PALMERSTON NORTH CITY COUNCIL
Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway
A new highway designation with a focus on community use and benefits, plus road realignment to protect QEII habitats.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is constructing a new state highway - Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway - to replace the route through the Manawatū Gorge, which was permanently closed after a major landslide in April 2017. The new road will cross over the Ruahine Range, passing through the Te Āpiti wind farm, over sensitive old growth forest and wetlands and spanning the Manawatū river. The highway is approximately 11.5 km long, with four lanes and six bridges, two of them more than 300m long. The project will cost about $620 million and is one of the Government’s largest current transport expenditure commitments.
In late 2018, Waka Kotahi submitted Notice of Requirements for Designations to the three district councils (Palmerston North City Council, Manawatū District Council and Tararua District Council) to allow the construction and operation of the Project. Kahū Environmental had been involved for a number of months in pre-application discussions with Waka Kotahi, which included providing feedback on the draft application on behalf of the councils. Phillip Percy and Anita Copplestone coordinated a team of experts to prepare s42A evidence, presented at the hearing, and provided advice on draft consent conditions. Waka Kotahi issued its formal designation decision in June 2019.
Significant outcomes that we’re proud of
One of the major outcomes from this process was the separate ‘shared path’ which runs the length of the new highway. We had recommended this path for safety reasons, and the community threw their weight behind it with extensive and articulate submissions.
Another great outcome was for habitat protection. During the designation process, we had mooted that the highway should be aligned further north to avoid significant effects on habitat in a QEII covenant area. Waka Kotahi’s designation decision was appealed by various parties, and eventually the Environment Court ruled in favour of the alignment we had recommended earlier.
Helping Waka Kotahi meet construction timelines
We’ve continued to support the project and the Councils by processing the outline plan submissions, waivers, amendments to designation conditions, resource consent applications for enabling works, and an application under the NES for Contaminated Land.
The main works outline plan package was submitted to the three councils early in December 2020. Due to our excellent collaborative working relationship with the Alliance who are delivering the project, we were able to process the main Outline Plan in just 3 days, enabling Waka Kotahi to hit their start of construction date in early January 2021. This was due to a robust process of sharing of early drafts, discussions on interpretation of planning provisions and joint problem solving.
In March 2021, the Alliance wrote to the CEO and Mayors of the Councils to thank us (and others) for our effort and dedication, and in particular our timely advice and feedback, willingness to engage and prompt processing of all necessary enabling works applications and outline plans. We will continue to support this project through its four-year construction programme.