Kopupaka Reserve

Name of case study

Kopupaka Reserve


Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand




Suburb/neighbourhood scale

Area / size

22 hectares

NbS employed

Constructed wetlands

Type of NbS

Hybrid living / engineered interventions


Auckland Council


Auckland Council


$NZ15 million

Design group

ISTHMUS group; Natural Habitats

Kopupaka Reserve riparian planting, 2016. Photo by ISTHMUS Group.
Kopupaka Reserve social spaces, 2016. Photo by ISTHMUS Group.
Climate change benefits
  • Drought
  • Increased pests and spread of weeds
  • reduced soil quality
  • reduced water availability
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Waste management and hygiene
  • water security and quality
  • disaster risk reduction and resilience
Ecological benefits
  • climate regulation
  • fresh water
  • habitat provision
  • medicinal resources
  • purification
  • species maintenance

Summary of case study

Kopupaka reserve is a hybrid park that integrates the use of urban water-sensitive design through constructed wetlands with new public blue-green space. This is in response to urbanisation pressures in north-western Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.  It takes a design-led approach to integrate community needs with engineering and ecology. It illustrates how urban growth can be balanced with ecological restoration. 

The site had been used for industrial-scale strawberry production. This resulted in long-term runoff and nutrient overloading of the land which reduced the water quality of the existing stream (Auckland Council, 2016). Surrounding urban development also created pressures on the existing Tōtara and Waiteputa streams. To address this, it was decided to create a space that incorporated Māori understanding of the land and created a system of constructed wetlands improving the mauri (life force) of the water.

The design connects to the surrounding urban fabric. This includes street features like permeable paving, raingardens, and swales that feed urban water runoff to the constructed wetlands for purification (Auckland Council, 2016).

The project was aligned with Māori cultural values by interacting throughout the project with local iwi representatives.  The reserve brings a more community-led approach to it. One goal of the project was to create a ‘sense of place’ by adding recreational and ecological health back to the land through planting and using a crib wall design which filtered water but also created isolated spaces to look over the park space (Marques et al. 2022).

The landscape has benefitted ecologically through the implementation of the constructed wetlands. Due to improvement of the water quality this has allowed two freshwater streams that are habitat to birdlife and marine animals to become healthier (Marques et al. 2022).

Kopupaka Reserve constructed wetland system, 2016. Photo by ISTHMUS Group
  • Auckland Council. (2016) Kopupaka Reserve Wetland Park Case study. Available online: https://www.aucklanddesignmanual.co.nz/resources/case-studies/kopupakareserve. Date accessed 9 May, 2024.
  • Marques, B., McIntosh, J., & Webber, H. (2022). Therapeutic landscapes: A natural weaving of culture, health and land. In Ergen, M., & Ergen, Y. (Eds.) Landscape Architecture Framed from an Environmental and Ecological Perspective. London: IntechOpen.

Further resources:

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