Ōtaki to north of Levin project to provide opportunities for local business and rangatahi


"This is so much more than just construction.” That’s from Di Rump, the CEO of Levin-based Muaūpoko Tribal Authority who is referring to the new Ōtaki to north of Levin (Ō2NL) highway and walking and cycling path.

Representative from the local hapū of Ngāti Raukawa Hayden Turoa agrees Ō2NL is more than just a roading project.

“It is great to see hapū and iwi leadership guiding such an important project. This has enabled a unique approach that provides for wider community outcomes, inclusive of our marae and hapū across the district.”

Mrs Rump says a wide range of services will need to be provided during construction of the project and a wide range of skills will need developing - along with a large workforce.

“Being able to enter in this planning so early means our partnership can make the most of lead times to turn opportunities into reality for our whānau and our Hapori.”

Ō2NL project partners, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Muaūpoko Tribal Authority, local hapū of Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and council partner Horowhenua District Council are committed to realising opportunities it provides for leaving a positive legacy in the rohe and enabling current and future generations to thrive.

As a result, last week, owners from a variety of Horowhenua businesses attended a presentation co-hosted with The Horowhenua Company at Te Takeretanga o Kura-Hau-Pō in Levin to learn about the different opportunities that might be available to them and how the project intends to involve local businesses and support in areas they wish to develop.

Ō2NL Project Director Lonnie Dalzell says providing opportunities for Iwi, Māori and local businesses to be involved is critical to the project’s success.

“Ensuring our local Iwi, Māori and wider business community get to take part in the construction of the highway is one of our key legacy outcomes. It is a privilege to be led by our iwi and hapū partners as we seek to provide opportunities for these businesses to see economic benefit and to grow in their capabilities – which will have a lasting impact well beyond the end of construction,” says Mr Dalzell.

Mrs Rump says as project partners, Muaūpoko Tribal Authority is committed to playing a key role in connecting the community to projects such as Ō2NL. 

“This includes ensuring our own members, all Māori and local businesses have the opportunity to participate. We see this as paramount. Our people and our hapori must be part of the uplift in the region and in the benefits which come from this significant impact on our whenua which the highway represents.

“A project of this scale is once in a generation therefore we are seeking opportunities - not only for those currently in business, but also for those who aspire to owning their own business. There is no time like right now to look at how those aspirations may be fulfilled through Ō2NL.

To support the goal of providing opportunities for Iwi, Māori and local businesses to be involved, Iwi partners have been engaging with local Iwi and Māori businesses for some time to get an understanding of what support they might need for them to take part in construction of the highway and shared user path.

“We now need to get an understanding of the current market in the Horowhenua, Manawatū, and Greater Wellington regions,” says Mr Dalzell.

Iwi, Māori and local businesses in these regions with an interest in working on the project are being invited to complete a short online survey.

“The information gained from the survey, along with insights already gathered by Iwi partners, will support us to develop a plan for procuring sub-contractors, sub-consultants, and service providers, which will happen by early 2025,” says Mr Dalzell.

Alongside this, a procurement process for project alliance partners is currently underway.

“At the start of the month we released a request for proposal (RFP) seeking proposals for alliance partners. This is a significant milestone for the project and takes us a step closer to starting construction in 2025 and completing the new highway in the construction season of 2029,” says Mr Dalzell.

Supporting rangatahi is another important focus of the project, with plans in development for learning and work experience opportunities while construction of the highway is underway.

To help promote the wide variety of careers available in infrastructure, members of the Ō2NL project team attended the Future Pathways Expo late last week. The expo saw more than 40 businesses attend to give rangatahi a taste of some of the careers available to them, information on training and qualifications needed to get a job in their desired field, and a chance to meet and greet potential future employers.

“It was a great opportunity to speak with rangatahi about their aspirations and the wide variety of career pathways available to them in infrastructure,” says Mr Dalzell.

Mayor of Horowhenua Bernie Wanden says council is thrilled to be part of the Ō2NL highway project and the many opportunities it will bring to the district.

“The potential economic benefits for Horowhenua businesses will be on a scale not previously seen. The project will significantly enhance transportation infrastructure and improve connectivity, while also boosting the local economy and creating employment. We are eagerly anticipating the commencement of the actual build and impact it will have on the entire region's future."

For more information about Ōtaki to North of Levin and to sign-up to our newsletter, please visit the Ō2NL new highway project page.

Ōtaki to North of Levin new highway

Local businesses with an interest in working on the Ōtaki to North of Levin project can complete the survey by visiting our survey site.

Ō2NL local market survey page

Images above: Local events held recently to discuss Ō2NL.

Common Questions and Answers from last week’s business presentation

Are there particular targets for local/Maori/Pasifica involvement? How we are making sure that they are involved?

Waka Kotahi is committed to the Progressive Procurement Policy targets.

Progressive Procurement – Te Puni Kōkiri website(external link)

One of the reasons we are doing this exercise is to identify Māori and diverse suppliers within the region so we can set fit for purpose targets. Our partners, Muaūpoko Tribal Authority and hapū of Ngati Raukawa ki te Tonga, through their networks, are playing a key role in this ambition.  

What support will be available for local businesses?

It is our ambition to develop a targeted programme to connect local businesses with relevant training and development opportunities. We intend to have more information about these opportunities in the new year. Supporting businesses to upskill is a key legacy aim of the project.