Engineering New Zealand Heritage Awards 2021

The new Ōpaoa River Bridge, in Blenheim, is the 2021 winner of the Engineering New Zealand heritage awards, and a shining example of heritage and progress working hand in hand.


Old bridge and new bridge lit up at night with Pou in the foreground
Special lighting on the Pou and northern end of the bridge. Credit: Waka Kotahiexpand/collapse

Our staff worked with Waka Kotahi, (NZ Transport Agency), the Marlborough District Council, Te Rūnanga a Rangitāne O Wairau, Ngāti Toa Rangitira, Ngāti Rārua and Downer NZ over an extended period on the design and construction of the award-winning traffic bridge in a collaboration which has reaped rewards.

The announcement described the project as one “that’s delivered two bridges that combine safety and strength, represent the mana whenua of Wairau, and celebrate heritage values.”

The Engineering Heritage Award celebrates innovative heritage projects that have delivered value to a community, iwi, organisation, environment, education, or general New Zealand society.

“This year’s winner... showed outstanding delivery in the areas of restoration and adaptive use, interpretation and storytelling, and public programmes and education,” according to Engineering New Zealand’s website. “It's a project that’s delivered on all areas of the award. There was a clear vision, engagement with all the right people, and as a result, a positive impact on the local community. Thought, care, research and collaboration has gone into, not just retaining the historic bridge, but in making sure it has wide use and relevance for communities today and in the future. The lasting relationships built during this project also made it stand out.”

The old Opawa Bridge will now be a community space to hold local events.

The Basin Reserve Old Pavilion (Museum Stand) in Wellington a publication written by Karen Wrigglesworth, called Take me with You. A Self-Drive Guide to Whanganui’s Engineering Heritage were Highly Commended.

- David Watt