Te Ahu a Turanga – Manawatū Tararua Highway

Project update

22 September 2022


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.



Pier 1 of the Parahaki Bridge, on the bank of the Manawatū River, is now well out of the ground.

Good progress on highway site during winter months

Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway's structures, earthworks and landscaping teams have continued to reach some significant milestones in often challenging winter weather conditions. 

Piling to set the foundation of the Parahaki Bridge, across the Manawatū River, is now complete, with the last pile on pier 3 poured in mid-July. The pile delivery process started in August last year and to see it completed ahead of time is a credit to the commitment of the team working at this site. Concrete pours and steel placement to build the columns continue across the bridge's three piers.

Across the river at the Eco-Viaduct site, piling work continues with 12 of 16 piles completed as of September 2022. Work is well advanced on the Te Āpiti Wind Farm underpass and planning is underway for the start of construction of the Mangamanaia Bridge at the Woodville end of the alignment in summer. Both the Nutcracker Farm and Morgan Road underpasses are structurally complete. 

Excellent progress has been made in the earthworks space, with the team currently sitting at about 3.7 million cubic metres of earth moved since the start of construction in 2021.

The team also achieved the fantastic milestone of achieving the summer earthworks target of 2.8 million cubic metres. They now expect to reach the project's earthworks total of 6 million cubic metres during the second summer season, starting in October 2022 and ending in 2023.

At the eastern end of the project, work is expected to start on the roundabout near the junction of Woodlands Road and State Highway 3 in late September. Our teams will start by installing environmental controls, followed by a series of large culverts and other utility service relocations. These are expected to be completed by January 2023, after which earthworks will commence.

In September, the landscaping teams reached the 400,000 mark for plants in the ground at three of the project planting sites. This places the team well on track to reach this planting season's target of more than 500,000 plants by Labour Weekend. Over the duration of the project, they expect to plant about 1.8 million native plants.

Two of the offset planting sites are being planted by iwi groups; Rangitāne o Manawatū and Ngāti Kahungunu. The Community Works Skills team has also started work on the planting of harakeke on Parahaki Island, with support from the landscaping and project teams. 

Project leadership is continuing to assess the ongoing impact of severe weather, engineering challenges and COVID-19 on the programme, while maximising every opportunity to mitigate disruptions and minimise any delays. At this stage, we are still working towards completion of the project in December 2024. 

To view the latest flyover footage, please head to the project page on the Waka Kotahi website: www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/te-ahu-a-turanga/ 

Pictures below: Members of the landscaping team in action at one of the project planting sites.

Earthworks are progressing well at Cut 13 in Zone 2 of the Te Ahu a Turanga construction site. 



From left: Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua iwi members Joanne Heperi, Manahi Paewai, Ataneta Paewai, Lucretia Mason, Ngatiria Reweti (crouching), Richard Boyd (back), Hineirirangi Carberry, Mavis Mullins, Peter Holm, Lorraine Stephenson and Kuini Hoera.

Iwi project partners get first-hand experience onsite

A delegation from project iwi partner, Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua, visited the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway site in August to meet the team and get a first-hand look at the progress to date.

Though members of the iwi have been to the site before, this was the first time a full contingent had visited since the start of construction. The visit provided them with a good opportunity to see the progress in person while also offering the chance to speak with key members of the Alliance team.

The iwi was hosted by Alliance Kaimahi Joanne Heperi, and Kaitiaki Peter Holm and Kuini Hoera, who are all affiliated to Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua. The visit involved a tour of key construction sites, including earthworks zones 2, 2.5 and 3 and the Parahaki Bridge site.

Following the site tour, a wananga was held at the project site office, Te Whare Pumanawa, where iwi discussed progress, initiatives and partnership aspirations with staff from the project's Te Putahi Māori Directorate and Alliance Leadership Team.

Project Kaiarahi Tania Riwai, who leads the Te Putahi team, said it was always a special time when the project’s iwi partners were able to come onsite.

“All of our iwi partners are represented on the project, and Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua are no exception. The Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua members working on Te Ahu a Turanga are doing an amazing job as kaitiaki of the maunga, awa and whenua, and they were delighted to be able to provide their iwi whānau with a first-hand view of their mahi.”

Along with Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua, Te Ahu a Turanga partners with three other local iwi: Rangitāne o Manawatū, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua and Te Runanga o Raukawa (Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Nga Kaitiaki ō Ngāti Kauwhata).

