Waimea Community Dam Culvert Blessing Marks Significant Milestone

Today, the Waimea Community Dam Diversion Culvert was blessed by Ngāti Koata, marking a significant milestone in the construction of the region’s dam.

The ceremony, scaled down due to this week’s COVID-19 levels, was attended by the Waimea Water Limited Board and staff, Tasman District Council Mayor Tim King, Nelson MP Nick Smith, and representatives from main contractor Fulton Hogan Taylor Joint Venture and dam engineers Damwatch Engineering.

The karakia, led by Te Waari Carkeek (Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Toa), celebrated the cycle of the seasons and the importance of paying respect to the deities of nature, as well as emphasising the safety of the site and those who work there. Following the blessing, Melanie McGregor (Ngāti Koata) led the visitors in a waiata.

Following the blessing, the Culvert was opened at its top, allowing river water to flow through.

At the event, Waimea Water Limited Chair David Wright said it was a momentous day, thanking the Fulton Hogan Taylor Joint Venture contractors for their role in the project’s progress.

“There are a number of significant milestones in a project like this,” Wright said. “In August last year we held a ground-breaking ceremony marking the start of excavation at the site. A year on, almost to the day, we recognise the work done so far and mark the significant completion of the Diversion Culvert.

“Each time I visit the site I am amazed at the progress, so thank you to everyone involved for your energy to make this project happen. There have been well documented challenges to the project, however, I am proud that we have reached this moment, having completed and blessed the Diversion Culvert, with temporary diversion works well underway.

“You should all be proud of the legacy you are part of, as it will provide crucial water security for the region for generations to come. Now we can look forward to the year ahead, when we see the dam itself being built on top of this structure,” he said.

Waimea Water Limited CEO Mike Scott told the attendees of the importance of the Culvert to the next phase of the project.

“The 165-metre-long Diversion Culvert is key infrastructure for the project, as it allows the river to be diverted to create the dry construction site for the reinforced dam,” Scott said. “That is why today is so significant; from today we can commence works on the dam embankment itself.”

“We are at this point in construction after a massive amount of energy and work,” said Scott. “WWL thanks the contractors, designers and our team for a huge effort, and importantly, thank you for staying safe.”

The next stage of construction will see two coffer dams built to divert the river into the completed culvert, enabling construction of the larger reinforced rockfill embankment. A starter dam and lower spillway bridge will also be constructed, the revised spillway continued, and the plinth completed. Works are due for completion in April 2022.

Key facts about the Diversion Culvert:

• 165 metres long.
• 7 metres wide.
• 5.6 metres high (external)
• 4500 cubic metres of concrete.
• Roof and walls 0.8 metre to 1.6 metre thick.

Small celebration for blessing of the Diversion Culvert (appropriate Level-2 distancing observed)