Fluid City

A collective of artists, scientists, educators and environmental researchers working together to raise awareness of water issues in Auckland.

Fluid City created unique interactive art events to engage the public with stories, dance, scientific explorations and discussion about water in different areas of our city. The first exploration 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.

The Fluid City researchers

Group of people outside
Back row: Rose Martin, Rebecca Wood, Clark Ehlers, Charlotte Šunde and Carol Brown. Front Row: Kathy Waghorn, Katie Fitzpatrick and Alys Longley. Absent: Gary Brierley

Principal Investigators


Research assistants

  • Becca Wood
  • Maximus Smitheram
  • Christina Houghton

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 story of the first performance at Wynyard Quarter

On 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. Photo by: 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.

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


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, and Alys Longley

Roaming Cinema

James Hutchinson and Charlotte Sunde

Roaming Laboratory

Clark Ehlers and Rosemary Martin

Architectural Design

Kathy Waghorn

Fluid City Site Manager

Joseph Crowe

Postcards and Maps

Yuna Lee and Becca Wood

Blood of Trees Performance

Carol Brown (Choreographer) and Russell Scoones (Sound Design)

Useful links