Raglan locals have been working alongside a team of international specialist submarine cable experts to lay a section of the Tasman Global Access (TGA) undersea cable.
Vodafone external communications manager Elissa Downey said work began on digging a trench and laying a stretch of cable under the sand at Ngarunui Beach, by the surf lifeguard tower, on Friday and was expected to be completed this week.
The MV Tranquil Image, a specially fitted-out New Zealand vessel, was burying a 3-kilometre stretch of fibre optic cable from Ngarunui Beach, through the surf zone and into the ocean, she said.
“Once the Raglan shore landing works are complete, a larger specialised ship will arrive in New Zealand to connect the next section of cable, taking it across the Tasman and eventually connecting it to the Narrabeen Beach landing in Australia.
“By mid this week, visible works on Raglan’s shoreline will be complete. Remaining works may continue out to sea over the coming weeks, however this will have a very low impact on the local community.”
Completed, the length of cable will be 2300km.
Ms Downey said a range of Raglan-based businesses and labourers had worked on the TGA project, including work such as excavation, deck hands on the MV Tranquil Image, block and brick-laying, painting and steel tying.
She said the international team had enjoyed local accommodation and other hospitality services in town.
“We have put a notice out to local horse-riding clubs and organisations that the sand on the beach where the works have taken place may be softer than usual until the end of next week. For this reason, we recommend riders avoid taking their horse past the mark where the main surf club sits on the hill.”
The $103 million TGA cable project is a joint venture by Vodafone, Spark New Zealand and Telstra.
“Vodafone and its consortium partners would like to extend a huge thank you to the Raglan community for their support and understanding during the beach works phase of the TGA undersea cable project,” said Ms Downey.
“Vodafone also wishes to acknowledge the support of local iwi who have been heavily involved in the planning of the project.”
The TGA cable is currently on track to be completed, tested and ready for service by the end of 2016.
Ms Downey said the TGA cable was a “truly green project, in keeping with the ethos of Raglan”.
“It will produce only short-term minor impacts on the environment that after one tide change will not be noticed, yet delivers limitless benefit for all of New Zealand in the long-term.
“The TGA cable will enable New Zealand to better leverage the five main international cable systems currently serving Australia … as well as strengthening links into fast-growing Asian markets.”