Wellington Scoop

Ancestral lands and the $550m expressway

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Kapiti residents campaigning against the government’s plans for a expressway through their community have issued a chart detailing some strong arguments against the project.

Comparing it unfavourably to the western link road that had been approved and 95 per cent funded before the election, the residents say:

Western link: Affordable ($120m), completed in two years, no houses lost.

Kapiti expressway: Expensive ($550m and climbing), completion date 2021 to 2024, 63 homes destroyed to save 4 minutes into Wellington, and 1350 homes within 200m of the 100kph four or six lane route.

The original .pdf is here

The distinguished novelist Patricia Grace this week joined the ranks of Kapiti people who are opposing the expressway. It would run through her ancestral land. She says: “I do not want to sell …” She told the DomPost:

“I hate the idea of people’s homes being taken away and bowing down to the motorcar … All those businesses along SH1 will be put out as well. There will be no town any more … It seems crazy. They are probably just thinking of great big trucks, which are a hindrance to motorists anyway.”

In the same report, the trustees of a Maori burial ground said they had refused to endorse the route wanted by the Transport Agency. And the secretary of the Whakarongotai Marae said:

“If anyone knows about the Government taking private property under the Public Works Act, Maori are the forerunners.”

The attitude of the Transport Agency was summarised this week by its regional director. She was commenting on the unseen plans for roading changes around Wellington’s Basin Reserve. But the Agency’s stance is no doubt the same in Kapiti. Here’s how she was quoted in the Wellingtonian:

“We are making sure our plans are robust and clear as [they] affect people’s lives. We need to make sure our plans are firm … so we only go out once – and honestly – to the community.”

Only once. No mention of any possibility of negotiating changes in response to community concerns. Has the Kapiti community had its only chance? Will the Government confiscate a famous novelist’s ancestral land? Will it confiscate part of a Maori burial ground? And in Wellington, will its dictatorial behaviour mean that Wellington people will be forced to accept plans which they don’t want, as is happening in Kapiti.

This week’s meeting in Aro Street was given a warning by a Kapiti campaigner: “They’ll give you options and tell you to choose one of them. But you must learn to say that none of them is acceptable.”

May 5:
Residents told their homes will be taken


  1. James Wgtn, 29. April 2011, 10:29

    The comparison is flawed. One sided comparisons like this do little to help those not directly involved. Why not have 4 minutes saved as a big tick for the new road? How many houses are within 200m of the Western Link Road? Are expressways safer than roads normally limited to 70km/h?

  2. ben, 29. April 2011, 12:46

    Wow four whole minutes saved for an extra $430million. What a big fat tick.

  3. Mark, 29. April 2011, 15:30

    Any cost benefit analysis based on a few minutes per person and extrapolated to all users is flawed cost analysis. Four minutes cannot be used productively. Getting faster to a destination, to then wait at another bottle neck (often outside the scope of the analysis) is equally flawed. Where is the focus of the cost analysis – the nation or the individual? If it’s the national interest, then heavy freight should go by rail, not on heavy trucks. How much road capacity would be gained from removing heavy trucks off roads and what would be the road maintenance cost savings in the longer term? Not to mention improved road safety. Provocative thoughts but broader thinking is required for such substantial investment – especially given energy forecasting. Should the govt be investing in increasing renewable energies (eg electricity) before expanding roading?

  4. Marie O, 30. April 2011, 11:23

    NZTA’s claim of making things clear is complete hogwash. Kapiti people in Waikanae still don’t have any certainty about what they propose to do, 2 years after the proposal was announced. They are still manipulating and creating misinformation and desperately trying to shift the debate toward acceptance of a road nobody wants. It won’t work, the only safe and culturally acceptable place to build SH1 is on its existing designation.

  5. BorderEdge, 4. May 2011, 14:36

    The “Save Kapiti” comparisons ignore the basic facts.
    1; The Sandhills route designation to be followed by the proposed expressway was designated over 40 years ago. Central & local Govt inertia led to this being “downgraded” to a local Western Link road around 2004, with no strategy for a sustainable SH1. This change may well have improved local traffic needs and extended existing SH1 viability, but Govt would end up funding both. The large majority of property owners lining this route knew the designation existed and bet on it being stymied/downgraded. Regrettably some later buyers have been caught out along with some affected by design changes. They in particular deserve every assistance through this all.
    2; Eventually SH1 must be upgraded or moved. It runs through Kapiti and there is no alternative. Building the local link alternative will not remove the myriad of safety hazards. If the current route is the only option open to NZTA, over 400 houses and many businesses would need to be demolished All are currently on the route with access that raises risk and inhibits through traffic movement. The cost for this was estimated in 2009 at significantly more than using the Western Link designation and none of these properties are on a route previously designated for roading.
    3; Only those who believe people will be prepared to or forced to surrender their mobility will not see that road improvement must eventually occur regardless of the $400m plus rail upgrade nearing completion. Trucks are seldom the source of congestion on this route. Most business owners avoid the route during morning and evening peaks and the worst snare ups come on weekends/holidays. The benefits to the national and regional economies will come from improved safety and reliability. e.g. Currently if you accept work in Porirua it’s a lottery as to whether your staff can get there on time or get back before the overtime kicks in.

