Walking the new Waikato Expressway’s Kapowhatau Bridge after its blessing are the Kaumatua of Taupiri Marae, Waikato District Council Mayor Sanson, National MP Tim van der Molen, local councillors and community board members, local residents, NZTA and Fulton Hogan project staff.
With the completion of Kapowhatau Bridge, eight out of the expressway’s nine road and stream bridges have now been completed. The last to be completed (and largest) is the NIMTR (North Island Main Truck Line Bridge) – its opening in early 2020 will mark the overall project’s completion. The $350 million project started in October 2015 and, on completion, many of the Fulton Hogan team will move to the recently-announced Manawatu Gorge project.
The name Kapowhatau is a combination of the names of leading Iwi ancestors in the area. Fulton Hogan and NZTA’s relationship with Waikato Tainui and the local iwi has been central to the success of the project, with the on-site Kaiaarahi reporting through to Waikato Tainui via the Tangata Whenua Working Group.
Each of the expressway’s structures have cultural symbolism built into them, in the form of patterned keystone walls. The patterns were designed by local Maori artists and each wall tells a different story about the particular area.