Is the council abandoning Takapu Valley?

takapu valley

Will the Wellington City Council defend the people of the Takapu Valley against the Transport Agency’s sudden threat to bulldoze a highway through their rural community? You’d expect the council (and the mayor) would want to defend such an area. But there’s no sign that the council is willing to take a stand.

The locals say the valley’s history, ecology, and community are treasures worth fighting for. MP Peter Dunne has said the road plans should be scrapped. Eyeofthefish blogger Maximus has written that the Transport Agency need to be told to go back to the drawing board

But the council has done nothing except write a letter (on 28 March) which waffles that it is “not in a position at this time to express a clear preference on the options presented though it is likely to develop a preference for options which maximise the delivery of the benefits and … minimise the disruption to the community …” The council notes that the proposed road runs through a park which is a key sporting hub. It wants “severance to walking and cycling links to be minimised.” (How do you minimise severance?) But on Takapu Valley, all it has to say is:

There are potentially significant changes proposed to the landscape and character of the Takapu Valley should this option proceed. This requires through assessment to determine effects and how they may be mitigated.

If assessment and mitigation are all that the city council can ask for, then it’s given up the fight, even though its letter acknowledges opposition not only from the Takapu Valley community, but also from the Tawa and the Grenada Village communities.

Just as it’s left the people of Newtown and Mt Victoria on their own to fight plans for a flyover at the Basin Reserve, the council seems to be similarly preparing to abandon the people of Takapu Valley.

Though the deadline for submissions to the Transport Agency closes at Easter, Andy Foster’s Friday article tells us the council hasn’t even discussed the Takapu Valley. His article raises issues and asks for information. But the local people have gathered all the information already. Including an impressively detailed and relevant analysis of changing traffic flows when Transmission Gully is completed.

And on their TakapuValley website, the locals provide a disturbing description of the road that the Transport Agency wants to build through their valley:

. This is a new motorway that they are tacking on to the end of the Petone to Grenada link road so they can rush it through without proper oversight.
. It runs from the Grenada end of the link road, paralleling State Highway One for about 6km to connect directly to Transmission Gully.
. It is intended to carry the majority of traffic – heavy trucks in particular – to and from Transmission Gully. Northbound traffic on the proposed road will only be able to continue north on Transmission Gully – you won’t be able to turn west to Porirua.
. It is two lanes – one lane each way. For now. Is limited access – you can only get on it at either end. The farms it runs through won’t have access.
. It will run through all of the properties on the east side of the valley. Some farms – including farms that have been held in the same families since the mid-1800s – will be cut in half. Some smaller properties and several homes will be wiped out completely.

The local people explain why they are fighting the plan

. Transmission Gully was 20 years in the wrangling. The Petone to Grenada link road has been thrashed about for six years, but this Takapu proposal is in none of the public documents.
. They’re shoving it into the plans at the last minute and giving us barely six weeks to scrape together our submissions. Why this sudden change of plans, and why the unseemly haste? Notably, they want to have their decision made in six months, before the next election.
. The proposed Takapu route bypasses SH1 completely – traffic coming from the Hutt would have to navigate multiple roundabouts to get onto SH1. The route seems designed to cut Porirua out of the loop, both northbound and southbound.
. The Parliamentary Commission for the Environment in 1990 directed NZTA to run Transmission Gully to Linden, and stated that Takapu Valley should be protected. The Wellington Regional Council supported this directive with their own report in 1991. Transmission Gully can’t go down Takapu Valley, but NZTA is trying to sneak the road in through the back door, by calling it by a different name.
. They say the costings are the same for the two options (Takapu Valley or SH1), but they haven’t surveyed the Takapu route — they haven’t started the geo-technical, seismic, or ecological work. They don’t know what they don’t know.
They are only looking at project costings, not the cost of maintenance that ratepayers will have to bear going forward.
. They have cherry-picked their criteria to pit neighbors against each other – if the community fights itself instead of them, they get to do what they want.

