What We Are Learning » What does the community think of the changes?

Community perceptions

Community experiences of Te Ara Mua – Future Streets were researched for a Masters project at the University of Auckland.


To understand how people from the Māngere community experienced Te Ara Mua – Future Streets changes, particularly for walking and cycling.


Eight community stakeholders were interviewed for this study. They were selected for their ability to represent a range of community perspectives. This research also used transcripts from three focus group discussions with adults.

These were all analysed together and five major themes were identified, which are summarised in the sections below. You can also click on the diagram below to see an overview of the findings.

To understand how people from the Māngere community experienced Te Ara Mua – Future Streets changes, particularly for walking and cycling.

Click on the summary image to enlarge it

Road Safety

Participants generally felt the Te Ara Mua – Future Streets changes had improved road safety for people walking and using mobility devices but made driving harder and less safe. Cycling was still seen as quite unsafe, and while some thought the new bike lanes made cycling safer, others felt it was better to bike on the footpath or road.

“down [at] the town centre now it is definitely safer crossing the roads” (female, interview)

“it is safer, especially for the older citizens for them to walk” (male, focus group)

“I get it […] they use the island to make it easier for the kids to cross […] but it’s a pain in the arse for our cars to get through” (male, focus group)

“on the quiet days you [go for a] bike, but you never ride a bike when it is busy” (female, focus group) 

Personal Safety (safety from crime and attack)

Personal safety in Māngere Central remained a major concern, with participants describing the streets and reserves as looking nicer, but not feeling any safer than before, especially at night.

“[the park] looks friendly but basically when you look closer […] drinking still happens everywhere” (female, focus group)

“would I be feeling safer about sending my teenage girl up to the shop, you know at night time in Māngere, no” (male, focus group)

Social and Cultural Norms

Residents were also said to experience social barriers to walking and cycling. For example, walking and cycling was considered a symbol of not being able to afford to drive or take the bus. Cycling was described as normal for children only, while adult cycling was seen as sporty and culturally foreign to local residents. 

“you rarely see people walking to the town centre, unless […] you’re broke” (male, interview)

“from a cultural perspective, island-based […] bikes are for kids, and that’s how they should always be” (male, interview)

“this is Māngere no one ever wears helmets, they all still bike on the footpath” (male, focus group)


Participants said practical barriers to walking and cycling prevented many residents from taking advantage of the new infrastructure, such as responsibility for transporting children, lack of time, and the cost of bikes.

“people struggle to make ends meet, they gotta be places, feed kids, lay them down, off to your next shift” (male, interview)

“[it’s] a large family-oriented community, so if you’re going somewhere, you may be taking six or seven other people […] so it’s easier to throw everybody in a single people mover” (female, interview)

Community Involvement

Finally, participants tended to see Te Ara Mua – Future Streets as either an under-researched experiment or as much-needed investment in a neglected area. Community engagement on the project, especially on the bike lanes, was felt to have been insufficient.

“it’s just nice that there has been some investment into recreational stuff that looks quite good” (female, interview)

“I know you guys did all the stuff in the markets but […] there’s still a lot of people that don’t feel like they were part of it” (male, focus group)

“I think the frustration occurred when they started doing too many bike lanes […] I was going what the hell no one’s going to be in this, there’s no bikes, especially in Māngere” (female, focus group)


Māngere community experiences of Te Ara Mua – Future Streets changes are influenced by a wide range of social, practical, and environmental factors. While street design was considered important, especially for road safety, participants in this study saw embedded social and practical factors as having more influence on local walking and cycling. As such, despite greater community engagement than most transport projects, participants lacked a strong sense of ownership over the changes. The findings suggest that personal safety concerns, local transport norms, and practical circumstances require further attention if the Māngere community is to widely realise the health benefits of increased walking and cycling.