At a small event on site earlier this week, representatives from WSP, contractors Fulton Hogan, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and local iwi Ngāti Kahu gathered to celebrate the hard mahi that went into the project.
Restoring the natural marine environment was a key part of the project, which saw a 50-year-old culvert south of Mangonui replaced with the Tokatoka Bridge. The new bridge has been especially designed to increase tidal flows and reinstate what had once been a thriving waterway.
Specialists from WSP were responsible for the detailed design of the bridge. It's been engineered with the very latest in asset management principles, including hassle-free maintenance, and a resilient design that allows for flooding over the top of the bridge and road without any damage.
The project was about much more than just a bridge build. The rebuilding of the Tokatoka bridge and waterway has brought reconnection and access to the coast for the three hapū of Ngāti Kahu. It has rejuvenated the biodiversity of the coastal areas surrounding their lands, remedied a century of flooding caused by human activities, and repurposed an abandoned quarry into a nursery for native plants.
WSP was represented at the event by Kaitohutohu Māori Pae Tahi (Graduate Advisor, Māori) Trent Tipene, Principal Geotech Engineer Shaun Grieve, and Head of Northland Brendan Stirling.
Local Peter Kitchen played a prominent role at the event, having been one of the kaitiaki on the project. He spoke about the manaaki shown during the project – noting the taking of rocks from the quarry to include in the bridge design and returning the quarry to a more natural state with native tree planting. Looking ahead, he said there are plans for a learning centre to sit above the quarry for local youth to learn about the history of the area.
Testament to its environmental, engineering, and partnership outcomes, the new Tokatoka Bridge won IPWEA NZ’s 2022 Environment & Sustainability Award, and Public Works Between $2m - $5m Award. It also won IPWEA NZ’s Supreme Asset Management Excellence Award for 2022 – receiving the inaugural Kōmata o Te Rangi wood carving in recognition.
IPWEA NZ chief executive Murray Pugh says the project was an example of asset management at it’s very best.
“Restoring the mana of iwi/hapu through restoration of the area's ecology is looking after the health and wellbeing of both the environment and community - for ourselves and generations to come.
“Such projects that restore natural waterways will need to be in the mix of answers to the hard questions post-Cyclone Gabrielle.”
More information on the project can be found here.