The importance of the valley has been well described by Gloria writing on eyeofthefish:

I can see why the residents of Takapu Valley don’t want it touched – it is a very special slice of heaven. There are brick red barns of rusting corrugated iron and peeling weatherboards. There are tiny tiny horses, not even as tall as a fencepost, who look sooo cute, and gave me a haughty look while they trotted away. The road is small, wiggly and narrow, at places only one lane wide – in fact, in most places only one lane wide – and with big jutty stone walls and clumps of thick bush either side. The road is even more narrow than that mad route out to Makara! It’s extraordinary that such a place can exist so close to the city. . .

. . . there is no doubt to me that this would be a monumentally inappropriate place to build a motorway. The residents are not exaggerating when they say it would kill the valley if a big road went through – it would absolutely destroy the entire valley if you did that. There would have to be massive earthworks, really massive earthworks, in order to get a straightish 20m wide swathe up a valley that is currently only about 2.5m wide.

Locals have sent more than sixty concerned comments to wellington.scoop since we started reporting their plight. Some of them believe the council is being influenced by the possibility that rock from excavations for their valley could be used for the new cycleway from Petone to Ngauranga. Others are suspicious of the council’s December deal with the Transport Agency in which mayor Wade-Brown said the council was now “inside the tent.” If you’re inside the tent, they wonder, does this stop you opposing anything the Transport Agency wants to do?

Before the deal was signed, the mayor had been consistent in opposing the Agency’s Basin flyover plans, though she was finally outvoted. And when she announced the deal, she said the council had kept the right to disagree on specific projects. A situation which should have enabled her to speak out in support of the Takapu Valley, its environmental values and its people, and against a plan which would build a highway to destroy their lives and their valley.

Takapu Valley vs NZ Transport Agency
Destroying a valley



  1. Bob, 14. April 2014, 9:04

    Takapu Valley is much more than farms. It’s the only western access to Belmont Regional Park, & a place used by runners, walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

    Why is the W.C.C. & Mayor so quiet on this major plan of destruction for no strategic benefit. It’s very odd and seems sneaky. At the least you’d think a potential $400m project would get more than a weak letter from a council officer.

    Their silence speaks volumes. Our mayor is merely green washed it seems! It’s a tragedy of the commons.

  2. Mike, 14. April 2014, 9:12

    Makes you wonder what the hell they’re smoking when they get inside that tent!

    Come on WCC, you have a duty to stand up for your ratepayers against unjust and ill conceived plans – and this is one of them.

    It’s not your job to become a mini me, and just rubber stamp what the Big Brother comes up with.

    So please, drop the united front with the NZTA who are acting like bullies, think of the bigger picture, and you would no doubt come to the same conclusion as Peter Dunne – which is to drop plans C & D now! Then get them to think how a Grenada link to Petone could be done without the massive damage

  3. JT, 14. April 2014, 9:13

    It seems negligent for WCC to remain on the fence when this roading option will contribute to a shift away from rail commuting, and an increase in private vehicles entering Wellington City every day – yet it is totally unnecessary for solving any proven congestion or resilience issue.

  4. Bex, 14. April 2014, 9:25

    The Mayor’s dirty little deal done with NZTA to stay ‘in the tent’ is disturbing.

    NZTA have a 21million tonne rock disposal problem with P2G Road. Cunningly they’re giving Celia 1/4 of it for a cycleway from Petone to Wgtn.

    No wonder she’s staying quiet – because this is her big break to show that she’s not a lame duck ‘green’ mayor – never mind stuffing a whole pristine rural valley. Major conflict of interest. I’m disgusted. Let’s hope the GWRC can show some regional strategic sense in this.

  5. Tam, 14. April 2014, 9:47

    “Mitigation”?! How do you “mitigate” shoving a dirty great big highway through the middle of the valley? A few trees and a token “wetland”?

    That’s like cutting off my hand and then offering to “mitigate” it by fitting the stump with a hook.


  6. m, 14. April 2014, 10:16

    Come on Celia. You can’t equate a cycleway to digging a ruddy big scar in a hillside, the loss of a community, habitat and god knows how much fossil fuel burnt shifting that 21,000,000 tonnes! It isn’t an equivalent!

