Auckland’s Lost Neglected Gem


Auckland’s inner-city Myers Park is criminally neglected.
It opened in 1915 after an early Mayor Arthur Myers enabled properties to be bought and a park developed.
An inscription in the Park says the place had been “an unwholeseome spot” with “slum shanties and rubbish tips” in an “unsightly gully.”
Bewilderingly in 2011, it feels rather unsavory if not a little sleezy and full of dark foreboding trees in a dip well off the road where they would never hear your screams.
Perception is everything. It may be safe. I’m sure I am not alone in thinking it feels a little creepy.
If Police argue it has a good safety record, it’s only because the public avoid going there.
You don’t go far before tripping off evidence of boozy parties or encounter used condoms. In fact there are reports even of schoolgirls- yes girls- drinking there after school and homeless sleeping amid the trees. As twilight approaches, there has been the odd youth gang confrontation.

Even on a sunny day, you wonder what people are doing amid the shadows of the trees in corners of the park like this.

There is so much evidence of a Park that has been completely neglected.
it is poorly advertised as if the City fathers are ashamed of showing it off. The sign in Queen St must be a relic of last century.What on earth are those faded stickers on it?

A neighbouring sign suggests it’s more Jurassic Park you are entering.

Decide you’ve had enough and you have no idea where alleyways may take you.

One will take you to a construction site.

Or you can try conquering the stairs(with no stair rail) to K Rd’s St Kelvins Arcade, as Rugby World Cup fans may heading to Eden Park, and wonder how stable it is.

You may wonder where the bordered up houses you pass fit into the horror story; one said to be one of the very oldest houses existing in Auckland which make you wonder why the Historic Places Trust has let it go off its radar.

Imagine what use could be made of the heritage bottom house as a coffee place or appropriately for a display of early Auckland? Quite frankly anything but its present locked up sea of grime.
Two faded sculptures in the Park are painfully in need of urgent TLC.
They are a statue from the Chinese communtiy marking sister city relationships and a copy of Michaelangelo’s Moses, gifted to the city in 1971 by the long-estabished former Queen St department store Milne & Choyce.

Come on. Aren’t there some sculptures previous anti-art Councillors have had stored away somewhere or could we commission something, preferably something modern that reflects this special place? How about a Waiheke-type sculpture park?
The Park has connections with Greys Ave and K Rd if you can find the street signs but no connection to the revamped Aotea Square where it leads through a horrible Mayoral Drive overbridge entrance:

Will the Rugby World Cup visitors want to wander through that to see what’s beyond?

This could be an amazing idyllic space amid the noise and bustle of the city’s main street as Albert Park is.
Thankfully there are signs of a little action - a pathway upgrade. Taggers have already said what they think of that.

But where is the broad vision of the park? Where is the link with the rest of the city especially the multi-million dollar revamped Aotea Square?
Where are the basic fundamentals to entice people to stay, such as seating that is not on the few weatherbeaten seating relics placed there 100 years ago?
Where is the assurance of security even if means slashing some of the foreboding vegetation? At least blitz it with CCTV and advertise accordingly. Crack down on the schoolgirls drinking, the kids sniffing glue, the people boozing up, the homeless sleeping and going to the toilet in the trees and the cars that seem to be parking legally or illegally in the park.
There is a kids playground that must be a bonus for families living in the CBD but what other amenities are there?
It’s not hard to imagine how magical it could be. If only.

Thankfully the Waitemata Local Board -which continues to set an example of what an intelligent voice the Local Boards can bring in the reformed local government sphere - discussed it at its last meeting and are chasing action.
Let’s hope they can get some progress to be made before the tourist hordes arrive.




  1. KarlHansen says:

    Walked through that park to and from work, twice a day, for over three years in the 2000s. Always liked it, but agree with most of what you said. It needs some TLC.

    Though I have no problem with the homeless if they don’t bother people (which they rarely do - not even panhandling). I’ve never been afraid of the poor fellows - the people one has to be afraid of are boozed up youngsters, whether white or brown skins. Though again, I never had any issues there either, but then I was through there in the mornings and in the late afternoons, not in the evenings or nights, most time.

    Opening up the underpass through towards the city and upgrading tghe pathways is indeed the first, important step for the park.

    PS: The “sign off queen street”, and the run-down entrance there towards the kindergarten were to be upgraded as part of the Queen Street works years back. When that project blew out, the cancelled the entry upgrade.

  2. George D says:

    This place is alive on sunny summer afternoons. The rest of the year it feels dark and unsafe. As you note, it’s criminally neglected, considering what it could do for the entire inner city. I know someone who owns an apartment bordering it - she rarely goes down because she doesn’t feel at all safe there.

