Student builds diversity while constructing NPDC’s new bridges

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Kasey Gooch’s work on building footbridges in NPDC parks is blazing a trail for young Taranaki women interested in working in construction.

The New Plymouth Girls’ High School student is the first female to enter the Build a Bridge training partnership of NPDC, WITT Te Pūkenga and the building industry to give teenagers valuable job skills and the option of a future in construction when they leave school.

“I’ve always wanted to do something in building – they need more females in the industry,” said the 16-year-old. “I’m sure there are lots of other young women out there who are interested, but they don’t want to go into construction because it’s seen as male dominated.”

This year five students from different high schools are building three bridges and the first is set to go into PG Nops Scenic Reserve in Inglewood in the next couple of weeks.

Ove nine months the students have been working on the bridges almost every Thursday, learning about design principles and how to handle the tools and materials.

“It’s great to see more diversity coming up through the building industry,” said NPDC Group Manager Planning and Infrastructure Kevin Strongman.

“Women make a great contribution in construction, not just in the actual building work, but also in the creating an industry culture that reflects the wider community.  Our Build a Bridge programme delivers top-quality bridges for our parks and delivers first-class training in building and construction as well as health and safety for our rangatahi.”

NZIHT School of Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure Programme Manager Jan Kivell said Build a Bridge continues to be a popular course in its third year.

“We are very lucky to have extremely experienced tutors who make the course interesting and fun. WITT Te Pūkenga is proud to be a part of a course that provides students with practical skills for the construction and infrastructure industries,” said Mrs Kivell. 

This year will also see the Build a Bridge students building new footbridges for the Waitara Orchard Reserve (Barclay Park) and an access bridge over the Wairau Stream for the Ōākura Water Treatment Plant.



  • Build a Bridge is a partnership of NPDC, NZIHT School of Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure, WITT Te Pūkenga, Fulton Hogan, Whitaker Civil Engineering, Downer Group, WSP and Taranaki Futures.
  • Eight students took part in the first Build a Bridge project in 2021, building a new Camden Street footbridge over the Huatoki River.
  • Last year 22 students from six secondary schools replaced two footbridges for the Mangati Walkway in Bell Block and one for the Waimea Stream Reserve in New Plymouth.
  • NPDC manages more than 110 parks and reserves throughout the district and maintains public gardens, trees and walkways.


Caption: Kasey Gooch, 16, steps up as the first female Build a Bridge student, pictured with fellow Bronson Pierce, 16, of Francis Douglas Memorial College.