  7. RS, 14. April 2014, 10:25

    Disgusting. Why is it left to lay people and a small community to fight what is such an unjustified loss to the wider community and environment as a whole? There is no proper justification to this sudden massive option D tack on to the Petone to Grenada Road.

    Step up Wellington City Council & Celia Wade-Brown, this is a unjustified tragic loss of the commons, at a time when the planet is suffering. Haven’t you seen todays IPCC policymakers summary!?:

    This is not right nor fair.

  8. Ellie, 14. April 2014, 10:38

    More flip flop from Foster; Celia was voted in to keep Morrison out, she must know that. Does she assume this is her last term because disappointment is growing, not just over roading but also more buildings on the waterfront, council decisions before they have the facts. A cycleway won’t compensate for the loss of an area like Takapu Valley.

  9. Charles, 14. April 2014, 11:06

    Because they’re all inside that ruddy tent hiding from their responsibilities, humming with their fingers in their ears, ignoring their real duties of acting for the greater good of those that they represent – for the promise of a few crumbs thrown from the table.

    Come on WCC. Get NZTA to drop C & D and improve the roads we’ve got and do real green things like increasing car parking at the stations, perhaps procuring diesel railcars that can go further than the existing electrification, and really future proofing the region.

  10. TM, 14. April 2014, 11:58

    Given this is a $250m – $400m project, why are they so quiet given the Region/Council pays? If it becomes a Road of National Significance, then taxpayers fund it. Oh, I can see what’s happening – they’ve already done a deal ‘inside the tent’ to stay quiet given the magnitude of the project which involves thrashing one of the last rural areas near Wgtn city. Shameful.

    The Mayor’s got no clothes now. The council is being bought off and is guilty by its silence. This is disgraceful. Drop options C & D now!

  11. Rick, 14. April 2014, 12:03

    The letter written to NZTA by the Council on 28 March has 4 lines and one word on Takapu Valley, and half a page on the Ngauranga – Petone cycleway. Not hard to see where the Council’s real interests lie is it.

  12. Mike, 14. April 2014, 12:45

    You’re right RS. Why should it all be left to the small guy to fight the state machine, whilst the other major players who could do something look the other way for fear of being seen to break ranks – or ‘leave the tent’.

    Step up WCC. Options C & D do nothing to make anything better anywhere. They add nothing positive – they are merely destructive both to the environment and community. Once built, it’s too late to say we told you so. The damage will have been done. The NZTA have just got it wrong.

    And as for a cycleway. Do it the environmentally friendly way – Christchurch has more crushed concrete and rubble than they know what to do with – use coastal barges to bring it round. A green solution to a green activity. Everyone wins, unlike C & D where everyone loses.

  13. PW, 14. April 2014, 13:08

    Simply build Petone to Grenada, terminating at SH1 (at Grenada as always planned) and leave the rest (options C & D) off. You’ll still get the cycleway Celia, you’ll save this beautiful valley, protect Belmont park access and save $150m in the process! Please get a conscience Celia, fast.

  14. m, 14. April 2014, 13:10

    You’d think this country was being built on shonky deals at the moment.(pokeys for conference centre. Is there no honour, no sense of doing what’s right by the people? Or is it one pet project (roads where they’re not needed) for another (cycleway)?

    No wonder electors are abandoning the ballot boxes when they see their elected representatives acting with this level of cynicism and arrogance.

  15. Richard, 14. April 2014, 13:31

    The communities affected by this project have been set at loggerheads by the NZTA’s insistence on having to choose between Option C or D. The choice is ‘my house/property or their house/property’. It is an unenviable situation to be in and it is one that our Council should never have allowed to happen. Good Council decision making depends on productive relationships between elected members and the community, and the latter’s concerns should be listened to, deliberated on by Council, and then acted upon in the best interests of all. The fact that the Council will not make a decision until the chosen Option has been firmed means that the affected communities have in effect been abandoned by the Council to a nasty fight in which the only winner will be the NZTA.

