Huntly Expressway – moving a mountain

The Hon. Phil Twyford receives a waiata from Tainui elders

The Huntly (by-pass) section of the Waikato Expressway was blessed at a dawn event participated by local iwi representatives, government officials, NZTA staff, and contractor management, followed by formalities at a lunch in a tent set up on the edge of new highway at Te Iringa Lagoon.

The 15-kilometre section is a four-lane highway that now takes State Highway 1 east of Huntly town. The entire highway is expected to be finished after the Longswamp section is finished next month, and the Hamilton section finished next year.

The Huntly section had been planned for many decades and the final route decided through the Taupiri Range in the 1990s.

Project funding was approved in 2014 and in March of the same year, the $384 million contract awarded to a joint venture made up of Fulton Hogan, HEB, Jacobs and WSP Opus.

Construction started in August 2015 and completed at the end of last month (February).

The biggest challenge in the project was shifting a hillside to create the 400 metre-long, 40-metre-wide Taupiri Pass, which is 57-metre cutting to reduce the gradient of the highway section.  it involved moving 1.3 metres of over-burden that was used as fill in other sections. A year of excavation removed the clay top and blasting in 2017-2018 was employed to excavate the bedrock.

In partnership

The Taupiri area is of significant cultural importance for the paramount tribe in the region, Waikato-Tainui, and seven local marae had a voice during construction, and a working group set up to help recognise culturally significant location and assist work on ecological and environmental elements.

Celebration MC
Inside the tent
The delicious catering was served by pupils of  Rakaumanga in Huntly, which is a Wharekura where all subjects are taught in Maori except for English.  It has been teaching year 1-13 students from the region since 1896, and integrated into the State system in 1969. Pictured are: Kyara Berryman and Wainita Garner (L)
Contractor Magazine editorial assistant Drew Padgett served lunch by Trinity Walker
Fulton Hogan CEO Graeme Johnson addressing guests.
Heading south on the new expressway – the Contractor magazine-mobile was one of the first private/public vehicles to test the new seal.
Minister of Transport Phil Twyford and Waikato-Tainui Ruruhi Poppy Ranga.
Group singing waiata.

Te Tumuaki, Anaru Tamihana; Maaori King Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero Te Tuawhitu; (standing) Kumeroa Poutapu nee Manukau; and Te Makau Ariki Atawhai.

Transport Minister speaking to guests.

Phil Twyford and Waikato-Tainui Ruruhi Poppy Ranga signing a waiata duet

Phil Twyford and Derrick Adams, HEB Construction CEO.
National transport spokesperson, Chris Bishop.

Moving action song by the pupils of  Rakaumanga school in Huntly.
Te Makau Ariki Atawhai, Phil Twyford, Waikato District Council mayor Allan Sanson.
  (left) and HEB Construction CEO Derrick Adams.
Waikato District Council mayor Allan Sansom with HEB Construction CEO Derrick Adams

There are many carved poles (pou) alongside the expressway in recognition of the partnership and, at the southern end of the section at Taupiri, two historic pa have been ‘reinterpreted’ as visitor sites.

Author: ContrafedPublishing

Account manager at Contrafed Publishing - look after advertising and digital media/marketing for the company's suite of magazines.

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