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Historic Taranaki Bridge Restored

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Internal Affairs

4 June 2006
Media Release
Historic Taranaki Bridge Restored

Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker said today that he was pleased that $127,000 from the Lottery Environment and Heritage Committee was contributed to the restoration of the Bertrand Road Suspension Bridge that was officially opened in Taranaki today.

The suspension bridge, originally built in 1897, has undergone major restoration work to restore it to its former glory and future utility. The opening was attended by Lottery Environment and Heritage Committee member Lorraine Wilson, who presented a plaque on behalf of the Lottery Grants Board in recognition of the work.

Mr Barker said the bridge was registered as a category two heritage site with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, and was an important local amenity.

“For almost 90 years, this bridge was the only link between the isolated farming districts of Tikorangi and Huirangi/Lepperton,.

“This has been a heartening community effort that acknowledges the importance of this historic Taranaki icon. I hope this beautifully restored, functioning bridge will serve its community for another century," he said.

Community co-operation supported the Bertrand Road Suspension Bridge Trust, which was set up to raise funds to rebuild the structure and included a ‘buy a plank’ fundraising scheme, and a ‘spellathon’ at the local Tikorangi school.

"During the construction of the original bridge in 1897, builders used a steel flying fox to ferry children to and from the local Tikorangi school. Most floods have passed safely underneath the structure, and many reinforcements have kept the bridge functioning for the better part of a century.

"However, time had taken its toll on the structure, and it was eventually closed to all traffic in 1985," he said.

The restoration project was managed by the New Plymouth District Council, which is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the suspension bridge. The project used as much of the original design and authentic materials as possible. The cable anchor blocks and steelwork, which were still in good condition, were retained.

"It's important that funding is applied to local icons like this. They add to the character and charm of many New Zealand destinations, and contribute to an overall sense of national identity when visitors pass by.

"I support work such as this because it restores pride in local communities, and brings about a uniqueness in what we identify within our communities," he said.


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