Associate Transport minister, Shane Jones, plants a commemorative kauri

Highway link an economic boost

by Paul Campbell

Tourism, business and investment are all benefits that are expected to flow on to Kaipara and Northland from the new alignment of State Highway 12, which includes the replacement of two one-way bridges at Matakohe.

The $31 million NZ Transport Agency-led project was officially opened by Associate Transport minister Shane Jones last Friday when he planted a kauri tree overlooking the site.

“It’s appropriate to plant kauri on this day and in this place — to bring together the old and the new,” he said.

Northland Inc’s acting CEO, Vaughan Cooper, said the completion of the project would “help bridge the gap for Northland.”

“The 2.5km alignment through Matakohe will add substantially to the safety and accessibility of the region.

“It is imperative that we keep upgrading our infrastructure and the new road alignment will undoubtedly make it a safer, more connected region for our community and our many visitors, both domestic and international.

“Just as importantly, it will help with dispersal. It will encourage and make it far easier for visitors, and investors, too, for that matter — to head north-west and experience this historic area.

“The Twin Coast Discovery Route, which encompasses the Ancient Kauri Trail, our westernmost journey, is a must-see for visitors, and I’ve no doubt this project will significantly contribute to the growth of tourism along the route.

“The Ancient Kauri Trail, which runs from Maungaturoto to the Hokianga, is a journey of vivid contrasts, stretching through farmland, villages, the ruggedly beautiful beaches of the west coast, to the towering kauri forests.”

Mr Cooper said the revitalisation of the Twin Coast Discovery Route is an important programme within the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan, which is being facilitated and supported by the region’s economic development agency.

“It is also vital that goods and services are moved efficiently and swiftly through State Highway 12.”

Mr Jones also commended the contribution of local iwi, Te Uri o Hau, who provided names for the two new bridges.

Te Piringatahi Bridge, which replaces the old Hardies Bridge, means ‘bringing together as one’. It is 191 metres long and stands 15 metres above the Matakohe River while Te Ao Marama Hou, which replaced Anderson Bridge and spans the Parerau Stream translates to ‘moving from the past into the future.’