē took to separate Papatuanuku (earth mother) and Ranginui (sky father) and by doing so, allowed light to enter the world of darkness.

Mr Ngata says the Tohu design is based around the mangopare (Hammerhead shark) which holds deep significance to Māori, symbolising strength, resilience, and the ability to navigate changes and will be configured in a myriad of different ways that speak to connections of:

  1. Poutama (ascending steps, progression of understanding)
  2. Takitoru (group of 3, communication, collaboration, conservation)
  3. Purapurawhetu (cluster of stars, who we are) and
  4. Te Ara o Tāwhiri, which solidifies Ngai Tāwhiri as the guardians of this land.

Grey Street, Streets for People is an expansion of the work that has already been achieved by Tairawhiti Adventure Trust such as the upgrade of the Skate Park to hold national skate competitions and the installment of a world-class pump track in Alfred Cox Park.

TAT asked the community at a festival last year what they would like to see on Grey Street if they were able to create it into a safer and more vibrant space.

Following this feedback, TAT alongside GDC and Waka Kotahi worked with a Safety Engineer from MRCagney to put the feedback into a design.

Mr Ngata says there are massive issues with our community who use alternative modes of transport not feeling safe using the roads. Speed, driver behaviour, lack of safe crossing points, not feeling confident cycling on the roads, are all contributing factors.

“This project is an opportunity for our community to look at roads differently. The child riding their bike to school and the logging truck on its way to the port are both users of the road, and both have a right to be on the road, regardless of their size or destination. Let’s make our streets safer for everyone."

“Grey Street will remain an arterial connector of the city to the sea and be open to thorough traffic, but it will look and feel different and we’re encouraging drivers to slow down.

“This project will be about a transformation of Grey Street to allow our community to interact with the street better, encourage a shift in transportation away from cars and change our perceptions of how we use our streets.”

More information about the Grey Street project including designs and plans will be available from 1 December on Council’s website, and at the Christmas Festival in Grey Street on Sunday 10 December.

TAT will also be holding public workshops for the week starting Monday 4 December.

Streets for People projects 2021–2024 | Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (