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Students Connect Council and Maori Land

Students Connect Council and Maori Land

Chris Carter presenting students and staff with certificates after the official opening of the bridge

Site before the bridge was built

Students all working together on the bridge

A diverse group of thirty young people joined together this week to construct a foot bridge joining an Auckland City Council reserve with Ngãti Whãtua land near Orakei Marae.

The building of the bridge was part of a two day event called ‘Bridging the Gap’ run by Ethnic Voice New Zealand.

The event, opened by Dr Peter Sharples on Monday morning, aimed to bring together youth from both New Zealand and a wide variety of ethnic communities, to continue to break down barriers and promote understanding among young New Zealanders.

The building of the bridge was the main activity of the event and a physical representation of the overall theme.

Guided by David Easey, a Senior Structural Engineer at engineering consultancy firm Maunsell and the watchful eye of experienced builders, the students had six hours to construct the bridge from detailed drawings.

The students were split into teams, each working on different aspects of the project. All the students had the opportunity to contribute to the physical construction throughout the day and and completed the bridge by personalising and securing their own tiles and floorboards.

New Zealand Human Rights Commissioner Joris de Bres addressed the students at the site over lunch and discussed New Zealand’s race relations history as well as the draft Statement on Race Relations released in late August.

Education Minister Chris Carter officially opened the bridge on Tuesday afternoon signifying the continuing bridging of relationships between Maori and the government. The bridge was then blessed with a karakia by Ngãti Whãtua.

All those who participated in the project were presented with certificates by Mr Carter, acknowledging their contribution to the building of the bridge.

Maunsell was a main sponsor and David Easey represented the company on both Monday night, helping the students design a bridge, and on Tuesday during construction.

Mr Easey says, “it’s not often we (engineers) get the opportunity to give back to the community in which we work, in such a way as this. Helping and watching these students work together and having so much fun throughout the project was very fulfilling.”

The youth from a variety of countries including Japan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands aged between 15 – 19 years attended the Office of Ethnic Affairs and Ethnic Voice NZ fully funded two day event.


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