The NZ Transport Agency’s SH20A to Airport project is one of four Government accelerated transport projects for the Auckland Region, which aims to improve access to Auckland Airport and enable better transport connections to regional ports and industries. The project involves upgrading an existing 5km stretch of SH20A north of the Airport to motorway standards, constructing a grade-separated intersection at Kirkbride Road by trenching the motorway, and enabling alternative modes of transport via shared paths and cycle ways.
The project takes place within three separate creek catchments, draining to the culturally significant Manukau Harbour, that contain significant areas of commercial and industrial land uses that lack sufficient stormwater treatment capabilities. As such, ensuring that the environmental and cultural values of the harbour were maintained during and after construction of the project became primary objectives of the Manukau Harbour Crossing
– Kirkbride Alliance team. Furthermore, the flat topography of the area and the underlying peat presented significant design challenges that limited working design solutions.
To achieve the project stormwater objectives, the project team invited mana whenua with kaitiaki over the Harbour to engage with the design teams to identify their concerns and preferences. What started with a typical approach to iwi engagement, evolved into a genuine and on-going collaboration that fostered deeper understandings of different perspectives on the importance of the values placed on water and the receiving environment. Biweekly hui allowed a two-way free-flow of information that led to countless design iterations, allowing mana whenua to understand the engineering challenges facing the project while prompting the design team to develop as near a natural solution as possible.
Most importantly, this engagement process has opened dialogue and strengthened relationships between the Alliance and mana whenua of Tāmaki Makaurau over time, enabling a more cooperative working relationship over the lifetime of the project.