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Waka Kotahi welcomes Ngāti Tama Mt Messenger Bypass vote result

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has welcomed news that Ngāti Tama has voted with an 82 percent majority in favour of the agreements with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, which allow land needed for the Mt Messenger Bypass to be exchanged.

The deal includes a 120ha coastal property in exchange for 20ha of Ngāti Tama land, a cultural compensation payment and an environmental programme including pest management in perpetuity on 3,650ha of Ngāti Tama’s rohe.

The bypass is a new 6km route from Uruti to Ahititi that avoids the existing steep, narrow and winding route over Mt Messenger on State Highway 3. It includes two bridges of approximately 125m and 30m length, and a 235m tunnel. The route will be lower and less steep than the existing road. The substantial environmental restoration programme is also a key feature of the project.

Director of Regional Relationships Lower North Island Emma Speight says Waka Kotahi is thrilled with the result, as it marks a major milestone for the State Highway 3 project.

“Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Tama o Taranaki has worked very hard to engage with its members about the vote, providing information about the project and explaining the offer from Waka Kotahi. We are committed to building on our relationships and working with all of the iwi to take the project forward.

“We have greatly appreciated Ngāti Tama’s commitment and considerable contribution to the project. Their input into the development of the bypass and knowledge of the land has been invaluable to creating a solution that will benefit the region,” says Ms Speight.

The project is still awaiting the outcome of appeals to the Environment Court’s interim decision, due to be heard in August, before it can proceed.

The bypass is designed to provide better safety, resilience and journey reliability on SH3, a key regional connection to the north. It will enhance local and regional economic growth and productivity for people and freight.

The project’s environmental restoration programme includes an intensive and enduring pest management programme over 3,650 hectares in perpetuity, along with sizeable areas of restoration planting and managing lizard, bat, bird and freshwater species. This aims to achieve significant improvements in biodiversity within 10 to 15 years following completion of construction.

“We look forward to continuing to grow our partnership with Ngāti Tama and are hopeful that outstanding matters at the Environment Court will be resolved soon so we can begin building a safer and more resilient road,” Ms Speight says.

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