16 Jul 2010

Bridge construction altered in line with Maori belief

8:16 pm on 16 July 2010

The newest bridge across the Waikato River has been built without piers in the water, out of respect for Maori beliefs.

Project manager Andrew McRae told Waatea News that, at 100 metres long, that makes the bridge on the East Taupo arterial route the longest network arch bridge in the country.

He says that tangata whenua made it clear they didn't want the river's mauri (life force) interfered with, and that, despite a slight increase in cost, the engineers are pleased with the outcome.

"In some ways it helps simplify some of the construction requirements ... because obviously working in a river channel like the Waikato, at that particular location, there's some concerns anyhow."

Mr McRae says there will be a formal Maori blessing for the bridge when the 16-kilometre stretch is completed in October.