Te Whare Wai Para Nuku - Moa Point Sludge Minimisation Facility

Customer:  Wellington City Council

Contract: Construct 

Location:  Moa Point, Wellington

Water & Wastewater Solutions New Zealand & Pacific Islands

Fast Facts: 

  • 21m tall steel process building for mechanical equipment 
  • Two 16m high concrete digestor tanks 
  • 10km of new process pipework
  • more than 20 different mechanical systems to procure and install
  • 2,100 valves 
  • and 46km cabling 

The Moa Point Sludge Minimisation Facility (SMF) project was gifted a new name - Te Whare Wai Para Nuku - at a Matariki celebration this year (2024) marking 12 months since the team began work on site and a new year of activity to come.

Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui gifted the name that speaks to the importance of the new plant. The meaning encompasses the mana of the facility (whare) which when complete will take the sludge (kene) and water (wai para) and transform it into a potentially reusable resource. Nuku speaks to the cutting-edge treatment processes it will use that mimic natural decomposition and allow kene and wai para to go from tapu (restricted or sacred) to noa (free from tapu).

When complete the plant will be the first of its kind in Aoteroa and will use Thermal Hydrolysis – heating and drying under pressure - to sterilise and reduce the volume of the sludge, making it more biodegradable. Biogas will also be captured and used to power the facility, substantially reducing carbon emissions.  

The sustainability benefits of the chosen design include: 

  • reduced sludge volumes by up to 80% 
  • reduced carbon emissions from the treatment and processing process by 60% 
  • minimising the amount of waste going to landfill  
  • producing a low-odour stabilised (inert) product  
  • treating the cludge so it can be used productively, as a soil conditioner, fertiliser, and fuel for industrial heat 

The McConnell Dowell and HEB Construction joint venture delivering the project has previously completed two of the country’s largest and most complex wastewater treatment plant upgrades (Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant Biological Nutrient Removal Upgrade and the Pukekohe Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade) on time and budget. The team brings knowledge and experience from those projects and strong relationships to this new challenge. 

Before work onsite started, over a thousand native lizards living in the area were carefully trapped and relocated to protected sites like Rangitatau Park, Tukanae Street Reserve, and Centennial Park at Moa Point, and on the Miramar Peninsula,  

Construction is now underway with completion expected in late-2026.  



Te Whare Wai Para Nuku - what the new name means: 

The name of the sludge minimisation facility refers to Te Whare being the facility itself, and how it safely holds high volumes of kene – biosolids, or sludge.

Wai Para describes the water left in the kene or sludge after it has been treated first in Te Whare Wai Tapu Noa/the wastewater treatment facility and flows to Te Whare Wai Para Nuku. This is the water that’s not safe to go back into Tangaroa, the sea.

Para is a word often used to mean waste. It refers to the tikanga of excess fibre that’s discarded by kairaranga who weave and care for harakeke, flax.

The excess fibre from the weaving process is discarded in specific areas that don’t negatively affect Māori Kāinga, and then returned to the whenua or land so it can again become one with Papatūānuku.

In this context, para refers to the extracted kene from waimate (dead water, water that is deemed unsafe), like para is extracted from harakeke.

‘Nuku’, speaks to how the treatment processes mimic natural decomposition processes and will use modern technology to enable wai para and kene to go from a state of being tapu to noa before being used beneficially. It (nuku) is also used as a reminder to everyone of their commitment to the ongoing improvement and the elimination of harmful waste.


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