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Students finish NPDC’s new bridges ahead of schedule

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Students finish NPDC’s new bridges ahead of schedule

Building three new bridges for NPDC has been a walkover for a group of Taranaki teenagers training for a career in construction.

The second annual Build a Bridge project saw 22 students from six secondary schools school replace two footbridges for the Mangati Walkway in Bell Block and one for the Waimea Stream Reserve in New Plymouth about a month ahead of schedule.

A training partnership between NPDC, WITT and the building industry, the project gives students valuable job skills and the option of a future in construction when they leave school.

The students worked on the bridges almost every Thursday over nine months, learning about design principles and how to handle the tools and materials.

Inglewood High School students Coby Blair and Chance Johnston, both 16, are both now training with construction firm Downer to take their skills to the next level.

“We’ve learned a lot and we’ve really enjoyed it,” says Coby.

NPDC Manager Infrastructure Projects Andrew Barron says the quality of the work is impressive.

“These bridges are top quality and they’ll be standing up to the weather, walkers, runners, and cyclists for years to come and are a credit to the teachers and the students who are getting on-the-job skills and a solid grounding in health and safety.

NZIHT School of Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure Programme Manager Jan Kivell said WITT is proud of what the students had accomplished and were looking forward to building more bridges next year.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience in civil infrastructure. It’s an exciting industry to be involved in, and by showing students just a small part of this we hope they not only find something they enjoy doing but realise this can be a rewarding career.”

The training project has trebled in scope from the first Build a Bridge which saw eight students building one bridge last year.


  • Build a Bridge is a partnership of NPDC, NZIHT School of Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure, WITT, Fulton Hogan, WSP and Taranaki Futures.
  • Whitaker Civil Engineering and Downer Group helped find tutors.
  • Eight students took part in the first Build a Bridge project last year, building a new Camden Street footbridge over the Huatoki River.

: Coby Blair and Chance Johnston, both 16, give the Waimea bridge a last look over before its installation.