24 May 2016 Matthew O'Driscoll

Close collaboration between Opus, the NZ Transport Agency and Waikato-Tainui led to the development of the Waikato-Tainui Mitigation Plan. This has resulted in the establishment of protocols and measures to address potential cultural and environmental effects throughout the construction and operation of the Hamilton Section of the Waikato Expressway. It sets a new benchmark for addressing cultural impacts, with a shift in focus from effects mitigation to seizing an opportunity for Iwi to reconnect with lost whakapapa and heritage.

Starting with a blank canvas, the team were able to devise a Plan structure that best provided for the outcomes required by the Tangata Whenua Working Group and the Transport Agency, with responsibility for its implementation being shared between both parties. The Plan also focuses on education opportunities for hapuu members and provides opportunities for iwi training and education in the environmental, engineering and archaeological fields. The NZ Transport Agency is providing tertiary scholarships to Waikato-Tainui and the opportunity for employment through Kaiarahi and Kaitiaki roles during construction of the Expressway.