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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 [1]

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 [2]:

“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 [3]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 [4]