Disputed space now open
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.
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.