Ngāti Tama backs the Mt Messenger Bypass

Ngāti Tama backs the Mt Messenger Bypass

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Tama Chair Paul Silich announced today the Iwi’s support for entering agreements with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency that sees a modern $200m bypass of hazardous road on State Highway 3 at Mt Messenger in north Taranaki.

This announcement is the result of the Iwi’s vote on Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Tama’s resolution to accept Waka Kotahi’s offer. Support from at least 75 percent of those who voted was needed to get it across line. This was surpassed, with 82 percent of voters agreeing with the Trustees’ support for the bypass and agreements.

Over the past months, the Board has carried out comprehensive engagement with its members to share information on the Mt Messenger Bypass project and the agreements on offer.

“We knew the agreements were good for our iwi, and this vote confirms it. 61% of our members voted, which is high and indicative of their strong interest.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank our membership for supporting a new, safer and more resilient road at Mt Messenger. We’re humbled by their support and welcome their ongoing involvement in the project – including those who may not have been in favour of the agreements,” said Paul.

“Most people we spoke with knew the road was no longer fit for purpose. As one of our kuia said, we need to listen to people who know about safer roads and how to build them.”

“Our people have lived in this area for many generations, and at one time we were responsible for holding back invasions into Taranaki from the north. This time, we can help protect lives and livelihoods. The new road will benefit all our communities. This pandemic has shown us just how reliant we are on securing highways for our essential goods.”

20 hectares of Ngāti Tama land is to be used for the new road, and, in exchange, the Iwi will receive a 120ha of coastal property, a cultural compensation payment and an environmental programme that includes pest management in perpetuity on 3,650ha in the rohe.

“This is a huge win for the environment, for Taranaki and for our Iwi,” said Paul.

“Pests are destroying our native species, and this provides an incredible opportunity to get rid of them and allow native flora and fauna to regenerate. Other parts of the agreement allow for a cultural narrative along the route which tells some of our history in the form of designs and pou.”

“Taranaki’s a great place to live and this will provide our region with muchneeded economic benefits. We’re hoping this will attract more people home. For us, this is an exciting and challenging time. As partners in the bypass project, we have mahi to get on with to prepare for the work ahead.”

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