Dis­puted space now open

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

A pub­lic space once de­scribed as a ‘‘makeshift uri­nal’’ is turn­ing over a new leaf after years of ar­gu­ments over its de­sign.

The $1.7 mil­lion up­grade of up­per Khartoum Place was of­fi­cially re­opened by The Na­tional Coun­cil of Women’s Mar­garet Wilson this month.

The de­sign has been hotly de­bated over the past decade as some called for the Women’s Suf­frage Memo­rial, con­structed in 1993 to mark the cen­ten­nial of the suf­fragette move­ment, to be re­moved.

Auck­land Coun­cil en­sured the mu­ral was pro­tected after vot­ing unan­i­mously in 2012 to sched­ule it through the Uni­tary Plan.

It re­mains in­tact in the new de­sign with the ad­di­tion of a stair­case that opens up a di­rect line of sight be­tween Lorne St and the Auck­land Art Gallery.

‘‘The up­grade would not look so amaz­ing with­out the memo­rial as the cen­tre­piece,’’ Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board deputy chair­woman Pippa Coom says.

Coom would like to see the name of the in­ner-city space changed from Khartoum, named after the 1885 siege, to one re­flect­ing the women com­mem­o­rated in the memo­rial.

‘‘Not after an im­pe­rial bat­tle that New Zealand ac­tu­ally re­fused to be part of but that we look to a fu­ture where this place is named Suf­frage Place or Kate Shep­pard Place,’’ she says.

The Na­tional Coun­cil of Women, which first lob­bied to save the mu­ral in 2005, is de­lighted with the up­grade, board mem­ber Christina Reymer says.

Mayor Len Brown says the de­sign is an ex­am­ple of a ‘‘won­der­ful com­pro­mise’’.

‘‘I’m very, very pleased with the de­sign out­come – it’s re­ally some­thing.’’

The up­grade, which was funded from gen­eral rates, is part of the coun­cil’s shared space net­work.

Pho­tos: JESS LEE

Job done: Auck­land Mayor Len Brown, Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board deputy chair­woman Pippa Coom and chair­man Shale Cham­bers.

Mu­rals pro­tected: Auck­land Coun­cil en­sured the Women’s Suf­frage Memo­rial was pro­tected as part of the re­design of the space.

Fresh start: Khartoum Place was once de­scribed as a ‘‘sor­did blot’’ on Auck­land’s ur­ban land­scape.

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