One of the Bay of Plenty's most significant infrastructure projects has been renamed.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and the hapū treaty partners have formally renamed the two State Highway 2 New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects to Takitimu North Link.
The Government's New Zealand Upgrade Programme is a $6.8 billion investment to get cities moving, save lives and boost productivity in growth areas.
Waka Kotahi general manager transport services Brett Gliddon said the renaming of the Tauranga Northern Link and Ōmokoroa to Te Puna projects was a significant step to acknowledge the area's cultural heritage and connect all who have mana whenua along the corridor.
"This name change represents a strengthening of our hapū relationship. Understanding the history of the land our state highways travel through is a significant part of any project and by working closely with our hapū partners we are recognising this.
"All hapū partners have whakapapa (ancestry) to the Takitimu waka and it is important that this is appropriately reflected in the project," Gliddon said.
Pirirākau environmental manager Julie Shepherd said the hapū was looking forward to continuing to work in partnership with central and local government as the project came to life.
"We're building this road together, with respect to te ao Māori, and with the hapū of the area as treaty partners.
"Our hope is this project will provide more jobs for our communities, especially during these challenging times, and better and safer links to our towns, all while respecting our natural environment," Shepherd said.
Ngāti Hangarau hapū representative Tatai Allen said the name was fitting because the Takitimu waka was the link that connected all the hapū of the rohe (area).
"We feel strongly about showing the connection between the project and all of the hapū in the rohe — this name will help give our wider community the opportunity to get to know and understand the rich history of the area," Allen said.
The $933m Takitimu North Link project will connect Tauranga and Ōmokoroa with a new 14km link between State Highway 29 Takitimu Drive Toll Road and State Highway 2 Ōmokoroa intersection and will be constructed in two phases, beginning next year.
The tender process for contractors was expected to get under way this month.
The alignment for the Takitimu North Link project was within the rohe of Ngāti Ranginui iwi, and includes the hapū of Pirirākau, Ngai Tamarawaho, Ngāti Hangarau, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Pango, and Ngāti Rangi. The largest area of this roading project was within the Pirirākau rohe.
The new link will provide residents and visitors to the Bay of Plenty with safer, more resilient access to one of New Zealand's highest growth areas, support economic growth and community wellbeing, and provide greater travel choice as well as a walking and cycling shared path.
It will also connect to the $101m Waihī to Ōmokoroa safety improvements project which is in construction.