How Loud Should Aotea Be?


How loud should events in the new Aotea Square be allowed to be?

Auckland City Council is seeking feedback on a proposal to allow for sound levels of up to 85 decibels when screening some events on Aotea Square’s big screen.

Currently the council’s Central Area District Plan allows for sound levels of up to 65 decibels. The council is proposing to increase this to 85 decibels over the main audience area in Aotea Square for a maximum of 45 screen events each year. Out of the 45 events, 35 will occur between 7am – 10pm and only 10 events will occur between 7am – midnight.

Sound levels will be monitored by a sound limiting device and will not be able to exceed the proposed limits.

The types of events that could be screened at up to 85 decibels include light opera, symphony, acoustic music, festivals, major sporting events and films.

Auckland City suggests those increased sound levels will ensure that people attending events can hear sports commentary, a speech or film dialogue clearly throughout the main audience area of the square.

The consultation period starts tomorrow until October 10 and there’s  an open day on this Saturday in the Limelight Room, Aotea Centre from 10am to noon.

So have we got our money’s worth from the square itself? It opens October 1.

Here is how it looks today behind the wire fencing:




  1. Jon C says:

    Sorry Comments had initially been turned off on this post for some reason.

  2. Cam says:

    The square is looking great. Can’t wait to have a wander around it.

  3. Andy says:

    I lived at the bottom of Wakefield St for 2 years right by Aotea Square. Never really had any problems with noise. If you live in town I think you expect a certain amount of noise, especially during the day and in the weekends.

  4. GJA says:

    When will the first train stop at Aotea Square?

  5. Nick R says:

    85 db really isn’t that loud, that like being in a factory or a noisy classroom. And if that is for the main audience area it will have dropped substantially at the edge of the square.
    Someone should go measure the SPL on Queen St during rush hour, it’s probably well more than that.

  6. Andy says:

    @Nick R - Or how about on a Friday night when it’s filled with boy racers and their music/drunk passengers. (I assume that’s still the case or have things changed?)

  7. Richard says:

    The limit should be set at the limit noise starts to do damage to hearing. From memory a lawn mower is about 90 db and the maximum exposure at that level without protection is one hour.
    As quoted above the centre noise has to be added to all the background noise and I would say 85 would be the absolute limit. I suspect the town Hall organ is now well over 85 but exposure to the noise is very short term. Surrounding buildings give an echo effect and this adds to the noise effect.

    One persons music is another’s noise and vice versa!

  8. Nick R says:

    Richard, hearing loss is a function of exposure time and sound pressure level. That is to say any noise can damage hearing if you are exposed long enough, and lound things don’t necessarily cause damage if it is only for a short time. Things have to get really high to cause immediate damage, like being at the wrong end of a jet engine or right next to the stack at a Metallica concert.
    It’s important to note the decibel scale is logarithmic, so 90db is actually three times as much sound energy as 85db.

    In New Zealand the reccomended workplace noise dose is an average of 85db across an eight hour day, assuming people work five days a week. I.e. it is legal to expose workers to 85db for 40 hours a week. Basically this means that people can be exposed to 85db all day every day they are at work and not expect greater than normal levels of hearing loss later in life.

    Going to the odd concert or screening at 85db for an hour or two is going to have negligible effect on hearing.

    The town hall organ would be well over 85db on the stage, but at the far end of the town hall it would be well less. Likewise in the square, it could be 85db in the audience and only 60db on Queen St or Mayoral Drive.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>