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Project introduction

The Connecting Tairāwhiti – Resilience project aims to strengthen and stabilise State Highway 35 so it can remain open and functional during disruptions such as weather events – allowing locals, visitors and goods to get where they need to go.

  • Estimated project dates

    Nov 2020–Dec 2022
  • Project type

    Road improvements

Project updates

Have your say: SH35 speed review
SH35 speed review update
SH35 speed review update
SH35: Have your say by 6 December
SH35 resilience – potential sites for treatment
Project maps, (PDF)

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Between the end of 2020 and end-of-2022, Waka Kotahi is making resilience improvements at 28 sites  in the Gisborne region on State Highway 35 (SH35)- which loops around the East Cape.

During consultation on the detailed business case in 2019, stakeholders told us roads more able to withstand weather events would enable the economy to reach its potential, benefit tourism and improve access to essential services in main centres. It will also improve access for social opportunities for locals and visitors alike, and help the region meet climate change challenges.  

Through the Connecting Tairāwhiti programme, the National Land Transport Fund and the Provincial Growth Fund are investing $13.5 million into making these roads more resilient.

Project overview

The geology of the SH35 coastal route is unstable and highly erodible, and the road is vulnerable to failure — particularly during high rainfall and storm weather events.

Between 2011–2018, there were 16 road closures and 74 slips which has caused delays and restricted travel on the route. 

 We’ve worked with the community to create a prioritised plan for strengthening and stabilising some of the corridor’s most problematic slip and subsidence sites (places where the road is dropping out or slipping away). The length being considered for improvement in this project is approximately 196km, from Gisborne to Pōtaka.

What is a resilient road?

A resilient road can withstand adversities and remain open and functional through unforeseen events, as well as day-to-day. People, whānau and businesses still need to get to where they’re going, so we want our roads to absorb and withstand disruptive events.

A resilient road can perform effectively and adapt to changing conditions (including climate change) and recover quickly from disturbances.

About this project

The Connecting Tairāwhiti programme, announced in 2018, includes $13.5m million for improving the resilience of SH35.This project has identified and prioritised a package of resilience improvements to strengthen and stabilise the road..

As well as using a range of traditional engineering techniques, we are implementing a native planting programme to reduce erosion, improve stability, and manage the moisture content in the ground because we know that network failures on SH35 are largely due to erosion.

Some of the other techniques we are using include:

  • deep soil mixing
  • benching and bulk earthworks
  • rock fall fences 
  • drainage improvements 
  • retaining structures
  • rock buttressing.

Project benefits

The measures listed above aim to reduce the frequency and duration of disruption on the East Coast network. 

It is estimated that there will be an annual travel time saving of 2,030 hours, for the 277 road users who would experience increased travel due to weather disruption.  

As well as improving the reliability of the road, the Connecting Tairāwhiti programme, including the Resilience and Passing Opportunities projects, will see a number of other benefits to the Tairāwhiti region, including.

  • Stronger relationships through proactive work with landowners, iwi and hapū groups in both the design and implementation phases of the project  
  • the programme will improve productivity of corridor land, through native plantings and the opportunity for $20K per annum in increased Mānuka-derived products.
  • The project will create 21 jobs across the programme over the next 5 years. Based on minimum salary rates, it is estimated the short-term value is $3.56M over the 5-year construction programme.
  • 31 trainee opportunities will be generated.
  • Reductions in travel time reduces 16,691kg (16.69 tonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being emitted into the atmosphere each year, equating to 668 Tonnes of CO2 over the 40-year assessment period.
  • In addition, up to 267,362 additional native trees and shrubs will be across the project to remove another 55,325 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere over the next 40 years (1.38 tonnes per year on average).

See also SH2/SH35 passing opportunities project

Engaging the community

As the Connecting Tairāwhiti programme is delivered over the two-year programme, we will be keeping the community informed. We’ll be sending information out primarily by e-newsletters, website and Facebook updates so locals, visitors and businesses know how road improvements will impact their journey.

Keep up to date by:

Project partner

Provincial Growth Fund logo

This project is part of the Tairāwhiti roading package, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

The Provincial Growth Fund has allocated $13.5 million towards this project.

Provincial Growth Fund(external link)
NLTF: Gisborne/Tairāwhiti regional summary