Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has announced the next steps for Te Ara Tupua, the highly-anticipated harbour-side walking and cycling link between Wellington and Lower Hutt, with consent applications to be lodged in the coming weeks.
The Ngā Ūranga to Pito-one section (Ngauranga to Petone) of Te Ara Tupua will be the first Waka Kotahi project considered under the new fast-track consent process, with applications to be lodged this month. At the same time, Waka Kotahi will begin work to select an alliance partner to build the path.
Waka Kotahi has also unveiled updated designs for the project, which incorporate mana whenua aspirations and community feedback, and address the effects of the project and its construction on the coastal environment.
“The new designs we’re sharing today reflect more than a year’s work to create an environmentally and culturally respectful design that we think the Wellington region will love,” Director of Regional Relationships Emma Speight says.
“Te Ara Tupua will be a stunning addition to the Wellington Harbour coastline, and create a step change in the number of people choosing to walk or bike between Wellington and the Hutt. It will make State Highway 2 and the Hutt rail line more resilient and provide the ability to adapt to sea level rise,” says Ms Speight.
“We’ve invested in ecological design changes to preserve sensitive habitats and added new offshore habitat areas, which will offer undisturbed roosting places for birds while the path is being built and when it opens to the public.
“While Te Ara Tupua is part of the fast-track consent process, we aren’t taking any shortcuts. We are working hard and investing more to ensure this project is done right - environmentally, culturally, and for the community who will use it.”
Waka Kotahi is working in partnership with mana whenua to bring the narrative of Te Ara Tupua to life and to honour the histories and stories of Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Te Ara Tupua Mana Whenua Steering Group chairperson and Taranaki Whānui representative, Kim Skelton, says the collaboration on the project is a great example for authentic involvement of mana whenua in other projects around Aotearoa.
”The work we have done alongside Waka Kotahi so far represents genuine steps towards a strong Treaty partnership. Early on, we set down kaitiaki principles – these have flowed through the design and will shape the delivery of the project in a way that is mana enhancing and helps share our culture and stories,” says Ms Skelton.
“The project’s design team includes Te Atiawa Taranaki Whānui experts who have raised the visibility of our tupuna and sites of significance, weaving cultural and historical narratives into the project name and into the design of the path and the places along it.”
“We’re proud of the work done to date, and optimistic about the project’s potential. We are looking forward to building even stronger relationships as Te Ara Tupua is developed.”
Ms Speight thanks Taranaki Whānui, Hutt City Council, Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Kiwirail for their work on this important project alongside Waka Kotahi.
“Together with our partners – iwi mana whenua and the local councils - we are working hard to deliver Te Ara Tupua and create a safer route between Wellington and the Hutt, and a valued community and recreational asset,” Ms Speight says.
Consent applications will be lodged this month, with construction expected to begin in mid-2021. Construction will take approximately three years to complete.
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The project also includes a jointly-developed plan for Honiana Te Puni Reserve. The Reserve, at the western end of Pito-One, was returned to Taranaki Whānui in its 2009 Treaty of Waitangi Settlement.
The plan includes increased Taranaki Whānui presence in the Reserve, the creation of an appropriate gateway to Te Ara Tupua, and new permanent premises for the Wellington Rowing Association and Wellington Water Ski Club. These groups’ existing buildings are in a part of the Reserve that will be used for site works during the construction of Te Ara Tupua.
More details of these proposals will be shared with the community ahead of an application to Hutt City Council for approvals under the Reserves Act.