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Developing the River Plan

The purpose of this River Plan is to:

  1. Set out a vision for the Waikato River in Hamilton.

  2. Provide a framework to guide transformational change along the river.

  3. Achieve a more integrated and active river edge environment.



The River Plan has been developed by the River Plan Working Group comprising of elected officials and eight subject matter experts from architecture, urban planning, iwi and tourism organisations within Hamilton:

  • Her Worship the Mayor Julie Hardaker (Chairperson and Mayor of Hamilton)
  • Cr Angela O’Leary (Hamilton City Councillor)
  • Angus Mckenzie (Latitude Planning Services)
  • Annette Jones (Beca – urban Design)
  • Brian Croad (General Manager Hamilton City Council)
  • Jennifer Palmer (Brian Perry Charitable Trust responsible for Te Awa Cycleway)
  • Kiri Goulter (Hamilton and Waikato Tourism Chief Executive)
  • Mark Wassung (Design Engine Architects)
  • Cr Martin Gallagher (Hamilton City Councillor)
  • Richard Hill (Chow:Hill Architects)
  • Tim Manukau (Waikato-Tainui, Manager Environment)

Former Councillors Roger Hennebry and Pippa Mahood are also acknowledged for their involvement in the early stages of the River Plan.

River Plan Working Group is supported by a Technical Group of representatives from Waikato Regional Council, Waikato-Tainui, Waikato River Authority, Mighty River Power and Council staff, who provide specialist advice about the river and represent their organisations throughout the River Plan process.

The River Plan development and design has been supported by McIldowie Partners Architects of Melbourne.

The River Plan has been developed in three stages:

  1. An assessment of the technical constraints to development. This included consideration of issues such as bank stability, bed degradation, flooding and the cultural significance of the river to Waikato-Tainui. This assessment was completed in collaboration with Waikato Regional Council, Waikato- Tainui and Mighty River Power.
  2. A workshop to establish a vision and set of principles for the River Plan.
  3. A series of workshops to prioritise a list of creative recommendations for action to realise the vision, and an urban design framework that would guide implementation.

The River Plan is a strategic guide for Council, businesses, developers and the general public for improving Hamilton’s engagement with the river. It establishes a high level framework for thirty years that will guide transformational change that will shift the way Hamilton relates to, celebrates and enjoys the river.

The River Plan is not a statutory plan and does not include:

  • Detailed advice or specific plans for projects
  • A financial commitment to undertake every project
  • Plans on managing flooding or water quality

Many of the images used in the River Plan are conceptual images to provide an understanding of the River Plan’s direction and examples of project ideas to create an aspiration, but not a specific design solution, for the places where change is proposed.

Significant projects will require a detailed feasibility study and business case, with appropriate consultation with stakeholders to ensure the right design solution for each place is found. There will need to be budgets developed and sources of funding found to make this plan a reality.