A once notorious intersection known for near misses and dangerous manoeuvres has been given a second chance at making a first impression.
Today the SH1/SH11 Kawakawa intersection improvements project formally concluded with the unveiling of a series of significant artworks from local iwi Ngāti Hine – including a pou ihi, toka (rock) and traditionally etched wall panels and storyboard.
Alongside the art, Ngāti Hine, who worked closely with Waka Kotahi on the project, have also gifted a name for the new roundabout - Te Kāuru o Taumārere.
The name Te Kāuru o Taumārere recognises the convergence of local streams to form part of the headwaters of Te Awa Tapu o Taumārere (Taumārere River).
Mark Kinvig, National Manager Infrastructure Delivery for Waka Kotahi, said the project team is touched by this significant gesture.
“We set out with a vision to create far more than just an improved intersection. We wanted to deliver to the Kawakawa community a welcoming gateway for their town and beyond.
“Working closely with Ngāti Hine has made that vision a reality. The artworks, including a stunning pou ihi unveiled as part of the opening ceremony today, have lifted this project much further than we could have delivered alone – the intesection is now a place of pride that reflects the history of iwi in the region,” said Mr Kinvig.
The toka (rock) unveiled at today’s celebrations is described by Ngāti Hine’s Pita Tipene as similar to the original Kawakawa rock that was a shrine to travellers who stopped and gave offering of leaves from the Kawakawa plant as a sign of respect and veneration for the local area and people.
Further artwork by Ngāti Hine can be seen etched into the 100 metre long retaining wall which, as well as acting as a gallery wall, reduces traffic noise for the houses which sit directly above the intersection.
The improvements also offer better access for people walking and on bikes at the intersection, which will benefit local communities, businesses, and visitors alike.
Landscaping above the intersection, including clearing the scrub-covered hillside, significant rubbish removal and new planting, have also turned what locals called an ‘eyesore’ into an attractive entrance to the township.
The Kawakawa intersection improvements were delivered as part of the Northland Regional Package for the New Zealand Upgrade programme, the Government’s investment in better and safer transport choices for growing communities.
“We are pleased that the roundabout has not just delivered the core benefits of improved sightlines, safer speeds and reduced congestion, it is now a place of pride for locals and a real point of interest for visitors,” said Mr Kinvig.
While the roundabout itself has been operational for almost a year, today marked completion of all works including drainage and retaining walls, alongside the completed artworks.
The $6m project was finished on time and within budget.