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Special purpose to get road open

Final before after

Tumanako Waiwai and nine Quality Roading and Services colleagues have been praised for their efforts to reopen State Highway 38 around Lake Waikaremoana earlier this month following an immense slip near Mokau.

Fifty metres of  the single-lane road was covered with boulder-laden slip material. It is understood to have come down off the hill late Tuesday 4 October.

The road slip occured 10km beyond Home Bay, about 700m from the Mokau Waterfall.

Site supervisor and Tuai resident Tumanako Waiwai was in awe at the amount of slip material and debris that fell. He says it contained boulders estimated to weigh 20 tonnes.

“It was larger than anyone thought and going to be disruptive to locals,” says Mr Waiwai, who is Ngāi Tūhoe.

The slip was investigated by QRS and Wairoa District Council on Wednesday to work out a plan of attack. Two excavators, three trucks, and one loader worked onsite for the next four days clearing the road and transporting material to a tiphead.

Mr Waiwai and the team built a 30m ramp up to the head of the slip so an excavator could start removing material. Given the narrowness of the road, cold weather, and the drop below them down to Lake Waikaremoana, safety was paramount.

“Communication was key. Ahead of every step of the process we conducted a site evaluation to make sure we were using the right tools and processes.” During the polar blast that swept the country staff worked in snow flurries one of the days.

Project supervisor Quintin Baty says Tumanako and his team can be very proud of what they achieved in such a short time and in difficult conditions.

“This was a mammoth task in a challenging part of the country.” Quintin says staff determination to get the job done as quickly as they could for locals made all the difference.

“Tumanako’s attitude and that of his team is a real credit to QRS. The region is lucky to have crews like this - crews that want to do the best they can for their own communities.”

Staff who worked on the slip clearance were: Tumanako Waiwai, Chum Ranginui, Bruce Emberson, Wayne Te Amo, Kopu Tipoki, Jon Hohepa, Johnson Kingi, Nevada Taiapa, Nicola Williams, and Richard Bates. Aperahama Moses and Steve Ruru carried out the first inspection.

The road was opened to all wheel drive traffic on Sunday 9 October. Road users are advised that QRS continues to have staff working to clean up the original area and other smaller slips nearby.

Image credit: Wairoa District Council

19 October 2022

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Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini. My strength is not mine alone, it is the strength of many.

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