Giant drill begins three-year journey to dig under Central Auckland

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Watercare's giant tunnel boring machine has officially set off on her 14.7 kilometre, three-year journey under Central Auckland.  

The final step of a 10-year plan, the goal is to create the central interceptor - a wastewater tunnel that aims to clean up central city's waterways.

“It’s a massive undertaking and a globally significant project,” says project leader Shayne Cunis.

“It’s a 4.5-metre diameter tunnel and comes in at a cost of around 1.2 billion, and the environmental benefits to Auckland are just going to be massive.”

The machine that is digging the tunnel is named Hiwa-i-te Rangi after one of the nine stars of the Matariki star cluster – a name that Watercare discussed with manawhenua and tohunga Māori.

“We talked to professor Rangi Maatamua about this,” says Watercare executive Richard Waiwai.

“You look at the cluster of Matariki and the female elements that are there and their meanings. They all have their purpose around water and saltwater.”

The tunnel will be 15-110 metres deep underground and will travel from Māngere to Grey Lynn. 

It is projected to be finished by 2024.