Come on John,
The time has come
It’s time to go,
Now don’t be slow
Come on,
Jump off Grafton Bridge

Suicide 2 Proud Scum

“Formerly, when looking up the gully from the bridge, the eye was soothed by the billowing canopy of big forest trees such as puriri, tikoki, kohekohe, karaka and aspiring rewarewa, each with its own easily recognized shade of green. In this pleasant mosaic the golden-green crowns of many tree ferns stand out clearly. The valley bottom is covered with forest of a very fine type, and comparatively little disturbed. In parts it is surprisingly sylvan; in others it is dense and jungle-like. With great bush lawyers, kaihua or New Zealand jasmine, and pouehue running into the crown of the trees. The densest of these turns out to be taraire, a handsome tree that is rarely seen near the City.”

Wall and Cranwell, The Botany of Auckland 1943

Fantail Cove.

Hash said he’d had a dream telling him to come and live under Grafton Bridge.

His first camp was under the big Rimu. He shared it with Allen, and they called it Base Camp One. The Government moved them on so they set up Base Camp Two further down the slope. One evening as they sat visiting with the gang girl in the Penthouse they saw a glow through the trees. Someone had stolen their stuff and set fire to the camp. Now Hash lives down the bottom, at Fantail Cove.

His dad wants him to come and stay with him at Snell’s Beach, but Hash reckons that he’s on a mission here, so he’s not going. Hash dreams of developing that lower area. With its fresh water and sloping gully sides he imagines a fantastic water park, with a flying fox and big swings. Kids who are running from their lives could go there.

He’s going to make a film about it.

The Graveyard Snail

It seems that Grafton Gully has long been a magnet for botanists, birdwatchers and snail-hunters. In 1990 and long after the seismic upheaval of the motorway construction, Jim Goulstone and two other snail enthusiasts undertook a survey of the area. Methodically combing gravesites and sieving the leaf litter, they discovered several native species, including one hitherto unknown in the Auckland area.

The graveyard snail is a subterranean creature, tiny and slender with a transparent shell. It frequently passes through the one-millimetre sieves used to search for it.


By far the largest part of any fungus cannot be seen, stretching far and wide underground, with meshes of interconnecting root systems extending sometimes for hundreds of miles.

These interconnecting threads can sustain young plants, passing on nutrients and oxygen to them from neighbouring or parent trees where the soil is too poor to promote their growth.

Fungi digest everything they find, migrating towards new sources of food and helping to decompose everything around them; dead bodies, plant matter, even rocks.

A new landmark symbolizing research and knowledge was sought by the University that values excellence, innovation and progress and reflects an openness and embrace of the wider community.

Our inspiration was drawn directly from the fusion of natural landscape, urban form and Maori/Colonial heritage of cultural exchange.

The fluid and open architectural expression through a series of ‘breathing’ glass and stainless steel ribbons create a gesture of invitation, outreach and optimism gathering the energy of the site into a major new public space.

Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp Architects.

Grafton Gully - a selective biography

1910: Grafton Bridge constructed 1925: Blandford Park sports ground opened, on a site that was “a marshy, willow-covered area terminating in a dump for road spoil and old tins at the point where the gully under Grafton Bridge opens onto Grafton Rd, almost at that road and Stanley St.” (Auckland Star, 19th April 1925 ) 1937: Safety barriers erected on the bridge.

1960-67: Construction of motorway network through Grafton Gully. Demolition of several thousand buildings in the area. 4000 Catholic and Anglican graves disinterred from Symonds St. Cemetery. A large corrugated iron fence constructed to shield the disinterring process from view. The remains then cremated at Waikumete and reinterred in two mass grave sites either side of Symonds St.

Vegetation removed, and 1,000,000 cubic metres of soil excavated and used to fill in the Waiparuru streambed. Anecdotal tales of multiple accidents amongst workmen on motorway project.

1966: Blandford Park reverts to previous use as site for dumping of road spoil for motorway project. Later levelled and incorporated into road system.

1971: On 13th August a citizen initiative begins to replant native species in the gully

1990: The discovery by Jim Goulstone of a rare native snail, still surviving in the Grafton gully bush remnants.

1993: Reports of hauntings in the Stanley St “Gasoline Alley” building. A Maori spirtualist brought in to “clear” the building.

1996: The safety barriers judged “unsightly” and removed from the bridge. Five-fold increase in jumper suicides over the next four years.

2001: Periodic detention gangs brought in to clear overgrown areas of cemetery by clearing vegetation and spraying. 2003: The reinstatement of the safety barriers.

2007: Construction commences on the Owen Glenn Business School on the lower Stanley St aspect of the gully.

2012: A young man leaps to his death from the 26m Business School atrium.


The Graveyard Snail project.

©Becky Nunes 2013