Mana whenua, community support sees Bailey bridge construction set to get underway


A blessing ceremony led by Dr Wayne Ngata (Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngati Ira and Ngati Porou) with support from Mark Kopua and Iwiata Williams this morning has paved the way for construction of a temporary Bailey bridge to replace the Hikuwai #1 bridge, which was destroyed during Cyclone Gabrielle, to get underway from Monday.

Waka Kotahi Regional Manager Maintenance and Operations, Jaclyn Hankin, says the blessing is symbolic of the unprecedented support from mana whenua and families based on the coast for the temporary Bailey bridge, which will help reconnect communities in the area that have been cut off since Cyclone Gabrielle.

“We’ve been working closely with mana whenua and the Tokomaru Bay community in particular, to progress the bridge as quickly as possible.

“While our team has been working on the bridge design, consents and other logistics like services and utilities relocation, mana whenua have pulled out all the stops to deliver a cultural impact assessment for the works in record time. I'm keen to recognise the effort of Dr Wayne Ngata in particular, who has put many hours of work into this.”

The design was discussed at an online hui for the Tokomaru Bay community on Wednesday afternoon.

It will be 85 metres long, approximately the same height as the Hikuwai #2 and #3 bridges and will be able to take vehicles up to 50 tonne.

Ms Hankin says construction of the bridge is expected to take around two months, although this timeline was weather dependent.

“Initial work will be focused on building the work platform, the bridge approaches and installing the piers across the river.

“The bridge itself will come from our Bailey bridge depot in Hawke’s Bay, with the crane needed to assemble the bridge coming from Tauranga.”

In the meantime, work continues on the community-led temporary diversion road across private land, which will open a vital temporary route until a permanent solution is in place.

Pourau Incorporation (Potae family) are the landowners for the temporary diversion route and have also provided access to their land to accommodate the temporary Bailey bridge.

Pourau Inc. Chairman, Philip Hope (Te Whanau o Ruataupare te hapu, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti te iwi, Ngati Porou te iwi) says the Potae whānau has been pleased to support these important projects in conjunction with Kuru Contracting and Gisborne District Council.

“The Bailey bridge, in tandem with the bypass road through our whenua, will be key to the recovery effort and provide a lifeline for health, education and social services to function.

“These roads will also help prevent far greater economic impacts on primary industry, which is critical to sustaining business and families based on the coast.”

Waka Kotahi is supportive of the diversion road and efforts to reconnect isolated communities like Tokomaru Bay. It will work with Ngāti Porou and landowners around access for the public, and with Kuru Contracting, to provide funding toward construction. This funding will draw from the additional $250m crown funding allocated to emergency works, announced on 20 February 2023.

As well as a financial contribution, Waka Kotahi will continue to offer advice regarding safety measures and engineering standards to ensure the road is constructed to the correct standard.

About Bailey bridges  

  • A Bailey bridge is a prefabricated temporary single-lane bridge. They can be installed relatively quickly — anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the site conditions, the length of the bridge, further weather events, and access to the site. They provide an important temporary connection while the damaged bridge is repaired or rebuilt.
  • The Bailey bridge ‘kit set’ systems are ideal for use in emergency situations (such as when bridges collapse or are washed out) and as temporary structures for planned events such as roading projects.
  • Where possible, Bailey bridges are designed to accommodate all road legal vehicles.  In some instances, they may be limited to 50MAX, and other other restrictions may be imposed if bridge is installed on a route which has limits on the weight or size of vehicles permitted.
  • Waka Kotahi manages a national supply of Bailey bridges, and has a contract with Downer for the installation of the superstructure.
  • The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is overseeing the supply of civil defence emergency bridging stock (Bailey bridges) to replace infrastructure damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent severe weather events in the North Island, including the prioritisation of sites for bridge replacement.