O Mahurangi – Penlink

26 January 2023


O Mahurangi Penlink Project Update

Kia ora koutou,

Happy New Year from the O Mahurangi team. We hope you had a safe and relaxing holiday with your whānau.

We are happy to report early works started on 9 January and are looking forward to progressing a project that supports future growth in northern Auckland while improving connectivity and travel choices for those in Whangaparāoa and Stillwater.

We are working towards a mid-2023 start on the temporary staging for our bridge construction over the Wēiti River, and an October 2023 start for our main construction works. The O Mahurangi - Penlink project is expected to be completed in December 2026.


Ecologist setting a pitfall trap for lizards.

Ecologist checking and setting eel nets in a farm pond

Ecologist checking a coastal marine area for wading birds.

Image one: checking and setting a pitfall trap for lizards; Image two: checking and setting nets in a farm pond; Image three: checking a coastal marine area for wading birds.

A Day in the Life of an Ecologist

Our ecologists play a crucial role in understanding and protecting the natural waterways, flora and fauna within the project area. The work of an ecologist can be incredibly diverse, but this month a typical day might involve checking and setting pitfall traps for lizards, checking and setting eel nets in a farm pond, or checking coastal marine areas for native wading birds.

Our native lizards within the project area require salvage and relocation. To do so, an ecologist would start their day by checking pitfall traps that were set the day before (see image one above). Pitfall traps consist of four litre buckets, dug into the ground that are used to capture lizards. The traps are baited and once the lizards are caught, the ecologist will release them safely away from the project area.

An ecologist might then head to a nearby farm pond to check and set nets for eels. The ecologist will check the eel nets to see if any have been caught and then release them unharmed away from the project area. In image two (above), thirty short fin eels were found in the pond in one day.

In the afternoon, the ecologist might head out to survey a coastal marine area for native wading birds as shown in image three (above). The ecologist will undertake bird nesting checks, record their observations and decide on the next best step. Peak breeding season for coastal birds is 1 August through early February, so it is important this work is done quickly and correctly. 

Overall, a day in the life of an ecologist on O Mahurangi - Penlink is a mix of working in the field and analysing observations. Our ecologists work hard to keep the natural environment within the project area safe and healthy.


Team members constructing erosion and sediment controls ahead of earthworks starting.

Team members constructing erosion and sediment controls ahead of earthworks starting.

Early Works Underway

Early works, or steps to clear the way for the main works to take place, began on 9 January. This will include vegetation clearing, establishing access tracks and our project site office, constructing temporary erosion and sediment controls, service relocations and early earthworks. 

Tree and vegetation clearing will be a meticulous process as there are areas of high ecological value including Significant Ecological Areas (SEAs) across the project. Our teams are working hard to minimise clearance as much as possible and ensure there is no vegetation clearance outside the construction buffer.

To manage soil and other materials eroding and washing into nearby waterways during construction, we're implementing controls such as sediment ponds and silt fences to help contain and filter sediment. Further preventative measures include minimising the area of earthworks and potential for sediment generation, progressively stabilising the ground as we go as well as separating clean and dirty water.

A helicopter is also a part of early works and the local community may start hearing them more often. These machines will be delivering equipment to our hard-to-reach work sites for continuing geotechnical investigations. Check out a video to learn more about a helicopter used during the early investigation period for the project: Flying high over Penlink

Detailed construction notifications will go out to affected residents with more information. If you have any questions regarding construction, please call 0800 7365 465 or email omahurangi@nzta.govt.nz.


Text reads, "O Mahurangi - Penlink, First Day Back Toolbox, January 2023." The text is overlaid on a rendering of the future Penlink bridge.

Doing Good, Together

During our first week back, project team members gathered for a “First Day Back Toolbox” event at Stillwater Hall on a beautiful rainy morning. 

The event ensures everyone is feeling ready to safely carry out their roles as we begin a new year of work. It's crucial we familiarise ourselves of the potential hazards again and take the necessary precautions to stay safe. By doing good, together, we can ensure a safe and successful year for everyone involved.

The event started with a karakia from our iwi partners. Afterwards, discipline leads spoke on what’s most important to keep in mind as work starts up again. Discipline leads covered topics including Construction, Environmental, Archaeology, Sustainability, Ecology and Community Engagement. Teams were introduced or reunited with one another and shared kai and kōrero.

Additionally, direct descendants of Mahurangi were in attendance. This project has been gifted the name O Mahurangi which refers to Mahurangi, an ancestress of the Tainui waka and a renowned tohunga (high priestess). Mahurangi gave karakia to the Atua for guidance and protection of her people as they embarked on their journey from their ancient homelands of Hawaiki to Tāmaki, Aotearoa and the lands known today as Whangapāraoa.

The event will happen a few more times this month on site to ensure everyone getting back to work on the project is in the right mindset for a successful year.



More information


For more information on the O Mahurangi – Penlink project, contact us at omahurangi@nzta.govt.nz or 0800 7365 465.

Visit our website www.nzta.govt.nz/penlink