A celebration of the start of construction works for the Kaituna River Re-diversion and Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi Maketu Estuary Enhancement Project was held in mid-June.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Kaituna catchments project manager Pim de Monchy says it was a chance to celebrate the start of work the community has called for since 1979, and wish the contractors, cultural monitors and other contributors well for their work ahead.
The public event included karakia (prayers) and speeches on June 12, with the main contractor, J Swap Contractors Limited, starting staff briefings and set-up work straight after the ceremony.
BOPRC began feasibility assessments for the project in 2013. Eighteen different methods and options were considered before proceeding with detailed design, consultation, land acquisition, and consent application processes to prepare for the construction works that started last month.
The project is due for completion by June 30, 2020. It will return an average of 600,000m3 of fresh water from the Kaituna River into Te Awa o Ngatoroirangi Maketu Estuary on every tidal cycle.
Prior to 1956, the Kaituna River naturally flowed into Maketu Estuary some or all of the time. Pim says the original diversion was done to protect the low-lying farmland from flooding and improve drainage.
“But the result has been a loss of estuary health that’s not acceptable to iwi and the wider community. “So we’ve found a way to help restore estuary health while maintaining existing levels of flood protection and boat access through Te Tumu Cut.”
The $13.5m construction project includes creation of a new channel to carry freshwater from the river into a new inlet structure at Ford’s Cut. Existing stopbanks will be shifted and upgraded. Ford’s channel will be widened and the Ford Road boat ramp will be upgraded.
Some road and boat ramp closures will temporarily disrupt boating and fishing access to Ford Rd and Te Tumu Cut from August 1.