This is the first time a major construction project has partnered with iwi in this way, with iwi represented at all levels of the project, including on the Project Alliance Board, the Alliance Leadership Team and the wider onsite teams.

From September, a series of Iwi Spotlights will be held with all iwi partners at the Te Ahu a Turanga site. These hui will involve iwi sharing the unique stories of their history while also providing a forum for open kōrero with the Alliance team.

Tania Riwai said the spotlight hui would provide Alliance staff with valuable insight and context about the project’s iwi partners while also continuing to ensure each iwi can have their voices heard.



Sapper Jared Greenfield, Sapper Ryan Hay and Sapper Kieran Cropp have worked on the project as part of the partnership. PHOTO: NZDF

NZ Defence Force engineers join earthworks teams

NZ Army soldiers are picking up cutting-edge engineering skills by taking part in the construction of the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway.

A partnership between NZDF and the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway Alliance has created an opportunity for soldiers to be involved in the construction of the new road.

Troop Commander 2nd Engineer Regiment 25 Engineer Support Squadron Lieutenant Blair Jones said soldiers would benefit from the project as it was on a scale they wouldn’t normally be exposed to on a day-to-day basis.

“Our soldiers will learn more about what is involved in an infrastructure project of this size. They also learn how to use updated and new plant equipment that utilises up-to-date GPS tracking systems for tracking plant movement, digging depths and boundaries.”

He said the project provided work experience where plant operators could gather practical evidence and verification of competency, which could contribute towards the completion of a number of Civil Construction National Certificates.

It also allowed soldiers access to industry-leading subject matter experts, who were more than willing to share their knowledge.

“There will be two to three soldiers on site for a six-week rotation, which will continue until the duration of the project” Lieutenant Jones said.

Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance Project Director Tony Adams said the soldiers working on the site had quickly become an integral part of the earthworks team.

“These soldiers are highly capable professionals, so we’re utilising their training and experience to benefit the construction of the highway. We’ve inducted 18 soldiers to date and we look forward to their ongoing contribution to this vital piece of infrastructure.”

The Waka Kotahi Owner Interface Manager for Te Ahu a Turanga, Grant Kauri, said the soldiers’ involvement was another example of how the project placed a high value on partnership and collaboration. 

“Partnership is a core component of everything we do on this project. We’ve partnered with iwi, with the companies designing and building the highway and with our surrounding communities. The NZDF has a long history of supporting people and communities, so we’re thrilled to have their personnel involved in this project.”

To mark the partnership, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the NZDF and Fulton Hogan (on behalf of the Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance) in April this year.



A group of high-school-aged interns from UCOL got plenty of practical experience on the Te Ahu a Turanga site, such as learning from the structures crew building the Parahaki Bridge across the Manawatū River.

UCOL interns inspired by time spent on project site

A group of high school students interested in a career in infrastructure have gained valuable insight into what it’s like to work on one of New Zealand’s major highway projects.

The six teenagers have completed an internship on the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project, as part of the requirements of the NZ Certificate in Infrastructure Works, Level 2, they’re completing with UCOL | Te Pūkenga.

The interns have been visiting the site up to twice a week since April to take part in a range of activities. The visits are designed to provide practical experience on a major construction project while they complete the certificate.

During the visits, the interns have taken a ride in a dump truck with the earthworks teams, helped the landscapers with planting, reviewed tests at the onsite laboratory, gained knowledge of the project’s tikanga and cultural context with kaitiaki, and checked sediment ponds with the environmental team.

Alongside the field experience, project staff have also taken the interns through sessions to develop their core skills, such as financial literacy, communication and team work.

One of the graduates, Elaine Wilman, says the programme has given her the opportunity to experience many aspects of highway construction.

“[It's] way more than what I expected. I thought it was just, sit there with a lollipop stick and spin it.”

The internships are part of the partnership between UCOL | Te Pūkenga and the Alliance to provide students and staff from both organisations with access to skills, training and knowledge that will benefit them, their whānau, the community and the wider construction sector.

The organisations have been working together since 2020, and signed a Statement of Intent outlining the partnership in 2021.

Waka Kotahi Owner Interface Manager Grant Kauri said the interns are a perfect example of the project’s intention to provide enduring community outcomes.

“This project is about more than just building a highway. We want to provide training, support and knowledge to people in this region interested in pursuing careers in infrastructure and construction with the hope that they will put those skills to use throughout the rohe when we leave.