  16. TF, 14. April 2014, 14:18

    Such an asset to Wellington. Great for horse riding, mountain biking and walking, so close to Wgtn, but so far from the madding crowd. As someone said above – a tragic loss of the commons. I’m annoyed at the city council fence-sitting. NZTA have come to town and bought out the people elected to serve us.

  17. BD, 14. April 2014, 14:59

    I don’t live in Wellington but I feel as if the mayor’s views are absolute green wash.

  18. Mike, 14. April 2014, 16:46

    Let me remind people what 8 million cubic metres of rock looks like (Petone cutting). If you imagine a block 1m high by 4m wide (wider than a single road) – it would stretch all the way from Bluff to Cape Reinga. This translates to 21,000,000 tonnes. To move it would require a truck and trailer taking 40 tonnes every 2 minutes, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for 5 years.

    To produce a scar, remove an entire village, eco-system, and produce a hill steeper than Ngauranga Gorge so that people can save 6 minutes on a trip from Tawa to Petone.

    The SH1/SH2 junction needs to be improved, as does the one at Petone, and SH2 widened in between, but all that damage and cost for 6 minutes (8km) – it’s hardly a game changer for all that cost and damage. Is that really what we want as a society?

  19. Bob, 14. April 2014, 17:51

    Takapu Valley is much more than farms. It’s the only western access to Belmont Regional Park, & a place used by runners, walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

    Why are the W.C.C. & Mayor so quiet on this major plan of destruction for no strategic benefit? It’s very odd and seems sneaky. In the least you’d think a potential $400m project would get more than a weak letter from a council officer.

    Their silence speaks volumes. Our mayor is merely green washed it seems! It’s a tragedy of the commons.

  20. TW, 14. April 2014, 18:00

    A real test for the Mayor. If she’s prepared to stand silently by while a big green part of her district gets bulldozed with poor justification and sham public process, then her true colours will be known. For this to happen in this day and age is disgraceful.

  21. Jimbo, 14. April 2014, 18:17

    The Council can’t fight it as they are spending my rates on increasing their pay packets!! Not sure what my rates actually pay for as I get my own water and deal with my own sewage. My house has just been devalued; maybe my rates will go down!! (yeah right)

    Here we were going to set up horse riding treks in the valley for kids to enjoy the great outdoors in Wellington.

  22. m, 14. April 2014, 21:40

    Don’t mind them getting paid, if they are doing their job and acting in the interests of the people they represent. But they are not doing their job (lazy negligence) if they just believe what the NZTA say hook, line and sinker without engaging their own grey matter to test the arguments.

  23. Richard, 14. April 2014, 22:20

    Maybe the NZTA need to watch the news – the rest of the world has cooked themselves with co2 i have not meet anyone from NZTA who is a New Zealander. Maybe they should remember why they came here and (i guess) brought their families. John Key: your NZTA mob are out of control

  24. richard brown, 15. April 2014, 7:51

    Les Mills has given up trying to work with the National Party with the non green stance on NZ. He has thrown 60k at Greens and Labour. He knows CO2 is killing the world but we keep wanting to build motorways. What are they doing in the tent …….

  25. m, 15. April 2014, 9:17

    Smoking legal highs is what they are doing in the tent. Even the green mayor is keeping quiet. The reason none of the NZTA sent to do the dirty work are from NZ, is that they don’t have the same connection with the land. Hired hands, mercenaries. On hand to feed money to the developers.

  26. John D, 15. April 2014, 9:18

    Interesting isn’t it. The writing is on the wall regarding climate change, but this government is heading for massive road building and oil exploration. Their last gasp (literally)?

    Meanwhile, our ‘grean’ Mayor Celia Wade-Brown is deathly quiet on the largest loss of open space/green space (Takapu Valley) in the city for decades. Astounding.

  27. Dave, 15. April 2014, 16:31

    I’m very surprised at the nil response from the Mayor and the Greens. I honestly thought they were out for NZ clean image and reducing the Carbon footprint. Instead it looks like they are in favour of more roads. Not a good look for the future generations if our Green party isn’t interested.

