Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway

In an historic ‘first’, Waka Kotahi partnered with local iwi to form Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance.

Data & Decisions

Talent & Technology

3 min read

Photography Waka Kotahi

A major slip in April 2017 left State Highway 3 through Manawatū Gorge impassable. A new four-lane highway with shared use path is being built over the Ruahine Range, to provide a safe, resilient and efficient route between Woodville and Ashhurst. The project value is around $620 million.

In an historic ‘first’, Waka Kotahi have partnered with local iwi to form Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance. Iwi partners include Rangitāne o Manawatū, Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-a-Rua, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Ngāti Kauwhata. This special partnership sets the project apart and has been seen as an approach to be replicated on future infrastructure projects.

Soon after the slip in 2017, Waka Kotahi sought to involve iwi in the project. The offer of partnership was extended and relationships were built with collaboration and time. Today, iwi partners are represented throughout the project: on the Alliance Board, an iwi specific forum (Iwi Working Group), at senior management (through the appointment of a Kaiārahi, Kaikōkiri and Kaihāpai), at the operational level with Kaimahi working on the design of the project and how it is constructed, and Kaitiaki working within the construction team.

Relationships have been respected and nurtured, with senior management within Waka Kotahi taking responsibility for championing the project and maintaining consistent contact with iwi to enable trusting relationships to be built. As the project has proceeded, the mutual value of these partnerships for the natural environment, the people and the project has been recognised.

  • As partners, iwi made submissions on the Notice of Requirement for the highway alongside Waka Kotahi and helped develop the consent application, including several key management plans.
  • Each iwi was part of the selection process for the preferred construction consortium, interviewing the applicants and providing a recommendation to the selection panel.
  • Once the construction alliance was selected, iwi joined the Project Alliance Board and Alliance Management Team.
  • Iwi led the design and development of significant cultural design elements and have taken responsibility for cultural monitoring of all project works.
  • The mauri of the Project has been strengthened through the application of project values founded in Mātauranga Māori, including initiatives based on the Te Whare Tapa Whā model of wellbeing and Whānau Ora.

While there’ll inevitably be areas for improvement, the project is achieving positive outcomes for iwi that include:

  • Skills and capability development within iwi across the range of project disciplines, including governance, management and delivery.
  • Significant cultural design elements across the project that will recognise and honour the relationship of mana whenua to the whenua and awa.
  • The development and implementation of cultural baselines to monitor the health of the Manawatū awa.
  • Business opportunities for iwi in both construction and environmental management.33