Sod turned on stronger Te Awa Kairangi flood defences

Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi - Sod Turning Event banner image

Published: 21 February 2024

Ground has been broken on major upgrades to Lower Hutt’s flood defences at a ceremonial sod turning for Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi - Delivering RiverLink.

Infrastructure minister and Lower Hutt MP Chris Bishop was among dignitaries cutting the first turf on a stopbank being raised between Melling Link and Mills Street, one of several due to be strengthened for Te Awa Kairangi programme.

“When complete, our upgraded stopbanks will defend New Zealand’s most densely populated flood plain and enhance the health of the river,” says Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter.

“It’s appropriate the upgrades begin on the stretch river most vulnerable to flooding. While design, scope and costs for the wider programme are worked through, it’s a relief knowing the strengthening of Lower Hutt’s flood defences will soon be underway.”

Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry says the upgraded stopbanks will protect lives and infrastructure.

“Recent floods across New Zealand had devastating consequences for local communities. When upgraded, these stopbanks will provide more protection for our CBD and the wider Valley floor.” Mayor Barry says.

Aims of Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi include:

  • Stronger flood defences that enhance river health,
  • A safer, more reliable and more accessible transport system through the creation of a new Melling interchange and a public transport hub,
  • Support for urban renewal and growth opportunities.

Chair of the Mana Whenua Steering Group and representing Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui, Lee Hunter says, “This is the location of Maraenuku Pā that once existed here on the bank of Te Awa Kairangi, within close proximity to Mills Street.

“It is most important to acknowledge our historical past and the place that Te Wai Takamori o te Awa Kairangi programme commenced. Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River is a taonga and treasured ancestral river, it is the largest river in the Wellington Region.

“It is important for all of us to protect and maintain the mana and mōuri (life force) of Te Awa Kairangi.”

A construction site on Mills Street will be set up in late February before the design for the stopbank is finalised in late March. Construction is expected to be completed in early October 2024.

For more information visit:

More information:

  • Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi (Te Awa Kairangi) – The Soothing Waters of Te Awa Kairangi is an Alliance partnership between iwi Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Greater Wellington Regional Council, NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi, Hutt City Council, AECOM and Fletcher Construction.
  • Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi is also a transformational programme of work that includes crucial flood protection and river restoration work, improvements to public transport, walking & cycling routes, local roads and the SH2 Melling Interchange, as well as urban revitalisation of the Lower Hutt city centre.
  • Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai - Lower Hutt has a history of flooding that led to the construction of the existing stopbanks. Climate change means flooding is likely to be even more challenging in the future.
  • The existing stopbank between the Melling Link Bridge and Mills Street currently has the lowest level of flood protection in the area, for a 1 in 65-year flood event protection (in any year there’s a 1.5% chance of a flood that size happening).
  • When all of the works under Te Awa Kairangi programme are completed, the Hutt Valley will be protected from a 2,800m3/s flood or a 1 in 440-year flood event including for future climate change (with a 0.2% chance of a flood that size in any year).
  • As well as recognising the significance of Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River to iwi Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, the historical settlement of Maraenuku Pā is in the vicinity of the Connelly Street Substation.
  • The status of the broader programme for Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi remains in an Interim Project Alliance Agreement (IPAA) phase.
  • The IPAA phase involves a detailed review of every element of the consented design, and improving the design where feasible, to allow the partners and Alliance to agree the scope and confirm a price to deliver the project.

Sod turning: From left - Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi Mana Whenua Steering Group chair Lee Hunter, Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry, Greater Wellington chair Daran Ponter, Minister of Infrastructure Chris Bishop, Brian Kirtlan from Fletcher Construction, Craig Davidson from AECOM New Zealand Ltd.