The pre-construction work for the Eastern Busway, bridging Panmure and Pakuranga has finally begun.

Auckland Transport explains that the project will entail the tearing down of fourteen Auckland Council-owned buildings in order to make way for archaeological investigations.

According to Auckland Transport, the archaeological work is “particularly important on this project due to the unique history and culturally significant nature of the area, including the site of the historic Mokoia Pā”.

The site is found east of Lagoon Drive and holds a special place for the mana whenua. It was a center of trade and commerce for the Ngāti Paoa pā settlement back in the 18th century.

According to AT programme director Duncan Humphrey, it marks “a significant milestone” for the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI).

“Not only does this work symbolise further progress and brings us a step closer towards faster public transport and cycling journey times, improved reliability and travel choice for East Aucklanders, but it acknowledges an important partnership between AT and mana whenua towards ensuring the history and taonga of this area are restored and maintained.”

Archaeologists have been working with mana whenua and heritage organisations and were active in in AMETI since the beginning of the project.

Whilst the area around the Eastern Busway route has seen many changes in the past century, archaeologists discovered evidence of the early Māori, which in turn helped increase the understanding of Māori settlement in Tāmaki.

Hauauru Rawiri, Kaihautu’s chief executive, announced: “We’re pleased to work with AT towards addressing the transport needs of East Auckland, while also enhancing and regenerating this historic and culturally significant area.”

Auckland Transport said that the first demolitions will take place around Lagoon Drive, Bridge Street and Pakuranga Road. A while later, archaeological work will begin near Bridge Street.

Once completed, the AMETI project will feature new cycling and walking paths, stations, bridges and intersections.