ropeworks reflects on a key story in Auckland’s development as a city, by celebrating the first mechanised factory, originally sited on Stanley Street nearby. Robertson’s Ropeworks (later known as Donaghy’s) utilised locally harvested flax fibre, and was powered by the waters of the Waipapa Stream. It was positioned near the shore, and lead to the establishment of Auckland’s first colonial ship building yard at Te Wai o Taikehu, Mechanics Bay.
The design and construction of ropeworks was the result of research and collaboration, drawing on the stories shared by local iwi representatives Ngarimu Blair (Ngati Whatua o Orakei) and Pita Turei (Ngai Tai ki Tamaki), historian David Belich and passionate local residents such as Richard Simpson. Special acknowledgment to innovative and awesome blacksmith, Dave Watts, of Springbank General Metalwork.
Client: Freeflow Alliance - NZTA (Transit NZ), Beca, Fletcher Construction, Higgins
(Transit New Zealand, Beca, Higgins and Fletcher)
Site: Wellesley Street Bridge, Grafton Gully, Central Auckland
Project Team: Caroline Robinson of Cabal, Springbank General Metalwork, Freeflow Alliance Partners
18.5m x 6m
Photos: Simon Devitt, Caroline Robinson, Valerie Keen
Historic Map: The Tanyard Gully gardens. Parallel to Stanley Street, notice the distinct long, narrow ropewalk building. This is a detail from George Treacy Steven's 1886 bird's eye view of Auckland, NZ Map 374, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries