Wellington Scoop

Bullying and threatening: the new tactic for planning Wellington’s new roads

The NZ Transport Agency’s tactics sank to a low level this morning, with threats from anonymous staff members and a leaked letter which they say is to be sent to the Wellington City Council.

The DomPost’s coverage of the threats includes a quote from veteran Wellington City Councilor John Morrison who says most of his colleagues support the roading projects planned for the city. Yet his own support is qualified. He – like the mayor – is on record as opposing the Agency’s unpopular plans for a flyover at the Basin Reserve.

John Morrison told Wellington.Scoop last October:
I repeat for you and others that I have never voted for a flyover at the Basin Reserve… no group have dedicated themselves more to the protection and enhancement of the Basin Reserve than the Wellington cricket fraternity of which I am very proud to be one of. We have … protected and saved the Basin Reserve from all manners of attack and threat since 1857 — and we will continue to do just that I can assure you.

If he seriously intends to protect and save the Basin Reserve from a flyover, then his claim this morning that he “totally supports” all the roading plans must be questioned.

The plans have been under development for three years, but there’s been no consultation yet with the Wellington communities who are most concerned about the consequences. At last week’s meeting to discuss plans to force a four-lane motorway through Hataitai, Mt Victoria Residents Association president Kent Duston said his experience was that the Agency has communications and liaison consultants who neither communicated nor liaised. The Greens’ co-leader Russel Norman said the Agency was secretive about its plans.

The Agency’s record of community consultation is not encouraging. Last year, the chair of the Horokiwi Residents Association said consultation about access had been a sham and the Agency didn’t care about the social welfare of her community. She described Agency staff members as “cowboys and bullies.” At the end of 2009, Kapiti mayor Jenny Rowan said the Sandhills expressway plans would “damage the district for ever.”

The damage to Wellington which would be caused by a flyover at the Basin Reserve is something which the Agency has not been discussing in public. The Agency’s website fails to provide any specific information. Yet plans for a flyover have been known since Mayor Prendergast supported them in a statement in 2008. Mayor Wade-Brown opposes the flyover (as does Councilor Morrison). Before the election she came up with an alternative proposal to solve traffic congestion round the Basin. It was a constructive suggestion worth discussing, but there’s no evidence that the Transport Agency is willing to engage.

Worse, consider today’s insulting words from an anonymous staff member who gives his opinion of alternative points of view: “politicians playing silly buggers.” If the staff members quoted this morning have any authority (and it’s impossible to tell, as they aren’t named), the Agency seems to be telling the city that it’s all or nothing at all. Do what the bullying Agency wants, or it will take its money somewhere else. Which is not a constructive way to begin community consultation.

The only acceptable stance is the one outlined by the Mayor, who says she “looks forward to working in partnership with the NZTA as part of the public consultation process.”

Read also:
Greens: tactics outrageous and inappropriate
Employers: follow the correct consultation process


  1. John Clarke, 11. April 2011, 11:41

    What’s the story with anonymous officials leaking stuff to the media? Does the Transport Agency not feel the obligation to follow the public sector code of conduct?

  2. Patrick, 12. April 2011, 10:08

    I note reports that Minister of Transport Joyce may announce ‘timing adjustments’ to some of the RoNS. Does this mean Wellington plans may be delayed? Why add road capacity just as traffic levels have peaked and petrol is on the rise again? Wouldn’t quality public transport be more cost-effective?
    Let’s run the feasibility studies, as the Council proposes, and see which options stack up best.

  3. Bryan Pepperell, 13. April 2011, 17:07

    We should know the cost benefit before we make a commitment. Yes petrol is on the rise again and I suspect we will see a decline in traffic on our roads. With Christchurch needing more tax dollars and health and education making more demands what are our priorities to be? Things change in politics.

  4. Charlie, 13. April 2011, 18:47

    No they don’t Bryan, you never could trust a politician, still can’t – no change.

  5. Kent Duston, 15. April 2011, 8:29

    Perhaps Cr John Morrison has answered the question about where his support really lies. Here’s what he told wellington.scoop:

    “I repeat for you and others that I have never voted for a flyover at the Basin Reserve… no group have dedicated themselves more to the protection and enhancement of the Basin Reserve than the Wellington cricket fraternity of which I am very proud to be one of. We have … protected and saved the Basin Reserve from all manners of attack and threat since 1857 — and we will continue to do just that I can assure you.”

    Here’s what he told the DominionPost:

    “Mr Morrison said he expected it to lead to full council support being given to the Transport Agency. “If we blow this, then it will be beyond comprehension. We have got to have the guts to send a clear message of support.”

    Whether the first statement amounts to cynical hypocrisy on the part of a pro-roading Councillor will be left as an exercise for the reader.

  6. erentz, 15. April 2011, 10:12

    NZTA is basically corrupt and needs an overhaul. In fact, the whole way we finance transport needs an overhaul. It is insane that we have such a massive budget for infrastructure being spent not based on the guidance of experts and well formed business cases, but on the whim of the government as bribes to misinformed voters and lobbyists.

    The people at NZTA don’t work for the public interest, they work for self interest. (Or they’re too afraid to speak out, in which case shame on them.) They hide documents and information. They only focus on the practises of the past they know well, rather than evolving as times change (possibly requiring retraining and restructuring). They don’t care about being fiscally responsible with the public’s money. Yes they work in part under the orders of Government, but the officials still have the ability to say “Option A is this, we think it’s bad, Option B is this, we think it’s smarter, that’s the business case but the decision is still up to the Government.”

  7. Marie O, 15. April 2011, 15:54

    The so called consultation process on the Kpaiti Coast was a complete sham, the district was presented with a fait accompli – “No Choice Joyce” is the term most commonly used. We were then told a whole bunch of lies about the road, e.g. no homes would be bulldozed, e.g. the route would follow the previous western link designation, along with some very manipulative moves such as putting up bogus options as a way of moving the debate toward acceptance of the road. It is no coincidence that the proposed route goes right past two of the leaders of the most vocal opposition to the road – threatening to build the road around us will get them nowhere, the community affected in Kapiti is prepared to take a united stance. If they want another Bastion Point, we will give it to them. There are jobs on the line if they do not deliver on the RONS. They are desperate roadwives, ruthless in intent, with no scruples and no ethics.

  8. Loretta Pomare, 15. April 2011, 22:05

    No surprise. They treated us on the Kapiti Coast the same way and still are…bullying the council first and foremost by throwing out a perfectly fine solution (WLR) that we had all worked hard and long on (14 odd years) The NZTA were backing us and funding it 95%; then the “THINK BIG” Key/Joyce came along and just brushed it aside without any consideration for the cost benefits and the fact it would have been completed in 2012, not 2021-2024 as their 4 lane expressway is expected to be. They offered our council an ultimatum, either agree and join us in an Alliance or we will build it anyway, oh and BTW we have removed all funding to build the bridge over the Waikanae River and the original WLR. It is exactly the same scenario in Wellington …dangle the dollars but do it our way or you get no further funding for anything! Stand up and fight we are … Kia Kaha Celia and the councillors who have a brain.

    Secondly, they have set streets against streets neighbours against neighbours, they leak documents and spread rumours about having done deals with Maori etc etc Their plan is divide and conquer! Don’t let them do that to you WCC, be smarter than them and unite for a greater Wellington.

  9. Mark, 15. April 2011, 22:27

    Interesting messages of support from the Airport (see http://www.facebook.com/WellingtonAirport). Is there a conflict of interest here? I believe the rebels (Morrison, Mckinnon, et al) are all being rather premature in their support, given they do not know what is actually going to be delivered? If NZTA had been clear about what their plans were (and they have not), Council could be clear if they supported it (or not). Blindly signing up for $2 billion of road works without knowing what you are getting is just plain stupid. No one wants a flyover. Council should be putting the pressure on NZTA to disclose detailed plans before any support is forthcoming. Lets hope they regather themselves and adopt a “conditional” support position requiring greater disclosure. And while they are at it, they need to consider if Wellington is really an international airport for the future. Because if it is not, why are we spending millions on a road to nowhere? Perhaps a future proofed international airport should be somewhere with more space?

  10. Punked, 16. April 2011, 0:16

    Bravo Loretta. But what a coincidence: we have the same here in Wellington: a road (NZTA funded) in Manners Street that does not even fit.

  11. Nora, 16. April 2011, 10:03

    Well said Marie, Loretta, and Mark……Please go wider with your experiences with the NZ Transport Agency and write to the Wellington papers. Having attended the Hataitai meeting, pity the only two Eastern councillors who were there did not take part in the discussions but both left early, presumably they did not want to be compromised.

  12. Nell Wind, 17. April 2011, 23:59

    Before we get interested in detailed roading plans, let’s have some facts about what the actual ‘problem’ is. Let’s not just have what the car problems are but what the issues are for all of us so we can develop a sensible future focused transport solution for all of us.
    Enough of the urban planning by road engineers from the NZTA. Time for us and our elected Wellington councillors to come up with what’s best for Wellington. The current proposal for the road to nowhere (Basin, Mt Vic tunnel and Ruahine Street) has only got a cost benefit ratio of 0.4. Come on councillors wake up.

  13. Russell Tregonning, 2. May 2011, 22:28

    By being rushed, without public consultation to approve NZTA’s proposed “multi modal” transport plans, WCC are accepting a poisoned chalice for the city.
    NZTA’s funding offer for better active and public transport modes will come only in concert with more city motorways, tunnels and a possible flyover. More roads and cars means more environmental damage: public transport, biking and walking can only help if people use these instead of their cars.
    WCC has not only been bullied, they have also been conned by NZTA.