    If anything exemplifies the difference between what Auckland is and what Auckland could be, this is it.

  3. George D says:

    On the upside, let’s implement the plans of Eye On Auckland - Jon, post some of those, we need some hope and cheer!

  4. Patrick R says:

    Typical Auckland story- the biggest problem for Myers Park is the severance caused by Mayoral Drive. There is nothing inviting about the idea of walking under there… why do traffic engineers repeatedly think it is OK to build nasty, gloomy, and threatening caverns like these for pedestrians? Oh that’s right, any one not in a car is not really worth bothering about….

    This is a perfect example of grade separation- the traffic engineers’ holy grail, as it helps speed vehicle movement- being a disaster for one set of users. And that’s always pedestrians.

    Amazing that the money spent again and again on the big garage down the hill but not a penny is put towards linking this park to Aotea Square.

    Since they demolished the hilarious Sally Army ‘fort’ and gave us [everytime] a carpark there is at least the opportunity to design a welcoming route through to link Myers and Aotea…. What about a light based artwork leading through an improved and fully linked up route here….something with glow worms? real or faux. Some wit and visual delight would go a long way. Currently it’s got some sort of cage in it for maintenance gear….

    Signs and maps at each entry promoting it as a way to get to K form Aotea and visa-versa.

    Still it is structurally difficult because the streetside pedestrians have been separated from the park. And there is always the argument about balancing the ‘secret’ qualities of the park with the benefits of added security of opening it up to more people…..

    Seclusion versus liveliness…..?

  5. tbird says:

    Good article. Watch out though! You’re going to be called elitist again!

    Well, anyway, I am… :-D

    Five years ago I remember staying in the Duxton or some hotel that backed onto this park. It was full of emos, before they died out and became hipsters, who were friendly enough but would have been intimidating to an older person on their own.

    But a few alternative school kids drinking and playing at the playground aren’t the problem.

    The problem are the hardcore down-and-out druggies that live in the council flats that back onto these parks. They’re on expensive land, but they house the scum of the country. IV homebake/P users on the sickness benefit need some more money for drugs so pimp and whore on the streets, and Myer’s Park is a place to finish the deal.

    Get rid of the scumbag housing from the city, (and really, some of the bastards should be in jail) and Auckland would be a much better place.

  6. Christopher Dempsey says:


    The Waitemata Local Board has been paying attention to this park in recent weeks and we are very much of a mind to upgrade the park focussing on the many matters that this post touches on. Jesse Chalmers from the Board is keeping an o’sight of this park.

    We had a very interesting workshop with all related stakeholders two weeks ago. We are looking to open up the entrance to the park from Aotea Square - up past the new Q Theatre and through the underpass - which we are seeking transfer of ownership from Auckland Transport to the Council Parks Department so that we can upgrade the space - imagine a beautiful space outside the Q and Silo Theatres, and the design leads the eye up into Myers Park…

    The steps I agree are a hazard in St Kevin’s Arcade. There is a ‘path’ through the building from K’rd to Myers Park which was gifted by a Mr Myer back in 1900s, and presumably the building was built after the gift of a path. The result is that the ‘path’ through the building is public but the building is private and there are continual (and dis-continous) discussions with the building owner about maintenance of the path.

    The footpath in the park has been upgraded as a result of the RWC as it is deemed a walking route, but I don’t think it wise to send any rugby fans up through St Kevin’s Arcade, not with the current state of the stairs - I think the plan is to lead them up Pontyn Tce to Pitt then onto K’rd.

    The entrances to the park will be upgraded in some manner in the coming year, as will the playground.

    Christopher Dempsey
    Waitemata Local Board.

  7. KarlHansen says:

    While the stairs are not in good shape, detouring around them is a bit of an odd idea though. Poynton Terrace is a very odd route for walking to the rugby, and anyway, you’d almost have to force people to NOT use the stairs, because they are in a straight line of the stairs and the logical route.

    Compared to some other things we paid for the RWC, fixing up those stairs is a cheap thing, so I would have suggested we just pay for them. Surely the owner would not say no to that? May be too late.

  8. LucyJH says:

    I agree that the park feels dangerous - I have often felt unsafe walking through there at night even with my boyfriend. Perhaps more lighting would help?

    I would love it if I could wheel my bike out of the park onto K Road (is exhausting carrying it up the stairs into Kevin’s Arcade) but I appreciate that might be very expensive to create a ramp.

  9. Carl says:

    probably cost a $ million dollars, everything else around RWC time is a million so they tilers probably want a share too.

    hope it gets sorted out at some point, remember george fm or upfm had a really neat summer concert with a stack of dj’s back in 2003, the place was rammed, really neat vibe!

