Thousands watch Whangarei bridge opening

  • 27/07/2013

It's called Te Matau ā Pohe, or "The Fishhook of Pohe", and once you see it, it's easy to understand how one Northland town's new bridge got its name.

Thousands of Whangarei residents gathered to celebrate the completion of the project, and while it's been built to alleviate traffic, its design is stopping traffic too.

This morning, Te Matau ā Pohe lifted to allow a flotilla of waka, boats, kayaks and even paddle-boarders through as part of the opening ceremony.

"With this bridge we're lifting innovation," says Whangarei district councillor Jeroen Jongejans. "We lifted the local economy by 17.5 million, and we lift the way people look at Whangarei. It's very broad, very positive and it's the catalyst for a lot of new things in Whangarei."

A parade kicked off festivities on the bridge, and vintage cars, trucks and motorbikes became the first vehicles to cross.

The river crossing is 285-metres long. It cost just over $30 million and was built mainly by local companies.

The bridge connects the industrial side of Whangarei with the airport. The distinctive fishhook-shaped counterweights are the idea of British architect Martin Knight, who's created masterpieces around the world.

"When I was looking into aspects of this place that were really important, so the relationship with the coast and the river and the cultural history, the fishhook motif came up quite frequently," says Mr Knight. "It's something that is stylised and used often in ceremonial representation."

Whangarei residents 3 News spoke to were proud of their new landmark. They say it is a "wonderful achievement for little Whangarei" that "gets traffic moving and hopefully drives the economy".

Locals hope it will become a piece of identity for Whangarei.

3 News

source: newshub archive