City Rail Link

Mana Whenua Partnership

Mana Whenua

Te Waka Tūhono (showing a “waka train”) is an image you may spot on hoardings around the CRL worksites.


This image of a waka train, created within CRL, represents the connection of traditional knowledge with today’s technology, the sharing of stories that have influenced design and the journey that has resulted.

It’s an image designed for the CRL’s social outcomes strategy, under development, which aims to improve the social wellbeing of Auckland’s people as well as its transport options. 

The Waka Train story

CRL’s social development advisor Berenize Peita authored the project’s social outcomes strategy. Prior to joining the team, she represented her iwi Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua at the CRL Mana Whenua Forum.

For the strategy, Berenize was looking for an image that represented her Māori world view and her current work environment. She enlisted the help of CRL graphic designer Geoff Fitzpatrick to give her ideas some substance.

Geoff said that he was immediately captivated by the idea and used his passion for design to take a picture that existed only in someone’s imagination and translate it into something tangible.

He also worked with artist Maaka Potini of Ngāti Tamaoho to include his original design for the taurapa (stern of the waka).

The Mana Whenua forum said the taurapa acknowledged the great fleet that brought Māori to New Zealand and the manaia (stylised figure) at the top is a tribute to all of the tōhunga (specialists in esoteric knowledge) that were aboard.

The tangata (person) below represents the captains. The two manaia at the bottom of the taurapa are the kaitiaki (guardians) that helped to protect the people and the waka. Maaka connects these attributes to those who schedule, drive and crew the trains.

“For me the image represents the past, present and future. Where Britomart stands now used to be water and the image depicts the change from a traditional waka to a modern equivalent - a train,” said Berenize.

Left to right: Geoff, Berenize, Maaka

Mahi toi tūturu nā Maaka Potini

Mahi toi tūturu nā Maaka Potini

Te Kōrero Waka Tūhono

Nā te kaitohutohu whakawhanake pāpori na Berenize Peita i waituhi te rautaki tokonga hua a pāpori a te kaupapa. I mua i tana urunga mai ki te tira, he Māngai ia mo tāna iwi o Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua i runga i te Wānanga Mana Whenua a te CRL.

Mo te rautaki i kimi āhua a Berenize hei tauira i tana tirohanga a Māori ki te ao me te ao o te wāhi e mahi nei ia, ka whakapa atu ia ki te kaihoahoa whakairoiro a te CRL ki a Geoff Fitzpatrick, hei whakatinana i ana whakaaro.

He ai ki a Geoff mau tonu ake tōna whatumanawa i taua whakaaro ka whakapau ia i ona pukenga hoahoa ki te kapo atu i te āhua i roto kau i te tokonga whakaaro o tētahi atu hei whakatinanatanga māna.

I mahi tahi hoki ia me Maaka Pōtini o Ngāti Tamaoho me tāna whakairo taurapa waka motuhake.

He ai ki te wānanga Mana Whenua he whakatairanga ta te taurapa i te whakaheke nui a ngā waka i kawea mai ai te Māori ki Aotearoa, ko te tohu manaia i runga he whakamānawa ki ngā tohunga katoa o runga i aua waka.

Ko te tangata i raro he whakairo mo ngā kaiurungi i aua waka. Ko ngā manaia i te putu o te taurapa ko ngā kaitiaki i tū ārai mō te iwi i runga i aua waka. I tūhonotia e Maaka aua huanga ki te hunga whakarite wātaka, kaitaraiwa, hei kaimahi ināianei o runga i ngā tereina.

“Ki āhau e whakaahuatia mai ana e te tohu nei ngā rā ōnamata, o ināianei me apōpō. He wai i mua i te wāhi e tū nei a Britomart, ko ta te whakaahua mai ko te takahurihanga mai i te ao waka tūpuna ki tōna ritenga i ēnei ra – o te tereina,” hei ta Berenize.

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Mana Whenua and the CRL Project

In 2012, CRL approached Mana Whenua across Auckland to explain the project, the area it would travel through and ascertain their wish to be involved.

