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Blessing ahead of safety improvement construction at Tongaporutu and Rapanui

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A blessing was held this week to mark the start of construction on the Rapanui passing lane and an intersection upgrade at Tongaporutu on State Highway 3.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Acting Portfolio Delivery Manager Jo Wilton thanked kaitiaki Rae Hinerau Wetere for performing today’s blessing. The ceremony called for spiritual guidance and protection over the work and the people involved.

“We really appreciate support of local iwi for these improvements.

“The works will make the road safer, more resilient and more enjoyable to travel on. They involve widening a 1.6km section of highway north of Tongaporutu to create a northbound passing lane. At Tongaporutu we are widening the Clifton Road/SH3 intersection and installing side barriers,” says Ms Wilton.

Rae Hinerau Wetere says it was wonderful to bring everyone together to the whenua and acknowledge those who have come before and others who follow.

“It’s important for us to demonstrate manaakitanga. Our role is to keep everyone safe spiritually and physically,” says Rae Hinerau.

Some services for the Rapanui passing lane will be relocated in the lead-up to Christmas before earthworks get underway in the new year. The work, expected to be carried over two construction seasons, is due for completion in autumn 2022.

The passing lane and intersection upgrade are part of safety and resilience improvements on SH3 covering 58km between Awakino Gorge and Mt Messenger. Other work underway on the highway includes retaining walls that will be completed this year in the Awakino Gorge and near the Awakino River. A southbound passing lane at Ladies Mile is expected to be completed this month.

The improvements are a key component of a wider programme of SH3 work involving bypasses of the Awakino Tunnel and Mt Messenger.

Kaitiaki Rae Hinerau Wetere leading the blessing at Rapanui.

Kaitiaki Rae Hinerau Wetere led the blessing at Rapanui.

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