Wellington Scoop

“Life is hell:” the fate of 9 families next to the Kapiti expressway construction site

by K Gurunathan
I urge the NZ Transport Agency to seriously look into the purchase of about nine properties significantly affected by construction of the Kapiti Expressway.

Failing that, there must be some intense mitigation measures to make it tolerable.

Property owners who, for one reason or another, were not able to present their case during the Board of Enquiry process are now feeling the full brunt of the construction. Their property values have plummeted and life alongside the Expressway has become hell with little or no relief in sight.

The Transport Agency, the Alliance contractors, and the Kapiti and Coast District Council are being notified of their plight through established formal channels like the Community Liaisons Group and Neighbourhood Impact Forums. But these avenues have protocols that prevent them from alerting the public to the dire plight of these families.

As the local councillor, I’m aware these nine property owners are amongst a larger group of impacted owners some of whom have been asked to sign confidentiality clauses that prevent them from making public statements in exchange for some mitigation measures, even if the mitigation measures later prove inadequate.

In one case, the construction hazards of dust, noise and mould were threatening the health of a child with a hole-in-the-heart condition. Only the potential of media exposure ensured that action was taken.

The nine properties, some of the most exposed, are affected by noise, dust, and vibration during the construction stage and future problems once the Expressway is opened. They are at the intersections with Raumati, Kapiti, and Mazengarb roads.

The writer is a Kapiti and Coast District Councillor.

Read also
Peter Dunne: Arrogance at the Transport Agency
Lindsay Shelton: The Transport Agency refused to listen, for 7 years


  1. Bianca, 31. August 2015, 20:56

    Mitigation for these people is not an option – there is no room for planting or bunding, and SH1 with on- and off-ramps will be right next to their fences, in full sight and sound – the only option is for NZTA is to buy these properties.

  2. Marie O'Sullivan, 31. August 2015, 21:49

    As a Waikanae resident living alongside the expressway I know exactly what Guru is talking about. However, to state that there are only nine properties affected in this way grossly understates the problem. There are approx 1,600 properties within 200m of the expressway route and many of these will also be enduring dust, vibration and constant construction noise. Guru appears unaware of the activity occuring around the Te Moana Interchange, which is considerable. Along with numerous other neighbours we are under a constant barrage of construction activity. We eat, cough, wear and probably sweat construction dust on a daily basis, our respiratory health has suffered and we also have hearing problems from the constant noise. When the 4.0 earthquake hit this morning, I thought it was just more of the same from NZTA. The house constantly rattles and the internal and external walls are cracking. We have a 10 metre wall of dirt advancing toward the houses which has been named the “Siegfried Line”. Nobody is monitoring the adherence to conditions imposed on NZTA, appart from NZTA themselves. They do exactly what they like, nobody will rein them in and the noise and dust causes serious problems for residents.

  3. Elaine E, 1. September 2015, 17:39

    Unfortunately there are a lot more than nine families heavily impacted by the Expressway. For them, their quality of life will not improve even when (or if since it looks like NZ is heading into a another recession) the Expressway is completed.

    In the next couple of months many more Waikanae residents will be impacted by NZTA’s latest plans. Residents near the Te Moana worksite received the following email message from the Community Liaison Officer on 28 August:

    “For the next 6-8 weeks they’ll be lots of truck and trailer movements on Te Moana Road as we haul sand and materials to and from Te Moana Road to our Central Zone in Otaihanga. So please take extra care on the road at this time.”

    Yet Kapiti residents had been told that the Otaihanga roundabout was built to facilitate truck movements by avoiding using main roads like Te Moana which are already very busy. In addition, an extensive network of haul roads were also built, supposedly to keep truck traffic out of residential neighbourhoods. Building these temporary roads resulted in a lot of earth being moved and more vegetation eliminated. The upcoming weeks of dirt hauling will make Te Moana more dangerous for drivers, bikers and pedestrians and create more noise and debris pollution. The intersection where Te Moana meets State Highway 1 will also be much more congested with the additional truck traffic.

    When I questioned the liaison officer again about all of the upcoming truck traffic and why the haul roads were not being used, this was her response: “It would be nice if the Waikanae River Bridge was completed so that we could transport materials over the haul road right down to Otaihanga, but unfortunately Waikanae River Bridge was placed on hold so priority could be given to other bridges.”

    Why has the Waikanae River bridge, supposedly the most important reason for the construction of the Expressway, been placed on hold?

  4. Cr K Gurunathan, 2. September 2015, 9:37

    I take the point about the 1600 properties within 200m of the expressway stretching from Mackays Crossing to PekaPeka to the north. As the Paraparaumu Ward councillor I became aware of the plight of these nine property owners. I’m also aware that all nine failed to make submissions to the Board of Inquiry. One was overseas. Others lived in a socio-economic neighbourhood which shaped their alienation from the complex submission process. I also suspect that a number, like many others in Kapiti, did not realise the size of the monster expressway cum motorway slicing through their backyards and its impact. It’s a given that NZTA and the Alliance contractors will try to manage their budgeted bottom lines by keeping to the consent conditions imposed by the Board of Inquiry. I am, however, aware that in some individual cases they have introduced mitigation beyond the consent conditions.

    Public and local community awareness about what is happening is critical. What’s happening in Waikanae and the increased heavy traffic along Te Moana Rd is a departure from the heavy traffic management the Alliance had outlined to the community. I suggest affected people take the matter up with their respective representatives on the Neighbourhood Forum and the Waikanae Community Board members. I shall signal this to them myself.

  5. Michael Gibson, 3. September 2015, 8:23

    Cr. Gurunathan’s apparent confidence that making a submission would make a blind bit of difference is naive & sorely misplaced.
    In Wellington the battles about the Waterfront, the Basin fly-over & Curtis Street have been well worthwhile but they have taken years & years. Also they have only been possible because the people involved have had time and expertise (and money).
    Most people have none of these things & have to depend on their local Councillors to do the job for which they are elected.

  6. tuna, 3. September 2015, 11:50

    Rumour has it that karma has befallen Jim Bolger whose property now borders the motorway.

  7. Marie O'Sullivan, 4. September 2015, 16:31

    Ignorance is no defence, as Guru well knows. When we surveyed this disadvantaged area he refers to, talking to every house within the 200m affected zone, we found only a handful of people who gave a damn. If the community had spoken with one voice, we could have stopped this a long time ago. Instead many preferred to believe the local press and others who vilified anyone opposed, minimised and belittled any opposition, and shut down anyone who attempted to protest. While we threw bootloads of time and money at it, in the end it was a political decision that no amount of evidence could overturn. That evidence is still valid however, and if you want to understand why there are problems with the Waikanae bridge, go back to the geology evidence that was presented to the board of inquiry. Our reasons for opposing this project were sound.

  8. City Lad, 6. September 2015, 20:52

    Words of wisdom indeed from Michael Gibson. Local Councillors need to front up, take more responsibility and resign should they be unable to do so.

  9. Jess, 8. September 2015, 8:22

    K Gurunathan. You want NZTA to purchase all those properties? You do realize that it is us taxpayers who will be purchasing them? Please don’t use my tax money to satisfy the nimbys. Nothing wrong with a property that borders on a motorway if it’s separated correctly. Go do some traveling. Start in Melbourne. Lovely homes next to motorways. Nobody complaining.