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18 March 2022

Work will start next week (Monday 21 March) on a new walking and cycling bridge across the Waipoua River that will provide easy access between Oxford Street Reserve and the Akura Road recreational trail on the south side of the river.

Masterton District Council approved construction of the bridge in 2020, with resource consent then required for the site near Railway Crescent.

The project has a budget of $485,000. The bridge is expected to take around eight weeks to complete, and will be lined by 50 pou, especially commissioned from six local ngā toi artists (Māori artists), coordinated by Sam Te Tau.

The artists are creating pou telling stories that represent the past, present and future of the Waipoua.

“We want to create a special place where the whole community can experience a place to connect, reflect and to learn about our unique past, to remember those tīpuna who are no longer with us, to acknowledge the fauna and flora that were here, to become aware of the need to protect and to restore te taiao (the environment) and to envision a collaborative future that enhances the mana of our whole community,” Sam said in the brief to artists.

An average of 1,500 people a month use the Akura Road trail on the south side of the river, Council Manager Community Facilities and Activities Corin Haines said.

The bridge’s design aims to maximise accessibility, with ramps at each end and a capacity of 100 people at one time.

“Walkers and cyclists will begin to notice preparations for the start of work, and there will be fenced-off areas during construction which we would ask people to respect,” Corin said.

“The bridge will really add to our recreational trail network, and there are plans to in due course extend the trail on the north side of the river from the Colin Pugh Sports Bowl up to the Oxford Street Reserve.”