A short walk from the shoreline of Gisborne’s Waikanae beach is Alfred Cox skatepark. Originally built on top of what was a concrete roller skate rink, the much loved skatepark of today was first opened in 2001. Over the past two decades, gradual upgrades have been implemented by various members of the community - more often than not at their own expense!
These additions to the skatepark have become staple features for local riders, and form a sense of pride amongst those familiar with the whakapapa of the park. As natural deterioration of the park's old style concrete foundations and outdated features led to a decline in popularity and user experience, members of the community rallied together to connect the affected groups and advocate for change.
Connectivity between people and land weaves itself through the region of Te Tai Rāwhiti, and an expression of this connection can be found within the numerous community groups and trusts formed to assist in stewardship of the land and direction for the future. With iwi support and community backing, the Tairāwhiti Adventure Trust was established. A self proclaimed group of ‘rag-tag misfits’ who came together with a shared passion of seeing action and adventure sports supported on the East Coast of Aotearoa. In forming as a trust they have been able to give voice to the outsiders, such as the skateboard communities which rely on natural growth as opposed to structured progression.
We became involved in the redevelopment project of Alfred Cox Skatepark during the early phases of discussion, providing a concept design which was used by the Trust to engage with iwi and potential funders. An important early stage of design for us is community engagement, so community workshops were hosted in the district where we engaged with local skateboarders, skatepark users and whānau to collectively design a park that meets the needs of the local communities, and the culture of the region as a whole.
The design concept aimed at utilising the existing Main Slab, Double Spine Ramp setup, Timber Vert Ramp, Timber Mini Ramp and adjacent low retaining walls. The remainder of the park was to be demolished and rebuilt with three distinct spaces:
1. Learner Wheeled Play Area
2. Main Slab with Terraces, Trick Orientated Elements and Jump Box features
3. Upper Platform with a variety of Bowl Spaces that integrate with one another.
The mix of new and historic features allows for the character of the park to remain, while bringing it to an international standard of skatepark design. As the popularity of skateboarding increases exponentially following its inclusion as an Olympic sport, and with thriving communities and generational lineages of skateboarding culture it is important that the local rangatahi of now and the future have access to facilities that allow them to hone their skills and progress toward achieving their personal goals and dreams in the global realm of wheel-based sports and activities.
After successfully pitching the redevelopment to funders, building started in 2021.
The Alfred Cox Skatepark redevelopment demonstrates the power of communities coming together with a vision for the future. We are stoked to have been involved in the process of redesigning the classic park, incorporating locally favoured features into the modern design.
You can check out more images of the final design here