Urgent enabling works at the State Highway 4 Te Oreore slip site will get underway in the New Year to ensure the safety and resilience of the route for those travelling between Raetihi and Whanganui.
In October 2019, a major slip on SH4 about 18km south of Raetihi destroyed a large section of the road, forcing an initial full closure followed by construction of a temporary road through the middle of the slip area. Dewatering works began in 2020 to stabilise the landslip and undertake critical testing.
Yesterday, Horizons Regional Council granted Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency resource consent to construct three retaining walls north of the main slip area and the drilling and construction of two new dewatering wells.
Waka Kotahi project sponsor Wayne Oldfield says the need for the works became evident following the heavy rain this winter which caused some ground movement at the slip site.
“There was movement in a number of locations at the site and the temporary road was reduced to one lane to prevent heavy loading on the outside edge of the lane. We now need to undertake works to prevent further movement and safeguard the area so we can keep moving forward with the slip replacement project,” Mr Oldfield says.
SH4 provides an important link between Whanganui and the Central North Island. It is also the backup link north if SH1 is closed between Bulls and Turangi. The work required to reinstate the route is complex and significant and Waka Kotahi is working with local iwi to ensure the plans for the new permanent road support the objectives of Te Waiū-o-Te-Ika – the legal framework for the Whangaehu River Catchment as part of the Ngāti Rangi Treaty Settlement.
The wider area is of cultural significance and is located within an area of interest to local iwi. The Mangawhero River is just below the proposed work site and is identified as a site for mahinga kai (food gathering) and is a tributary to the Whangaehu River.
Tuhiariki Marae spokesperson Troy Brown says, “We support the enabling works, as the Parapara road is an essential route for the health and well-being of our people. However, while we support this work, it is significant that the dewatered Wai stays in its most pure form before entering the Awa”.
Ngāti Rangi Pou Ārahi Helen Leahy says the protection of the taiao is paramount to Ngāti Rangi.
“This is underpinned by our cultural principles and high environmental values. However, the learnings from whakapapa serve to remind us that it is also important to keep the people connected, this includes our communities that rely on the Parapara Road. Therefore, our engagement with this process is future focused.”
Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation Manager Culture and Legacy, Whetu Moataane says, “We have been working closely with NZTA, Ngāti Rangi and Ngāi Tuhiariki for the past 24 months on the Cultural Impact Assessment to ensure the voice and aspirations of hapū and iwi are heard and paramount. Even though we are the landowners, it is very important to Ātihau that hapū and iwi are proactive and collaboratively lead the upcoming Te Oreore works”.
The works will be undertaken within the existing road reserve and are expected to get underway in February.
Resource consent was also granted recently for continued dewatering activities from the five existing groundwater bores on site.