Best Practice Consultation and Participation Strategies and/or Processes

Awarded to:

  • Opus International Consultants Limited
  • Palmerston North City Council
  • Green Infrastructure Services



for ...

He Ara Kotahi Pedestrian/Cycle Bridge Consultation


He Ara Kotahi is a new 6.6km off-road pathway and bridge. It will be a key route in Palmerston North's urban active transport network, connecting Linton Military Camp, Massey University and FoodHQ to the city. He Ara Kotahi is a joint project between Palmerston North City Council (PNCC), Massey University, Rangitāne, Horizons Regional Council, the New Zealand Army at Linton Military Camp and the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Opus was PNCC’s consultant for the preparation of the Business Case (for the bridge component of the project). A mix of traditional and innovative consultation and engagement techniques were used to guide the decision-making process to confirm the preferred location of the bridge, and then in developing a concept design.

The engagement, while focussed mainly on seeking views on selecting a preferred bridge site, was also directed towards ensuring the proposal had a strong likelihood of being consentable through the RMA process.

Opus used a blend of traditional and digital consultation approaches resulting in a high level of project engagement. An online survey, one on one meetings with members of the community, open days, public meetings, Drop-in sessions and Facebook comments meant the team were fully aware of the community views. The use of video fly-bys and still shots of each bridge location through the process ensured the team connected with the diverse audiences much more successfully than anticipated.

The Karaka tree concept design for the bridge and surrounds germinated through engagement
with local Iwi Rangitaane and the community through one of the Drop-in sessions. The concept demonstrates the creativity of meshing cultural history and art, identified through community engagement to incorporate into the bridge design.

This project represents:

  • Outstanding innovation using digital images of bridge locations and fly-by videos.
  • Use of an electronic survey developed with input from behavioural scientists to capture user preferences for each of the bridge locations under consideration.
  • Sharing of real time information on Council’s digital platforms (website and Facebook).
  • Innovative mix of traditional and digital methods to engage with the community, providing the team with community views critical to informing the decision-making process of Council on a major infrastructure project.
  • A design that meshes cultural history and art creating an iconic feature for Palmerston North City and its residents.