Experiential journey.
Te Ahu a Turanga.


The 11.5km route of Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway, will offer users a new way to experience the Manawatū gorge while strengthening the cultural landscape of the area. This major infrastructure project has been designed with shared pathways linking immersive rest areas and dramatic viewing platforms, all connected to the wider trail network and set amongst the planting of over two million trees and shrubs. Meaningful iwi partnership with the award-winning Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance has established a benchmark for what it means to co-design with mana whenua.

A major slip in April 2017 left SH3 through the Manawatū Gorge impassable. Image Waka Kotahi NZTA.

In April 2017, the Manawatū Gorge suffered a major landslip severing State Highway 3 between Ashhurst and Woodville. The scenic route through the Manawatū Gorge has been closed ever since.

Three years later, Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency) started construction on Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway, an alternative route for SH3 between Ashurst and Woodville, over the Ruahine Ranges. Bridging the Manawatū, skirting around native bush and passing through the Te Apiti Wind Farm this will be quite a different experiential journey to the old Gorge route; there will be places to stop and connect with the landscape, not just pass to through.

Cultural mapping embeds the narrative of the area and reveals opportunities for connection to the landscape.

The new highway represents an opportunity to maintain a presence and contact with the Manawatū Gorge while at the same time creating new experiences for users. A shared-use path meanders along the edge of the highway, offering opportunities to experience the regenerating native forests by foot or bike. Stopping areas and platforms showcase the scale of Te Āpiti Windfarm and foreground the dramatic changes in landscape as the users traverse the Ruahine Ranges.

Enhancing the mauri of the Manawatū River was integral to
Te Ahu a Turanga.

New shared use tracks connect visitors to a wetland experience.  

A gateway park formalises the entrance to the Manawatū Scenic Reserves while providing access to the new Parahaki Bridge and viewing platform, the shared-use path, and the wider tracks and trails network. Repurposed construction roads expand on the existing trails to connect the gateway park to Saddle Road, linking the culturally and ecologically significant sites along the journey.

Pathways allow users to discover wider landscape with connections to Te Apiti, Gorge Walkway, and Parahaki Island.

Enhancing the ecology of the Manawatū Gorge is a critical driver for the project. The project includes planting approximately 46ha of native forest, protecting and enhancing a further 48ha of existing forest, undertaking pest control in 300ha of forest reserve and rehabilitating 28km of streams by planting 110ha of waterway catchments. Over 2 million native trees and shrubs will be planted, massively expanding the ecological resilience and diversity of the Manawatū Gorge.

Expanding ecological resilience and biodiversity.

The Te Ahu a Turanga Manawatū Tararua Highway is the first Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency project with both Crown and Iwi representation—Rangitāne o Manawatū, Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-a-Rua, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua, Te Runanga o Raukawa (Ngāti Raukawa and Nga Kaitiaki ō Ngāti Kauwhata)—on the project leadership board, and serves as a benchmark for future Waka Kotahi projects.

Collaboration with mana whenua artists Warren Warbrick, Sandy Adsett, and James Molnar, has resulted in integrated cultural expression, with works embedded at key moments in the journey.

A viewing platform on the Parahaki Bridge is stitched into the structure by a sculptural Aurei pin—traditionally used to fix adornments to the cloak—supporting the concept of physical connection with the landscape.

Aurei Pin and Taniko Pattern by Warren Warbrick.

The Alliance Partnership is underpinned by the concept of Waka Tangata and the whakataukī He waka eke noa – we are all in this together. This strengthens the idea of shared values and is what binds the Alliance Partnership together. These shared values are the backbone of the Te Whare Tūāpapa Raranga o Papatūānuku me ōna Ahurea (Cultural & Environmental Design Framework) document which sets the vision for the project.

Parahaki Island at the mouth of the Manawatū Gorge, reimagined in its historical cultural use as a Mahinga kai site (community garden).

Te Whare Tūāpapa Raranga o Papatūānuku me ōna Ahurea outlines eleven values critical to fulfilling the vision for the project (right). These values underpin the two key principles that guide the project outcome:

Tread Lightly:
Careful consideration of the environmental footprint of the project.

Enduring Community Outcomes:
Consideration of the lasting community outcomes that can be realised from the project.

Recognises that the spiritual is critical to personal and collective wellbeing and respecting the diverse cultures and beliefs.

Develops and maintains a unity of purpose and direction towards a shared vision for the Te Ahu a Turanga Highway Project.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi
The foundation of the Project Partnership for the key shared behaviours including Rangatitiratanga (professionalism), Ūkaipotanga (looking after each other) and Pukengatanga (respecting others).

Acknowledges each other’s mana, different perspectives and ways of working.

Tino Rangatiratanga
Respects obligations and accountabilities outside of the immediate project.

Places the environment and sustainability at the heart of our work, and recognising our role as stewards for future generations.

Brings belonging and connection and a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging.

Connects all things not only people for example the whakapapa or relationships of the Manawatū River and the many streams and groundwater systems that contribute to it.

Te Ahu a Turanga provides reconnection between regions and to the landscape.

“Te Ahu a Turanga will result in positive changes in the way planning, design and consenting on major infrastructure projects occurs in future, with higher levels of participation and collaboration at the centre to achieve improved project outcomes.”
– Lonnie Dalzell, Waka Kotahi

Team Members
Grant Bailey, Travis McGee, Scott Wigglesworth, Mihali Katsougiannis, Hannah Carson,
Past Team Members

Bruce McKenzie
Danny Turgeon

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Mana whenua Partners
Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance
Rangitāne o Manawatū
Rangitāne o Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua
Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua
Te Rūnanga o Raukawa

Iwi Kaimahi
Alice Jonathan
Wayne Kiriana
Justin Tamihana
Hineirirangi Carberry
Jo Heperi
Siobhan Lynch-Karaitiana

Mana whenua artists
Warren Warbrick
Sandy Adsett
James Molnar

Fulton Hogan
HEB Construction
WSP Opus
Tonkin + Taylor
Gaia Engineers

Parahaki Island Trustees
Jean Te Huia
Rob Karatiana

2021 NZPI Winner Best Practice Award – Consultation and Participation Strategies and/or Processes