Construction underway on major new Wellington infrastructure project


The first steps are being taken in a major infrastructure project in the capital that will significantly improve transport resilience and provide a new walking and cycling path between Wellington and Lower Hutt.

Together with iwi mana whenua, Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika, Waka Kotahi has today celebrated the new Tāwharau Pods buildings, built as part of the Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One section of Te Ara Tupua. The pods are small buildings which will become a project information centre and studio workspace for iwi Māori artists creating works to be installed on the project.

Minister of Transport Michael Wood and Te Ara Tupua, partners. Te Hura a Tai event, Honiana Te Puni Reserve)

Building the Tāwharau Pods is the first step in constructing the $311.9 million project. It is also an important milestone for Taranaki Whānui, one of two iwi partners in the project. The whenua of the Reserve is owned by Taranaki Whānui, following its return to the iwi as part of the Treaty Settlement process.

Jetesh Bhula, Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery, says the project is a critical investment in resilience and will help ensure transport links and coastal protection between Wellington and Lower Hutt are strengthened and future-proofed.

“Building a stronger coastal edge will give extra protection to the rail lines and State Highway 2 and protect the new path. In the past, storms have caused damage to the rail line resulting in chaos and delays for commuters. The new coastal edge will mean the route is ready for severe weather likely to increase due to climate change.”

“Being further out from the hillside, on the seaward side of the rail line, means the path can provide a lifeline connection in the event of slips that may block the highway after an earthquake or heavy rain.”

Mr Bhula says the shared pathway also improves transport choices for residents and adds a new attraction to the Wellington region.

“People wanting to travel between the Hutt Valley and Wellington will no longer be restricted to rail, road or bus. The path will allow people to go by e-scooter, bike or walk. It will let people reconnect with the coastline and help achieve our climate change targets when it joins other projects along a 17 km-long corridor between Wellington and the Hutt Valley.”

Kim Skelton, Chair of Te Ara Tupua Mana Whenua Steering Group, says the event is an important moment for the partnership project.

“The construction of the Tāwharau Pods is a key milestone for us as Taranaki Whānui, as it represents a regeneration of iwi presence on iwi-owned land. For us, Te Ara Tupua is about reconnecting our people to our whenua and Te Whanganui a Tara, the harbour. The project is a chance to share our narratives through the construction of major infrastructure and to create future prosperity for our people.”

The Pods will first be used as the information centre and studio workspace and remain on the Reserve after the project, owned by Taranaki Whānui.