  28. S, 15. April 2014, 19:22

    News flash: Wearable Arts is coming to Takapu Valley next year. That should get the Mayor’s attention!

  29. LJM, 15. April 2014, 21:44

    Can’t believe WCC won’t stand up and represent the interests of 1 of the only 2 rural communities in their city!

  30. Lee, 15. April 2014, 23:48

    Can anyone give the link to NZTA to make a submission? I can’t find it. The NZTA website keeps denying that the Takapu Valley exists.

  31. R, 16. April 2014, 0:14

    Celia on the TV tonight talking about cats eating birds, but she’s silent about the biggest loss of open/green space in her city in decades (900Ha)!

    Appalling. Just appalling.

  32. peter@east-welly, 16. April 2014, 0:38

    So why does everyone assume Ms. Wade-Brown Is a dyed-in-the-wool “Greenie”? When Kerry and Andy proposed smashing up Manners Mall, Celia couldn’t get there fast enough. The same with narrowing Willis Street. Why weren’t cycle-lanes put in then, instead of narrowing the roadway?
    More recently, when Councillor Foster wanted to flog off the Green Belt, who voted for it – the Mayor, Ms. Wade-Brown. How “green” is that? They only capitulated when they saw the votes stacked against them, and for that we have to thank Helene Ritchie and Sarah Free.

    Metiria Turei

  33. richard brown, 16. April 2014, 7:54

    Peter Dunne is the only person who has stood up for the Tawa community and looked NZTA in the eye and said you have got it wrong. i don’t think any of our mayors have got the minerals. well done Peter

  34. Tony R, 16. April 2014, 8:07

    Option D plan to bulldoze Takapu Valley is neither a good option to join the northern corridor (Transmission Gully), or a local linking road. It’s shit for both.

    So what the heck is driving this? WCC/NZTA are up to something they’re not being explicit about. GWRC analysis suggests same.

    Come clean Wade-Brown/Foster. What’s your agenda?

  35. Bev, 16. April 2014, 12:28

    Makes you wonder what’s really going on behind the scenes.

    Cr Foster says the Takapu Valley bulldozing was a ‘surprise’, as was the approval of a whole new subdivision in its path. BUT, when it comes to the Council’s own investments in the path, they suddenly get pulled? Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    I’m starting to smell a rat somewhere….

  36. m, 16. April 2014, 22:35

    Anybody remember the snake in Jungle Book – Kaa.? It had eyes that hypnotised, before constricting and eating its prey. I think that’s what the NZTA do to gullible Kiwis. Councils who should know better are sucked in with made up statistics, gullible grandmas are taken in with straight lies at public meetings. Local councillors protect this predator from the people it’s about to devour, but we’re one indigestible meal.. We’re not hypnotisable. We can see through the lies.

    NZTA may be lower than snakes in the grass, but at the end of the day, they’re hired hands from abroad. Mercenaries. Young graduates on an opportunity abroad. With the mistakes they’ve made we’re certainly not dealing with the ‘A’ team, not even the ‘B’ – this is more like the ‘D’ team. That’s probably why they named the road that does nothing – option ‘D’.

  37. Mike, 16. April 2014, 22:49

    It’s that tent and what they are smoking – I tell you. Come on Celia. Dust off your green credentials. Don’t be sucked in by weasely words from NZTA – you’re a Brit, should be a bit more streetwise. A cycleway promised is like beads for treasures. It’s not an equivalent. We lose an unspoilt valley forever, some spotty graduate from abroad gains a line on the map he/she can show proudly to their kids. ‘Look kids – that was a pristine green space and I rammed a motorway through’ – nice one – and so progressive. Great for CO2 – and who’s the boffin trying to move 21,000,000 tonnes to save 6 minutes to get to Petone!

  38. dwayne, 16. April 2014, 23:43

    And I voted for some of these people because I thought they had integrity and a green leaning.
    In absence of honest facts the conspiracy theories fill the void.
    Come on WCC – step up

  39. Maximus, 17. April 2014, 7:50

    Lee – and Lindsay – the link to put in feedback to NZTA (due TODAY) is:


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