    So to me SaveKapiti sounds more and more a group of bleating self serving reactionaries wanting Kapiti to stay economically hamstrung by poor communications and happy to pass a problem selfishly ignored for 2 generations on to the next one.

  6. michael, 4. May 2011, 16:26

    I must say I find this article biased, inflammatory and unhelpful. I am interested in the arguments around transport upgrades both in Kapiti and the Basin reserve and expect more from the Scoop team.

  7. Wellington.Scoop, 4. May 2011, 21:01

    More of the arguments against the Kapiti expressway can be found here. Some of the arguments against a flyover at the Basin Reserve can be found here and here.

  8. Charlie Wilson, 4. May 2011, 21:06

    Hi Michael.
    Your feedback is biased, inflammatory and unhelpful. You must work for NZTA not to recognise the Western Link is a transport upgrade and the arguments are listed. Maybe you missed the points while you were watching re-runs of Glee.

    Hi Border Edge.
    You miss the basic point: building the Northern corridor would not provide a positive return. It is uneconomic and at time when we, yes that’s we, are borrowing an additional $330m per week, building this expressway would be a gross waste of resources, and would put the country at high risk for needing to be bailed out by overseas agencies at terms and conditions to be imposed on us (GST30%, increased personal taxes, reduced education and health spending). Thanks mate, you’re a real hero.

  9. Upset resident, 4. May 2011, 21:10

    Mobility is about moving people by the means they want. The Kapiti people have a strategy that puts people first – walking and cycling, not in their cars. Commuters are at the bottom of the list. As a side point: the current government strategy (efficiency savings) on transport has resulted in a public transport journey between Waikanae and Paraparaumu increasing by 40 minutes on what was a 20 minute journey. If that sort of efficiency is applied to the road network then the locals can expect a whole lot more problems for local travel on roads if we get a national road upgrade. Spend your money elsewhere.

  10. Mark Harris, 4. May 2011, 21:59

    @ James
    There are 1300 houses within 200 metres of the proposed expressway (as far as we can tell – they haven’t published a confirmed route yet). We counted, based on the same photo imagery supplied by NZTA. We know it’s out of date and that there are roads and houses that have been built since the photos were taken. NZTA have promised to release up to date maps and images, but that was in February and we haven’t seen them yet. NZTA also tell us regularly that speed is one of the biggest killers on roads. However, the section of SH1 through Kapiti is not regarded as an unsafe stretch of road, according to Regional Director Jenny Chetwynd and http://KiwiRAP.co.nz.

    @Mark (not me)
    Quite right.

    @Marie O
    Yes. The whole process has been very manipulative. There’s a reason SH1 hugs the hills – that’s where the real rock ends. All the rest is peat and sand. You get that on flood plains…

    Your “facts” need a bit of work. Did you get them from NZTA? :
    1. The designation you refer to has never been consented for a full motorway. It was planned, yes, and it was not inertia that led to the concept being redesigned as a local road but community pressure. Also, at the time the Western Link was approved as far as it got, NZTA’s stated position was that the land on the designation was not suitable for a motorway-level construction. For the last 15 years, it has been designated as a local road, and the community has been planned around that accordingly.

    2. While the cost was estimated in 2009 to be less for the WLR designation to be used, the current public estimate ($550million) is higher than the estimate given for the SH1 upgrade at the time. The WLR will remove 75% of off-peak traffic and 25% of peak traffic. This is more than enough to reduce congestion. Additionally, upgrading the Waikanae intersections with over/underpasses will remove that bottleneck. The upgrades and the WLR will cost less than the expressway. Also, anybody who buys along SH1 knows from the start that their property is at risk from roading. It’s implicit in the location. And those homes would only be lost if you built an expressway. Upgrades can be designed and managed that are nowhere near as disruptive to homes and the community.

    3. NZTA’s own economic analysis, even after tweaking, admits that the only industry to benefit from the expressway is the logging industry (read the SAHA report and then come back and I’ll give you the untweaked one for comparison) and that the expressway will only create 650 jobs, while analysis of the Western Link Road would create 4000 jobs actually in the Kapiti area, not north in some logging facility. If safety is an issue, as NZTA and Joyce have started to claim, trucks are involved in a high percentage of accidents across NZ, not just in Kapiti.

