The New Zealand Transport Agency has begun engaging local iwi while work pending redesignation of Mangakahia Rd as a state highway is under way.

A powhiri will be held at the Poroti Marae today for NZTA officials and other stakeholders before a meeting to discuss the redesignation, including an open discussion.

The meeting will finish with a bus tour from Loop Rd to the Twin Bridges on Mangakahia Rd.

The bus tour will end at Parahaki Marae and each marae is expected to nominate representatives for the meeting.


"The bus tour is an information gathering and listening exercise to understand the cultural values and history within the area as we work towards designating the road as a state highway," NZTA spokeswoman for Northland and Auckland, Sarah Azam, said.

She said NZTA would do the same with all mana whenua.

"While we are continuing work to progress the change in designation, the official approval is still some time away."

In May last year, NZTA approved its plans to change the designation of Te Pua Rd, Mangakahia Rd, Otaika Valley Rd and Loop Rd on to SH1, which have until now been designated arterial local routes, to become State Highway 15.

The 95km-long route provides logging trucks access to about 50,000ha of production forest.

The redesignation followed strong advocacy from Northland local authorities and the forestry sector because the route accesses an area of significant economic activity, both regionally and nationally.

NZTA has set aside $15 million from its national road funding budget for the redesignation of the vital logging truck route which is expected to see 195 truckloads per day, or one truck every three minutes on average.

Whangarei District Council and Far North District Councils are currently in charge of maintaining Mangakahia Rd.