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Motu Wheteke Blessing Marks Reopening Of Quarry For Pouto Road Sealing Project

Motu Wheteke blessing, Ripia Marae resized.

Earlier this month Rīpia Marae representatives blessed the site of Motu Wheteke, ahead of physical works starting at the quarry. Kaipara District Council contractors are preparing to reopen the site, primarily for the Provincial Development Unit-supported Pouto Road sealing project. Also known as Greenhill, Motu Wheteke is located on the east side of Pouto Road, south of Te Kopuru. Metal extracted from the Council-owned quarry has previously been used to maintain council roads along Pouto Peninsula.

Over the last year Rīpia Marae, Te Uri o Hau, and Council staff have met to discuss the work being undertaken, and what the site could look like when it is restored. Motu Wheteke is one of five connected maunga in the area, alongside Maungaraho, Tokatoka, Kewi Pahutei, and Okiriaha, and is culturally significant.

The metal extracted from the quarry will be used to seal Pouto Road. The work is part of the Kaipara KickStart programme, led by Council and supported with funds from the Provincial Development Unit, to invest in economic growth and improve community wellbeing and road safety. Approximately 96,000m3 of metal will be required for the 21 km sealing project, all of which will come from the Motu Wheteke quarry site. Up to 5,000m3 per year will also be used to maintain Council roads in the area.

Utilising Motu Wheteke to provide the metal for Pouto Road will see significant cost savings – estimated to be upwards of $750,000 for the project – and reduce the impact of construction traffic coming through Dargaville. The next closest commercial quarry that could supply the metal to the Pouto peninsula is a 48km round trip from Motu Wheteke, further away at Arapohue.

Other key benefits include reducing the nuisance to nearby residents and road users, mitigating carbon emissions from reduced transportation, and minimising heavy vehicle movements on Council’s wider roading network.

Metal production is estimated to be completed by June 2022, with an end date no later than June 2026. When production is completed the Council will be working closely with Rīpia Marae to restore the site as a community reserve.

The contract has been awarded to Ventia and sealing the first 10km of Pouto Road (Phase 1) is due to start the next two months, once all consents have been completed.

Kaipara District Council General Manager for Infrastructure Services Jim Sephton is delighted to get the ball rolling on one of the largest roading projects undertaken in Kaipara.

“It’s vital that decisions like this are made in consultation with our mana whenua and I’m so pleased that Rīpia Marae is supporting the Council to use the quarry. By reopening Motu Wheteke we will see huge cost savings for the Pouto Road seal project, a mammoth undertaking at around 21 km long.”

Rīpia Marae representative, Violet Hutchinson, says marae members are looking forward to seeing the Motu Wheteke site developed for the benefit of the community.

“Rīpia Marae support the Pouto Road sealing project and the mahi being undertaken at Motu Wheteke. Our relationship with KDC has strengthened as a result of the conversations and meetings that have taken place over the last twelve months and we’re looking forward to these conversations continuing. It’s important that the community is aware of the cultural significance of the site and we will be working with the Council to ensure this is told as part of the remediation.”

The Council road to the quarry has been closed since work started, as Ventia remove water and prepare the site. The initial blast and subsequent drilling will take place in the next fortnight, with production beginning immediately following the blast.

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