    Congestion occurs at Waikanae (two intersections with traffic lights), Otaki (2 lanes round the roundabout plus one from the beach merging into 1, plus people trying to park on the main highway so they can go shopping) and Paraparaumu (more traffic lights). The other congestion points are Mana and Pukerua Bay, which won’t be affected by the expressway, except that traffic travelling south will arrive at these chokepoints more quickly. As I’ve said before, if motorways are the answer to congestion, how do you explain Auckland?

    Finally, your analysis of SaveKapiti is inaccurate and more than a little insulting. We have a community here that we want to maintain and enhance. This expressway will not do that and will damage the coast from Levin to Paekakariki. As Charlie points out, it has a negative payback – for every dollar spent, there is only a 60 cent return. That’s not a good use of taxpayer funds and the Government will have to borrow every dollar to build the thing.

    What Charlie Wilson said.

    @Charlie Wilson
    You tell ’em!

    @Upset resident
    Sustainable transport is the goal, alright. Save Kapiti are not anti-road – we WANT the Western Link Road. It IS sustainable, will do the job and is much more affordable. It’s Joyce who wants the expressway and other “Roads of National Significance”. I think he wants to leave a memorial that he can point to and say “I did that!” in later years. But doing SOME thing is not the same as doing the RIGHT thing.

  11. Mark Harris, 4. May 2011, 22:10

    Just read your comment again. Most of the 1300 homes within 200 metres of the expressway will also be within 200 metres of the Western Link Road – that’s a given following the same route. But there’s a vast difference being within 200 metres of a 2 lane local road, designed to fit into the community with minimal disruption, and a 4 lane 100k/h motorway, raised 5+ metres above the ground (NZTA have confirmed that the majority of the expressway is likely to be raised 5 metres) with another 3-4 metres of light standards at the interchanges. A big difference.

  12. Rachel, 4. May 2011, 23:46

    I live in Raumati and commute to Wellington. We undertook due diligence on the WLR before purchasing our property 6 years ago as we are within 200m of the route. We support a 2-lane, 50km/hr local road. There is a problem that needs fixing. However a 4-lane 100km/hr, 24 hour lit Expressway/Motorway is a totally different story. It will impact on property valuations, create pollution (noise, air and visually) and economically doesn’t stack up.

    I have read NZTA documentation, including board papers, ministerial briefings and both SAHA reports. There are many, many issues. I haven’t listed them all here, but some key ones are:

    1. The Western Link route was rejected by NZTA advisors mid 2009 due to the negative impact it would have on the Kapiti community, including community severence, disconnect with current best practice urban planning and the negative effect on properties built in the previous 14 years since the motorway designation was dropped in favour of a local road. Advisors noted it would set the Kapiti Community back economically for a significant number of years.

    2. The proposed route means delays fixing current roading issues. Work on the local Western Link Road was due to start in 2012; Expressway construction due to start 2013 at earliest and last for at least 4 years (NZTA correspondence).

    3. Kapiti ratepayers will ‘inherit’ the existing SH1 road and pay for its upkeep, including the replacement of bridges over Waikanae and Otaki rivers. This millstone will negatively impact funding of other infrastructure and Council projects; and is likely to result in signficant rate rises. We’ll be paying more for less.

    3. Using conventional Cost Benefit Analysis the Wellington Northern Corridor doesn’t stack up. Economic analysis of the figures in the original SAHA report indicates a decision to proceed with it on an accelerated basis favoured by the Government would immediately reduce national wealth by $490M in present value terms. The poor returns on the proposed investment in the RoNS projects is recognised in the original SAHA Report (page 43) , which concludes:
    “NZTA now must consider the issues associated with accelerating the RoNS which, while retaining a benefit to cost ratio outcome greater than one, may not be the optimal investment and funding outcome when considered in its broadest context against other roading projects and/or other government portfolio areas.”

    We are currently under considerable economic pressure as a country and we need to spend what money we have responsibly. We need a smart 21st century solution that fixes the problem but not at such a huge cost to Kapiti Coast residents and the taxpayer purse.

  13. Paula Warren, 5. May 2011, 9:31

    The debate so far illustrates the problem with the way the Government and NZTA have approached transport planning in the region.

    Mobility is not an appropriate goal, and isn’t in the Land Transport Act. It is accessibility that matters. If I can do everything I want to do and travel less, that’s a bonus not a loss.

