John Key drives digger to break ground for first Wynyard Quarter apartments

Nicole Lawton

John Key insists he can always fall back on his excellent digger skills if his career in politics doesn't work out.

Construction has started on the first apartment block for Auckland's Wynyard Quarter - and the first man getting stuck into the earthworks was the Prime Minister.

John Key drove the digger that broke ground on the site of the Wynyard Central residential complex on Thursday.

The complex is the first apartment block to be built in Wynyard Quarter, a new residential area on the Auckland waterfront that promises a new model for modern urban living in the city of sails.

A model of Wynyard Central, the new apartment block being developed in Wynyard Quarter by Willis Bond & Co.
Jack van Beynen

A model of Wynyard Central, the new apartment block being developed in Wynyard Quarter by Willis Bond & Co.

The ground breaking was marked with a catered function and speeches by local iwi leaders, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, and John Key himself. Around 50 people attended the event, including council representatives, real estate professionals, and people from the property development industry.

In his speech, Key said the development exemplified Auckland's transformation into a "world class city", and praised the developers' work.

However, his real enthusiasm was reserved for his time driving the excavator used to break ground.

This room showcases what the interior of a new Wynyard Central apartment will look like.
Jack van Beynen

This room showcases what the interior of a new Wynyard Central apartment will look like.

"I'm pretty excited about the opportunity to get on the digger," he told the crowd, his eyes lighting up like a three-year-old's.

He said he was thinking of driving excavators after his retiring from politics.

Wearing a reflective vest, hard hat and work boots with his suit, he planted himself in the digger's seat, scooped up a load of gravel and dumped it on the ground. Onlookers clapped and cheered.

Mark McGuinness is managing director of Willis Bond & Co, who are developing the Wynyard Central complex.

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He said it was exciting to be finally building after all the designing and planning that had gone into the project.

He hoped the apartments, together with the more up-market 132 Halsey complex also developed by his company, would create a real community in the area. The units were designed for owner-occupiers rather than speculators. All units in the Wynyard Central block have now been sold.

The complex will offer a range of living options, including pavilions, townhouses and apartments, with 113 units in total. It has a green star rating of six stars, and will be the first built to new environmental standards.

McGuinness said the Wynyard Quarter developments offered Aucklanders a new and appealing way to live.

"It's an opportunity, I think, to show Aucklanders a different way of living in the city," he said.

 - Stuff

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