Paul Matthew’s Drive Bioretention System

Name of case study

Paul Matthew’s Drive Bioretention System


Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand




suburb/neighbourhood scale

Area / size


NbS employed

Bioretention system

Type of NbS

Hybrid living/engineered interventions


North Shore City Council


 North Shore City Council



Design group

North Shore City Council and Landcare Research

Paul Matthew’s Drive rain garden. Photo from Taylor et al. (2010).
Climate change benefits
  • Changes in rainfall
  • Flooding
  • Reduced water quality
  • Urban heat island effect
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Water security and quality
  • Waste management and hygiene
Ecological benefits
  • Climate regulation
  • Disturbance prevention
  • Habitat provision
  • Purification

Summary of case study

The location chosen for the Paul Matthew’s Drive Bioretention system is a sloped edge adjacent to a road, with an industrial property to the west, Alexandra Stream to the east, and a stream reserve to the north. Initially established as an educational tool and to advance research on the effectiveness of bioretention systems in urban settings, the system was strategically positioned to capture stormwater runoff from a commercial and industrial catchment. Monitoring of the system has demonstrated its efficiency in managing smaller rain events by employing soil absorption methods within the system and facilitating evapotranspiration through the planted vegetation.

With increasingly unpredictable rainfall patterns due to climate change, systems like these enhance the adaptability of streets to smaller rain events by efficiently collecting and filtering stormwater runoff. However, during larger rainfall events, the system can experience overflow due to its limited capacity to accommodate higher volumes of water (Trowsdale & Simcock, 2011). 

Despite these hydrological challenges, the system contributes to biodiversity conservation in the area. It promotes the growth of biomass through plantings and soft surfaces, while also improving air quality and providing habitat for various species. This multifaceted approach not only addresses stormwater management needs but also enhances ecological resilience and ecosystem services within urban environments.

Situated within an industrial and commercial precinct, many heavy-load transporters use the roads. During minor rainfall events, the bioretention system effectively mitigates pollution from vehicle emissions by filtering them.

The planting scheme initially lacked biodiversity because the primary focus was on efficiently absorbing pollutants from stormwater runoff, leading to the selection of a singular species. Oioi (Apodasmia similis), renowned for its resilience to both ponding and dry conditions, was the chosen plant species.The Paul Matthew’s bioretention system serves as an ongoing educational initiative and a valuable research tool. Installed signage provides public information about the system, facilitating awareness and education. It generates data for refining local rain garden designs, with minimal ongoing maintenance costs (Seyb & Lewis, 2010).

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Signage. Photo by Ingress-Intel.

Further resources:

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