Date: 04 March 2021
The upgrade consists of 720 metres of 1.2 metre wide boardwalks from the Pouakai Hut Down to the Pouakai Tarns, and 650 metres of 1.2 metre wide boardwalks across the Ahukawakawa wetland.
These will replace the existing track, which has been deteriorating, resulting in visitors diverting off the path and onto the fragile vegetation and eco-system.
Work on the new boardwalks commenced in January, beginning with Karakia led by local iwi to ensure the safe and successful passage of the construction works and workers.
“Work is progressing well with significant amount of boardwalk completed across the Ahukawakawa wetland,” says Gareth Hopkins, Taranaki iwi Operations Manager for Department of Conservation (DOC).
He says DOC and Ngā Mahanga a Tairi representatives have been working collaboratively since 2019 on cultural and environmental impacts as well as the design of the boardwalks.
The relationship is intended to make informed and sustainable decisions to protect and enhance the mauri (life force) of the culturally significant areas of Ahukawakawa and Pouakai.
“Ngā Mahanga a Tairi have been involved in monitoring as part of the environmental impact assessment.
“We are looking forward to the long-term benefits to the wetland and visitors this boardwalk will bring.”
Greg Hafoka, Managing Director for Milton and Harward Construction Limited says recruiting local people was a focus for the company’s involvement in the work.
“When we tendered for this work, we undertook to try and recruit local iwi members to provide work opportunity for unemployed people, as well as adding to their skills.
“One of the local hapu members approached us through the local DOC office as he is back from Australia due to COVID-19. We are delighted to have his younger brother joining us too. “
“Taranaki iwi responded and have connected us with four great guys who have some skills, need work and will upskill some more with us. We hope these six men can bring their new skills back to their whanau and iwi to benefit the region.”
“We are especially excited to have these iwi members on our team because caring for the Maunga is an enriching spiritual experience too. They are contributing to a legacy of care and community amenity that will be there for many years to come.”
The wider Taranaki Crossing project (which includes conservation work, track upgrades and visitor centre improvements) is supported by a $13 million Government investment administered by the Provincial Development Unit (PDU), and $4.9 million ($1.8 million capex and $3.1 million operating) of funding from the Department of Conservation.
Visitors are urged to be mindful of the construction work in these areas over the next few weeks, and there may be diversions in place.
The Taranaki Crossing project seeks to develop a high-quality visitor experience on Taranaki Maunga in Egmont National Park. The Taranaki Crossing refers to the main track network enabling visitors to travel by foot from Dawson Falls along the slopes of the maunga, across the Ahukawakawa wetland and over the Pouakai Ranges to the end of Mangorei Rd. The journey can be experienced as a series of day walks or a multi-day tramp.