The Whanganui City Bridge celebrates its 150 year anniversary this year. The Whanganui River is the main icon of the city but it's the City Bridge that connects the one half of the town to the other.
Before the bridge was opened in November 1871, the river was the main transport route and food source for locals. It cost 12,850 pound and 14 years to build.
The Whanganui River was a significant obstacle for early travellers travelling north from Wellington along the coast. It took more than 30 years before the river was finally bridged.
An official celebration for the 150 anniversary of the city bridge has been scheduled for this but a date still to be confirmed.
Local Whanganui Iwi representative Rauru Broughton says, "The Whanganui river is still very much the life source of the people and it has been since the beginning of time, it is the energy that inspires its people, it is still the pantry that supplies food and sustenance to the people and was so before the bridge was erected. We are trying very hard to maintain the values and protocols that our ancestors developed to ensure the river and the people had a strong relationship."
Brent Holmes of the Whanganui District Council says, "It carries all our heavy commerce, our commuter traffic. It allows people to access different parts of the city the suburbs. It's also a vital component for carrying communications, water services, power services, so it's extremely relevant."
Holmes adds, "There will be some robust guard rails put up at some stage in the future. We also have some extra walking and cycling facilities we are planning for that bridge. The river is our focal point of the city and the bridge is the vital transport link across that."