Construction of Mt Messenger Bypass moves closer with positive High Court decision


Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is looking forward to starting physical works on Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass following yesterday’s High Court decision confirming consents for the project.

The decision from Judge Andru Isac was the latest legal judgment in favour of the 6km bypass that will replace the existing steep, narrow and winding section of State Highway 3 through Mt Messenger in North Taranaki.

Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships Linda Stewart says the Mt Messenger Alliance charged with delivering the new bypass will begin preparatory works this autumn, ahead of a start to main construction in spring.

Much of the early works will be centred around Te Ara o Te Ata’s environmental activities and will include the creation of access tracks for the project’s significant pest management programme.

Main construction will start at the southern end of the project, with earthworks and vegetation clearance. Preparing access to locations for the project’s tunnel and bridges will be a priority.

“Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass will increase safety for everyone travelling into and out of North Taranaki.

“It will also be more resilient than the current route, standing up more effectively to the challenges posed by the local weather, ground and geographic conditions.

“Equally as important, the project includes a major environmental component to help us achieve our goal of leaving a lasting legacy in Taranaki, ensuring the project area is left in a better condition than before construction.

“Waka Kotahi remains fully committed to delivering this important project for the benefit of Taranaki and Aotearoa New Zealand, and we can’t wait to get started.”

The decision was also welcomed by the Taranaki Mayoral Forum.

“State Highway 3 through Mt Messenger is Taranaki’s primary link to the upper North Island, and we welcome news this long-awaited investment can occur to improve the safety and resilience of the highway.”

The project’s iwi partner Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Tama has similarly welcomed the news.

Chair Paul Silich says: “Most of our members live and work in Taranaki and, together with the rest of our local communities, we have been looking forward to this project getting started for a long time.

“A better road through our rohe will save lives and support our Taranaki economy.

“And of course, the environmental gains will see Taranaki’s northern-most native forest flourish over time. We are really looking forward to seeing our native species thrive once more.”

Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass – by the numbers

  • The bypass will run for approximately 6km between Uruti and Ahititi
  • It will include two bridges of approximately 125m and 30m in length, and a 235m tunnel
  • The project’s environmental and native animal commitments will deliver:
    • pest management across 3,650ha of forest on either side of the bypass, through a 250km network of traps and bait stations every 100-150 metres, benefiting native wildlife such as kiwi and long-tailed bats
    • restoration planting comprising 120,000 native seedlings across 32 hectares and a further 100,000 native plants along roadsides and embankments
  • Over a construction period of 4.5 years, the project will generate:
    • More than 70 new jobs
    • Approximately $4 million in additional salaries each year
    • Around $25m a year in spending with Taranaki businesses for the supply of goods and services