The 300 children at Taipa Area School in Northland have more reason than most for celebrating the new bridge in their town, with the structure fixing a chronic problem that often forced the school's closure, sometimes for days at a time.

During heavy rain stormwater flooded the school grounds and year 1-13 pupils had to stay at home. In 2017 it happened six times.

Principal Doreen Bailey said she would tell anyone who would listen, and even those who didn't want to listen, about the flooding, hoping for help.

"The quadrangle used to flood. It was so bad the water level would be over the top of the kids' gumboots," Bailey said.


That was before the NZ Transport Agency's bridge construction team came to town.

Their mission was to replace the old one lane bridge and make road and safety improvements in Taipa. They also had to replace some of the town's stormwater pipes.

And they listened when Bailey told her story. The school's front gate is just 150 metres or so from the new bridge.

The project team worked with the school, the Ministry of Education and the Far North District Council to find the extra funding needed to extend the new stormwater pipes from the bridge to the school.

NZTA senior manager project delivery Andrew Thackwray says it was a good problem to solve and a great benefit to the township.

"It wasn't about cost. It was about achieving better value for a key stakeholder by utilising a range of funding streams outside the National Land Transport Programme.

"It puts a spring in the step of the project team, knowing that they're doing good for the community as well as doing a great job on the bridge replacement."

Bailey said the improved drainage was a great success.


"There's already been some heavy rain this winter. And usually the grounds would have been flooded. But not this winter. We've had no flooding and no need to close the school."