Rob Roy Plaza Gets Named


Auckland’s newest inner-city open space will be called Wai-atarau Plaza.

It’s the open space plaza in front of the Freemans Bay Rob Roy Tavern formerly the Birdcage which was moved twice during the recent construction of the Victoria St tunnel.

There’s still no opening date for the plaza which is still behind construction fences.

The Waitemata Local Board chose the name. The site marks the original foreshore of Freemans Bay, known as Wai-atarau, which means ‘place of reflecting waters.’

The Board has bathed the tavern in red light in keeping with the nearby Franklin Road Christmas light display, the annual show by the street’s residents of lights and decarations on their homes.

ROB ROY: Bathed in red while awaiting its new fate

The Government through the NZTA now owns the heritage 1886-built Rob Roy Hotel that marks the original foreshore of Freemans Bay, a busy port and hub of industry before the bay was reclaimed in the early 1900s. It is one of only a handful of 19th Century waterfront pubs left in Auckland.

ROB ROY: Lit up like a Christmas wrapping

The building’s interior is now being refurbished ready for it to be offered to a tenant next year. Until a tenant is decided upon, we won’t know whether the tenants might use it for a restaurant, pub or cafe - or something else.

Rob Roy plaza: Still under construction

Previously, the plaza was used by Auckland Transport for paid public car parking.

What we do know is that the new area will comprise paved walking and seating areas. The paving of the plaza will have patterns that reflect its shoreline history.

This was a chance to rethink this whole area  - although it’s hard to make out from the NZTA designs so far.

ROB ROY PLAZA: What we have seen so far | NZTA Bofa Miskell

The tavern is covered in plastic while the building’s roof is replaced over the next six weeks.

Wearing my environmental advocate badge, yes I did check and the company that makes the plastic does say on its site that the plastic is recycled.

The unreinforced brick and mortar building sat right in the path of the tunnel that now carries northbound traffic under Victoria Park. To protect it, it was strengthened and then moved 40 metres up Franklin Road, out of the way of construction. Once the tunnel was completed, it was moved back to its original location, which is not on the roof of the tunnel.

With no much to see at the plaza area, I checked out the Franklin Road light display.

Franklin Rd

FRANKLIN RD Christmas light display

FRANKLIN RD; Houses compete to show off their lights

FRANKLIN RD: Nothing like champers & d’oeuvres to show off one’s lights to the poor people who pass by




  1. Geoff Houtman says:

    The Franklin Rd lights are beautiful this year, it’s just a shame Grinchy old Waterfront Auckland stole the Western park Telecom Tree and buried it at the Viaduct.

    Previously families could walk from Franklin Rd to Western park in the same evening, the local shops even stayed open later.

    Now people drive from one to the other. Thanks Waterfront Auckland!

  2. tbird says:

    Walking back from New World tonight, I’ve got to say that the area looks much improved from previous.

    It used to be some dank hole that made the QF Tavern look upmarket and sophisticated. Now the outside is lighter, they’ve knocked down the brick wall of the garden bar, and there’s nice planting behind it.

    I’ve got to agree that the tree (or cone) was nice in Western Park. It seems like it’s in a car park at the moment on the wharf.

    I was put off Western Park one sunny day last year when I saw some druggies tourniquet their ankles and sit there smacking up veins in their feet to inject. Other than that (and the Hopetoun Street hoes) it’s a nice inner city park.

  3. Owen Thompson says:

    Wishing that a pronounceable name had been selected: Rob Roy Plaza.

  4. Daniel says:

    “why-ah-tah-roe” - roll the R. Easy to pronounce.

    “Rob Roy Plaza” would’ve been a good choice, but seeing as the design of the space reflects the original foreshore, it makes sense to name it after it.

  5. rtc says:

    @Owen - no our problem if you can’t pronounce New Zealand words, perhaps you should go back to school.

  6. rtc says:

    @Owen - not our problem if you can’t pronounce New Zealand words, perhaps you should go back to school.

  7. Anthony says:

    It ain’t that hard to pronounce!!!! And I personally think Rob Roy Plaza would be a little too boring.


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