    So the aim must be to provide appropriate levels of accessibility at the lowest overall cost. The NZTA cost benefit analysis methodology is biased towards new roads, because they rate public transport users’ time as less valuable, undervalue agglomeration, and count tiny time savings as relevant. But even with a biased methodology, they haven’t managed to provide positive CBRs for their RONS projects. With a CBR of 0.4 (the central Wellington project) you are wasting 60 cents in every dollar spent. Hardly what a nation with a severe financial crisis should be doing. In the past, a CBR of at least 2.5 would have been needed to get on NZTA’s list.

    But the accessibility also needs to be provided equitably across the community. An expressway would be of little use to me as I don’t have a car, while improved rail services don’t help the tradesman in his van. We need to have a transport approach that caters for all users.

    But we also need to change what people do if we are to have a well functioning and economically viable region. Every traffic engineer now knows that you can’t build your way out of congestion – new roads induce new traffic. We can’t always respond to demand from car drivers (although in many cases the people driving along SH1 would probably prefer a reliable train service). Providing a new expressway just puts off the time when you need to solve the traffic problem using modern methods. And in the meantime you’ve wasted money and created significant impacts unnecessarily.

    So let’s get modern. Do Western Link 1 and separate local from SH traffic. Get the rail service operating properly and provide incentives for people to use it. Use modern traffic management techniques to improve traffic flows and make full use of existing roads. Make it possible for people to walk and cycle safely. All of which will be a lot cheaper than Sandhills.

  14. LovelyL, 5. May 2011, 9:36

    The statements in the above chart are very clear and concise, I have investigated the information and everything stacks up as presented. I have searched NZTA’s web site and various other sites as to the safety of SH-1 through Kapiti and the particular stretch of highway does not even rate in the top 26 of unsafe roads in the country, so that argument from NZTA is inaccurate.
    Stephen Joyce was recently on Close Up saying that SH-1 was not designed or built to take the 22000 vehicles that travel on it at present. The WLR will take 75% of that traffic off it in off peak and 25% in peak (NZTA’s figures) so that resolves most of it, and at minimal cost in comparison to the proposed expressway. Then there are a few bottle necks on SH-1 that need tweeking at nowhere near the cost of the proposed Expressway…seems so logical to me! Also Kapiti Rd in Paraparaumu has 20,000 cars travelling on it daily so are we proposing to put an expressway there too?? If the expressway goes ahead with an off ramp at Paraparaumu, there will be even more traffic on Kapiti Rd and a huge build up on the expressway trying to turn off. That doesn’t sound very safe to me.
    Looking at recent changes to the size of trucks in this country from 40 tonne to 50 tonne, it is now common knowledge that 60 tonne trucks are permitted but only on certain roads and funnily enough expressways are the perfect solution (what a surprise). Also there is talk of raising truck tonnage to 80 tonne B-Trains, like the outback of Australia and USA! Make no mistake, these expressways are being built for trucks NOT people. In fact when the expressway was first proposed by NZTA for Kapiti there was no plan for on and off ramps, it wasn’t being built for Kapiti but in spite of Kapiti.
    So from the research I have done into the chart, I would say it is more than accurate and hits the nail on the head perfectly. That is scary stuff !!

  15. Nick, 5. May 2011, 9:53

    Border Edge is incorrect to state that the SH1 route for an expressway would necessitate 400 homes and businesses destroyed. That was for one of the original unacceptable routes proposed by NZTA, which deviated from the SH1 alignment. In any case why build a motorway when all that is needed is to fix the choke points and remove traffic that should stay on local roads?
    Traffic has reduced on the highway since 2004 (GWRC figures), so what is the panic?

  16. Bianca, 5. May 2011, 13:25

    If there is one thing that SaveKapiti wants clarity on, it’s ‘the facts’. As NZTA often cannot provide ‘the facts’ because they don’t have them, SaveKapiti has had to do the research themselves. The information in this chart has been gathered through OIA requests, from KCDC, from independent reports and from NZTA themselves. These are the facts, not a one-sided comparison as @James suggests.

  17. michael, 5. May 2011, 17:35

    @ charlie wilson – inflammatory comments don’t help your case much.

    I do not work for NZTA. What a strange thing to say! I don’t watch Glee (or much television at all). I cycle to work every day, through the Basin Reserve (for what that’s worth to you). I have a preference for objective, balanced reporting.

    Your comments effectively try to dismiss someone who just wants to get their head around a complicated issue.

  18. LovelyL, 9. May 2011, 20:21

    @ Michael I suggest you do the research like we have! Go to the links on the Save Kapiti site and you will get a lot of the facts and figures that you want.

  19. Calvin Rucker, 11. May 2011, 21:23

    What we call “progress ” is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance – Henry Havelock Ellis.