A karakia and blessing was held earlier this week before work began on a major flood mitigation project in Kawerau.

Tūwharetoa Kaumatua and Reverend Paora Hunia carried out the blessing and karakia acknowledging the sacred Pūtauaki Maunga, the connection of Iwi to the whenua, the waterway and wished the work crews well.

Kawerau District Mayor Malcolm Campbell thanked Reverend Paora Hunia for his blessing and said the project was important to protect nearby homes and properties from the potential of flooding during periods of heavy rainfall as had occurred in the past.

Mayor Campbell was joined at the ceremony by Deputy Mayor Faylene Tunui and Councillors Aaron Rangihika, Warwick Godfery, Rex Savage, Berice Julian and David Sparks.

Waiotahi Contractors began the works after the blessing which entailed replacing two existing multiple pipe culverts along River Road with structures three times the existing capacity to allow for extreme rainfall events. The culvert would be replaced with a one that is 3.5m wide and 1.5m high.

The downstream culvert at the Cobham Drive area is being worked on first which means River Road will be closed from 262 to 264 River Road until 9 December.

Bus students who live around the Cobham Drive and Ward Street area can catch the school bus at the River Road Dairy or at Life Konnect (the former Kawerau Intermediate School) during the first of the two closures for pick up.

School bus pickup times remain unchanged.

River Road will be reopened during the Christmas period.

Work will then start on the upstream culvert by the Council’s water treatment plant in early January.

Waiotahi Contractors will take a total of 12 weeks to carry out the two replacements utilising a crew of five full-time to work on the sites and additional people as required.

Council apologises for the inconvenience to residents during this closure and is looking forward to the flood mitigation project being completed.