Ten Year 12 high school students got the chance to visit a Whangarei District Council site where a large underground wastewater tank is being constructed to prevent environmental spills after storms.

The group, from schools in and around Whangarei, toured the Tarewa Park site in December and were given a detailed explanation of the construction works by engineers, including the whole process of undertaking a large-scale, multi-disciplinary engineering project, from design to implementation.

Corey Slimo, a student from Otamatea College, said he was impressed with how the engineers and managers on site were so willing to explain everything.

Liam MacMenigall, from Huanui College, said visits like these "can give you a real sense of whether or not you can see yourself with a career in engineering".


The visit was organised by Opus, with help from Downer, Hawkins, and the district council. It was arranged to promote the Engineering Education-2-Employment (EE2E) Secondary-Tertiary Project at NorthTec, where interested students will study the NZ Diploma of Engineering (NZDE) Level 4 physics paper, as well as a Level 3 achievement standard contextualised to engineering, while completing their Year 13 studies.

This will expose them to engineering-based studies through classes, labs and field trips as well as mentoring by engineers and engineering technicians.

Mirko Wojnowski, EE2E project lead, said several students will likely go on to the NZ Diploma of Engineering and will have access to a professional network, as well as the potential to study free of charge through cadetships.

"Job prospects in civil engineering are excellent and only getting better thanks to a large increase in funding for Northland roading infrastructure over the next 10 years, and the high salaries are very attractive," Mr Wojnowski said.

The 650 cubic metre tank - that's 650,000 litres - will hold wastewater mixed with rainwater generated in heavy storms, keeping it out of the Raumanga Stream.

It will then let the water back into the sewer system for treatment at the Kioreroa Rd Waste Water Treatment Plant. The tank will also be able to treat highly diluted wastewater before discharging it if needed.

The cost of the construction, engineering and UV equipment is $5 million.
The tank is one of the last projects in a 10-year-plan to prevent storm spills from the district's sewerage scheme into the harbour.

In the past, sewerage pipes would sometimes overflow when rainwater flowed into them during heavy rain. This would then flow into the harbour and result in fishing bans.