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Isolated community is reconnected at Whatatutu

Friday 12 May, 2023

The road to recovery is well underway as another connection has been established for a rural community isolated since Cyclone Gabrielle.

Residents of Te Kowhai Rd in Whatatutu can now cross the river by car after a temporary causeway opened on Tuesday.

The causeway spans the Waipaoa River and restores access after the old Mangatai Access Bridge washed away during Cyclone Gabrielle.

Council Community Lifeline Director David Wilson says, “It will stay in place while planning is underway for the construction of the replacement bridge, which will start being built in around 12-18 months”.

“Council staff and contractors worked hard to get this temporary solution open.

“We really want to acknowledge the challenging time it’s been for residents on the other side.”

Residents of Te Kowhai Road had been crossing the river in a dingy or taking a 45-minute trip by horseback to get to the other side of the river for supplies or a visit to town.

Mr Wilson says two large culverts have also been installed to help deal with high river flows at the site during rain. The two remaining spans of the old bridge, one on either side of the river, were used to create the causeway between them.

“We’d also like to thank our contractors Fulton Hogan who worked hard to get this open.

“Their crew will be using this temporary causeway themselves so they can now progress up Te Kowhai Rd to remove slips and open the road to even more residents. It cost around $200,000.”

To keep up to date with the road to recovery in our region after Cyclone Gabrielle visit Council’s website.

Photo captions: Images of the new temporary causeway to Te Kowhai Road in Whatatutu that has provided access again to rural residents. Reinstating access to isolated rural communities cut off since Cyclone Gabrielle is well underway. See Council’s website to keep up to date on the road to recovery.

Causeway Te Kowhai

Causeway at Te Kowhai

Te Kowhai temporary causeway

Pictures below show all that remained of the old Mangatai Access Bridge after Cyclone Gabrielle. The remaining spans on either side of the river were able to be reused to build a temporary causeway so the community on the other side is no longer isolated.

Old bridge at Te Kowhai

Te Kowhai old bridge