Wellington Scoop

‘Political sabotage, an act of lunacy’: Cr Ahipene-Mercer talks about his colleagues

Pro-flyover city councillors made some powerful allegations at last night’s extraordinary meeting which voted to oppose the project and to seek alternatives.

The most outspoken was Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer. He successfully moved a motion to stop the meeting being held at its advertised time of 4pm. When it began again at 10.05, he spoke vigorously against the flyover’s opponents. Their opposition to the flyover was “an act of political sabotage,” he announced. There was more. “Despite the pathetic comments I’ve heard around this table, I don’t believe there are any options. It’s fictitious.” In his opinion, the approach taken by the anti-flyover councillors was “an act of lunacy.”

Councillor Ian McKinnon said he had received abusive emails saying he would lose his seat unless he voted against the flyover. But he was not intimidated. “I will not be supporting the recommendations.”

Referring to a letter from the Transport Agency, he asked: “Is the letter holding a pistol to our heads? No – they’re telling us where they stand.”

Councillor Swampy Marsh said his anti-flyover colleagues “live in la la land and don’t believe we travel in cars…The recommendations scare me.” (All six recommendations were approved by a majority of councillors).

Councillor John Morrison, who said he wasn’t speaking as a member of the ‘pragmatic’ Basin Reserve Trust, compared the council meeting with the rally of a political party. “I know some of you don’t want any cars or any roads … The recommendations are a road block.” They were also “mischievous and dishonest.” Looking to a future without a flyover, he asked: “What will we do if people can’t get to and from the airport?” What kind of road block is he expecting?

Councillor Coughlan said sinisterly: “I hope the public knows who the people are who want to stop this project. We should just be getting on with it.”

For the record, the eight councillors who voted to explore non-flyover options were: Wade-Brown, Foster, Cook, Eagle, Lester, Pannett, Pepperell, and Ritchie.

The public should also know the councillors who want the flyover to be built. They are: McKinnon, Ahipene-Mercer, Best, Coughlan, Gill, Marsh and Morrison.


  1. Sridhar, 20. December 2012, 7:01

    Councillor Coughlan “I hope the public knows who the people are who want to stop this project”

    The public should also know who keep supporting a flyover that a majority of Wellingtonians don’t want – McKinnon, Ahipene-Mercer, Best, Coughlan, Gill, Marsh and Morrison.

  2. Pollyanna, 20. December 2012, 14:20

    Poor Cr Ahipene-Mercer, is he to be denied the pleasure of racing his Porsche out of the tunnel over the flyover on the way to his free car park, free lunch, coffee etc. to attend Council meetings? Or perhaps he could just get up a little earlier. As for Cr Morrison and his reference to a political rally, I don’t care if he is red, blue or green, as a taxpayer and ratepayer my concern is value for money and the flyover does not ring any bells or score any sixes.

    As for La la land Marsh, I am not anti car, (there are two in our family!) but I have more patience and plan my travels to the time of day…..or take a bus or walk, which could become more popular as the price of petrol starts to rise.

  3. Maximus, 20. December 2012, 14:28

    Sadly, Councilors in support of the flyover are also confused about the facts. The grade separation will not have a great deal of result in terms of projected time savings TO the airport – the road is essentially exactly the same, and no changes are proposed to that path with a flyover – so there will be NO time savings. Time savings there will ONLY come about if there is a second tunnel – but that is a separate debate.
    But also, similarly, time savings going FROM the airport towards the motorway – barely discernable improvements. The obstructions this way are still the tunnel (again – wait for tunnel duplication to see any improvement), but also Taranaki St, Willis St, Victoria St. Those existing stopping points will remain, and will mean that traffic is still banked up back from the Terrace Tunnel….
    On the other hand – much improved traffic times to and especially from Newtown. So, good for patients and staff. Waste of money for the rest of Wellington though…

  4. Phil C, 21. December 2012, 3:01

    “I don’t believe there are any options”. The cry of the radical, the extremist! The religious conviction of Calvin, brooking no dissent. An all-too-familiar aspect to New Zealand politics. There are always options and choices. Nothing is ordained (although Treasury did operate as a Church of the Free Market Faithful.).

    Setting aside that indulgent rumination, one has to ask of the good councillor, “Are you mad?” Who seriously wants Wellington to look like a 1960s British planning mistake?

  5. Stephanie Cook, 21. December 2012, 16:28

    Well said Phil. If people want flyovers move to Los Angeles!