“By providing these interns with experience on our site, we hope to inspire them to pursue a career in the construction and infrastructure sector. But we also want them to realise that it’s not all earthmoving and heavy machinery, as this project also employs landscapers, cultural advisors, accountants, ecologists, designers and more.”

UCOL | Te Pūkenga Executive Director Business & Industry Partnerships, Jasmine Groves, said the six rangatahi are participating in the UCOL | Te Pūkenga U-Skills Trade Academy.

“U-Skills allows rangatahi to stay in school, while gaining tertiary qualifications they can use to enter industry once they’ve finished school.”

"Our partnership with Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project has provided our students with a unique opportunity that will help set them up for life after school.”

A ceremony to celebrate the interns, who attend Palmerston North Boys’ High School, Tararua College and Taihape Area School, was held at the site on 18 August, where Grant Kauri, Jasmine Groves and Project Director Tony Adams presented those in attendance with certificates.

The project intends to continue offering student internships and talks are ongoing with UCOL | Te Pūkenga around future opportunities.

For more information about enrolling for a course at UCOL | Te Pūkenga, head to www.ucol.ac.nz 

To view of video about the partnership between Te Ahu a Turanga and UCOL, please head to:  www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/te-ahu-a-turanga/videos/

Below: Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway Owner Interface Manager, Grant Kauri, back left, and Project Director, Tony Adams, back right, presented (front row, left to right) Elaine Wilman, James Jenkins, Eli Coe, Blake Holden and Israel Bailey with their certificates at the graduation, held on Thursday, 18 August.



IIliythia George takes a ride on the Drive the Highway simulator at the Ashhurst Library.

Drive the virtual highway at your local library

Anyone wanting to see what it'll be like to drive the 11.5km, four-lane Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway is invited to go for a spin on one of the simulators the project has installend throughout the region. 

The Drive the Highway simulators are set up for public use at the Woodville Community Library and the Ashhurst Library to give community members at both sides of the project site an opportunity to check the highway out.

The Woodville Library, on Vogel Street, is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (with a break for lunch). The simulator is positioned near the main entrance and visitors can also check out the information board and project newsletters on offer.

Next door at the Information Centre, there is a screen that plays the latest highway flyover videos.

The Ashhurst Library, which also has a simulator, display board and newsletters, is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday, from 2pm to 5pm on Monday and from 10am to 1pm on Saturday.

People can also visit the Project Visitor Centre from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Public Holidays) to drive a simulator, read the latest information and view our project waka. The visitor centre is on Napier Road, near the entrance to the temporary Te Āpiti Manawatū Gorge walking track carpark. 



Public info sessions

A series of Public Information Sessions were held across the region in July to ensure the communities surrounding the highway continue to feel informed and involved about the project.

Three sessions were held between Tuesday 5 July and Thursday 7 July in Dannevirke, Ashhurst (Project Site Office) and Woodville respectively.

These sessions are designed to ensure community members living in the communities nearby the project site are provided with key information, as well as having an opportunity to meet the Alliance team and ask them questions.

Members of the Alliance Leadership Team, as well as engineers from across the site were in attendance at the sessions.

Feedback from the public was largely positive, with questions focused on progress to date, job opportunities and project challenges.

To assist the information needs of the public, the events featured a mobile Drive the Highway simulator, flyover footage, information posters and handouts, an alignment map and a display of native plants from the landscaping team.

More information sessions will be held throughout the region later in the year.


Mates in Construction

More than 120 staff from the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway Alliance attended a pair of workshops aimed at combating the tragically high rates of suicide in the construction industry.

The workshops were run by Mates in Construction, a support group set up to raise awareness of the issue and train people to better support their colleagues who are struggling.

At the session – held at the Village Valley Centre in Ashhurst in August – attendees were introduced to strategies for how to tell if a workmate is struggling with their mental health, and how to have a conversation about it with them.

Te Ahu a Turanga Wellbeing and Culture Manager, Hemi Heta, said the Mates in Construction workshop was an important introduction to mental health for the workers that attended.

“Mates in Construction gives people a good baseline for what mental health and suicide prevention is all about. It works alongside the whānau approach to wellbeing that we’ve got here on site. If any of our staff need help with anything at all, they can come and see the wellbeing team and we can quickly connect them to the right support.”

To learn more about what Mates in Construction does, check out their website: www.mates.net.nz/


All feedback welcomed

To ensure we keep the community engaged and involved in the project, we very much appreciate your feedback. You can complete our 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


For more information on the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway, please use one or more of the following methods: