Creative Arts and Industries

Fluid City



A collective of artists, scientists, educators and environmental researchers are working together to raise awareness of water issues in Auckland City. They create unique interactive art events and engage the public with stories, dance, scientific explorations and discussion about water in different areas of our city. The first exploration of our fluid city opened to coincide with World Water Day on Thursday 22 March, 2012. Using the Silo Park in the Wynyard Quarter, which has historically been an area for port-related industry, Fluid City presented stories, memories and the science of water in Tamaki Mākaurau/Auckland. In 2013, Fluid City took part in the Auckland Arts Festival Rosebank Project, with an interactive installation as part of the Rosebank Art Walk, Rosebank Road. In 2014, members of the collective have continued to raise awareness about water in Tamaki Makaurau, working with students at James Cook High School on photography and dance projects.


Water Stories about Auckland
Water stories contributed to the Fluid City project as part of the Story Telling Vessel. Contribute your own stories about water on the Rosebank Peninsula.

Fluid City and the Rosebank Art Walk


Fluid City took part in the Auckland Arts Festival with an interactive installation as part of the Rosebank Project Art Walk. This walking event over the weekend 23 and 24 March, 2013 offered the opportunity to experience the Rosebank Road neighbourhood through new eyes. Rosebank Peninsula is one of Auckland's oldest communities, a mixed use zone with industrial precinct and suburban area, built over an estuarine peninsula of significant ecological worth and geological interest and the site of the oldest market gardens in Auckland. In the western reaches of the upper Waitemata Harbour, Rosebank Peninsula has the Whau river on its western side, Pollen Island and Motu Manawa Marine Reserve at the northern end and Avondale Racecourse and Jockey Club at its southern end. There is a Primary, Intermediate and High School on or near Rosebank Rd and it has a business district with over 400 companies involved in service industries and light manufacturing from industrial ceramics, German Sour Dough Bread and kayaks. Access to water and the waterways has been central to the development of this community.

On the day of the walk, free vans transported audiences collected from Avondale train depot to key points along the peninsula. The audience toured through the various sites and events from the drop-off points. From the park, visitors could meander into the industrial area and along the edge of the estuary. Maps were provided with QR codes (useful for those with a smartphone) linking visitors to contextual information, location details and starting times for performance based pieces. The project hosted site specific, community based projects from a multidisciplinary group of artists, designers and performers including researchers from the Fluid City project.

The Rosebank Art Walk was part of a wider project with other events all centred on Rosebank Road.

For more information about the Rosebank Project see The Rosebank Blog

The Roving Laboratory. Photo: James Hutchinson

The story of the first performance - Wynyard Quarter

On Thursday, 22 March, 2012,  an eclectic mix of researchers gathered near the Silo Park in Wynyard Quarter to involve the public in their research about water and water stories in Auckland. Through an audio-visual performance work that drew attention to the missing, lost, subterranean and ephemeral streams, wetlands and floodplains of the city the public had the opportunity to engage and interact with different aspects of the project in a variety of ways.

The Story-Telling Vessel had upturned bucket seats with headphones where people could sit and hear stories about water and could choose to contribute their own stories. The pre-recorded stories included insights from Professor Gary Brierley (Geography), Dr Marjorie van Roon (Planning) and Dr Te Oti Rakena (Music) as well as poems and stories from local and national writers, all evoking senses of water and its meanings.

The Roving Laboratory opened up to reveal microscopes and test tubes. People took the opportunity to carry out their own water testing on samples collected around Auckland's waterways. Some were collected from the pristine waterways of the Waitakeres while others were from streams which proved less than pristine. The microbiological life of the waterways could also be explored by looking at slides taken from the samples and  examining them using the microscopes.

The Roaming Cinema featured an animation displaying the myriad ways in which water features in our everyday lives and in the context of Auckland’s urban catchment. People peered through diving goggles into the closed container to see this thought provoking short animation.

Dancers perform Blood of Trees
Dancers perform Blood of Trees. Photo: James Hutchinson

The site specific choreographed dance performance Blood of Trees featured a guided “walkscape” where viewers connected to the history, ecology and mauri (life force) of the environment using audio technologies to accompany the dance work.

This dance work was the culmination of a two week research process for 15 professional and student dancers, a choreographer, sound artist, designer and dramaturg. 

For more information about this performance and those involved click here.

Researchers from NICAI, the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Education at the University pooled their collective knowledge and experience to create this unique event.

Members of the project team talk about the project:

LATE at the Museum - Dr Alys Longley discusses the project as part of "From a Ripple to a Swell", a panel discussion looking at the importance of New Zealand's waterways and how we can raise awareness and value our natural resource. (Season Four - LATE 05 - August 2011)

Interview on bFM - Dr Charlotte Šunde and Dr Alys Longley discuss the project on bFM (August 2011)

Interview on bFM - Dr Charlotte Šunde and Dr Alys Longley discuss Fluid City: An interactive public art event on "Ready, Steady, Learn" (February 2012)

The Roving Laboratory, Roaming Cinema and Story-Telling Vessel at Wynyard Quarter
The Roving Laboratory, Roaming Cinema and Story-Telling Vessel at Wynyard Quarter. Photo: James Hutchinson

The Fluid City project team wishes to thank the following people for their generous contribution to the project so far:

Vessel Of Stories
Renee Liang, Te Oti Rakena, Albert Wendt, Hone Tuwhare, Katherine Mansfield, Marjoree Van Roon, Gary Brierley, Clark Ehlers, Dave Hiroti, Isabella and Austin Linkhorn-Houghton, Katie Fitzpatrick, Alys Longley
Roaming Cinema
James Hutchinson, Charlotte Sunde
Roaming Laboratory
Clark Ehlers, Rosemary Martin
Architectural Design
Kathy Waghorn
Fluid City Site Manager
Joseph Crowe
Postcards and Maps
Yuna Lee, Becca Wood
Blood of Trees Performance
Choreographer: Carol Brown
Sound Design: Russell Scoones

Fluid City Researchers
Back row: Rose Martin, Rebecca Wood, Clark Ehlers, Charlotte Šunde (Principal Investigator) and Carol Brown. Front Row: Kathy Waghorn, Katie Fitzpatrick and Alys Longley (Principal Investigator). Absent: Gary Brierley

The Fluid City researchers are:

Dr Alys Longley (Principal Investigator): Profile
Dr Charlotte Šunde (Principal Investigator)
Dr Carol Brown: Profile
Kathy Waghorn
Dr Clark Ehlers: Profile
Dr Katie Fitzpatrick: Profile
Prof. Gary Brierley: Profile
Rose Martin

With the assistance of:
Becca Wood
Maximus Smitheram
Christina Houghton: