Te Ahu a Turanga – Manawatū Tararua Highway

Project update

9 October 2023


Kia ora and welcome to the latest newsletter on Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway – the 11.5km route to reconnect the Manawatū, Tararua District, Hawke’s Bay and northern Wairarapa, replacing the closed State Highway 3 Manawatū Gorge route.



Planting technician Louie Trasporto was chosen to plant the 1 millionth plant.

More than 1 million native plants in the ground

The Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project has planted its one millionth native plant - a manoao (silver pine).

In May, the third season of planting at the project site began, with natives being planted alongside the new highway for the first time. Previously, planting had only been done at offsite locations.

Planting technician Louie Trasporto had the honour of putting the one millionth plant in the ground during a ceremony at the project site in September. The landscaping team aims to plant more than 1.8 million plants across the duration of the project.

Louie, who is employed by Evergreen Landcare, was selected because he is one of the longest serving planters on the project - having been with the team since construction began in early 2021. It is estimated he has planted close to 120,000 plants over this time.

“For everyone who’s involved in this project, reaching this milestone is a great achievement for it’s not only a legacy we’re going to leave here today, but also a seed for future generations to come,” he says.

Waka Kotahi Te Ahu a Turanga Owner Interface Manager Grant Kauri says reaching this impressive milestone is testament to the extremely hard work of the landscaping team.

“Our landscapers work in extremely tough conditions. They’re out on site in the wind, mud and rain but despite this adversity, they’ve still managed to put thousands of plants in the ground each week."

Below: The team had a cake baked to mark the 1 millionth plant.



The blue and orange form traveller, a construction device that will enable the road surface to be built, has been installed on pier 1 of Parahaki Bridge.

Key milestones reached across project's bridges

Visitors to the Te Āpiti - Manawatū Gorge walking track may have noticed the large blue and orange framework sitting on pier 1 of the Parahaki Bridge.

This contraption is known as a form traveller and its purpose is to assist the construction of the bridge's superstructure (the part vehicles can travel across).

Parahaki Bridge is a 300-metre-long, balanced cantilever bridge that spans the Manawatū River. It features three piers, two on each bank and one in the river.

The form traveller arrived on site several months ago in preparation for its installation on the pier in September. Now it's in place, the team can start casting the first of 27 concrete segments that make up the spans of the bridge. The first of these pours took place in early October.

Other highlights on Parahaki Bridge include the completion of both pier 3 and the landspan between the southern abutment and Pier 1. Excavation is also completed at the northern abutment and preparations for the first concrete pour are underway.

Across the river at the Eco Viaduct Bridge site, 30 of the 42 steel beams are in place, with the next beams to arrive in early October.

At the Woodville end of the project, the Mangamanaia Bridge now has both of its mechanically stabilised walls constructed. The eastern abutment is also completed, and work starts on the western abutment in October.

Below: A picture of the Eco Viaduct Bridge (top) taken from the causeway.  The Mangamanaia Bridge site (bottom) at the eastern end of the project. 



Members of the landscaping team hard at work at Bunnythorpe School.

Project staff transform Bunnythorpe School grounds

Staff working on Te Ahu a Turanga have given the grounds of a rural Manawatū school a much-needed makeover.

Bunnythorpe School Principal Nina Booth asked for some support as part of the project’s social outcomes programme, which includes assisting schools, charities and local organisations.

Some of the work required at Bunnythorpe School included help improving the grounds and removal of parts of its old playground.

Staff working on Te Ahu a Turanga, including landscapers from Evergreen Landcare and the S.H. Contractors team, did a range of work at the school, including laying mulch, planting, creating two pathways, trimming existing fence planting, removing concrete and tyres, creating two new gardens and building a chicken run.

Members of the community also worked with the project team to remove, repurpose and dispose of the old playground equipment.

The trees and shrubs planted at the school were all donated by Kauri Park, which is the main plant supplier for Te Ahu a Turanga.

A huge thank you must go to everyone involved for putting in their time and resources to help the school.

Below: The new chicken run constructed at Bunnythorpe School. 



Six million cubic metres of earth has been moved since construction started in January 2021. Pictured here is the completed Cut 13, where 2.2M cubic metres has been moved.

More than six million cubic metres of earth moved

Bulk earthworks on Te Ahu a Turanga are on track to be finished by the end of the year.

The project reached the 6.2 million mark for cubic metres of earth moved in September, leaving only about 200,000 cubic metres to go. Though wet weather has slowed progress this year, the final target is still expected to be reached by Christmas.

The last major earthworks work fronts are Fill 18 and Cut 25, at the Woodville end of the project, however good progress is being made in these areas.

The road has started to open up at the Woodville end, with earthworks now reaching all the way to the site of the eastern roundabout. Aggregate for the construction of the roundabout is being stockpiled and network drainage work at the site will begin in late October.

Drainage work across the site is well under way, with 4.1km of the 9.3km completed. Work on ITS ducts, which provide space for technological systems like power cables, will also start in October.

Pavement work is ongoing on completed earthworks sections, though recent wet and windy weather has slowed progress in places. This work will start to increase during the summer months.

Below: Pavement construction on Fill 9, near the Ashhurst end of the road. 



Te Ahu a Turanga's earthworks manager Clare Miller was highly commended in the Excellence in Leadership category of the National Association of Women in Construction Awards.

Project staff victorious at national construction awards

Two staff on the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project have gained recognition at this year’s National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Awards.

Project Earthworks Manager Clare Miller and Graduate Environmental Advisor Oriwa Curtis were finalists at the awards in the Excellence in Leadership (Site Based) and Student categories respectively.

The national awards celebrate women working in the New Zealand construction sector, with a record 238 entries being received for the 2023 event.

Both Clare and Oriwa – who are employed by Goodmans Contractors – were “highly commended” in their categories, each receiving a trophy in recognition of the achievement.

A civil engineer by trade, Mrs Miller is charged with ensuring the project’s earthworks target of 6 million cubic metres is achieved. 

Judges praised Mrs Miller for her leadership qualities and the respect she had across all levels of the project: “[Clare] is exceptional in her ability to get people to work for her, and the team wants to perform for her. She's a fantastic boss and has real leadership qualities.”

Ms Curtis started on the project as an Environmental labourer and was quickly offered the Graduate Advisor role, which involves resource consent compliance work, environmental monitoring and planning. Ms Curtis balances her work with studying for a Bachelor of Applied Science at the Open Polytechnic. 

The judges were impressed with Oriwa’s “grit, ability to learn on the job, problem solve and take initiative”: “While on her academic and work journey, she is also raising her young daughter and working alongside iwi and volunteering with rangatahi from Dannevirke High School. At their request, Oriwa is to work with kaimahi and kaumātua to be the recipient of mātauranga, passed down to the younger generation through the tikanga of oral tradition and place-based learning.”

Below is Graduate Environmental Advisor Oriwa Curtis, who was highly commended in the Student category.



Engineer Natalie Van Der Wal works with students to design a bridge during the Puhoro STEMM wananga.

Engineers building bridges with region's rangatahi

Project staff put the engineering skills of rangatahi throughout the region to the test during a series of STEMM workshops.

The workshops were part of a wānanga organised by Pūhoro STEMM, an organisation supporting Māori students to develop skills in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and Mātauranga Māori.

During the workshops – held at Awapuni Function Centre in Palmerston North this year – two groups of Year 13 rangatahi were given a challenge to build a bridge out of basic craft materials.

Supporting the students were Project engineers Matt Te Huna, Natalie Van der Wal and Cyrus Baker; Owner Interface Manager Grant Kauri; and Earthworks Manager Clare Miller.

They worked with the students, who were designing a structure that would support a large toy car. With just ice block sticks, tape, pipe cleaners, pins and paper to work with, the engineers helped the students learn basic principles of bridge building, such as using triangles for strength.

By the end of the sessions, the students were delighted as they all successfully built a bridge able to support the weight of a toy car.

Te Ahu a Turanga supports Pūhoro STEMM by sponsoring events like this wānanga, and providing internships for rangatahi to gain real world experience on the project.

Below: Engineer Matt Te Huna gives some advice to students at the wananga.  



Let us know how we're doing

To ensure we're keeping you engaged and involved in the project, we very much appreciate your feedback. You can complete our quick engagement survey by scanning this QR code or by emailing teahuaturanga@nzta.govt.nz for a survey form.

Ngā mihi nui,
Jonathon Howe
Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Manager



More information


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