SH1 reopens in Far North

By Raniera Harrison

Local iwi, Ngāti Kurī have formally blessed the new stretch of State Highway One this morning at Pukenui, as the rebuild of the section of road which was washed away last Friday nears completion.

However, some locals are upset at how unforthcoming political assistance has been to the rural communities of the Far North.

Waihopo resident, Jonda Subritzky says, "They put all of these things out there, that they're doing these things.  What about rural New Zealand?  What about the rest of us?"

One lane of the 10-metre stretch of the main arterial highway reopened officially to heavy machinery, and other haulage vehicles this morning at approximately 11:00am,  However, locals say that there needs to be more done should this happen again to the small towns of the region.

"Shane Jones has gone out there and he's put out that he's given out this amount of money here, there and everywhere.  Hey Shane!  Don't forget us up here," says Subritzky.

Locals and tourists alike have been escorted by convoy through nearby forestry roads leading through the Aupōuri Forest to bypass the washout since Friday. 

NZTA says the safety of those north of the slip was, and still is, paramount.

Kaumātua from nearby Te Hāpua, Bob Wells (Ngāti Kurī) who blessed the newly-formed stretch of road, understands the cause for the disruption.

"The pipes broke and when the waterflow became too substantial they burst," he says.

Contractors have suggested that approximately 5,000 cubic metres of raw materials have been trucked in from Kaitāia to backfill the hole 20 metres long, and 5 metres deep.  Big numbers aside- it doesn't seem to do much for locals here.

"You think about it- if there's a slip in the Mangamuka Gorge and a flood at Kaeo we're all cut off. That's it," says Subritzky..