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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance has been awarded a prestigious national award for excellence in consultation and participation from the New Zealand Planning Institute.

An awards ceremony was held in Nelson on 24 March at the NZPI 2021 conference, recognising outstanding creativity, innovation and service across the planning sector. Te Ahu a Turanga Alliance won the NZPI Best Practice Award for consultation and participation strategies and/or processes.

At the heart of the nomination was the vital role iwi partnership has played in the planning stages of the project, culminating in an historic ‘first’ – Te Ahu a Turanga is the first major infrastructure project in New Zealand to have iwi involved from the outset, as project partners at governance level and in roles throughout the Alliance.

“Te Ahu a Turanga represents a new paradigm for Iwi-Crown relations and provides a pathway to a partnership model for the co-design of infrastructure in Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Lonnie Dalzell, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Owner Interface Manager.

“We are delighted and humbled to receive this award, which recognises the work of our planning and design teams as well as the genuine and ongoing intention to honour te Tiriti o Waitangi in everything we do.

“The fact that the planning and design consents were able to go through so smoothly, and in several instances with overwhelming support and in an unprecedented time, is a direct reflection of iwi participation within the Alliance and the project.”

Four iwi representatives are on the governance board for Te Ahu a Turanga, representing Rangitāne o Manawatū, Rangitāne o Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki-nui-a-Rua and Te Rūnanga o Raukawa (Ngāti Raukawa ki Te Tonga and Ngāti Kauwhata). Te Ahu a Turanga is also managed in collaboration with Te Āpiti Ahu Whenua Trust representatives of Parahaki Island landowners. 

Project Kaiārahi, Kingi Kiriona, says strong iwi representation has made for a unique and targeted approach towards delivering outcomes for iwi and Māori.

“The scope of the project is broader than building a highway. We are building resilience in our communities and have a goal of increasing Māori employment in the region.

“We have also appointed a Kaikōkiri to champion the delivery of te reo Māori and cultural protocols on behalf of iwi, which we understand is another ‘first’ for infrastructure projects nationally.” 

Consent to build the new highway that will reconnect Ashhurst and Woodville over the Ruahine Ranges was concluded in the Environment Court in a single day last year – unprecedented for a project of this scale and with so many overlapping interests.

“The award is recognition of the significant amount of effort that has gone into developing a genuine partnership, using the treaty principles as our guide,” says Mr Dalzell.

“Te Ahu a Turanga will result in positive changes in the way planning, design and consenting on major infrastructure projects occurs in future, with higher levels of participation and collaboration at the centre to achieve improved project outcomes.”

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