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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi and the Mt Messenger Alliance are looking forward to restarting work that has been paused for more than three weeks while a small group of people were unlawfully occupying a work site for the Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass project at the summit of Mt Messenger, following their departure today.

Contractors on Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass stopped work at two of the project’s construction sites on Monday 15 August after a makeshift camp was set-up beyond security fencing at the summit of Mt Messenger on Sunday 14 August.

Waka Kotahi Project Sponsor, Sarah Downs, says the camp was located within an active worksite, presenting a safety risk.

“Safety is the highest priority for Waka Kotahi and throughout the occupation our focus has been on the safety of our contractors, those unlawfully occupying the site and the traveling public. In order to keep everyone safe, our contractors stopped work in this area.”

Work was also halted at the northern anchor point for the project’s 1.1km future cableway, as the presence of people within the makeshift camp at the summit prevented the Alliance from continuing helicopter operations necessary for this work.

Work was able to continue on other areas of the project, including the cableway’s southern anchor point and the main project compound, as well as the major environmental and pest management programme, which has seen the first new tracks being formed for a 3,650ha pest management area on either side of the bypass, as well as the start of seedling production for the early stages of a 32ha programme of forest, wetland and riparian planting.

“We want to thank the NZ Police, LINZ, project neighbours, our mana whenua partner Ngāti Tama and stakeholders for their support, which enabled today’s resolution to the unlawful occupation.”

Waka Kotahi does not expect the occupation to have had any significant impact on plans to begin main construction in October this year.

The project will provide safer journeys, be more resilient to the local weather, ground and geographic conditions, protect and ultimately enhance the surrounding environment and biodiversity, and offer reliable passage in and out of North Taranaki.

“We know the majority of people in Taranaki are as keen as we are to see the bypass constructed as soon as possible and our team is excited to get back to work.”