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Te ora tūmatanui me te wāhi tūmatanui

Public life and public realm

Importance of public life and public realm

Public life is a key tenet of:

Public life is also at the heart of major public transport streets such as Wellesley Street, Albert Street, Symonds Street and Customs Street where public transport stops and stations will generate lots of foot traffic in the future.

Many of Auckland’s best cultural facilities, including museums, galleries, performance spaces and universities are located in the city centre.

Public realm enhancements, particularly along the Wellesley Street axis, will connect them to the city.

Keeping the city centre engaging 

The city centre’s streets, parks, squares and waterfront promenades are important for creating an attractive, inclusive and engaging offer for residents and visitors alike.

The city centre accommodates many council-led public events and festivals, ranging from movie nights at Silo Park to Anniversary Weekend celebrations.

Since 2018 Auckland has been a UNESCO Creative City of Music. In recent years the number and nature of events has grown considerably.

Aotea Quarter - the arts and culture heart of the city centre

The Aotea Quarter will remain a point of focus as the civic, arts, and cultural heart for the people of Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland - a role held for well over 100 years.

The future of the quarter core lies in the hands of a number of stakeholders, with Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) taking the lead as managers of many of the key venues that attract over a million people a year.


Pop-up public spaces, performers and art installations are commonly used to bring vibrancy and life to areas of the city centre undergoing significant transformation. These are known as activations.

Current activations include:

  • the ongoing Lower Queen Street activation supporting CRL and Commercial Bay works
  • temporary Griffiths Garden on Wellesley Street (now dismantled for CRL construction).

These activations will continue to grow and ensure the city centre is engaging to all.

Heart of the City is helping to deliver many of these events and provide a full calendar of upcoming events.

Events and festivals in the city centre 

Free public events and art projects help us collectively understand and celebrate the richness of our heritage, cultural diversity, and creativity.

Events such as Matariki, Diwali and the Heritage Festival enable our residents and visitors to engage with the city centre's offerings – its services and experiences.

Public art in the city centre 

Some significant public artworks grace the city centre, such as Chris Booth’s Gateway in Albert Park, Michio Ihara's Wind Tree in the Wynyard Quarter and Michael Parekōwhai’s State House on Queens Wharf.

There are 80 existing public artworks in the city centre, with a further 11 public artworks currently in development. Most of these are of scale and significance, including:

  • two major commissions as part of the exterior design of the New Zealand International Convention Centre
  • a proposed work in the Mayoral Drive underpass in Myers Park
  • a proposed work in Lower Queen Street outside the Britomart Station
  • several threshold commissions involving mana whenua in the Commercial Bay development
  • proposed integrated and standalone work within the City Rail Link
  • three major planned works for Wynyard Quarter.

Related information