Project introduction

The Connecting Tairāwhiti – Resilience project aims to strengthen and stabilise State Highway 35 so it can remain open and functional during disruptions such as weather events – allowing locals, visitors and goods to get where they need to go.

  • Estimated project dates

    Nov 2020–Sep 2023
  • Project type

    Road improvements

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Project overview

The geology of the SH35 coastal route is unstable and highly erodible, and the road is vulnerable to failure — particularly during high rainfall and storm weather events, including Cyclone Gabrielle.

We’ve worked with the community to create a prioritised plan for strengthening and stabilising some of the corridor’s most problematic slip and subsidence sites (places where the road is dropping out or slipping away).

  • About this project

    The Connecting Tairāwhiti programme, announced in 2018, includes $13.5m million for improving the resilience of SH35. This project has identified and prioritised a package of resilience improvements to strengthen and stabilise the road.

    As well as using a range of traditional engineering techniques, we are implementing a native planting programme to reduce erosion, improve stability, and manage the moisture content in the ground because we know that network failures on SH35 are largely due to erosion.

    Some of the other techniques we are using include:

    • deep soil mixing
    • benching and bulk earthworks
    • rock fall fences 
    • drainage improvements 
    • retaining structures
    • rock buttressing.
  • Project background

    Waka Kotahi is making resilience improvements in the Gisborne region on State Highway 35 (SH35)- which loops around the East Cape.

    During consultation on the detailed business case in 2019, stakeholders told us roads more able to withstand weather events would enable the economy to reach its potential, benefit tourism and improve access to essential services in main centres. It will also improve access for social opportunities for locals and visitors alike, and help the region meet climate change challenges.  

    Through the Connecting Tairāwhiti programme, the Provincial Growth Fund is investing $13.5 million into making these roads more resilient.

  • Project benefits

    The measures listed above aim to reduce the frequency and duration of disruption on the East Coast network. 

    It is estimated that there will be annual travel time savings and an improvement in the reliability of the road. The Connecting Tairāwhiti programme, including the Resilience and Passing Opportunities projects, will see a number of other benefits to the Tairāwhiti region:

    • Stronger relationships through proactive work with landowners, iwi and hapū groups in both the design and implementation phases of the project.
    • The programme will improve productivity of corridor land, through native plantings.
    • The project will create jobs across the programme.
    • Environmental benefits through reductions in travel time.

    SH2/SH35 passing opportunities project

  • What is a resilient road?

    A resilient road can withstand adversities and remain open and functional through unforeseen events, as well as day-to-day. People, whānau and businesses still need to get to where they’re going, so we want our roads to absorb and withstand disruptive events.

    A resilient road can perform effectively and adapt to changing conditions (including climate change) and recover quickly from disturbances.


Latest updates on Connecting Tairāwhiti Resilience project

The Connecting Tairāwhiti Resilience project aims to strengthen and stabilise State Highway 35 so it can remain open and functional during disruptions such as weather events – allowing locals, visitors and goods to get where they need to go.

  • SH35 Busby’s Hill realignment batters - UNDERWAY

    Works have kicked off at SH35 Busby’s Hill. This is remedial work due to the ground movement.

    Crews are reconstructing the slope and building a retaining wall for future resilience and protection of the state highway. 

    The expected completion date of the wider Busby’s Hill programme, which includes the construction of a southbound passing lane and layby, is September 2024.

     works have kicked off SH35 busby's hill

  • SH35 Turihaua Point scour – UNDERWAY

    Significant coastal erosion has occurred at Turihaua Point during recent storm events, leading to undercutting of some sections of the road carriageway. Emergency works have taken place to secure the shoreline, with the next phase being to build a rock revetment wall that will protect the vulnerable coastline for generations to come. This work is expected to take three months to complete, dependant on weather, and started January 2024.


Project partner

Provincial Growth Fund logo

This project is part of the Tairāwhiti roading package, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

The Provincial Growth Fund has allocated $13.5 million towards this project.

Provincial Growth Fund(external link)
NLTF: Gisborne/Tairāwhiti regional summary