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Taniwha roading concerns eased

Published: 6:30PM Tuesday November 12, 2002

Transit New Zealand has negotiated a deal with Ngati Naho to continue developing one of the busiest stretches of roads in New Zealand.

Work on the $75 million road project came to a halt when local Maori raised concerns that continued realignment on the road would desecrate the homes of three mythical guardians.

Concessions have been put in place to ensure that the taniwha are respected.

Spokesman Rima Herbert says work can continue from a point of the road that does not impact on the taniwha site.

Regional Projects manager Chris Allen says work on the area of current concern is not programmed for another year and there is plenty of time to resolve the issue.

The swampland project has cost $15 million so far. Work on the section of the new highway between Mercer and Long Swamp is expected to be completed by 2004.

When Transit was told of the local iwi's concerns it immediately ordered workers off the area.

The new highway has been controversial since its conception.

It was originally costed at $56 million but because the land it was built on was sinking its budget has already been pushed out by $20 million.

The task of filling the swamp was put on hold for a year while authorities waited for extra funding to be approved.