A Mana Whenua forum was established and since then  it has been formalised through the project’s legally binding consent conditions. Its members are:

Te Ākitai Waiohua

Ngāi Tai ki Tamaki

Te Kawerau a maki

Ngāti Tamaoho

Ngāti Maru

Ngāti Whātua o Orākei

Ngāti Paoa

Logo of CRL Mana Whenua members Ngati Te Ata

Ngāti Te Ata


The role of the forum includes:

  • Developing practical measures to give effect to the principles in the Urban Design Delivery Work Plan (DWP)

  • Input into, where practicable, the design of the stations

  • Input into the preparation of the Construction Environment Management Plans (CEMPs) and DWPs

  • Working collaboratively around built heritage and archaeological matters

  • Undertaking kaitiakitanga (guardianship) responsibilities associated with the CRL project, including monitoring, assisting with discovery procedures and providing input of Maori mātauranga (knowledge) in relevant stages of the project

  • Providing a forum for consultation with Mana Whenua regarding the names for the CRL stations.

The forum meets monthly and as required has additional design, consent, sustainability and other workshops.

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This video explores the Mana Whenua relationship

Tikanga Maori encompasses an important system of customs and values to conserve, manage and protect natural and physical resources. In the Maori worldview, all natural and physical elements of the world are related through whakapapa (genealogy) and each is controlled and safeguarded through spiritual beings. All living things have mauri. The protection of mauri is essential.
— Extract from City Rail Link Process for Maori engagement paper

DAWN BLESSING: Blessing of the Britomart temporary station building 6 January 2017

TEMPORARY: The temporary entrance to the Britomart trains while CRL construction continues

The Mana Whenua forum continues to flourish and the iwi narratives have influenced the station designs, both the internal structure and the external appearance.



Distinctly New Zealand
The urban design concept for the City Rail Link is to be authentic and representative of an approach to the very distinct way of living and constructing within the fragile and ever-changing New Zealand environment it sits within.

The station designs are developed to provide safe, functional and clear transport solutions. The key principles are Function, Performance and Personality with an overarching principle of Ecology. Each station has an even balance between functional design requirements, sustainability, engineering demands, performance objectives and cost, while reflecting the local culture, context and future city aspirations. Embedded in these is a holistic approach to the ecology and wider cultural landscape to ensure long-term social, cultural, heritage and environmental sustainability.

Each station is designed with a unique ‘personality’ – an identity developed from entrance through to platforms.

Ecology is embedded into the design process to achieve integrated, cost-effective and innovative solutions in order create healthy, diverse and restorative environments.

Urban Design
The identity and integration of the stations into their local precincts will reinforce both their existing identities and a more pedestrian-focused future public realm in line with the City Rail Link intentions, Auckland Plan and Auckland City Centre Masterplan objectives.

The principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) have been incorporated, as well as the optimisation of performance in terms of cost, maintenance and safety.

The forum has agreed on seven key design principles, which have been incorporated into the design framework. These are:

  1. Mana – the need for relevant mana whenua groupings to have individual and collective high quality formal relationships with key stakeholders

  2. Whakapapa/Whakamana – names and naming as a means of reconnecting iwi narratives to place

  3. Tohu – the acknowledgement of wider mana whenua cultural landmarks

  4. Taiao – bring landscape elements back into urban areas (e.g. water, trees, birds, and insects)

  5. Mauri toi – Re – inscribing iwi narratives into architecture, landscape architecture and urban design

  6. Ahi ka – exploring opportunities to facilitate a meaningful living presence for iwi.

Mana icon


Whakapapa/whakamana icon


Tohu icon


Taiao icon


Mauri tu icon

Mauri tu

Mauri toi icon

Mauri toi

Ahi ka icon

Ahi kā



Mana Whenua have also worked with CRL to adapt and adopt the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s (ISCA) criteria to reflect the New Zealand cultural context and this work has been recognised as a world first by ISCA. A Mana Whenua and a project representative attended a Sydney based ISCA conference to present on CRL’s approach to sustainability.   

AWARD: The presentation of the IS "Leading" rating for Contract 2


Mana Whenua also exercise kaitiakitanga through input into construction staff inductions, cultural monitoring on site and a monthly walkover of the project area.

Read more in our sustainability section about

Mana Whenua design principles