  10. George D says:

    Hi Chris, very glad to hear this. Have you look at what Eye On Auckland are proposing for this part of town? Some good ideas, and they’ve had a very positive response from Auckland Council.

  11. richard says:

    Myers Park has been a problem for decades and well known for its assaults, thefts, rapes and murders.

    The main problem is it is a valley and the path along it is in a deep gully, out of sight hidden by its depth and the trees. In earlier days Greys Avenue was “China Town” and K’Road the red light area of Auckland.

    In the early 1980′s our office moved to the edge of Myers Park and one of the women in the office took her lunch out to the park and sat less than half way down the grassed area and in the open. She was reading a book and eating her lunch when a thug grabbed her from behind and ran off with her handbag. Naturally few of our staff ate their lunch there after that. I knew it’s history and only walked briskly with one eye over my shoulder and usually only from Greys Ave. across to Queen Street.

    I don’t think there is any easy solution due to the park’s topography. Perhaps it should be built on and the sale money put into upgrading or developing other reserves?

  12. George D says:

    Richard, I think the main thing is improving light, sight, and visibility, and creating ‘safe space’. I’m not an urban architect, so I couldn’t tell you how that would be done, but I do think that creating active edges which have human activity are very important.

    It’s always going to be a gully, that’s inevitable. However, at the moment it’s a cavern, which is anything but.

  13. Andrew says:

    I live on Poynton Terrace right next to the park. Your pictures make it look worse than it is. It’s actually a really nice park tho it could integrate better with the city at the northern end.

    My biggest issue is the number of people who drink and party in poynton terrace Friday and Saturday nights despite it being a liquor ban area. That is what the council needs to police better. I imagine it will get worse during the rugby world cup

  14. DanC says:

    Cut back some tree’s, turn those iconic old buildings into something, cafe’s….? Put in art, scuplutres, lighting and better signs (showing a map on the park and surrounds). Make the underpass of Mayoral Drive pleasant. Get rid of non employed people in council flats in the city. These should be reserved for people who are needed in the city like police, nurses…

  15. Nick says:

    I agree lighting would be a big improvement for safety, but greater visibility into the park might be a bit harder to achieve. The natural channel shape of it though lends itself to a secluded spot, thats pretty hard to find in central Auckland.

    The access from Queen St is really poor, you basically walk down a steep driveway past the old house (which you wonder the purpose of). If you had some large wide steps slowly leading you down, you might instantly double the number of people coming from Queen St to the park.

    Sad how Albert Park looks pretty rundown too, and considering the number of people who use it. It could do with some upgraded paths and structural designs to remind you that it could be more than a botanical garden.

  16. George D says:

    I think a good comparison is with Central Park, New York. While they’re obviously very different in many respects, Central Park was once seen as the dark heart of New York, rather than its gem. Anything can be turned around…

    (although I don’t have the answer in this case!)

  17. Virginia says:

    I’ve lived along the road from Myers Park for years and worked in the area for even longer since my teens and I have NEVER EVER walked through this “gem” for the simple reason it is famous for it’s depravity and I don’t want to be mugged, raped, attacked while walking through the park after work. My nephew was only just this month mugged while walking through Myers Park.

  18. AKT says:

    @Virginia That is shocking. I am sorry to hear it. I hope your nephew is OK.

  19. KarlHansen says:

    “The access from Queen St is really poor, you basically walk down a steep driveway past the old house (which you wonder the purpose of). ”

    Are you talking about the kindergarten?

    “for the simple reason it is famous for it’s depravity”

    Sounds like Central Park indeed.

  20. James B says:

    Ok I’m confused. I often run through here during the day and have never seen anyone or anything remotely dodgy. I’m not sure what it is like at night. That’s not to say it doesn’t need improvement. A better Mayoral Drive entrance, some stylish lighting and some more activity would be great. Myer’s is one of my favourite Parks it’s so quiet and looking up at the apartment buildings looming over you is quite surreal.

  21. richard says:

    Sad to hear Virginia, unfortunately things have obviously not changed in the past 30 - 40years+

    Keep your eyes open James “dodgy” isn’t always obvious as my friend having lunch in the 80′s found

  22. Sam F says:

    This might be a bit more fun than struggling down the dodgy St Kevin’s Arcade steps…

    Alternative option: take the world famous Myers Park Log Flume all the way to Aotea Square!

  23. Roger says:

    Hey Jon,

    The Herald’s Brian Rudman must visit your site. I see he is airing this issue in the paper.



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