Te Ahiwaru hapuu determined to turn laundromat into business success


Our Central Interceptor project team has partnered with local hapuu Te Ahiwaru to create a laundromat in the hope that one day it will become a thriving business initiative for the mana whenua group. 

The Whare Manaaki laundromat cleans all staff PPE from the various sites along the route of the giant wastewater tunnel.

“We have a number of aspirations we want to achieve for our hapuu and our marae. We recognise this opportunity with Watercare brings us a step closer to making that a reality. It's an investment we want to see excel,” Te Ahiwaru Trust operations manager Tuini Tuwha says.

Based in Māngere and managed by Te Ahiwaru Trust, the Whare Manaaki laundromat opened for business in November last year.

PPE being stored away

Our sustainability and community outcomes manager Bernice Chiam says our company and the Ghella Abergeldie Joint Venture (GAJV) established the purpose-built laundry and repair service as part of the project’s focus on supporting their neighbouring communities.

“The Central Interceptor is a massive wastewater tunnel that will clean up Auckland’s waterways and last for 100 years,” Chiam says. “But with this project we want to leave a legacy that’s beyond the infrastructure in the ground – we want to support the communities alongside our tunnelling route in a way that has a lasting impact.

“We’re currently part-way through a six-month trial, and are intending to extend Whare Manaaki’s contract until construction is complete in 2026.

“Our long-term goal for the laundromat is to establish a hapuu business and employment venture after the project is finished, so that it continues to give for generations to come.”

We have funded the capital cost for this initiative and will continue to support the operational costs until Te Ahiwaru Trust are in a position to take over on their own.

The laundry is made up of two containers. One is equipped with commercial washing machines and driers; the other with sewing and embroidery machines that has additional space to store PPE.

Along with Tuwha who manages the laundry, a team of three operators work across seven sites. The containers are designed so they can be easily relocated at the end of the project.

“We’ve purchased a van and all those employed to run the day-to-day services are descendants of Te Ahiwaru from Makaurau Marae. It’s important for us that this laundry is a success because we see the growth opportunities beyond the current mahi we are doing with the CI project,” Tuwha says.

The Central Interceptor is New Zealand’s largest bored wastewater tunnel. It is 4.5 metres in diameter and will run for 14.7 kilometres from Grey Lynn under central Auckland and the Manukau Harbour to Māngere.

The tunnel will lie between 15 and 110 metres below the surface. Along with two smaller link sewer tunnels we are building, the main CI tunnel will collect wastewater from the existing network and take it to the Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant.

A key driver behind the laundry is to protect staff and their whānau from being exposed to contaminants on site. The Manaaki laundry team collect PPE from all active construction sites, wash, and dry gear overnight and return them back to site the next day.

“We collect all nightshift uniforms from each site every morning. We could be laundering anywhere between 100 and 500 uniforms a day. Covid-19 has meant we’re not fully operational in terms of servicing the business. But we are getting a sense of how the laundromat will look once we’re working at full capacity,” Tuwha says.

“We’re excited about the new challenges and learnings to come, it’s a positive step forward for us.”

Clean PPE